Ascension and Graduation Day at St. Pius: The Connection (A homily)

A Homily for Graduation—   with directions for slides                                                          [Begin with Gospel Slide staying up.  Gospel is Matthew 28:16-20]

ascension

The SPX Graduation and the Ascension/Pentecost Mystery we presently celebrate

Hello class!  For those of you who even joined the school from the start, hello from someone who also came aboard around then to St. Pius and Bowie.  Later, for those of you who were here in the 4th and 6th grade years—I was in Religion Class with you, enjoying your company, and we studied together the things of God.  You were great classes to teach.  Thank you. Then, next, you have gone on to your high achievement, today, adding on a few students, and now being this graduating class of the 8th grade.  Bravo!

“Happy Graduation Day.”  In this same week, in the Church, it is ironically the time in-between the great Ascension of Christ Jesus and the Descent, or sending, of the Holy Spirit from Heaven, to officially start the Church, with people having new life given into their souls at Pentecost.  I see some connections of Graduation to Ascension and Pentecost.

[Slide of the Holy Spirit Window.]

From the Ascension up to Pentecost, people were praying back then in the first Gospel days, for some new big thing to come upon them, as a Gift from Jesus, Who ascended to the Throne of God for us.  That big thing did happen when the Spirit of God was poured out upon them at Pentecost.  Christianity officially began, and people went into a new higher phase of believing and living in Jesus.

In that connection to your graduation, look at the Ascension Mystery as like the commencement exercise for the Church.  As the Church entered into her new realm, her new day, in Christ’ Victory, it was like a graduation into a new maturity and experience.

In this Mass of graduation, you receive diplomas, in recognition and reward for your work done here, as to empower you to head on into something bigger and new ahead.  You go on into a higher phase of living and learning from here, all in the available inspiration of God.

When Christ went to the Throne for us, at the Ascension, He elevated believers to a new place in relationship to God, now as reconciled friends of God, or new sons and daughters risen up in faith.   Jesus also gave out a promise that He and His Spirit would help us to eventually ‘graduate’ all the way to take our own place in Glory with Him.  Eternal life.  THAT is THE GRADUATION of graduations that which God says it is all very possible to those who LIVE by Faith in Him.  That’s an exciting plan to be living in: to have “an inheritance in the saints of light.”  Whatever you do ahead, brothers and sisters, keep your eyes on the prize of that ultimate graduation.  Live to please the Lord in whatever you do, and wherever you are.  And success will find your heart and soul.

[Slide up—The Ascension …like a graduation … a mountainside farewell]

Remember what the prophet Jeremiah advised in the Sprit:  “Do not fall into fear and timidity, but live on with a future and a hope in which God gives you.”  Jer.29:11.

God says He’s our power and hope.

So the Ascension of Jesus with His apostles and disciples was like a graduation, in that, it was the finish of the earthly ministry time of Jesus to His disciples. He was saying—as we heard in tonight’s gospel—but paraphrased here:  ‘Ok, disciples. I will ascend now to Heaven, and you are finished in this time of ministry from me. You have learned much from Me, and now I sent you forth. Go to the next phase of your life in Me.  You are ready.’  That sounds a bit like a graduation speech to me.   And as you heard in tonight’s gospel, He said, ‘Go, spread the good news, baptize, teach, live in Me!’  That’s Jesus’ Great Commission.  Graduations also have commissions or charges, like Jesus’ one on the Mount.  God would have a message to you, tonight, in your graduation, like: “You have learned much, go forth now, to greater things.  I believe in you!”

Graduation is also a bit of a mountain top moment.  So it was at the Ascension on the Mount with Jesus.  Yet you also look back upon how you have come so far and up to this point, and it is a good feeling, isn’t it?  And we the faculty and teachers say:  “Well done with what you’ve done here.  Congratulations.  You did it!”

[Slide up—Ascension Stained Glass window.]

And, with that, there is emotion and tears or feelings in you.  It’s just like Jesus had at His Ascension, and how the people had it in the crowd around Him.  It was a moving farewell, but it also was a great new beginning. Like in this graduation:  there are tears, joy, many feelings, and it’s a high moment: A finish, and a new start.

