Spirituality for Today – May 2016 – Volume 20, Issue 10


Rev. Raymond Petrucci

A photo of Sister Miriam Teresa Demjanovich.Sister Miriam Teresa Demjanovich

Pentecost – the birthday of the Church – is celebrated this time of the year. In preaching on this theme, I can emphasize the historical consequence of that deep and powerful experience, or share my thoughts of how to live that enduring reality in the here and now. This time, I thought that I would take a passive approach and simply be attentive to the ways that I observed the Church active in the happenings around me and then share my discoveries in my homily on Pentecost Sunday.

My first act was to go online and note what was happening in the diocese. Our diocesan APP provided a wide variety of both spiritual and charitable events going on around me. So many parishes and individuals were making the Church present in our society: prayer groups, holy hours, bible studies, fund raisers for cancer prevention, youth groups doing charitable works, and may other similar gifts devoted to the betterment of the culture. As heartening as it was to learn of how so many people of all ages were living their faith in so many wonderful ways, I wanted to witness faith and the Holy Spirit visible in ways that are rooted in everyday life experiences or, at least, sensing the supernatural in the natural and the common. I recall numerous acts of courtesy that reflect caring and sacrifice, a willingness to give forgiveness rather than "rage" to a driver that made a mistake, a young mother combing the hair of her young child before entering church, neighbors reaching out to a fellow neighbor at the sight of an ambulance in their driveway, individuals going the extra mile to correct an injustice, and a friend comforting another friend at the loss of a loved one. In addition, I am sure that there are countless acts of people being true followers of Christ when it would be so easy to be indifferent or condescending. Many are those who really and sincerely try to keep the influence of the Holy Spirit operative in their manner of living each day.

In last year's May issue of Columbia magazine, Msgr. David Q. Liptak, of my neighboring Archdiocese of Hartford, underscored the notion of the simplicity of Christian witness in his article, A Hidden Life for God. He narrated the story of Sister Miriam Teresa Demjanovich, who was beatified on October 4, 2014. She desired to become a Sister of Charity and entered the novitiate in 1925 and served the Lord for only two years until death claimed her at the age of 26. Much can be said about her, but my purpose in mentioning her is her emphasis in her writings on the importance of every member of the faithful to be aware that they can achieve God's will for them by a constant "yes" to God's call to holiness. In his early book, More Saints for Our Time, Msgr. Liptak titled one section "Saints without a St." This title captures the significance my humble quest. We all want to reach heaven; we all want to be a saint. This is achievable for all of us and, thus, all of us must be about achieving it. That is what I want to see – instances of people living for God.

The church and the sacraments exist to rescue character
and bring out the best in it. Christ did this during his
lifetime and has been doing it ever since.

Hubert Van Zeller

This approach to Pentecost has caused me to be much more aware of how the Holy Spirit may work in our world and how I must be open and cooperative to the opportunities through which I, myself, can express my membership within the people of God. I encourage all who claim the Christian faith as their own to see in Pentecost a continuing renewal and rebirth of the Church that offers to the world the clearest evidence of being human at the highest level and of experiencing love in its purest and most Christ-like form.