For me, this joyful season of Easter has gone too quickly!
It has been my privilege to celebrate the Sacrament of Confirmation at many parishes during this season of the resurrection — and I’m happy that I will be visiting more of you in the days and weeks ahead.
When I met with our Holy Father Pope Francis a couple of weeks ago in Rome, I told him that the faith is alive and the Spirit is at work here in Los Angeles! He was happy to hear it!
And it is really beautiful for me to see this in every parish I visit — your love for God, all the ways you are serving families and children and our neighbors in need. Your faith and charity continue to inspire me every day in my own ministry.
Pope Francis asked me to bring back his Apostolic Blessing to the whole family of God here in the archdiocese, so I do that gladly!
And as we prepare to celebrate our Lord’s Ascension this coming Sunday, I pray that we will keep going forward in our service to God and to the world.
Traditionally, the eve of the Ascension begins of a time of prayer and preparation as we await the sending of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, which we will celebrate a week from Sunday.
So this is a good time of year for us to renew our relationship with the Spirit.
Pope Francis says we should invoke the Holy Spirit every day and many times throughout the day. He says that while we pray often to God our Father and to Jesus Christ, we don’t pray enough to the third person of the Blessed Trinity, the Holy Spirit.
And he gives us a beautiful little prayer that he says we should pray every day:
“Holy Spirit, make my heart open to the Word of God, make my heart open to goodness, make my heart open to the beauty of God every day.”
We need to increase our devotion to the Holy Spirit.
We need to seek the Spirit’s guidance and enlightenment. We need to pray that he will give light to our minds and our understanding. So that we can know the truths of our faith and what God commands. So that we can know what God wants us to do in the world and in all the circumstances of our daily life.
The Spirit is the source of our strength and courage. He makes us strong and gives us confidence to overcome the snares of temptation and evil.
Like the tongues of fire that descended upon Mary and the Apostles at Pentecost, the Holy Spirit stirs our hearts to believe in the promise of the Gospel. He inflames our will with the desire to follow Jesus. Only the Holy Spirit can open our hearts to love! He inspires us to want to know God’s will, and to want to do God’s will in our lives.
And the Spirit brings us God’s gift of love. This love is poured into our hearts at baptism, giving us of new life as children of God. And we are called to walk by the Spirit and live by the Spirit. And we are sealed in the Spirit in confirmation.
Every Sunday when we pray the Creed, we profess that the Spirit has “spoken through the prophets.”
The Spirit is still speaking to us. He helps us to hear the voice of God and his Word, inspired in the Sacred Scriptures. But we can’t harden our hearts. We can’t try to ignore or resist the Spirit’s calling in our lives.
Right now is the time to heed the Spirit’s words. Tomorrow may be too late! So right now is the time to listen to God’s voice and to join our lives to his divine plan, the mission of his Church in the world.
We want to ask the Holy Spirit to help us to want what God wants and to want to do everything for him.
So let’s pray for each other this week. Let’s pray to grow in our devotion to the Holy Spirit and our awareness of God’s presence in our lives.
This week, maybe we can try to learn the little prayer that our Holy Father has given us — and pray to be open to God’s Word and to the beauty and goodness that we find in God’s creation.
And let’s ask the Virgin Mary to teach us to pray more to the Holy Spirit!