At the Ascension, Jesus’ Victory was a shared one.  As He won, so did the people.   Know, my brothers and sisters, that as you succeed here tonight, your victory of graduation is something we all feel a share in.   We are glad for you at your achievement thus far.  IMAG0502_1

[Slide up—A New Beginning, A New Phase]

A connection I was trying to make here was in comparing the Ascension Mystery to a Graduation.  Both lead to a new beginning, and onto a new phase.  ‘Get it?  Like the disciples, your graduation towards something new ahead may have a few of you also feeling a little nervous of what challenges lay head.  Yet Jesus says to you and all, like He did on the Mount of the Ascension:  ‘I will send you the power you need. I will give you the Holy Spirit. He will guide you to all things. He will help you.”

Just keep Faith.   You know what FAITH might stand for tonight?   “Forging Ahead, I’ll Trust Him (the Lord)!”  Amen?! F A I T H.

[Slide up— Deus Lux Mea Est.]

Taking this homily to the final stretch, I have a little Latin phrase for you to use as a reminder of the Spirit’s coming for you in your life ahead.   It is “Deus lux mea est.”  Translated to English, it is “God’s Light mine is.” Or, put in better order:  “God is my light.”

Put personally as a prayer, it can be:  “God, help me believe and see how Your light is on my path ahead.” “Deus lux mea est.”  You have a light to follow, young men and women, as you live soul-fully in your humanity, as we taught you here in this Catholic school. Just know the Glory of God’s light is there to lead His people through, in every new step of the way.”  Deus lux mea est.  God’s Light Mine is.   And that Light of God will lead you to Heaven, too.

Getting into life with God in glory is THE final goal and destination of life; THAT is our ultimate “graduation” hope.

[Slide up—“Pax Et Bonum”]

Lastly, I have one more Latin phrase for you tonight.   It is “Pax et Bonum!”  It translates as Pax/Peace Et/and  with plus Bonum/Goodness.   Pax et Bonum!     Peace and Goodness to you all, this graduation night… +            +

[Last slide up—Blue Ribbon Hat pic of me]

From a fellow Blue Ribbon Hard Hatter, and with these other priestly fathers, and from myself, this former student of the school.  Join me in being an alumnus now.

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Pentecost Novena Day Seven

The great Novena of the Church: Thursday, May 25th to Pentecost Sunday, June 4th.

THE NOVENA TO THE HOLY SPIRIT
“Wait and pray to be clothed from on high”

DAY SEVEN         Opening Prayer
O Lord Jesus Christ, before your Ascension to Heaven, You did promise to send the Holy Spirit to finish your work in the souls of Your apostles and disciples. You asked them to “wait for the Promise of the Father…. (and that) in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit…. (and) you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you.” (From Acts 1)   The Acts of the Apostles’ account tells, then, that the apostles, and Mary, and various men and women, indeed went to Jerusalem to wait on the Gift, devoting themselves with one accord to prayer together.”   In this Novena, O God, I join all others in the Church in these days of devotion and pleading for the power and love of your Spirit.
I ask You, Lord, for our present age, that we might more deeply encounter Your Spirit of renewal in Mother Church. As the hymn goes, “Come with Thy grace and heavenly aid to fill the hearts which Thou hast made.” (Come Holy Ghost) You said: “Ask and you shall receive.” So we now ask for strength in Your Spirit.  In our Easter regeneration, we pray for what You started may increase and be built up strong in our days.  O Jesus You said to Peter:  “Upon this rock I will build my Church… I give to you the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven,” (from Matt. 16) so we petition You, Come help us who faithfully abide in Your Church!  O Come, Holy Spirit. Do teach us all truth, console us as we go about in this broken world, and please enlighten us in the way we best should live in it.  Help us then, to have courage to live in accord with our vocation of faith and to do so for the Common Good. Help me, and my brothers and sisters in The Fold, to be filled with the Spirit.” (Eph.5:18)

