“They were all filled with the Holy Spirit”

Fr. Edward J. Ondrako, OFMConv.
Golden Jubilee of Priesthood, May 22, 1971-2021
Year B. Acts 2:1-11; (1st Option) 1 Cor 12: 3b-7, 12-13; (2nd Option) Jn 15: 26-27; 16:12-15

Living in a Post-Christian Culture
Theme: “They were all filled with the Holy Spirit” Acts 2; Subtheme: “To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given….” 1 Cor 12; Subtheme: Jn 15: “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you to all truth.”

On Pentecost the mission of the Son links definitively with the mission of the Holy Spirit. The Son, Perfect Love became incarnate, was willing to suffer, die, and rise from the dead. By taking on our human nature, He suffered beyond description in His humanity, but not in His divinity because our eternal God cannot suffer. To say God suffers is a metaphor. By participating in the sacraments we are filled with the Holy Spirit for God’s purpose. Before God we are equal. No one gets a free pass.

The Spirit of truth will guide us to all truth. What is truth? Something cannot be true and false at the same time. What is true and what is a lie? We do not like it if we have been taken by lies. What is truth in a broken world (le monde cassé)?

God is the Creator who intends human solidarity and gave the love of the woman to Adam. God knew man would sin but created humans from a single ancestor, Adam, not for the male to dominate the female, but to foster harmony, spousal harmony. The imperial lie is that love does not exist, there is no spouse, only those who conquer or cancel others matter. To read history with a spousal vision is to read with a biblical vision.

Christ’s self-giving love is spousal. It dismantles every lie. To recognize the sacrificial love of Christ the Bridegroom explodes confidence in myths that hide pride and deception. The Spirit of truth guides us to all truth. In a complex universe we cannot be intellectually lazy but have the duty to think about what is true, what is false, and to make judgments. Can anyone hold out for a better spouse?

Sts. Francis, Bonaventure, and Bl. John Duns Scotus lived in premodernity, a time when   stresses, in general, were felt less than in modernity. Sts. John Henry Newman and Maximilian Kolbe lived in modernity. Two world wars left lasting scars which the Second Vatican Council analyzed while renewing the whole Church. I was ordained in this euphoria, while the sober eyes of Pope St. Paul VI saw dark clouds of atheism. I wondered what he meant. Then I began to see the thinning of religion. How to respond? Not by blaming external forces alone such as social platforms, political untruths, or absorbing educational theories that hide ideologies. Internal forces count such as taking too long to respond by authorities is part of the thinning of religion. Inviting in new ideas without competence to guide them Christianly, is part of the thinning of religion. These facts converge into complicity for our post-Christian culture.

Where is the light? It shines in the innocent. My sister Margie with Down Syndrome just turned 64. I dedicated a book[1] to her with an inscription from Dante. “Whoever sees the Light, is soon made aware that such a Light would be impossible to set aside for another sight; because the good, the object of the will, is fully gathered in that Light; outside that Light, what appears good, is hollow.”[2] By turning to light, knowledge, beauty, and peace, Dante represents heaven and says the unsayable. God is Light and Love. Love exists. Love matters. Love is the woman given by God to Adam. Union with a person who is as beautiful as Margie says the unsayable about heaven.

The point is: Pentecost shouts out: “The Spirit of truth guides us in all truth.” The Spirit of truth assists us to think, to judge, to love. Truth always goes forward. May we allow a spousal vision of the Love of God to operate where we do not expect to see it! May we see with the eyes of the Bridegroom who did not eschew mixed company. The sinless one mixed himself with sinners. His nakedness is a self-emptying spousal love mediated through the sacraments. May we see the whole world, its history, and the future with eyes formed by the Bridegroom’s love. May we see his Bride, the Church as “a Church marked by being pliant and stubborn, holy and always straying into scandal.”

May we understand the sacrifice of Christ in the Eucharist as forming a solidarity always being built up to counter the cynicism since the time of Adam and Eve. May we see with Christ’s eyes, our failings, those of other Catholics; of separated Christians; of those drifting away and of people outside the Church. A narrative of freedom is emerging from the captivity of empire, a narrative released from the domination by the lust for domination.[3] The Church does not exist to add to another imperial myth to compete with others. May we be fair in understanding our post-Christian culture.

I can make these points with conviction because on Pentecost Monday we honor the Mother of the Church, who to the poet Gerard Manley Hopkins, ‘mothers every new grace.’[4] Since I left St. Cyril’s sixty-two years ago and fifty years as a Franciscan priest, the Immaculate Virgin has mothered every grace. “Sancta Maria Virgo, non est tibi similis nata in mundo, in mulieribus,” wrote St. Francis of Assisi. “Holy Virgin Mary, among all the women of the world, there is no one like you.” He [5] got it.

Delivered on Pentecost at SS. Cyril and Method, Binghamton, N.Y.

[1] E. J. Ondrako, Rebuild My Church (Hobe Sound, FL: Lectio Publishing, LLC., 2021). [ISBN 978-1-943901-18-0 To order, call (513) 677-3554 or contact eric.wolf@lectiopublishing.com
[2] Adapted from Dante, Commedia, Paradiso, Canto 33, 100 (written by 1316). 2021 is the 700th anniversary of his death in 1321.
[3] St. Augustine, The City of God, Preface.
[4] Gerard Manley Hopkins, SJ, “The Blessed Virgin Compared to the Air We Breathe.” (1883).
[5] St. Francis of Assisi, “Antiphon for the Office of the Passion.”

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