May 28, 2023

On this Memorial Day weekend, we celebrate the feast of Pentecost – the 50th day of Easter. Pentecost began as a Jewish celebration of the wheat harvest in the late spring. Jewish scholars believed that their ancestors arrived at Mount Sinai approximately 50 days after leaving Egypt. It was there that God made his covenant with them: “I will be your God and you will be my people.” Pentecost became a time for the Jewish people to celebrate the covenant that made them God’s chosen people.

Peace is about receiving the Holy Spirit. The peace bestowed on the apostles, the peace that does not bring freedom from problems, but in problems, is offered to each of us.

Pope Francis

For the Christian community, Pentecost has two sides. First, we remember that event in history when Jesus fulfilled his promise to send another Advocate, the Holy Spirit, upon the Apostles. Our first reading from the Acts of the Apostles tells this story. This is a past event though. It happened once in history. 

Then there is another side to Pentecost. We also celebrate Jesus’ constant sending of the Holy Spirit to his disciples, beginning actually on Easter night (our Gospel reading) and continuing into our own day. Despite their hiding behind locked doors, he quietly came to them, reconciled them after their desertion on Holy Thursday night, calmed their fears, and “breathed” the Holy Spirit upon them. Pentecost is really an ongoing event and not just past history. We do more than remember something that happened to someone else at another time, but we take part in what is happening for us today.

Jesus continues to send his Spirit in our time. Living our lives as disciples of the Lord Jesus is not an easy task. We struggle to make his values and principles a part of our lives more and more each day. And we know that we cannot do this on our own. Fortunately, we have the Spirit to strengthen us in our efforts. Today, we ask the Father to send the Spirit upon us in a deeper way than we have ever experienced before. If we ask for the gifts of the Spirit, God will give us these – and more.

With today’s feast of Pentecost, we mark the end of the Easter Season. Beginning Monday, we will return to the season of Ordinary Time, picking up where we left off on Ash Wednesday (the 8th Week). Throughout the 50-day Easter season, the Easter Candle burned next to the pulpit – the sign of fire was a symbol of the presence of the risen Lord among us. Now the Easter Candle will be “retired” to the Baptistery and used only for baptisms and funerals.

Memorial Day was originally called Decoration Day and was initiated to honor the soldiers of the Union and Confederate armies who died during the American Civil War. Celebrations honoring Civil War heroes started the year after the war ended, but the establishment of a public holiday was meant to unify the celebration as a national day of remembrance instead of a holiday celebrated separately by the Union and Confederate states. By the late 19th century, the holiday became known as Memorial Day and was expanded to include the deceased veterans of all the wars fought by American forces. In 1971, Memorial Day became a federal holiday and was given the floating date of the last Monday in May. We pray for the men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. It is important for us to remember them.

Memorial Day Mass will be celebrated in the Church at 9:00 am on Monday, as we normally celebrate just one Mass on civil holidays. This is a perfect way for us to observe the holiday. Our Parish Offices will be closed on Monday.

Welcome home to our college students who have made their way home following their spring semester exams. It is good to have you back. Congratulations to those who have graduated over the past few weeks. This is a great time in your life. Celebrate it well.

Have a blessed and safe holiday weekend. Enjoy the beauty of the spring season. May God continue to bless us with all that we need, and more.

-Father Jim Murphy