“It is the decision of the Holy Spirit and of us...” This phrase from today’s first reading from the Acts of the Apostles indicates how the Apostles and elders were guided by the Holy Spirit in the exercise of their pastoral responsibility as teachers of the Faith. The Lord promised His Apostles that He would send the Holy Spirit to them after He ascended to His Father in Heaven. Liturgically, we celebrate these events in the next several weeks. So today’s readings are preparing us for those events. The Ascension of the Lord will be celebrated next Sunday; several years ago, the Bishops of Wisconsin transferred the observance of the Ascension to the Sunday following its traditional place on the calendar, which would have been Thursday, May 26, this year. Pentecost – when we commemorate the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles – will be celebrated the Sunday after that. At every point in the life of the Church the Holy Spirit is at work. First, it is by the power of the Holy Spirit that the Apostles were strengthened to teach clearly in the face of obstacles and persecution. Second, it is in cooperation with the Holy Spirit that the authors of the books of the New Testament recorded the Word of God. While all the while remaining free agents, they truly wrote under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Third, it was under the guidance of the Holy Spirit that the Church’s pastors (i.e., the Bishops) determined which writings were inspired by the Holy Spirit and are part of the Bible. And fourth, it is the same Holy Spirit which continually guides the Church today. It is by the power of the Holy Spirit that the Pope (the successor of Saint Peter) and all the bishops in union with him infallibly teach on matters of the faith and on morals. The Church is not now, and never has been, a democracy. We do not determine doctrine by the latest poll, or by any report from some research group. The Church, and the Faith which the Church teaches, is a gift from our Lord, Jesus Christ. And both the Church and the Faith are protected by the Holy Spirit.
I leave today (Sunday) for my annual retreat and will return to the parish late Friday. Please keep me in your prayers and be assured of my prayers for you while I am on retreat. Fr. Menzel will be filling in for me while I am gone. Please note that there will be NO MASS at SSPP on this Tuesday, May 24, and NO CONFESSIONS Tuesday through Friday.
May God bless you!