Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
Today we celebrate the birth of our Lord’s Church and the fulfillment of Christ’s Paschal Mystery. The scene from the Acts of the Apostles is filled with drama, as “a noise like a strong driving wind” and “tongues as of fire” accompany the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the apostles. What was the effect of this outpouring? We read that the apostles went forth confidently, speaking in the many languages of the visitors to Jerusalem. In the words of St. Bede, “Now the Holy Spirit appeared in fire and in tongues because all those whom He fills He makes simultaneously to burn and to speak – to burn because of Him and to speak about Him.”
From the beginning of time, the Holy Spirit has been at work with the Father and the Son on the divine plan for our salvation. Through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at our baptism, we are each called to be cooperators with that plan, not only for our own sanctification, but for the sanctification of the whole world. The Catholic Church is God’s sacramental presence on earth, imbued with the Holy Spirit, given to us as a means for our salvation. All the resources of the Church – human, physical, financial – must be ordered to Jesus’ great commission to proclaim the Good News of salvation and make disciples of all nations.
This is the purpose of Beacons of Light, to best enable the proclamation of the Gospel in our own archdiocese. On July 1, we will move on to the next major phase of Beacons of Light, implementation of the new Families of Parishes and the start of intentional pastoral planning within each of those Families. This planning will be rooted in sincere prayer and open collaboration as each Family together discerns the best and highest use of their shared resources to radiate the love of Christ and form a strong, vital community of evangelization and service centered on the Eucharist. There will undoubtedly be hard decisions involving sacrifice and loss, but which will bear great fruit in the future. This is the enduring Christian journey, one which needs to be offered up in prayer to God’s providence.
In a 2006 homily, Pope Benedict XVI said, “in Pentecost the Spirit, with the gift of tongues, demonstrates that His presence unites and transforms confusion into communion.” As we move forward into an unsure and sometimes confusing future, let us stay united as the Body of Christ, confident that the Holy Spirit is with us until the end of time. Please accept my heartfelt gratitude for your commitment to the flourishing of our local Church. May God bless and keep all of us as we journey together on the path of discipleship.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Most Reverend Dennis M. Schnurr
Archbishop of Cincinnati