Holy spirit

Gifts of the Holy Spirit Encourage Us to Defend Christ

Hundreds of Catholics from across the diocese prayed a rosary for the United States of America after an Independence Day Mass at Ss. Simon and Jude Cathedral in this file photo from July 4, 2015 (Ambria) Hammel / CATHOLIC SUN)

Today, nearly 2,000 years later, we still live in the glow of that glorious moment when the Holy Spirit rushed upon the apostles, emboldening them to carry the gospel to all nations. The reality of who Jesus is, of what his death and resurrection means to the world, has not diminished at all. The gifts of the Holy Spirit continue to be poured out and kindle our hearts to help us live and spread the message of Christianity.

Religious Freedom Week 2019: Strength in Hope

June 22-29

Religious freedom gives the Church the space to carry out the mission entrusted to her by Jesus. Religious freedom means that Catholics and all people of good will are free to seek the truth and to live according to that truth, and thus to strengthen our common life as a nation.

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July 4th mass and rosary

8:30 am, July 4

St. Thomas the Apostle Parish, 2312 E. Campbell Ave., Phoenix

The Independence Day Prayer for America with Auxiliary Bishop Eduardo A. Nevares will be followed by the Rosary Prayer for the United States of America.

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It is truly amazing to read the book of Acts and see the total transformation of the Apostles. Once they receive the Holy Ghost, they boldly venture out despite fierce opposition and persecution. No earthly force can divert them from the mission entrusted to them by the Lord Jesus. They call for repentance and baptize thousands of people. Imprisonment, beatings, rejection, exile, stoning and martyrdom await them, but their hearts overflow with joy and a deep desire to share the life-changing love of Christ.

Strong and often brutal opposition to the message of Christianity has continued since then. As you read these words today, millions of Christians around the world are still suffering intense persecution. Their difficulties grab our attention, but really momentarily. It’s been a few weeks, but most people scratch their heads if you ask them about the massacre of over 300 Sri Lankan Catholics during Easter Mass.

Here in the United States, opposition and outright hostility to the message of Christianity is on the rise. For now, this is mostly limited to lawsuits, legislation, slurs and discrimination. (Check out ADFLegal.org for details on problematic laws like the Equality Act.) While you will rarely find people disagreeing with the general idea of ​​“loving your neighbor as yourself,” dig a little deeper. more and you are sure to hit a nerve. The “narrow way” that Christ preached is considered narrow-minded by many. Those who oppose gender ideology, so-called “marriage equality” and abortion are demonized as enemies and oppressors.

On some level, I would say it’s OK. Truly.

Jesus clearly tells us: “If the world hates you, know that it hated me first” (Jn 15,18). In fact, Jesus tells us, there will come a time when “whoever kills you will think that he is worshiping God” (Jn 16: 2). They will do it, says Jesus, because they know neither him nor his Father.

Remember what he also told them: that after receiving the Holy Ghost, their mission was to go ahead and spread His teachings. It is also our mission. And here in the United States, we have the guaranteed First Amendment right to do so. So don’t be shy!

Develop simple ways to share how God has worked in your life. Something like, “I used to let stress rule my life. Then I discovered that by staying close to Jesus, I have more peace. A word of warning though: you can only do this if it’s true for you. So, are you just going with the movements of your faith life? Are you on autopilot perhaps? Make a sincere confession and then ask the Lord to renew the gifts of the Holy Ghost given to you at baptism. Ask him to show you how to stay close and how to share his message.

One way to stay close to the Lord this month is to participate in Religious Freedom Week which begins June 22 on the feast of the martyrs of St. Thomas More and St. John Fisher. Although the United States was founded on the ideals of religious freedom, this freedom is increasingly under attack. Since 2012, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has called on the faithful each June to pray in particular for the protection of religious freedom and to take action in this regard.

Now would be a good time to tap into the power of the Holy Spirit to embolden us to speak the truth, even when it is unpopular. Even when it’s expensive. Even when it means being labeled hateful. No earthly force should distract us from our mission: to proclaim the love, hope and truth found in our Lord Jesus. Come, Holy Spirit, come!