MEDITATION:    THE HOLY SPIRIT AND FAITH

As the Bible explains:  No one can say “Jesus is Lord” except by the Holy Spirit.    This knowledge of faith is possible only in the Holy Spirit.  To be in touch with Christ–the Holy Spirit must first have touched us.  He comes to meet us and kindles faith in us. (Catechism #693)    Our faith in God is all God-breathed.  He is leading us back to holiness.      imag0720

See a flag waving?  It waves only by the aid of the wind into it.   “Never stop flagging in zeal,” says an epistle exhortation of St. Paul.  Let us all open to the fresh breath of The Spirit upon our lives.

 

Finish with Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be.

Pentecost Novena Day Six

The great Novena of the Church: Thursday, May 25th to Pentecost Sunday, June 4th.

THE NOVENA TO THE HOLY SPIRIT    IMAG0047

“Wait and pray to be clothed from on high”

DAY SIX         Opening Prayer
O Lord Jesus Christ, before your Ascension to Heaven, You did promise to send the Holy Spirit to finish your work in the souls of Your apostles and disciples. You asked them to “wait for the Promise of the Father…. (and that) in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit…. (and) you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you.” (From Acts 1)   The Acts of the Apostles’ account tells, then, that the apostles, and Mary, and various men and women, indeed went to Jerusalem to wait on the Gift, devoting themselves with one accord to prayer together.”   In this Novena, O God, I join all others in the Church in these days of devotion and pleading for the power and love of your Spirit.

I ask You, Lord, for our present age, that we might more deeply encounter Your Spirit of renewal in Mother Church. As the hymn goes, “Come with Thy grace and heavenly aid to fill the hearts which Thou hast made.” (Come Holy Ghost) You said: “Ask and you shall receive.” So we now ask for strength in Your Spirit.  In our Easter regeneration, we pray for what You started may increase and be built up strong in our days.  O Jesus You said to Peter:  “Upon this rock I will build my Church… I give to you the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven,” (from Matt. 16) so we petition You, Come help us who faithfully abide in Your Church!  O Come, Holy Spirit. Do teach us all truth, console us as we go about in this broken world, and please enlighten us in the way we best should live in it.  Help us then, to have courage to live in accord with our vocation of faith and to do so for the Common Good. Help me, and my brothers and sisters in The Fold, to be filled with the Spirit.” (Eph.5:18)

MEDITATION:   I will exult in the Risen and Victorious Christ

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”  Mt. 6:21.   Alleluia, Alleluia!  Praise God.

From Pope Francis:   “This Jesus, He is the Risen Traveler that (Who) journeys with us (like the ones heading on the way to Emmaus in the Gospel account)… And here is Jesus today, He is here among us.  He is here in His word, is here on the altar, journeying with us,” said the pope at Rome’s St. Stanislaus parish on May 4th.  “We too can become risen travelers, if His word inflames our hearts, and His Eucharist opens our eyes to The Faith, and nurtures hope and charity in us.  (With the inspiration of the Spirit,) Are we ready to travel this path (some more)?”

CLOSING PRAYERS:    Finish with Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be.

 

Pentecost Novena Day Five

Spirit Window

THE NOVENA TO THE HOLY SPIRIT        Wait and pray to be clothed from on high

The great Novena of the Church:  Thursday, May 25th to Pentecost Sunday, June 4th.

DAY FIVE           Opening Prayer

O Lord Jesus Christ, before your Ascension to Heaven, You did promise to send the Holy Spirit to finish your work in the souls of Your apostles and disciples. You asked them to “wait for the Promise of the Father…. (and that) in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit…. (and) you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you.” (From Acts 1)   The Acts of the Apostles’ account tells, then, that the apostles, and Mary, and various men and women, indeed went to Jerusalem to wait on the Gift, devoting themselves with one accord to prayer together.”   In this Novena, O God, I join all others in the Church in these days of devotion and pleading for the power and love of your Spirit.

