ONE moment they were cowards, the next courageous. One moment they were doubting, the next they were certain. One moment they were hesitant, the next, they rushed headlong toward their martyrdoms. What made the difference in those Apostles that turned them into fearless men?
The Holy Spirit.
Not a bird or a force, not a cosmic energy or lovely symbol—but the Spirit of God, the Third Person of the Holy Trinity. And when He comes, it changes everything.
No, we cannot be cowards in these days of ours—especially you men who are fathers, whether you be priests or parents. If we are cowards, we will lose our faith. The Storm that is beginning to spread over the whole world is a storm of sifting. Those who are willing to compromise their faith will lose it, but those willing to lose their lives for their faith will find it. We must be realistic about what we are facing:
Those who challenge this new paganism are faced with a difficult option. Either they conform to this philosophy or they are faced with the prospect of martyrdom. —Servant of God Fr. John Hardon (1914-2000), How to Be a Loyal Catholic Today? By Being Loyal to the Bishop of Rome; www.therealpresence.org
Well, that probably makes you feel afraid. But this is why Our Lady has been sent like an Ark for this generation. Not to hide us, but to prepare us; not to stow us away, but to equip us to be on the front lines of the greatest confrontation the world has ever known. As Jesus said in the approved messages to Elizabeth Kindelmann:
All are invited to join my special fighting force. The coming of my Kingdom must be your only purpose in life… Do not be cowards. Do not wait. Confront the Storm to save souls. —Jesus to Elizabeth Kindelmann, The Flame of Love, pg. 34, published by Children of the Father Foundation; Imprimatur by Archbishop Charles Chaput
If you feel fear in your heart, then it means you are human; it’s what you do to overcome that fear that decides the kind of a man or woman you are. But dear Christian, I am not speaking about your ability to conquer fear through mental exercises or trying to whip yourself up into a frenzy. Rather, of your capacity to turn to the One who casts out all fear—He who is Perfect Love, the Holy Spirit. For…
…perfect love casts out fear. (1 John 4:18)
A terrible thing has happened to the Church in the past decade or so. We seem to have forgotten that God still wishes to pour out the Holy Spirit upon us! The Father did not cease to give us this Divine Gift after Pentecost; He did not cease to give It to us at our Baptism and Confirmation; in fact, God desires to fill us with the Spirit whenever we ask!
If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the Father in heaven give the holy Spirit to those who ask him? (Luke 11:13)
If you think I am making this up, then consider this passage from the Acts of the Apostles:
“And now, Lord, take note of their threats, and enable your servants to speak your word with all boldness, as you stretch forth your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are done through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” As they prayed, the place where they were gathered shook, and they were all filled with the holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness. (Acts 4:29-31)
Here’s the point. That wasn’t Pentecost—Pentecost happened two chapters earlier. So we see that God can and does grant us His Spirit when we ask.
Be open to Christ, welcome the Spirit, so that a new Pentecost may take place in every community! A new humanity, a joyful one, will arise from your midst; you will experience again the saving power of the Lord. —POPE JOHN PAUL II, in Latin America, 1992
I probably should have quit this ministry long ago. The insults, the persecution, cold-shoulders, rejection, mockery, and isolation, let alone my own fears of failure or leading others astray… Yes, I have often experienced The Temptation to be Normal. But it is the Holy Spirit who has been my source of strength and power to continue, particularly through these vessels:
• Prayer. In prayer, I am connected to Christ, the Vine, who then brings the sap of the Holy Spirit to flow through the tendrils of my heart. Oh, how often God has renewed my soul in prayer! How often I have entered into prayer, crawling on the ground, and then found myself soaring like an eagle!
• The Sacrament of Community. We are not islands. We belong to a body, the Body of Christ. Hence, each of us is a sacrament to the other when we allow the love of Jesus to flow through us: when we are His face, His hands, His smile, His listening ears, His touch; when we remind each other of God’s Word and continually exhort one another to “think of what is above, not of what is on earth” (Colossians 3:2). What a gift you have been to me through your letters and prayers through which I have felt real grace and strength return.
• The Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. When we receive Jesus in Holy Communion, what are we gaining? Life, eternal life, and that Life is the Spirit of God. The miracle of peace that I have often felt after receiving Jesus in the Eucharist is more than enough proof that God exists… and enough strength for the week ahead.
• The Blessed Mother. So many people misunderstand Our Lady. It is a great sorrow for me because no one loves and worships Jesus as she does! Her only interest is that the world would come to love and worship Jesus in the same way. And thus—to those who let her mother them—she gives all the graces that God has given to her, to dispose them for the good of souls. She does this through her Divine Spouse, the Holy Spirit.
• Confession. When I have failed my Lord, myself, and those around me, I begin again because the Lord promises I can (1 John 1:9). What unspeakable graces are given in this Sacrament where Divine Mercy restores the soul through the cleansing fire of the Holy Spirit.
All that remains is for us not to be lazy, not to take our spiritual lives for granted. We cannot afford to, much less be cowards.
Divine providence has now prepared us. God’s merciful design has warned us that the day of our own struggle, our own contest, is at hand. By that shared love which binds us closely together, we are doing all we can to exhort our congregation, to give ourselves unceasingly to fastings, vigils, and prayers in common. These are the heavenly weapons which give us the strength to stand firm and endure; they are the spiritual defenses, the God-given armaments that protect us. —St. Cyprian, Letter to Pope Cornelius; The Liturgy of the Hours, Vol IV, p. 1407
In conclusion, I want to form an “upper room” with all of you on this Pentecost Sunday. And like the Apostles of old, let us gather with Our Lady and implore the Holy Spirit upon us, our families, and the world. Believe what you are asking for. Say one Hail Mary with me right now (and I’ll include the invocation that she asked for in the revelations to Elizabeth Kindelmann, which is a special prayer for the Holy Spirit through the Flame of Love of Our Lady’s heart):
Hail Mary full of grace
the Lord is with thee
Blessed art thou among women
and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God
pray for us sinners
and spread the effect of grace of thy Flame of Love
over all humanity
now and at the hour of our death.
If the day of persecution find us
thinking on these things and meditating upon them,
the soldier of Christ,
trained by Christ’s commands and instructions,
does not begin to panic at the thought of battle,
but is ready for the crown of victory.
—St. Cyprian, bishop and martyr
Liturgy of the Hours, Vol II, p. 1769
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