The story of the Charismatic Pentecostal Rally continues, and while reading May 29th’s Liturgy of the Hours prayers, reinforced the blessings from that beautiful day, May 26th.
After Fr. Bill Halbing finished speaking, we had approximately a half hour break to move 850 people from the gym to the church, stretching of legs, and catching up with friends that you did not know were attending that day. I decided to take my time, since I knew I was one of the last to be leaving the gym. I did not expect to be able to find a “good seat” in the church.
As I was meandering along, speaking with different people, to my surprise I saw our bishop, who had apparently been in the back of the gymnasium the entire time. How exciting that he was not arriving “just in time” to preside over the mass. Bishop David O’Connell, has recently become the bishop for our dioceses, and with that he has brought in with him a very strong whoosh of the Holy Spirit! He strongly believes in evangelization of our faith as one of his top pastoral priorities for our diocese. He has shown his leadership in such ways as appearing on our local Catholic radio station, Domestic Catholic Media WFJS 1260 AM. The First Friday of the month the bishop receives radio call-ins from individuals with questions regarding our faith, or even comments about our faith, or plans for the dioceses, with love in his voice, our bishop answers every question with grace and kindness. When he speaks, you can hear the joy in his voice, and the Holy Spirit inspired words coming through the radio speakers. He is also very interested in knowing what parish one attends when he is speaking to them. A good Shepard would want to know this, it shows his care and interest in what is happening, or not happening, in that person’s parish, and then gives him an idea of what may be needed there, or what ideas he is able to take from that parish to incorporate into another parish, or the diocese. He is a very humble, loving Shepard.
While I continued to leisurely walk out with the other attendees, towards the church, I hear someone excitedly say “the Bishop is here!”. That caught my antennae, I scanned to the left, and lo and behold, he was majestically dressed in his purple cassock, his appearance was one of peace, and the flowing of the Holy Spirit radiating from him. I was instantly drawn to him. Then I stopped myself, and said “no, don’t bother him”. As I am saying this to myself, I am watching a line of people saying hello, kissing his ring, children running to him and hugging him. He hugged them back with such joy, I could not take my eyes off of this scene, I was mesmerized. Then I went with the “nudge” of the first reaction of going to him. I made my way across the gym, through the chairs, I walked over to him, he put out his hand to me, I put my hand in his, said hello, and for the first time EVER IN MY LIFE, bent and kissed a bishop’s hand and ring. I am unable to describe the depth of my pull to this new Shepard of our dioceses, the Bishop. Howbeit, the pull to this Shepard of God was definitely an inspirational movement and moment for me. I was truly blown away, that our bishop was present at the rally, and not there just for presiding over the mass. He wanted, he desired to see the people, he wanted and desired to meet with the people, and speak with them. Bishop O’Connell humbled himself to the level of the lay people, and not once, NOT ONCE, did I see, experience, or feel any air of arrogance or any type of behavior related to an aloofness. He WAS one with the people. He reminded me immediately of JPII, Pope Pius XII, and our current pope, Pope Benedict XVI. I also had this sense of joy and awe that I could see him becoming our Pope one day. Praise God! The Bishop was so kind to speak with me, and even allowed me to ask him if we could reinstate the praying of the St. Michael prayer, followed by the three Hail Mary’s, after all the masses throughout the diocese, due to the dire need in our own diocese, our country, and throughout the world. He had stated that he had heard this from the Monsignor of my parish, and that it is being taken under consideration. I was thrilled! Now, I just have a few more priests to talk too, and if God desires it to happen, it will! Hallelujah!
As Fr. Bill Halbing stated, when one is infused with the Holy Spirit, one can only speak the Truth of God…….this world needs St. Michael protecting each and everyone of us. Side note: besides the Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be, and Guardian Angel prayers I taught to my children, they learned the St. Michael prayer at an early age. We would say the prayer on the way to school, and I would remind them to say it when they were frightened, or going on a bus trip with their school, or away from home. Powerful and protective prayer! As my girlfriend describes me, “you definitely have the gift of holy boldness!”.
My digression: I notice with each passing day, for the salvation of the souls I know and love, and for the souls who don’t like me, and for the souls I do not even know, so many souls need to hear the Truth of God, for the salvation of their souls, and their family and friends souls. It is my job only to speak the Truth of God, not to browbeat. Though, I must chuckle, in the beginning when I first started out, yes, I probably did “browbeat”. Through God’s grace, I no longer approach our Catholic religion that way. Nonetheless, it does not stop me from speaking the Truth of God, and I must say the moment my mouth forms any words connected to religion………I can see the glazed over eyes, and the stares, and the comments of “here she goes again”, and later being informed, my speaking was a form of “browbeating”, that exact word is no longer used, needless to say, many understand what I am stating. Now, I just chuckle to myself, apologize if I made anyone uncomfortable, and finish with “I was only speaking the Truth of God, the Gospel, and explaining the Tenets of the Catholic faith”. Then I change the subject. Praise God for Fr. Bill Halbing, because I will always keep his words in my mind, “God will not lower His standards for this earthly world, and you shouldn’t either!”.
