It is part of God’s plan of salvation that at Mass we would be able to meet Him directly and receive His grace through the sacraments. Because He is all loving and truthful, we believe Him when He - and the Church He founded - teach that He is really present with us in the celebration of the Mass.
The Second Vatican Council’s Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy explains that Christ is present to us in four ways during the celebration of Mass:
First, we encounter Christ in the community of the faithful. Each one of us is made in God’s image and likeness. The kindness we show each other in Jesus’ name is a way we show kindness to Jesus Himself. Also, by joining with the community of the faithful, we are included in Jesus’ prayer of thanks and praise to God the Father. It is a holy encounter with Jesus and with our fellow Catholics.
Second, we encounter Christ in His Word. The readings proclaimed from Sacred Scripture are truly the words of everlasting life; a letter from God to His people. What is truly amazing is that, if we pray before Mass for guidance in a decision and we intently listen to the proclamation of Scripture and the subsequent homily, God will often speak to us in words that we most need to hear.
Third, we encounter Christ in the priest. Jesus chose to have His sacrifice re-presented on the altar by an ordained priest or bishop. When the priest speaks in the first person during the Consecration, saying, “Take this, all of you and eat of it, for this is My body,” Jesus is speaking through him. He stands in the person of Christ, the Eternal High Priest. Through the priest, we are able to benefit from the greatest event in history, the one that saved us from our sins and opened up for us the possibility of spending eternal life with God in heaven.
Fourth, and most importantly, we encounter Christ in the Eucharist. We take Jesus’ very Body and Blood within us, allowing Jesus to transform us. We become one with Him by receiving Him in Holy Communion, and through Him, with each other.
Because of these direct encounters with Christ at Mass, we seek to be active participants - not passive spectators - by listening to His Word, sharing in the Offering of the Gifts, joining in the singing, and proclaiming a reverent “Amen” (“truly, I believe”) when we worthily approach to receive Jesus in the Eucharist.
While we may take a break from our work and school routines with summertime upon us, we can never take a break from responding to God’s love for us and give Him the praise and thanks that is His due. Don’t deny yourself the benefits of encountering Christ in the most profound ways possible on offer at Sunday Mass.
David J. Conrad
The First Reading we hear today from the Old Testament Book of Proverbs begins: Thus says the wisdom of God: “The Lord possessed me…” This first phrase in that reading struck me—especially on the heels of having celebrated Pentecost and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit! What is possession, really? I looked in Webster’s and found this: the act of having or taking in control; domination by something (as an evil spirit, a passion, or an idea); a psychological state in which an individual’s normal personality is replaced by another—you get the idea…
So, what should our lives be like having been possessed by the Lord/the Holy Spirit? What if we were possessed by a passion for the Lord?
Just think about all that is brought to us by the Holy Spirit—wisdom, self-control, counsel (understanding), fortitude, knowledge, piety, fear (awe) of the Lord. To be consciously possessed by the Lord would mean we would be a people of love, justice and mercy. We would be strong in the face of our trials and tribulations and understand the source of such—and accept those crosses. We would have the self-control to turn from our sins of selfishness, greed, anger, ego, fear, jealousy…you get the idea…
Today on this Feast of the Trinity, Jesus reminds us that the Holy Spirit brings us the Spirit of Truth. The idea that we may be possessed by God and guided to the truth in this world of skewed media presence, social media and other forms of self-interested information sources makes me yearn for this possession for all. Being led to the truth by the Spirit has great appeal. How to be possessed by the Lord is the challenge—because we know God is there, in us, and speaking to us—but how to become consciously aware of God’s possession?
We are already imbued—possessed—with the Spirit—but it is all about us letting the Spirit work through us in any situation in which we find ourselves. How to recognize the Spirit at work is to look closely at and discern the results of the fruits of our labor: in relationships, at work, at play, etc.
What is the answer? Prayer. Finding time for prayer. Making time for prayer.
How about utilizing the frustrating traffic jam time for spiritual growth—listening to the Word, praying in our cars—seeing opportunity in the difficulties we face. Standing in line, waiting in the doctor’s office…How about getting up a few minutes earlier to start the day with some quiet time with the Lord—discerning our lessons from our life situations. How about turning off the podcast while we walk and listen for God’s grace? St. Paul reminds us today that it is in hardship that we gain endurance, proven character and hope.
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, the twentieth century Jesuit, described the “human species in evolution toward the fullness of unity in love. . .” (maybe…, if all of us were possessed by the Lord). [He said] “the way forward is a new spirituality by which humans around the globe can unite to become one mind and one heart in love, a new ultrahumanity united only by love.” Teilhard believed that “everything that rises must converge.” I often think that if most of us were “possessed” by God, our every day living would look a lot different, and we might actually evolve to understanding, tolerance and love.
So, ask yourself, what possesses you? What takes up space in your conscious thoughts each day? Do you give space and time to the Lord—does God possess you? On the Feast of the Trinity we ponder our relational triune God—a paradigm of all our own personal relationships. Today we consider creation and our roles as co-creators. The last line in Proverbs today says: “and I found delight in the human race.” May we all be possessed by God, be of proven character, and creators of hope—in order to delight our good and generous God. May all the world be possessed with a passion for God.
Just a Note: Here is a song and prayer about the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and the Trinity. It moved me and brought tears to my eyes…
Here are 10 simple ways for families to promote vocations in their homes.
