Therese Board Members:
Pat Dineen (Pres)
Catherine Shinn (Secy)
Gary Vogt (Treas)
Jerry Wuller (VP)
June Birthdays, etc.~
The Sacrament of Pentecost -- Elsie Hainz McGrath
We have been told that Jesus the Christ is the primary sacrament of the Christian Church, and that within the exclusive ranks of the Catholic Church there are seven others besides. But I believe we could look at Pentecost as its own sacrament, the sacrament of the fullness of life universal. And the genius of the church we call “Catholic” is its sacraments. It is in the so-called “sacramental system” that we, in fact, can see that elusive Holy Spirit of God. Sure, we oftentimes don’t; but that’s our fault, not the Spirit’s. Because it is precisely within those BIG sacramental actions that Spirit should be so viscerally present we can’t ignore her. And I suggest—to help explain—a rewording of the sacraments:
Yes, I have left two things off the list that our particular church has named as sacraments: confirmation and ordination.
And I know that we don’t claim a “sacrament” of birth. But isn’t it a fact that when a new life comes into this world Spirit is all around us? shining brightly? in all of her glory? Any new life: animal, vegetable, mineral. And baptism has nothing to do with it. Not on the day of that birthing or six weeks later or even if it never happens. Baptism is a moment of grace for those who believe in its rationale as a sign of initiation into a particular community of faith, and that is why it should be a sacrament for Christians who have named it as one, but it never can and never will equal the sacramentality of birth.
And okay, I know… we don’t claim a “sacrament” of death either. Maybe that’s why our “sacramental system” so often fails the test. How can we feel secure in the sacraments, the signs of the Spirit of God within us and among us, if said Spirit isn’t celebrated with welcome and rejoicing “at the hour of our death”? Why have we limited our vision to the present life—with nothing to hope for at its conclusion except some wildly mythological promise of some kind of eternal bliss in some far-distant hereafter that depends upon a manufactured “second coming” of a particular person who most of this world has never heard of?
I propose, if we but discard the atonement theology that was erroneously instituted by the so-called “Fathers of the Church” and drilled into us as the basis of our faith tradition, we might truly live as a People of the Pentecost and be a part of bringing about the salvation of the world. And I believe that is precisely what our charge is.
The story of Pentecost, as I hear it, is the universal story of the fullness of life. For followers of Christ, such fullness of life can be book-cased within my numbers (1) the sacraments of earthly birth & particular baptism and (6) the sacraments of earthly death & universal resurrection. These two stand as the alpha and the omega of our Christian lives. And the others—numbers 2 through 5—are spelled out in Paul’s brilliant 4-part synopsis of the gifts of the Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:1-13):
2) “words of wisdom & words of knowledge” happen in our sacramental relationships within particular families for betterment of the universal family;
3) “faith & gifts of healing” happen within those particular sacramental Eucharistic communities that are universally inclusive and welcoming;
4) “miracle-working, prophesy & discernment” happen through the sacramental anointing and healing that occur within all our lives, which necessarily spill over into the life of the universal family;
5) “tongues & interpretation of” happen within all the sacramental forgiveness and reconciliation that occurs within our lives, that absolutely and positively affect the life of the universal family.
For Catholics, and by extension for all children of the Cosmic God and the Spirit of all Life on Earth, the sacramental system is born out of the Pentecost story. Pentecost, a day like no other day in liturgical life, is truly the day that God has made for us to rejoice and be glad in. This is the day of the Spirit, and our recognition of Spirit’s gifts within us and among us. This is the day of our rebirth as the Church of Christ—a Church at once inclusive and welcoming, forgiven and forgiving. And universal, meaning of and for the Universe—just like Sophia… Wisdom… Spirit of the Creator and the Created Cosmos. Would that it was truly so!
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