Back on track now……slowly I walk to the Church, inhaling the sunshine, the beauty of the day, sucking up the warmth of joy I feel bursting from my heart, and not having a care in the world, or being concerned with the matter of being able to “find a seat” inside the Church. As I enter the church, I look around to sit, right before my eyes is a pew, 3rd back from the pulpit; that has, minimum, 4-6 available seats. Saying to myself, “no way, these are reserved seats.” I ask the woman, “is all of this reserved?”. She states, “no!”. I’m shocked! Praise God, and take my seat on the end. Though, I must admit, I did figure due to the number of people in attendance, my very large pocketbook was not going to get it’s own seat. As I suspected, it didn’t, and amazingly all survived!
The Church was beautifully adorned with red linens draped around Our Lord, and in other areas that brought out the beauty of the Church, the red flowers were the perfect amount, size, and color throughout the Sanctuary. Symmetrically placed, on each side of the Tabernacle, were exquisitely stunning red vases. I honestly cannot tell you what flowers were in those vases, by virtue of the elegance of the Tabernacle that was shining in glory. Absolutely stunningly breathtaking!
I was in my glory! This was going to be a mass beyond what I imagined, and it was! Thank you Fr. Jeff Kegley, Bishop David O’Connell, the Church caretakers, and the interior designers of St. Raphael’s Church. It all came together to have it be a Holy Spirit inspired mass, without one iota of a distraction. How blessed we were!
Usually, at these types of conferences, I will take notes at the homily. This time, I did not want that distraction. I wanted to be able to give my entire attention to the Bishop, not worry about picture taking, or writing. I am positive I felt that way since I had the opportunity to meet the Bishop prior to the Mass, and was so enthralled by him, and still on that “high”, I did not want anything to interfere with it. I listened, taking in all that he had to say, our bishop, is a true evangelizer of our faith. He spoke of how the Holy Spirit wants to work in all of us, we only need to say “yes, and be faithful to God”; the gifts we were receiving this day due to the rally being held on the Vigil of Pentecost was “blowing me away!”.
The second reading of May 29th, in the Liturgy of the Hours, Volume II, pages 268 – 270, was on the writings of The Confessions of St. Augustine. I was struck by what St. Augustine wrote, and how much of Bishop O’Connell’s homily seemed to immediately come back to me. Since I did not take notes I will do my best to tell you what I learned from the bishop’s homily.
Bishop O’Connell spoke of how the Lord knows us, remember he “knit us together in the womb”, and went on to teach us how we can ask the Lord to let us come to know Him, as He knows us. However, to accomplish this, we need to ask for it, be in a state of grace, desire it, and be willing to live the Truth of God. God is waiting for us to come to Him, He will not force Himself upon us, He is just waiting for us to open the door to allow Him to enter into our hearts, soul, and mind. So that we may then speak His truth! As St. Augustine writes: “……because the one who does what is true enters into the light.” As it is stated in John 14:15:” If you love me, keep my commandments”. Bishop O’Connell stressed how much God wants us, as His children, to follow His way, so that we may enjoy eternal life and happiness in Heaven with Him. Remembering also, as we take up our cross, and follow the path of Jesus, we are reassured in Philippians 4:13: “I can do all things in him who strengthens me”. Which in turn, will give us the grace to evangelize our Catholic faith. As I stated prior, one of the bishop’s top pastoral priorities for our diocese is evangelization. I am definitely thrilled with having him as our Bishop, this diocese has been abundantly blessed! Praise God!
To finish, during the general intercessions, we offered up and prayed for the rescinding of the HHS mandate, that as many understand, this is truly regarding religious freedom, with the excuse of “women’s health” as a cover in an attempt to “fool” the individuals who are unable to “see” or “hear”, at this time. In spite of that, the miraculous can happen, with turning back to God, through prayer, confession, Adoration, mass, communion, spiritual communions, penance, mortification’s, alms giving, reading the Bible and following it’s teachings, along with the First Friday, and First Saturday devotions. Most of all, God in His love for us, and mercy, gave us many spiritual tools to fight the evil of the world. We MUST take up THIS FIGHT AS ONE, or WE ALL WILL LOSE AS ONE!
Imagine, after continuing to absorb the feeling of the Holy Spirit, in my life, from this awesome event, one of the psalm-prayers in the Liturgy of the Hours that I read on the 29th, echoed the intercessions from the Votive Mass of the Holy Spirit:
Lord, God of strength, you gave your Son victory over death. Direct your Church’s fight against evil in the world. Clothe us with the weapons of light and unite us under the banner of love, that we may receive our eternal reward after the battle of earthly life. Amen.
…………….the story continues for another day…………………