The Joy of Pentecost in Western New York

Fri, May 18th 2018 10:00 am
A Eucharistic Dove. (Acquired by Henry Walters, 1926/Wikipedia Commons)
A Eucharistic Dove. (Acquired by Henry Walters, 1926/Wikipedia Commons)

There are many experiences that tie Western New Yorkers together. One of them is visiting the Albright-Knox Art Gallery. I recall being especially attracted to a beautiful "Eucharistic Dove" circa A.D. 1200. It was auctioned off by the Albright-Knox in 2007 but can still be seen online.

Eucharistic Doves were a type of tabernacle, suspended from the church ceiling directly over the altar. The back hinged open to hold the Blessed Sacrament. The Holy Spirit, in the form of a dove, hovered for all to see. I still think of that Eucharistic Dove at every Mass. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church explains: "At the heart of the Eucharistic celebration are the bread and wine that, by the words of Christ and the invocation of the Holy Spirit, become Christ's Body and Blood" (par. 1333).

Two of the great gifts of the Holy Spirit are joy and unity. Pentecost reminds us to share Jesus Christ joyfully and to invite others to unite with us in our love for Him. That is what the first evangelizers, the apostles, did after Pentecost. It is our turn to spiritualize Western New York, our corner of God's Kingdom. With just a little more sharing of Christian joy and unity, we can turn Western New York into a mystical Eucharistic Dove.

Are we Spirit-filled evangelizers? "Spirit-filled" evangelization is a notion especially dear to Pope Francis. In fact, Pope Francis mentions "spirit" 175 times in his "Joy of Gospel!" He pleads for a new Pentecost: How I long to find the right words to stir up enthusiasm for a new chapter of evangelization full of fervor, joy, generosity, courage, boundless love and attraction! Yet I realize that no words of encouragement will be enough unless the fire of the Holy Spirit burns in our hearts. ... I once more invoke the Holy Spirit. I implore him to come and renew the Church, to stir and impel her to go forth boldly to evangelize all peoples (EG 261).

"Keeping our missionary fervor alive calls for firm trust in the Holy Spirit. ... But this generous trust has to be nourished, and so we need to invoke the Spirit constantly. He can heal whatever causes us to flag in the missionary endeavor. It is true that this trust in the unseen can cause us to feel disoriented: it is like being plunged into the deep and not knowing what we will find. I myself have frequently experienced this.

"Yet there is no greater freedom than that of allowing oneself to be guided by the Holy Spirit, renouncing the attempt to plan and control everything to the last detail, and instead letting him enlighten, guide and direct us, leading us wherever he wills. The Holy Spirit knows well what is needed in every time and place (EG 280)."

This is our time (A.D. 2018) and our place (Western New York). May the Holy Spirit hover over us here and now.  

Related Articles