I ask You, Lord, for our present age, that we might more deeply encounter Your Spirit of renewal in Mother Church. As the hymn goes, “Come with Thy grace and heavenly aid to fill the hearts which Thou hast made.” (Come Holy Ghost) You said: “Ask and you shall receive.” So we now ask for strength in Your Spirit.  In our Easter regeneration, we pray for what You started may increase and be built up strong in our days.  O Jesus You said to Peter:  “Upon this rock I will build my Church… I give to you the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven,” (from Matt. 16) so we petition You, Come help us who faithfully abide in Your Church!  O Come, Holy Spirit. Do teach us all truth, console us as we go about in this broken world, and please enlighten us in the way we best should live in it.  Help us then, to have courage to live in accord with our vocation of faith and to do so for the Common Good. Help me, and my brothers and sisters in The Fold, to be filled with the Spirit.” (Eph.5:18)

MEDITATION:     FEAST ON THESE SCRIPTURES
“I will put My Spirit within you so that you will obey My laws and do whatever I command”  (Ezek. 36:25-27) (*Also see Isaiah 44:3-35)

“Yet when That One I have spoken to you about comes–the Spirit of Truth– He will guide you into everything that is true.”   (John 16:13)

Finally, brothers (sisters), whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure… think on these things.”  (Phil. 4:8)

“And you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.”  (John 8:32)

Finish with Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be.

thL50QPU4F

 

 

 

 

Pentecost Novena Day Four

THE NOVENA TO THE HOLY SPIRIT       Wait and pray to be clothed from on high

The great Novena of the Church:  Thursday, May 25th to Pentecost Sunday, June 4th.

Spirit WindowDAY 4      Opening Prayer

O Lord Jesus Christ, before your Ascension to Heaven, You did promise to send the Holy Spirit to finish your work in the souls of Your apostles and disciples. You asked them to “wait for the Promise of the Father…. (and that) in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit…. (and) you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you.” (From Acts 1)  The Acts of the Apostles’ account tells, then, that the apostles, and Mary, and various men and women, indeed went to Jerusalem to wait on the Gift, devoting themselves with one accord to prayer together.”   In this Novena, O God, I join all others in the Church in these days of devotion and pleading for the power and love of your Spirit.

I ask You, Lord, for our present age, that we might more deeply encounter Your Spirit of renewal in Mother Church. As the hymn goes, “Come with Thy grace and heavenly aid to fill the hearts which Thou hast made.” (Come Holy Ghost) You said: “Ask and you shall receive.” So we now ask for strength in Your Spirit.  In our Easter regeneration, we pray for what You started may increase and be built up strong in our days.  O Jesus You said to Peter:  “Upon this rock I will build my Church… I give to you the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven,” (from Matt. 16) so we petition You, Come help us who faithfully abide in Your Church!  O Come, Holy Spirit. Do teach us all truth, console us as we go about in this broken world, and please enlighten us in the way we best should live in it.  Help us then, to have courage to live in accord with our vocation of faith and to do so for the Common Good. Help me, and my brothers and sisters in The Fold, to be filled with the Spirit.” (Eph.5:18)

MEDITATION:   Embrace the Light of the Spirit

Scripture says to us, then, “now (that) you are light in the Lord, behave as children of light, for the effects of the light are seen in complete goodness and uprightness and truth.  Try to discover what the Lord wants of you, take no part in the futile works of darkness but, on the contrary, show them up for what they are… Christ will shine on you… Make the best of the present time… recognize what is the will of the Lord… (and) be filled with the Spirit.”  (Ephesians 5 text)

Finish with Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be.

 

Pentecost Novena Day Three

THE NOVENA TO THE HOLY SPIRIT       Wait and pray to be clothed from on high

The great Novena of the Church:  Thursday, May 25th to Pentecost Sunday, June 4thSpirit Window

 

 

 

 

DAY THREE     Opening Prayer

O Lord Jesus Christ, before your Ascension to Heaven, You did promise to send the Holy Spirit to finish your work in the souls of Your apostles and disciples.

