“Dear sister, dear brother, if you feel the darkness of solitude, if you feel that an obstacle within you blocks the way to hope, if your heart has a festering wound, if you can see no way out, then open your heart to the Holy Spirit.”
These were the beautiful words of Pope Francis in his homily for Pentecost, that precious moment when the Holy Spirit was sent upon the Apostles, marking the beginning of their mission to convert all the nations. We call this moment, with affection, the birthday of the Church. In the Holy Spirit, we have an unimaginable treasure—that which makes it possible for us to grow in holiness, sanctify our lives, discern God’s will, and discover how we are uniquely called by the Lord to be a “human being fully alive” as he created us to be, in the words of St. Irenaeus. In the work of living as loving Christian citizens at the service of our neighbours, the Holy Spirit is our guide, our director, and the zealous energy that makes possible all fruitful, good works.
In Pope Francis’ Pentecost homily, the Holy Father touched on the exact theme of our latest Catholic Civics Workshop—the ways ideologies block us from fully taking in the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete, who always guides us to authentic encounter and loving service to our neighbours. “If we listen to the Spirit, we will not be concerned with conservatives and progressives, traditionalists and innovators, right and left,” says Pope Francis. “When those become our criteria, then the Church has forgotten the Spirit.”
Where instead, is a Spirit-animated Christian driven? Against all the cynicism and fear of our age, the Spirit drives us to joy and into the arms of those who need Christ—that is, everyone. “The Paraclete is telling the Church that today is the time for comforting,” said Pope Francis. “It is more the time for joyfully proclaiming the Gospel than for combatting paganism. It is the time for bringing the joy of the Risen Lord, not for lamenting the drama of secularization. It is the time for pouring out love upon the world, yet not embracing worldliness. It is more the time for testifying to mercy, than for inculcating rules and regulations. It is the time of the Paraclete! It is the time of freedom of heart, in the Paraclete.”
The result of this Spirit-led attitude of joy is unity. We unite despite our differences, despite our frequent disagreements, in the shared purpose of our mission on Earth: proclaiming the Good News and doing good works in the name of the one who saved us. The first Apostles, said the Pope, “had contrary political ideas, different visions of the world… once they received the Spirit, they learned to give primacy not to their human viewpoints but to the ‘whole’ that is God’s plan… The Paraclete impels us to unity, to concord, to the harmony of diversity. He makes us see ourselves as parts of the same body, brothers and sisters of one another… the enemy wants diversity to become opposition and so he makes them become ideologies.”
Usually, we write our own words in these letters. You can see why we would instead give such space to the Holy Father’s words. How could we ourselves ever better express the spirit of Catholic Conscience?
Whether you consider yourself left-wing or right-wing, no matter what particular social challenges you are most passionate about, or all the different, myriad places God has called each of you to serve, we are united by the same Saviour, the same love, the same commission. No matter your mission, invite the Holy Spirit into your mission and service. The Spirit will always lead you to fruitfulness—and will always lead you to unity with your brothers and sisters in Christ. This was Christ’s desire: that we would be one in Him, as He is one in the Father, in the touching words of the Gospel of John.
Pope Francis sums it up perfectly…
“Say no to ideologies, yes to the whole.”
Matthew Marquardt & Brendan Steven
ANNOUNCING OUR JUNE CATHOLIC CIVICS WORKSHOP: USING MONEY LIKE A CATHOLIC
Matthew 6:24 famously reads, “You cannot serve God and wealth.” Yet as a Catholic living 2021, there’s no avoiding money and its powerful role in our lives and the society we participate in every day. How we use money lovingly, effectively, and with Catholic social teaching in mind is crucial to how we serve God and neighbour in this life. How do we as Christian disciples use our money in Christian ways? How do we steward the money of others, in our professional workplaces or our community projects? And how can we resist a money-centric culture that often reduces our human dignity to consumption and production, while also recognizing money’s role in pursuing the common good?
