This Sunday, we end the Easter season with the great feast of Pentecost, celebrating the “birthday” of the Church and the start of the Church’s mission to the world.
Once again this year, I will be celebrating Mass for Pentecost at 10 a.m. at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels and a special Mass in Spanish at 3 p.m. for all the “ecclesial movements” that represent the beautiful diversity of spiritual gifts in the archdiocese.
Please join us for one of these liturgies — it’s a beautiful opportunity to renew our devotion to the Holy Spirit and our dedication to the Church’s mission.
In Acts of the Apostles we read that the Church was born “in mission.” And the Church’s mission continues — in your life and in mine.
Every Baptism and every Confirmation is like a “little Pentecost.” God gives every Christian his Spirit for a reason — to fill us with his love and to send us out to proclaim his love to the nations.
Pope Francis has called all of us to be “Spirit-filled evangelizers … who proclaim the good news not only with words, but above all by a life transfigured by God’s presence.”
I was thinking about that when I was at the University of St. Francis last week to give an address on the Servant of God Dorothy Day.
Many people know the outlines of Dorothy’s life — she has one of the great conversion stories of modern times.
As a young person, she lost her way, got mixed up and confused. She suffered an abortion; became an unwed mother; and she spent much of her energies working for a communist revolution.
But her search for truth left her open to God’s grace and the gift of faith. And she went on to lead a transfigured life and she became a radical witness to Christ’s love for the poor and his call for us to be instruments of his peace and justice.
I have long been fascinated by the movement of her soul, the ways we see God’s hand at work in her life.
And I have come to see Dorothy Day as a model for what Pope Francis means when he calls us to be “missionary disciples” who go proclaim God’s mercies to the “peripheries.”
Dorothy Day used different language. She called us to be “saint-revolutionists” — men and women who practiced what she called “heroic charity.”
But just like Pope Francis, Dorothy Day said our lives must be rooted in a deep, intimate relationship with Jesus Christ and a desire to bring everyone we meet to this encounter with the living God.
Dorothy said, “We are here to bear witness to Jesus and to follow his lead.” For her, that meant following Jesus into the “peripheries” — to use that favorite of Pope Francis.
She sought Christ’s face among those living in the margins and dark corners of society — in the poor and discarded, the lonely and forgotten.
We are not all called to such a radical witness, to literally live among the poor, as she did.
But the Pope and Dorothy Day would say that we are all called to take personal responsibility to care for the poor and vulnerable.
As Pope Francis does, Dorothy Day calls us to see that our faith in Jesus Christ means we must see Christ and serve Christ in others. And as the pope does, she helps us to see that Jesus made the works of mercy the way for every Christian.
Dorothy Day told us over and over what Jesus said — that in the evening of our lives, our love for God will be judged by the mercy we have shown to others, especially those who are the most vulnerable, those who cannot defend themselves.
Dorothy believed that the times we are living in are a time for saints. That means a time for you and me. Each of us has a role to play in the mission of the Church — in the redemption of the world.
She once wrote: “There is room for greater saints now than ever before. Never has the world been so organized — press, radio, education, recreation, to turn minds away from Christ. … We are all called to be saints. God expects something from each one of us that no one else can do. If we don’t, it will not be done.”
So this week, as we celebrate the birth of the Church’s mission at Pentecost, let’s pray for each other. Let’s pray for the Spirit to guide us, so we keep following Jesus and walking in the footsteps of the saints.
And let’s ask our Blessed Mother Mary to help us be missionary disciples and saints — drawing others to Christ and bringing Christ to those who are living on the “peripheries.”