May 31. Sarah was a pretty but shy 15 yearold. She had few friends and usually kept to herself. Trying to become more friendly she decided to attend a class party. Little did she know what was in store for her. Her drink was spiked with a drug and she completely lost all knowledge of what happened next. It was only at school the next week that she discovered that some boys had taken her and photographed her naked body in all kinds of obscene positions and were circulating these. Of course she was absolutely horrified. The only blessing was that she had not been raped. She couldn’t confide in anyone at school, didn’t have any siblings to talk to, but went home in a state of panic and even contemplated committing suicide. Fortunately when her mom came home she was able to extract the story, comfort her and take the necessary steps to report the case. Reflect, share, act. Scripture. When Sarah had gone up to her father’s upper room, she intended to hang herself. But she thought it over and said, “Never shall they reproach my father, saying to him. “You only had one beloved daughter but she hanged herself because of her distress.” From Tobit Chapter 3. Pope Francis : From a Prayer in Union with Creation in Laudato Si. . “O Lord seize us with your power and light, help us to protect all life, to prepare for a better future, for the coming of your Kingdom of justice, peace, love and beauty. Praise be to you! Amen. Pray. Mary, Mother of the afflicted, pray for us.
FAMILY WEEKLY NEWSLETTER
Your Holiness, God, Family and Creation.
No, this is not a letter to His Holiness Pope Francis. It is a reflection on personal holiness from the perspective of God, family and creation. There are 3 major feasts in the Church at this time which speak to me of holiness and even make me break out in song. Pentecost. Trinity Sunday. Corpus Christi. They also help us to deepen our understanding of God, and a spirituality of creation and of family life.
What is Pentecost? We know it well, as the coming of the Holy Spirit on the apostles and Mary. s Jesus promised he and the Father would send an advocate, a helper, a comforter, a counsellor, some internal help on our journey through life which is also one’s spiritual journey. Not well known is the fact that Pentecost was a traditional Jewish feast, the Feast of Weeks, 50 days after the Passover. It was both a harvest feast and also a celebration of God giving the people the Law, i.e. the 10 Commandments. God frequently involved himself with the people and there is often mention of God’s spirit in the OT, as breath and love. Elements of fire and wind were recognised signs of the presence of God for the Jews.
Many people would have been gathering in Jerusalem for this feast and the apostles, as regular Jews, would have been there too. The Pentecost event, described in Acts as associated with wind and with fire was an overwhelming experience of God in their lives. It was also 10 days after Ascension when Jesus had told them to go and evangelise. The Pentecost experience gave them the courage to speak out.
Psalm 104 is used at the Pentecost Mass. SEND FORTH YOUR SPIRIT O LORD, AND RENEW THE FACE OF THE EARTH. What does this mean? What renewal and what earth? it is not just us, people, but today, with a growing ecological awareness we speak so much about the earth, the whole earth even the whole universe, all of creation. The psalm also states, “the earth is full of your creatures,” (in the African Bible, while some translations state full of your riches). “You take away their breath they die. You send forth your spirit and they are created.
All that is what Pope Francis speaks of in his encyclical LAUDATO SI. The name means “praise God,” for the goodness of creation., all of creation, sun, moon stars, water, fire, people, animals, plants. We also know that creation is messed up, it needs renewal and it needs the Spirit of God.
The gospel acclamation was “COME HOLY SPIRIT, FILL THE HEARTS OF YOUR FAITHFUL, KINDLE IN THEM THE FIRE OF YOUR LOVE. I like to say “kindle in us, or me, the fire of your love.” The Holy Spirit of God, spirit of love, pours into our hearts the LOVE OF GOD which should set us on fire.
Where in our lives and how do we experience love the most? Is it not in our human families? We “fall in love, ”marriage is based on love – or it should be. Parents FORM FAMILIES (May theme) through love, family relationships are by nature love relationships.
That brings us to Trinity Sunday, with the feast of Corpus Christi to follow. Pope Francis in AMORIS LAETITIA presents marriage and family life as the mirror, the image of the love relationship of the Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. As they are holy so should families be. Like the earth that is messed up, our human family relationships are messed up too. They need renewal just as the earth does. They need the fire of love. Pentecost each year should be celebrated as a family occasion, the love relationship of the family members, all of us, whatever form that family takes. Love relationships that are joyful, but also filled with pain and require healing. To heal the earth we can and should begin to heal the families, the little churches of the home. We need to experience and learn from the love relationships in our lives. That is why we need the Holy Spirit to pour forth the fire of love, to strengthen, to build our holiness.
Are we conscious enough that all of creation is made up of families? Ecosystems are families built on relationships too. Every species of animals or plants are families that need to be supported and sustained, because many plants and animals, big and small, are becoming extinct, due to our human abuse of the earth. They decrease in numbers, as we humans increase in numbers.
Pope Francis: The Father is the ultimate source of everything, the loving and self0communicating foundation of all that exists. The Son, his reflection through whom all things were created, united himself to this earth when he was formed in the womb of Mary. The Spirit, infinite bond of love, is intimately present at the very heart of the universe, inspiring and bringing new pathways. The world was created by the three Persons, acting as a single divine principle, each with his own personal property. When we contemplate with wonder the universe in all its grandeur and beauty, we must praise the whole Trinity. LS 238. The human person grows more, matures more and is made holy to the extent that he or she enters into relationships, with God, others and with all creatures. In this way they make their own the trinitarian dynamism which God imprinted in them when they were created. LS 240
These thoughts on holiness are taken from a growing understanding of ecological life and from the writings of Pope Francis. The upcoming Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ will take them further as will World Environment Day on June 5th. All with plenty to sing about. Thank you, Your Holiness.