There is some sense to calling Pentecost the birthday of the Church, but it can be somewhat glib.

You might say that the Church was born when Christ was born, or when water and blood, Baptism and Eucharist, flowed from Christ's side on the Cross.  You might even say that the Church was born with Adam and Eve and came to maturity when Jesus, the new Adam, and his mother Mary, the new Eve, greeted each other in the unrecorded instant before the break of Easter dawn.  What we can say with precision is that on Pentecost the bond of love between the Eternal Father and the Eternal Son filled the Church. When Christ prayed  the night before he died, he spoke of that unifier which is the Holy Spirit: "I made known to them your name, and I will make it known, that the love with which you loved me may be in them and I in them" (John 17:26).

The Year of Faith proclaimed by Pope Benedict XVI is to put to work the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit, which are given in Confirmation:  wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord.  They give life to the Seven Holy Virtues and defeat the Seven Deadly Sins.  He who has never been tempted by those sins would be an oyster or a rock rather than a human.  Perhaps the most underestimated sin is sloth.  It is not simple laziness: sloth is spiritual apathy that dampens ardor for serving God in our short lifespan.  An example of this is an individual who recently complained about Pope Francis canonizing the 813 martyrs of Otranto, since it might be taken as an affront to Islam.  We cannot pretend that they were martyred by wild Methodists brandishing water pistols, but the real problem is that slothful souls cannot understand why anyone would give one's life for Christ.  Rather,  Pope Francis said, "As we venerate the martyrs of Otranto, let us ask God to sustain those many Christians who, in these times and in many parts of the world, right now, still suffer violence, and that he give them the courage and fidelity to respond to evil with good."

In our corner of the Church, which is New York, sloth is more subtle than heresy or blasphemy or wrath.  Notwithstanding all the good things in our archdiocese, it is significantly below many other areas of our nation in attendance at Holy Mass and in priestly vocations.  This is not what one would expect of a people filled with the Holy Spirit.  With the beauty of worship in our parish, and the springtime of vocations exemplified by two of our young men being ordained this month, we too may risk becoming smug, a condition as ugly as it sounds, forgetting that there is much more to do.  "Come Holy Spirit.  Enlighten the hearts of your faithful people."   




Father George William Rutler. "Pentecost."  From the Pastor (May 19, 2013).

Reprinted with permission of Father George W. Rutler.


Father Rutler received priestly ordination in 1981. Born in 1945 and reared in the Episcopal tradition, Father Rutler was an Episcopal priest for nine years. He was received into the Catholic Church in 1979 and was sent to the North American College in Rome for seminary studies. Father Rutler graduated from Dartmouth, where he was a Rufus Choate Scholar, and took advanced degrees at the Johns Hopkins University and the General Theological Seminary. He holds several degrees from the Gregorian and Angelicum Universities in Rome, including the Pontifical Doctorate in Sacred Theology, and studied at the Institut Catholique in Paris. In England, in 1988, the University of Oxford awarded him the degree Master of Studies. From 1987 to 1989 he was regular preacher to the students, faculty, and townspeople of Oxford. Cardinal Egan appointed him Pastor of the Church of Our Saviour, effective September 17, 2001. 

Since 1988 his weekly television program has been broadcast worldwide on EWTN. Father Rutler has published 17 books, including: Cloud of Witnesses — Dead People I Knew When They Were Alive, Coincidentally: Unserious Reflections on Trivial Connections, A Crisis of Saints: Essays on People and Principles, Brightest and Best, Saint John Vianney: The Cure D'Ars Today, Crisis in Culture, and Adam Danced: The Cross and the Seven Deadly Sins.

Copyright © 2013 Father George W. Rutler

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