Join us on Wednesday, June 30 at 7:00 PM EDT for a Catholic Civics Workshop with two Catholic experts who will help us answer these critical questions: Michael Ryall, Professor of Strategic Management at the Rotman School of Management, and Paul Perrone, a Chartered Financial Analyst and experienced investment industry professional.
Works of Mercy In Out Community
SUPPORT OUR PASTORS! HELP YOUR LOCAL PARISH AS PUBLIC HEALTH RESTRICTIONS EASE
The COVID-19 pandemic has had terrible effects on all Canadians. All of us have been touched in some way, suffering everything from loneliness and worsening mental health, to illness or loss of loved ones, to financial precarity, being fired, facing eviction or food insecurity… the list, sadly, goes on.
As Catholics, one of the pains we have faced in this pandemic is separation from our parish communities, Holy Mass, and the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. We are all looking forward to returning to Mass, the site and summit of our lives as Christians.
All of us have simply been astounded by the courage and conviction of our pastors in this pandemic. They have transformed how they serve our parish communities, through online Masses, significant measures to protect the health and safety of those attending Mass in-person, and creative methods of continuing the ministries of parish life and community. Our pastors are doing their jobs. As parishioners, we have to do ours. As we begin to return to in-person Masses—God willing—over the course of the summer, consider different ways of joining the effort to ensure our parishes are thriving when this is all over:
- Volunteer to support reopening efforts: Reach out to your pastor personally and offer to support reopening. For at least the summer, teams of volunteers cleaning up the church between Masses, as well as other pandemic-related measures, will be part of parish life. We can all help support these efforts—ones that will help ensure in-person Masses are possible when legally allowed to proceed.
- Make an extraordinary donation to your parish, and encourage your friends to do the same: Many of our parishes have suffered significant financial instability in the pandemic. Giving a little extra this year to help restore them to stability is an investment in the spiritual well-being of all our communities.
- Send a note to your pastor thanking them for their work during the pandemic: As followers of Christ, we know the power of joyful gratitude for the love and service of others. Let’s share that gratitude with our pastors, who have shown their incredible commitment to their vocations and the People of God in great difficulty.
Do you have other ideas for how we can work as individuals and communities to support our parishes as they re-open? Please, send us a message. You can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or respond to this email. We would love to hear your thoughts.
WATCH MAY’S CATHOLIC CIVICS WORKSHOP:
IDEOLOGY VS. CATHOLICISM
In May, we were joined by Sabrina Chiefari—Creation Care Animator with the Sisters of St. Joseph of Toronto—to talk about an important theme in contemporary culture and politics: ideologies. What defines an ideology? Why do they play such an outsized role in political life today? What ideologies do we find in the culture around us, especially in the everyday lives of our neighbours? Why are ideologies so dangerous to our pursuit of the full truth, and the recognition of the inherent dignity of all human beings? Why is Catholicism not an ideology, and how do we ensure we embrace a Catholic social vision over various, competing ideological visions of life and culture? We touched on all these themes and more in a wide-ranging conversation about a concept that is so critical for any active Catholic citizen, particularly those engaged in politics, to understand.
Serving Your Community
PRAY FOR OUR PERSECUTED SISTERS AND BROTHERS IN CHINA
An international coalition of lay people is undertaking a global week of prayer for Christians living in China, a place where many religious groups are suffering persecution—most especially the Uyghur Muslims of Xinjiang, and also Christians of all denominations. The week of prayer is a response to a call from Cardinal Charles Bo, President of the Federation of Asian Bishops Conferences, who writes:
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the peoples of China have faced increasing challenges, which impact us all. It is right that we should pray not only for the Church but for all persons in the People’s Republic of China. We should ask Our Lady of Sheshan to protect all humanity and therefore the dignity of each and every person in China, in the words of Pope Benedict XVI’s prayer, “to believe, to hope, to love.” In fact, we are reminded that “the whole of the Church’s social doctrine, in fact, develops from the principle that affirms the inviolable dignity of the human person…”
In proposing this Week of Prayer I am expressing my love for the peoples of China, my respect for their ancient civilization and extraordinary economic growth, and my hopes that as it continues to rise as a global power, it may become a force for good and a protector of the rights of the most vulnerable and marginalized in the world. Pope Francis rightly reminds us that “there is also a deeper hunger, the hunger for a happiness that only God can satisfy, the hunger for dignity. I am calling for prayer for each person in China that they may seek and realize the full measure of happiness that our Creator has given to them.
