We have now entered the last week of the Easter Season, between the great feasts of the Ascension and Pentecost. This Seventh Sunday of Easter is World Communications day and Catholics are asked to reflect on the necessity of fulfilling the command of Jesus to preach the Good News of the Gospel to the whole world. Pope Francis has provided a message for this day which can be found on the internet. As we reflect on the readings of this day, let us pray for the grace to receive the Holy Spirit into our hearts, minds and souls so that we can be true bearers of Christ’s love into our families, work places and society as a whole.
The first reading from the Acts of the Apostles features the apostles returning to the upper room after the Ascension to await the coming of the Holy Spirit. Here they fulfil his wish that they not leave Jerusalem without being strengthened by the Holy Spirit that will come down on them soon.
This is the first passage which tells us of the spiritual life and devout practices of the disciples after the ascension. It places the emphasis on prayer, in keeping with our Lord’s own practice and with his constant recommendation to his followers (Mt. 6:5). “Prayer is the foundation of the spiritual edifice. Prayer is all powerful” St Jose Maria Escriva(The Way, 83). Prayer is the bedrock of the Church which will be made manifest with the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.
This is one of the last times Our Lady is mentioned in the New Testament. The Church, therefore, holds Mary as the perfect pattern of the follower of Jesus at prayer. This is the first nine-day Novena and all novenas have their origins in Mary and the apostles praying unremittingly for the gift of the Holy Spirit. They form one community in prayer, which is the beginning of the Church under the leadership of the Apostles. The women from Galilee were the first to hear the message of the resurrection at the empty tomb, something the Apostles themselves did not witness. Then there is Mary, the first person ever to hear God’s message about Jesus Christ through the angel. Together, the Apostles, the women from Galilee and our Lord’s mother bring the Gospel in its entirety into the beginning of the Church. They are united in prayer as they wait the coming of the Holy Spirit.
The promise Jesus made to the first Christian community is the same promise he makes to us today. Saint Luke says of the first Christian community: “All these with one accord devoted themselves to prayer” . As Saint Jose Maria Escriva puts it: “Prayer was then, as it is today, the only weapon, the most powerful means, for winning the battles of our interior struggle” (Friends of God, 242).
Let us pray on this Seventh Sunday of Easter for the grace to make prayer the centre of our Christian life for wherever two or three of us are gathered in his name, there in our midst our Lord is present (Mt 18:20). Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and enkindle in them the fire of your love.
We should never be ashamed of being called Christians; it should rather be a reason to give thanks to God. “Christians, who become cowed or inhibited or envious in the face of the behaviour of those who have not accepted the Word of God, show that they have a very poor idea of the faith. If we truly keep the law of Christ – that is, if we make the effort to do so, because we will not always fully succeed – we will find ourselves endowed with a wonderful gallantry of spirit that does not need to look elsewhere to discover the full meaning of human dignity” S Jose Maria Escriva If we are to take seriously the need to communicate the Gospel in Evesham and Broadway in these days then we should pray to the Holy Spirit to fortify our faith so that even in the face of opposition or persecution, we will always keep our gaze fixed on the risen Lord Jesus.
Please to continue the prayers of the Pentecost Novena. The one found on line is called Pentecost Novena with Dan Schutte and is a good one to use. There are many others
May I remind you that during this time I am only at the end of the phone and may I thank those who have phoned to ask after my well-being. Please continue to keep safe by observing the advice given by the Government.
Christopher J P Draycott