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Sunday Sharing

 “Then there appeared to them tongues of fire, which parted and came to rest on each one of them. And they were filled with the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2)

I am not a basketball fan, but this spring I found myself somewhat caught up in the NCAA playoffs, where Loyola made it to the Final Four. Being a graduate of Loyola, I decided to watch the last three games. Not the entire game, but the last 10 minutes of each one. With each game, I found myself rooting for Loyola to go all the way. It was almost impossible not to get caught up in excitement of it all, especially with Sister Jean leading the way. As with most playoff games, people get caught up in almost a “religious rapture”. We find our lives suddenly revolving around events that, for the most part, we are not physically present at but are watching on big screens in a bar or with friends at home. The passion and enthusiasm that people express is contagious. You find that you, too, want to be a part of this great event.

Fr. Bob recently wrote two bulletin articles telling us about the Renew My Church process. For months, I have been attending Vicariate meetings about this process as well. Last Sunday’s Gospel echoes wholeheartedly what Renew My Church is calling us to do: “Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature.” (Mark 16) We are to become not only disciples, but missionary disciples. By the very virtue of our Baptism, we have been called to this task.

The Cardinal has asked all staffs to read the book: “Divine Renovation” by Fr. James Mallon. I can say that I was reluctant at first, but once I started reading the book, my excitement for the Renew My Church process began to grow. As Fr. Bob mentioned, there will be ups and downs with this process, and Fr. Mallon writes about his personal experience with bringing his current parish from maintenance to mission.

On this Pentecost Sunday, when we celebrate the “birthday” of the Church, we are reminded in Acts that the account of Pentecost “feels a little like a birth in which the Spirit inaugurates the church’s public witness to the world.” Like the way people get passionate and enthusiastic about playoff games, we need to bring these emotions into our church. Like the Apostles on Pentecost, we need to respond to the presence of the Holy Spirit, who is God “in us”. As Fr. Mallon states, “we must teach people that to be Christian is to be ‘Pentecostal’. There is no Christian life or Church outside of the Pentecostal experience. If we don’t embrace change and make being a missionary disciple a priority, our churches will continue to close, and our attendance at liturgies and sacraments will continue in a downward slide. We all need to be part of Renew My Church so we can impact not only our parish, but our nation and our world. We need to become like Sr. Jean, filled with passion, enthusiasm, and love, but instead of a team of basketball players, we will be a team with and for Christ.

Fr. Mallon concluded his book by saying: “Jesus promised that we would receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon us. That power is there for the asking- from the same Spirit who reminds us that we are the very mission of Christ, the Spirit who brings a revolution of life even to a valley of dry bones. What a moment! What a time! What a privilege to play a role in the renovation of God’s Church! God knows! God knows that these bones can live. Hallelujah! Do you?”

(Divine Renovation by Fr. James Mallon, Twenty-third Publications, 2014)



A Prayer for “Renew My Church”

Lord Jesus, you speak to us today, as you spoke to holy men and women who have gone before us.  In every age and in our own time, you call to us to say: Renew My Church.

Pour out the gift of the Holy Spirit upon us, and so enable us

to hear you clearly

to listen to each other attentively

to imagine our future boldly

to discern your direction wisely

to persevere in your holy will courageously

to stay together in charity

to surrender our own plans readily

to embrace the greater good

to hand on your gifts to future generations.

We remain in holy company of the Blessed Virgin Mary and apostles and the saints. May their example and presence inspire us with patient confidence in the work of your grace.

We ask this of you who live and reign with the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit one God, forever and ever. Amen              

Rev. Robert Heidenreich