You asked them to “wait for the Promise of the Father…. (and that) in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit…. (and) you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you.” (From Acts 1)   The Acts of the Apostles’ account tells, then, that the apostles, and Mary, and various men and women, indeed went to Jerusalem to wait on the Gift, devoting themselves with one accord to prayer together.”   In this Novena, O God, I join all others in the Church in these days of devotion and pleading for the power and love of your Spirit.

I ask You, Lord, for our present age, that we might more deeply encounter Your Spirit of renewal in Mother Church. As the hymn goes, “Come with Thy grace and heavenly aid to fill the hearts which Thou hast made.” (Come Holy Ghost) You said: “Ask and you shall receive.” So we now ask for strength in Your Spirit.  In our Easter regeneration, we pray for what You started may increase and be built up strong in our days.  O Jesus You said to Peter:  “Upon this rock I will build my Church… I give to you the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven,” (from Matt. 16) so we petition You, Come help us who faithfully abide in Your Church!  O Come, Holy Spirit. Do teach us all truth, console us as we go about in this broken world, and please enlighten us in the way we best should live in it.  Help us then, to have courage to live in accord with our vocation of faith and to do so for the Common Good. Help me, and my brothers and sisters in The Fold, to be filled with the Spirit.” (Eph.5:18)

Day Three Meditation:   Remembering the 7-fold Gift

O Lord, in the prophecies of Isaiah 11, it forecast the Anointed One to have a seven-fold (full) outpouring of the Spirit upon Him.   You came in the Son Jesus Christ as the fulfillment of this Person of Hope.   When You came to the synagogue in Your home town of Nazareth, You announced to all that this prophecy was fulfilled in Yourself. (Luke 4)   As You walked fully in the Spirit, You showed us what humankind looks like fully alive to God.   Then, as You completed Your Work upon the mysteries of Your Death, Resurrection, and Ascension, You promised to give us the Spirit to abide in us, even He Who lived in Your ministry as the Anointed One.  Therefore, we pray for the seven-fold outpouring of the Spirit to enliven us to be Your holy people, living in Your anointing.   

7 GiftsMeditate briefly on each gift:

Recall how Jesus claimed this Word was about Him:  “The spirit of the Lord shall rest on Him.  A spirit of wisdom and of understanding, a spirit of counsel and of strength, a spirit of knowledge and reverence (piety), and his delight shall be the fearful awe and wonder of the Lord.”  Isaiah 11.

Do you remember what these gifts did offer out to us at Confirmation? And forward into our whole lives?

Finish with Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be.

 

 

Pentecost Novena Day Two

THE NOVENA TO THE HOLY SPIRIT       Wait and pray to be clothed from on high

The great Novena of the Church:  Thursday, May 25th to Pentecost Sunday, June 4th.

DAY TWO

Opening Prayer

O Lord Jesus Christ, before your Ascension to Heaven, You did promise to send the Holy Spirit to finish your work in the souls of Your apostles and disciples. You asked them to “wait for the Promise of the Father…. (and that) in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit…. (and) you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you.” (From Acts 1)   The Acts of the Apostles’ account tells, then, that the apostles, and Mary, and various men and women, indeed went to Jerusalem to wait on the Gift, devoting themselves with one accord to prayer together.”   In this Novena, O God, I join all others in the Church in these days of devotion and pleading for the power and love of your Spirit.

I ask You, Lord, for our present age, that we might more deeply encounter Your Spirit of renewal in Mother Church. As the hymn goes, “Come with Thy grace and heavenly aid to fill the hearts which Thou hast made.” (Come Holy Ghost) You said: “Ask and you shall receive.” So we now ask for strength in Your Spirit.

In our Easter regeneration, we pray for what You started may increase and be built up strong in our days.  O Jesus You said to Peter:  “Upon this rock I will build my Church… I give to you the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven,” (from Matt. 16) so we petition You, Come help us who faithfully abide in Your Church!  O Come, Holy Spirit. Do teach us all truth, console us as we go about in this broken world, and please enlighten us in the way we best should live in it.  Help us then, to have courage to live in accord with our vocation of faith and to do so for the Common Good. Help me, and my brothers and sisters in The Fold, to be filled with the Spirit.” (Eph.5:18)     th4X2YNRCY

Day Two Meditation: Say the Jesus Prayer for some moments:  “Jesus, have mercy on me, a sinner.”

