Pointing to Pentecost

Catholic at Home

Jennifer Antkowiak

This week, we’ve passed more big milestones on the road out of the COVID pandemic.  And, as we’ve seen with other COVID-related news, the information seemed to fuel division.

Some quickly celebrated the latest CDC directive, which says the fully vaccinated no longer have to wear a mask in most settings. Others quickly became concerned, feeling that it’s too much, too fast. There was also confusion over how the policy would be implemented and anger with political overtones about government involvement.

Local parishioners feel all of this, and share their opinions through our social email pages, and in emails and letters to the diocese. Sometimes the opinions are well-stated and respectful; other times, they are mean-spirited and abrasive.

Confusion and fear can make us behave in strange ways.

Many heavy and challenging moments throughout the pandemic have forced each of us to find our way.  How will we choose to interpret information? How will we react to it? What kind of influence will we have on others? 

Imagine having all your fears and confusion wiped away.  That’s what Jesus did for the apostles—and for each of us—through His gift of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost Sunday.

As a Catholic school student at St. Stephen’s in Oil City, learning about the miracle of tongues drew me closer to my faith. I loved the powerful story of how the Holy Spirit came with a sound from heaven, wind, and fire, and in an instant, people were unified. Confusion and fear were wiped away.

That gift of the Holy Spirit is a gift of faith and love for all of us today, in our time of division, confusion and fear.

I was honored to sponsor my godson at his confirmation a couple of weeks ago, and the gifts of the Spirit are fresh in my mind: wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord.

Each of us received these gifts at our baptism, and they are strengthened through the sacrament of confirmation. Pentecost Sunday gives us reason to reconnect with these amazing gifts, and to commit to using them in our daily lives. 

We can use the gift of wisdom to calm our own bias and prejudice, and to try to see the world as God sees it. We can use the gift of understanding to talk less and listen more, with a goal of learning more. The gift of counsel helps us distinguish right from wrong. Fortitude allows us the courage to stand up for each other and for what is right. We can pursue the truth with the gift of knowledge. Piety gives us reverence for the divine presence of our Lord. And the gift of fear of the Lord, or wonder and awe, helps us appreciate and cope with the mysteries of life.

When we use these gifts, we welcome the Holy Spirit into our daily lives, and in turn, are inspired to do more to become the people that God wants us to be.

Filled with the confidence and trust that Jesus is with us, we understand that we truly are protected, especially during our darkest, most confusing, most fearful moments. The Holy Spirit pushes us into action to realize our potential as children of God as we continue to emerge from the pandemic.

How can we let the Holy Spirit work through us to bring light and hope to others at this time of great need? Let’s ask Jesus to help us open our hearts to that this week.