From The Holy Father
ON PENTECOST, POPE FRANCIS CALLS ON THE CHURCH TO REJECT IDEOLOGIES OF ‘CONSERVATIVES AND PROGRESSIVES, RIGHT AND LEFT’
For the celebration of Pentecost this past Sunday, May 23, Pope Francis offered a stirring homily on the power of the Holy Spirit and how the Spirit calls us to unity, even amid disagreement, which should never transform into ideologies—a theme close to our hearts.
Pope Francis said, “if we listen to the Spirit, we will not be concerned with conservatives and progressives, traditionalists and innovators, right and left. When those become our criteria, then the Church has forgotten the Spirit.” He reminded them that “The Paraclete impels us to unity, to concord, to the harmony of diversity. He makes us see ourselves as parts of the same body, brothers and sisters of one another.” He warned that “the enemy wants diversity to become opposition and so he makes them become ideologies.” Adding to his prepared text, Francis said: “Say no to ideologies, yes to the whole.”
What We’re Watching
POPE FRANCIS LAUNCHES THE LAUDATO SI’ ACTION PLATFORM TO DRIVE DECISIVE ACTION IN OUR CHURCH ON SUSTAINABILITY AND INTEGRAL HUMAN DEVELOPMENT
In May, Pope Francis announced a new initiative by the Vatican’s Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development: the Laudato Si’ Action Platform. The Laudato Si’ Action Platform is a unique collaboration between the Vatican, an international coalition of Catholic organizations, and “all men and women of good will.” The aim of the platform is to help individuals, families, parishes and dioceses, educational institutions, healthcare institutions, organizations and groups, the economic sector, and religious orders to respond to Pope Francis’ landmark Laudato Si’ encyclical on integral human ecology, climate change, and building a sustainable world. Through the Platform, on October 4th of this year, the Feast of St. Francis, the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development will begin offering Laudato Si’ Plans. Laudato Si’ Plans help you discern and implement your response to Laudato Si’.
A PRAYER TO BE SENSITIVE TO THE HOLY SPIRIT’S PROMPTINGS
As we celebrated Pentecost this month, we—like the Apostles before us—awaited and prayed for the coming of the Holy Spirit, to awaken us to God’s will in our lives and give us the gifts needed to carry on Christ’s mission here on Earth. Without the Holy Spirit, put simply, none of our service—to our Church, to our neighbours, to our vulnerable or our wider community—is fruitful. The Spirit is God works His wonders through us.
In that spirit—pun intended—we want to share this prayer preparing our hearts for sensitivity to the Holy Spirit’s promptings. In all the ways we serve and love our neighbours and pursue the common good in civic and political life, may we ask the Spirit for guidance and strength!
O Holy Spirit,
You sanctify the people of God
through ministry and the Sacraments.
For the exercise of the Christian apostolate,
You give the faithful special gifts also,
allotting them to everyone according as You will
in order that individuals, administering grace to others
just as they have received it,may also be good stewards
of the manifold grace of God to build up the whole Body in charity.
From the acceptance of these charisms,
including those that are more elementary,
there arise for each believer the right and duty to use them in the Church
and in the world for the good of human beings and the building up of the Church
in the freedom given by You Who breathe where You will.
Help us to learn especially how to perform the mission of Christ and the Church
by basing our lives on belief in the Divine mystery of Creation and Redemption
and by being sensitive to Your movement, O Divine Spirit, Who give life
to the People of God and Who urge all to love the Father as well as the world
and human beings in Him.