At Home With the Word: Pentecost

by Fr. Timothy Armbruster, C.PP.S., Provincial Councilor

My first assignment was with Fr. Mike Volkmer at St. Francis Xavier Parish in St. Joe. Upon arriving there, I discovered a bottle of champagne in the fridge. When I inquired about it, I was told it was a gift from a parishioner some months ago. I was also warned not to move it for fear it would pop its cork. For many months that bottle remained right there in the fridge. That first year as Easter rolled around, I had the brilliant idea to someway, somehow use that bottle of champagne in one of my homilies. I thought about it and decided what better time than for Pentecost. What better way to demonstrate the Spirit being set free with gusto and flair and a bit of the bubbly? I remember carrying that bottle of champagne into the church and setting it near the altar. I didn’t realize how many people knew the story of that bottle of champagne in the fridge. When I was asked where I got it from and told them, they all perked up and with eyes wide open said, “Be careful! That cork could pop at any time and make a sticky mess everywhere!” I wasn’t too concerned because I knew I wasn’t going to actually pop the cork, but boy, were people’s eyes glued to me the whole time as I danced around the altar with that bottle in the air afraid it would POP! on its own.

Veni Sancte Spiritus, Come Holy Spirit

The words we sing remind us of the gift of the Holy Spirit that touches not only our hearts but deep in our souls. The gift that ignites our hearts and minds just as it did the disciples to give them courage and strength. The wind of the Spirit blows where it will and stirs the hearts and minds of all who believe.

Spirit Wind, Breath of God, breathe new life into the world.*

We celebrate Pentecost and welcome the gift of the Holy Spirit to breathe new life into the world. We need fresh air and a renewed spirit. A spirit to awaken us once again and move us out into the world. Several weeks ago, on NPR, an announcer encountered an older couple in Rome who were out for a walk. He asked them if they were being rebels going against the Stay at Home order. The woman simply replied that no, they were not being rebels, but if she and her husband didn’t get out of the house every 2 or 3 days for a 30-minute walk that they would be so crippled up that they would never be able to move again. For our sanity and health, we gotta get out and get some fresh air. Then we can go back home and hunker down for a few more days.

Veni Sancte Spiritus, Come Holy Spirit

We begin the ritual of reopening the churches and getting back to life as we once knew it. The story is told of a family some 30 years from now. The grandchildren asking grandparents about the pandemic of 2020. Grandchildren asking how difficult and challenging these times were. The grandparents agreeing and remembering the shortage of toilet paper and other supplies. Yes, it was a challenging time. The grandkids shared they remembered it differently. They remembered a time of having picnics on the front yard and mom and dad not having to race off to work but spending more time at home. The story ended with asking what will we remember from these days?

Come, Holy Spirit, and breathe on us the gift of new life. In many ways, we need a breath of fresh air to renew us from within to bring us to life once again. Many people are out and about, and others are still keeping their distance at home. May we soon all feel safe once again to move about and gather together.

May the gift of the Holy Spirit set our hearts on fire once again.

*Spirit Wind, Psalm 104; Scott Soper, GIA Publications

stained glass window of a dove as the Holy Spirirt
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At Home With the Word

by Vicky Otto, Companions Director

Throughout a typical day, each of us makes choices about a whole myriad of situations. As we continue to live during the COVID-19 pandemic, we are still faced with the same circumstances, yet the choices have become more complex. For many, the choice of staying connected with others is one of the most significant challenges that we face today. A small child reminded me that when we stay open to seeing new opportunities rather than obstacles, we can be people of hope.

During the pandemic, after working during the day, I try to get out every afternoon for a long walk – maintaining appropriate social distancing, of course! I live in a large apartment complex in Kansas City, and because everyone has been home there have been children everywhere. I met a young child about four or five during my walk that was upset because of a conflict with his siblings. We struck up a quick conversation when I admired the ball he had. As I continued my walk, he said quite loudly, “I want to give you a hug.” His mother and I both gasped audibly. I gave him a quick lesson about how we can blow kisses in the air instead. He seemed pleased with the alternative and ever since then, when I have met him in the complex, he goes out of his way to blow kisses.

My daily encounters with my new young friend are a good reminder of two lessons that I have learned during this pandemic. First, it is all how we accept things. My friend didn’t stop when he heard “No,” he remained open to listening and trying something new. He reminded me that even as we follow all the guidelines of the pandemic to stay safe, we can still build a connection with others. The second lesson he taught was that despite our circumstances, we need to choose to be people of love and people of hope. My young friend was a person of love. I pray that as he grows older that he will continue to grow in him. He reminds me and each of us that we choose how to live in this world.  We are living in uncertain and often terrifying times. It is easy to fall prey and react with all the negative emotions that this pandemic brings up in each of us. My new friend has taught me that there are different opportunities available.

We may never get back to life “pre-pandemic.” In many ways I hope we don’t. Living in the pandemic has taught me that I choose to see that this is a time of grace where we get to pray more, slow down, and in the slowing down appreciate the small things that we might have missed.  I would have never imagined I would have enjoyed blowing kisses so much. Choosing to live in a time of grace means that we also must chose to be people of love. As we are sent forth on our missionary ways this week, I invite us to enjoy “blowing kisses.”

small boy blowing kisses
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