Thursday, June 9, 2011



Recently I’ve been involved in the process of melding two different parish communities into one worshiping community. When the ceiling of Queen of Angels Church fell down a while back, the parishioners were finally persuaded that maybe it really is time to leave the venerable old building and find a safer place, and one that had heat in the winter. The tentative plan is for that (African-American) community to join the (mostly Hispanic) community at St. Augustine’s, a mile away, for the 8:30 bilingual mass where which I’ve been celebrating with such joy for a couple of years.

This is the kind of scenario into which the devil loves to insinuate himself to stir up all sorts of ill will. So far, though, the preliminary meetings have indicated that people in both communities are open to the idea that some adjustments and accommodations will be entailed by both communities if the plan is enacted. But I don’t want to talk about the actual plan at all; rather I want to reflect on Pentecost, which is coming up on Sunday June 12.


The feast of the Spirit’s descending on the disciples and transforming them into the vibrant community of the early Church comes just as our two parishes are negotiating this delicate change. In fact, there’s an important meeting on Saturday, the very eve of Pentecost.
This afternoon I was praying for the gifts of the Spirit for all the people involved when I decided to go and look up the various roles of the Holy Spirit in the New Testament. I used the detailed subject index in the back of Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words (a book which I recommend to anyone who is interested in studying the bible more deeply). The result was tremendously encouraging in terms of the upcoming meeting. Here are just a few of the jobs and descriptions of the Spirit that one would hope to see at work on the eve of Pentecost:

The Spirit dwells in the church and is at work in believers to teach them, renew their minds, and to produce in them the likeness of Jesus through sanctification. If we at the meeting let the Spirit teach us, open our minds and make us like Jesus, then the the results will be something beautiful for all concerned.

The Spirit binds believers together in unity. Two communities are made up of minorities that have each traditionally been given the short end of the stick. The Spirit is powerful enough to overcome the suspicions and the hurts that have been there for years and “gather us into one.”

The Spirit helps believers in their intercessions, “groaning within us.” So as we pray for the success of this endeavor we will count on the Spirit’s inspiration to teach us “how to pray as we ought.”

The Spirit gives supernatural GIFTS of grace, among them words of wisdom and knowledge, and the gift of discernment. Imagine a meeting that is characterized by words of wisdom and the gift of discernment!

The Spirit produces FRUIT in the lives of those who are led by the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and temperance. If we let ourselves be led by the Spirit, an observer of Saturday’s meeting will notice a lot of love, and joy among the participants, and conversations full of patience, gentleness and goodness, and will notice that the participants treat eachother in a mild-mannered and thoughtful way.

Sounds like a pretty promising meeting, doesn’t it?


Saturday's get-together will take place in the finished basement of St. Augustine’s. Maybe the building will suddenly be filled with the sound as of a violent wind, and perhaps little tongues of flame will hover over our heads and we'll all be filled with the Holy Spirit.

Why not? It wouldn’t be the first time, right?

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