Fr. Carl’s Corner


Happy Birthday, Church!

Today’s Feast of Pentecost is often referred to as the “Birthday of the Church.” It marks the day when the Holy Spirit descended upon the Apostles, empowering them to preach the Gospel across all nations, effectively initiating the spread of Christianity. This event, occurring fifty days after Easter, symbolizes the Church’s emergence as a global community united under the teachings of Christ. It celebrates the moment when the Apostles began to baptize thousands, leading to the rapid growth of the Christian faith.

I have often said that we as a church, and in particular as the Catholic Communities of Oak Park with members in and around the area, are in a new Pentecost. We have gone through the Renew My Church process and entered the phase that was called Building a New Reality. However, that focus has changed, and we are now in this new phase which is a time of spiritual renewal. Yet for many, it feels like we are still in a time of grief, a time of loss. Our communities have changed with the unifications which has caused some pain and sadness more focused on loss rather than what can be gained. We still suffer from the effects of the pandemic and lower attendance at Mass. Some are withholding their stewardship until certain decisions are made regarding our properties or until other concerns are addressed. Whom do we hurt then but our communities and our efforts to be united as the Body of Christ we are called to be.

Pentecost comes to remind us how the Spirit was at work in the early Church. We pray Veni, Sancte Spiritus! Come, Holy Spirit and help us to heal, renew, wash, bend, melt, warm, guide, shine, fill, and give joy. In this time of our new Pentecost, we cannot be passive recipients of the Holy Spirit’s power. A Christian’s job, our job, is to bear fruit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, gentleness and faithfulness. These virtues may not come naturally for us and may be a particular challenge at this time in our church life. But with the Holy Spirit as our guide and strength, we can work harder at embracing some of them. What might that be for you?

Let’s recall today how the Holy Spirit, at times, surprised the early Christians bestowing blessing on people who may at one time have been deemed unworthy. Today, this spirit is still surprising us, pouring out gifts on us and on those we least expect. Think who those people might be today: women, young people, immigrants, the LGBTQ community, conservative and liberal minds finding common ground. Jesus is with us in our community and in the Eucharist.

In the end, let’s not forget the Fruits of the Holy Spirit are the result of the Spirit’s cultivation of the soil of our hearts rather than our own striving. We prepare the soil; the Spirit grows the seed. We stand on the threshold of a new Pentecost in how we want to be Church for each other. What seed will you grow and bring forth? If you’re not sure, simply remember the central command of Jesus: love one another.

Veni, Sancte Spiritus!

What gift of the Spirit might you pray for and ask to guide you this week? The gifts of the Holy Spirit are Wisdom, Understanding, Counsel, Knowledge, Fortitude, Piety, and Fear of the Lord.

May the gifts of the Spirit aid us in this time of spiritual renewal.

With you a Christian. For you a priest.

Fr. Carl Morello
St. Catherine of Siena – St. Lucy and St. Giles Parish

Ascension and St. Edmund Parish