Come Holy Spirit

Pentecost Year A homily May 28 2023

Today is Pentecost Sunday, the coming of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles and the beginning of the missionary Church. Next Sunday we can talk about the Trinity, but today, let’s talk about the Holy Spirit because he has descended today to be with us.

Jesus left Earth nine days ago at the Feast of the Ascension, rising by his own power to his throne in Heaven, where he reigns in glory surrounded by the Apostles and Martyrs and Seraphim and Cherubim. We get a beautiful image of the company of Heaven with the Lamb on his throne from St. John’s Revelation.

That means that Jesus has left us. He does not leave us alone, however. He promised he would send a helper, a comforter, a friend to be with us where we dwell. That is the Holy Spirit. Jesus is with us, really present in the sacraments, especially the Sacrament of the Eucharist, where we receive his body, blood, soul, and divinity into our earthly bodies at Holy Communion in the Mass.

Our understanding of that sacramental presence is why we should try to receive him in the most reverent way possible. If every particle of the blessed sacrament contains the divinity of Jesus, then we want – or we should want – to ensure that no particle is lost or dropped. The safest way to do this is to receive Him directly into our mouths, which we call reception on the tongue. As the devotion to the Blessed Sacrament grew through the centuries, reception on the tongue became the norm – the established way – to receive Holy Communion. There certainly is evidence that people have received Holy Communion in the hand, but that practice gave way to the other practice over the centuries. It recently came back as one of the changes coming out of the Second Vatican Council. Everyone here should consider spending time in prayer thinking about what it means to receive Jesus into our mortal bodies and how we should reflect our beliefs in our actions at Mass. However we receive Him, we really should do so with the greatest reverence possible.

Other than at Mass or in Adoration, the presence of God we feel is really the Holy Spirit. We know with our intellect that we receive the grace of God – that sanctifying grace that he gives us to grow more holy and closer to Him – through the Eucharist, Baptism, Confirmation, and the sacraments of Healing. And we get that grace whether we feel Him or not. The sacramental life is a life of God’s mercy, for it does not depend on us but is a pure gift from Him.

So while we know that we receive Grace objectively in the sacraments, our loving God knows that our feelings are a big part of what makes us who we are. God gave us our feelings because he wants us to feel. We are not robots; we are human persons with emotions, passions, intellect, and will. All those can be used for good, if we choose the good.

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RCA Commencement

Commencement Address May 14 2023

Graduating seniors, parents, and teachers, congratulations on completing your high school education and formation at Regina Coeli Academy. By now you will have deduced that I am not Fr. Brian Baker, who was supposed to be the commencement speaker today. Father Baker is ill, so please keep him in your prayers.

My name is Brad Young. I am an ordained deacon, serving at St. Catherine of Siena in Kennesaw, Georgia. So while I am not as smart and talented as Fr. Baker — but really, who is? — I am a father of three children and therefore quite familiar with the challenges of high school both from the perspective of a student and the perspective of a parent. I went to a secular boarding school in New England for my high school years, and my three children went to St. Pius X, the diocesan high school in Chamblee. My day job as an investment manager means I have one foot in the worldly camp by virtue of my finance job, and I have one foot in the “churchy” camp by virtue of my diaconal ministry.

Today, I intend to speak primarily to the graduating seniors, but I hope that what I have to say resonates with their parents and their teachers.

Graduates, you are today making the first step out of the protective confines of an educational arrangement that is steeped in Catholic principles. The secular world is profoundly uncomfortable with Catholic principles, and it seeks either to cancel those principles or co-opt those principles. Your challenge as young adults is to see through the lies of secularism and keep sight of the truths of Catholicism.

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