November 15, 2019

Using Our Spirit-Given Gifts

Pentecost is the birthday of the Church in the power of the Holy Spirit. For this reason it should not surprise us to realize that his divine work has woven all pages of the Bible into a most masterful tapestry filled with grace and light.

Here are some of this tapestry’s intriguing details: the Church’s conception had been very quiet: just as from the side of the first man (Adam) asleep, Eve, the mother of humankind came forth, from the opened side of Jesus (the last Adam) asleep in death on the cross, mother Church was conceived.

The Church’s conception took place in the stillness of death, in the supreme sacrifice of our Savior. But her birth was marked by the roaring of the Spirit, by tongues of fire, thunders and a strong driving wind: all marvelous signs of things to come, of the radical transformation in the lives of all those in his path.

Today’s Gospel passage offers us the most graphic image of this transformation of the Church as a whole and of each of her members upon the outpouring of the Spirit. Locked doors are propped open. A bunch of scared, frightened individuals are thrust into the forefront of serious confrontations with all those who had forced them to lock those doors and find scanty protection inside the walls of the upper room. Here is the birth of our Church. Finally, as soon as Jesus breathes his Spirit, the Church cannot remain clammed up.  In all ages, she has to share the transformation operated by the Spirit with those on the outside. Being together in fellowship is in function of going out, bearing witness, proclaiming a new, earthshaking message, i.e. unleashing the Gospel!

In light of what is happening to us believers, with some of our religious rights still curtailed and diminished by the intolerance of political correctness and secularism; in light of what is happening to our children, who are often yanked away from our guidance, protection, formation and care; in light of what is happening to our world poisoned by violence, trivialized by self-absorption and gutted by loss of values, Pentecost must serve as a wakeup call, as a forceful reminder that we ought to accept our role to be dangerous, (the way electric power is dangerous), to leave a deep mark into the fabric of our society, to be salt that burns and light that penetrates, exposes and disturbs.

It is time we realize that on the other side of our locked doors, our opponents are getting more daring and the forces of darkness are emboldened.

But, what is happening? Have we forgotten that we are the powerful, the possessed, the enlightened, the anointed, the empowered, the transformed, the motivated from within, the ones willing to sacrifice their very physical life for Christ and for his Church? In the power of the Holy Spirit, we are called to be the ones unsettling the status quo and challenging the conquests made by those who attempt to trump reality with godless ideologies. We cannot forget that we are the ones meant to be hazardous to false security, indifference, compromises, submissiveness and cowardly resignation.

Those with no Christian values, ideals and principles; those who choose to bully us and try to silence us; those who antagonize us at every turn and want to make us lose our livelihood just because we have decided to abide by the laws of God and are guided by the truth of the Gospel; those driven by self-interest, self-absorption and are consumed by hatred, have been slowly chipping away at our rights and want us to forget our call to be Spirit-filled.

Perhaps, thus far, they have had nothing to worry from us because we chose to be timid, conciliatory, willing to compromise and ready to hide our beliefs. Perhaps we chose a quiet living, minding our business, being insignificant, irrelevant and flat. Perhaps we were too worried about finances to care for the spreading of relativism, the extreme leftist agenda and the loss of Gospel values. However, if we let him, today, the Holy Spirit will rush into us like a sweeping, driving wind, to dispel all our lame excuses.

With a consuming fire he will burn away all our fears. He will prop open our doors to expose our illusions and false hopes. It is time to be jolted into action. It is time to appreciate the power we are given in the Spirit.

In him we shall make restless and unsettled the lives of those undermining our faith and our future.

We shall inform those running for office about what we truly want as believers (and not as people worrying only about money matters).

We shall write to newspapers editors; we shall check on our schools on a regular basis; we shall call upon those elected to lead us according to the U.S. Constitution and Judeo-Christian principles.

We shall leave no stone unturned until our future is blessed again by God’s presence and we can find protection for our children, for our future.

Set ablaze by the Holy Spirit, the more we love the more we will find what we can do for the glory of God and the spiritual well-being of our Church and our Community. We cannot work hard 5-6 days a week; come home tired; expect to pick up newspaper; watch some TV; unwind and assume that everything will be OK. We do not have this luxury any more. We cannot afford to hope that others will pick up the flag, keep the fire burning and continue to fight for worthy Gospel causes.

Our family, our Church, our society do not need more members, they need Spirit-filled, Spirit-driven people who are willing to pay a high personal cost, even the highest, in order to renew the face of the earth. This is how, once againthrough personal sacrificial love, we can unite people together and heal the festering wounds of our world. This is how we can carry out our mission of removing the sins of despair and rebellion and decay from this world. This is how we can use our Spirit-given gifts for the building up and the benefit of the whole Body of Christ, our Church on her birthday and beyond.

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Written by
Fr Dino Vanin

REVEREND DINO VANIN, PIME was born in Cendon di Silea, Province of Treviso, Italy in 1946. He entered the PIME Seminary at Treviso at the tender age of eleven. He came to the U.S. in 1968, studying Theology at Darlington Major Seminary in New Jersey. He has an MA in Secondary School Administration from Seton Hall University. Ordained in 1972, he served as an administrator, teacher, rector and principal at the PIME High School Seminary in Newark, Ohio before being sent to the missions of Thailand, where he served for six years. He is currently the Treasurer of the U.S. Region of PIME in Detroit. On December 16, 2018 he was installed as Pastor of San Francesco Catholic Church in Clinton Township, MI. Every week he takes some time off from his parish ministry to do some administrative work at PIME headquarters in Detroit. Due to his increased workload at the parish while continuing as Treasurer of the U. S. Region of PIME and as counselor and spiritual director, he spends any time left doing a little woodworking.

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Written by Fr Dino Vanin
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