Repeat it over and over as a mantra.  Try to breathe in and breathe out with the prayer.

 

Then add on to your prayer: “Risen Lord, in splendor, You are the Savior of the world! Give me a spirit of revival in your love and salvation!” 

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Finish with Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be.

 

Pentecost Novena! Day One

THE NOVENA TO THE HOLY SPIRIT       Wait and pray to be clothed from on high

Pray the great Novena of the Church:  Thursday, May 25th to Pentecost Sunday, June 4th.  Here is Day One and the next eight blogs will be the other blog installments of the series.

Spirit Window

 

DAY ONE

Opening Prayer

O Lord Jesus Christ, before your Ascension to Heaven, You did promise to send the Holy Spirit to finish Your work in the souls of Your apostles and disciples. You asked them to “wait for the Promise of the Father…. (and that) in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit…. (and) you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you.” (From Acts 1)   The Acts of the Apostles account tells, then, that the apostles, and Mary, and various men and women, indeed went to Jerusalem to wait on the Gift, devoting themselves with one accord to prayer together.”   In this Novena, O God, I join all others in the Church in these days of devotion and pleading for the power and love of your Spirit.

I ask You, Lord, for our present age, that we might more deeply encounter Your Spirit of renewal in Mother Church. As the hymn goes, “Come with Thy grace and heavenly aid to fill the hearts which Thou hast made.” (Come Holy Ghost) You said: “Ask and you shall receive.” So we now ask for strength in Your Spirit.  In our Easter regeneration, we pray for what You started may increase and be built up strong in our days.  O Jesus You said to Peter:  “Upon this rock I will build my Church… I give to you the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven,” (from Matt. 16) so we petition You, Come help us who faithfully abide in Your Church!  O Come, Holy Spirit. Do teach us all truth, console us as we go about in this broken world, and please enlighten us in the way we best should live in it.  Help us then, to have courage to live in accord with our vocation of faith and to do so for the Common Good. Help me, and my brothers and sisters in The Fold, to be filled with the Spirit.” (Eph.5:18)

Day One Meditation: Someone said that Christians who are still with the Church are many who have learned to “be still (or quieted) with God.” Psalm 46:10 says: “Be still and know that am God.”.  Notice how similar are Jesus’ instructions at His Ascension: “Wait to be clothed from on high.”

Lord, I enter the waiting down period of this Novena to the Holy Spirit.  I quiet and still myself each of these novena days, if but for a short time.  Like those apostles and disciples gathered with Mary, praying for the Outpouring, I rest and call upon Your name and I hope and pray that You will find and open channel in Me, for your Spirit to bring new life.

thL50QPU4FFinish with Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be.

Candy Land

I took a stroll through a megamall.  I walked into a store of all candy that reminded me of a 55-year-old memory:  the time I played a racing board game called Candy Land.   This little board game is still for sale in 2017, but in the early/mid 1960’s it was a family favorite in the Barry household.  The play takes you through imaginary places like Gumdrop Mountains and Lollipop Woods on your way to Candy Castle.

In the mall store it was like Candy Land for a moment, as one could shop candy sections for all types and ages of sweet tooths.  It felt a bit like walking on a new Candy Land game board.   Here are some photos I took of my walk through this unique mall stop.  IMAG1279IMAG1277IMAG1287IMAG1286IMAG1285IMAG1283IMAG1282IMAG1281

If Candy Land would have new places on the board, then it would be Pizza Raindrops Plaza, Sour Smog Ball City Center, Jolly Rancher Ranch, Hershey Kiss Boulevard, Starburst Mall, Sour Worms Field, Pop Rocks Pavilion, Krispie Treats Terrace, Nerds Highway, and Sweet Emojeez Meadows!

 

The store is so loaded with candy that the employees must need anti-sugar shots to keep on the job.   The place screamed sugar!IMAG1278