1. IDENTIFY THE GIFTS OF FAMILY MEMBERS
Through baptism each of us has received special gifts and talents. Reflect as a family on the gifts and talents of each person and how they can be used in service to the family and to the parish. There is a place for each of your unique gifts in the Church.
Of all the ways we can work toward the increase of vocations to the priesthood, prayer is undoubtedly the most essential. Make a commitment to pray for this intention every day as a family, perhaps at mealtime. Also consider praying for a particular priest in your parish.
3. OFFER FRIENDSHIP TO PRIESTS
Whether it’s sharing a meal, or taking a walk, or simply having a conversation, make an effort to share friendship with priests and religious. Friendships will foster awareness, communication and respect for the lifestyle and needs of each person. Feelings of happiness and satisfaction will be the sure result!
4. PARTICIPATE IN PARISH ACTIVITIES
A healthy parish community includes the participation of all its members. The involvement of your family in the activities offered in your parish will help create the life-giving environment necessary for nurturing priestly vocations.
5. TELL STORIES
Recall time in your lives when a priest showed kindness to you and helped make a positive difference. Have the children share an experience too. Talk about what these men mean to you and the services they offer to God’s people, the Church.
6. SAY THANK YOU
We all know that is feels good to be thanked. Say thanks to a priest. It is encouraging for them to feel that their generosity is being appreciated and the time they spend in service to the parish community is being recognized. Offering thanks also sheds a positive light on the priesthood.
7. ATTEND MASS
The celebration of the Eucharist is a fundamental aspect of our faith. Gathering around the Lord’s table will serve to strengthen the bond in your own family and the bond of the parish family. It is a strong parish family that produces priestly vocations. Bring the children – they add life to the celebration!
8. SEND CARDS
Find out the anniversary dates of ordination celebrated by priests, and send them a card. By this simple act, they will be assured of our prayers, support and friendship. It will also serve to reinforce the family atmosphere of the parish community.
9. PERFORM ACTS OF CHARITY
In the Gospels, Jesus directs us to love our neighbor, and He calls us to serve one another. There are various ways that we can behave charitably and serve the Lord gladly. Look into ways that your family can generously meet the needs of your neighbors. A charitable heart is a hallmark of a priestly vocation.
10. REMEMBER THAT YOUR HOME IS THE “DOMESTIC CHURCH”
Parents are the first preachers of the faith to their children, and the home is where early formation occurs. Create a climate within your home that will foster and encourage all members of your family to live out the vocation that God has planned for them. Pray, read spiritual books, talk about your faith and vocations to the priesthood. Let your home truly be a dwelling place for the Lord!
One of the opening declarations of Scripture about us as human beings is that we were not made to be alone. We were all made for communion, companionship, with God—walking with him in the cool of the day is the image we are given before sin in the Garden broke that communion and led to God's children hiding from him. This break in communion with God also led to the breakdown of communion between us: God's children. Even the worship of God became the occasion for communion to be further destroyed—because of sin and ego. So much of the rest of the biblical story is a story of fragile communion ending in broken relationships as sin of all kinds continues to further isolate and separate people from one another.
We shouldn't be surprised that communion renewed and restored was one of the great results of the church being born on that first Pentecost after Jesus' Resurrection and Ascension. As thousands believed and were baptized, the Lord brought them into a new community of genuine fellowship. This communion fellowship involved meeting as a big group and experiencing God's grace and power together—notice that in the early chapters of the book of Acts the Christians had boisterous and exciting meetings together in the Temple courtyard in Jerusalem! It also involved meetings in homes as they shared more intimate times with other believers around the “breaking of bread.” No wonder the people were amazed at them and viewed them favorably in those early days. What seemed so lost for so long was now being restored by the Spirit!
Luke described this communion with these words: “All the believers were together and had all things in common.” This definition remains still as the ideal for Christian communion, community, comradery, intimacy, partnership, and union today. Those early days of the Church's life provide us the powerful reminder of what we not only need in our church life today, but also what we must pursue as a Church. More than people meeting in their isolated silences on Sunday, church must be a place of warmth, inclusion, shared lives, and genuine fellowship and companionship. I think we generally do this well at St. Aidan—because we know that without this comradery we may remain isolated and alone. I say, though, that there is always room for improvement—never ending improvements—as we pursue the communion/union in God that we have together.
God made us for this kind of loving relationship: real, genuine, share-our-lives-with-others friendship. While this friendship may involve our participation in a big worship experience, it most definitely must involve our participation in smaller gatherings where people know us, love us, and we share our lives as well as our meals together.
God made us with a need for communion with each other (remember: no person is an island!) and He has called us into His forever family to have that need met here at St. Aidan. Don't settle for merely going to church and gathering with a bunch of strangers, but search until you find a place in this Community, a group, a gathering, a commission, or a ministry—and find people where life is shared and fellowship, friendship and communion is restored—this is the message of Pentecost!
Just a Note: Many thanks to all of our Music Ministry Ensembles and members (The Adult Choir, the Youth Choir, the Contemporary Group, instrumentalists and cantors) for a wonderful and fulfilling 2021-2022 season! We are resting—but some members will occasionally return to lead our song in praise of God (Sometimes Summer Singers)—as we don’t just disappear from our commitment to St. Aidan. If you think you might be interested in joining our Music Ministry—vocalists or instrumentalists—come and see me after any weekend Mass. Music for the glory of God is wonderful, fulfilling and hard work—but so worth it! Keep singing!
David J. Conrad, M.A. Theology. Our Director of Faith Formation.