Pentecost Sunday: Red Alert

My first ministry assignment as a seminarian was at a parish in Silver Spring, Maryland. They had a fun custom that was very popular. On Pentecost Sunday, all parishioners came to church wearing red! I thought that this was really neat—to see the whole church in a sea of red.

More importantly, I liked what it communicated: Everyone is the church, and everyone carries the Holy Spirit. Of course, the priest would wear red vestments, but to see everyone dressed similarly sent a vast message about the deep equality of all the People of God. It is our belief that baptism brings us into new life in the Spirit and launches us on a trajectory of grace that carries us to heaven. Yet, this same grace that takes us to heaven is the grace that prompts us to love well here.

St. Francis de Sales’ exhortation for us to Live Jesus challenges us, but it also enables us to be inspired when we encounter others as they themselves live Jesus, which is grace in action. Such grace is the Holy Spirit, enfleshed in the life of the disciple.

In his newest letter, Amoris Laetitia (The Joy of Love), Pope Francis discusses the beauty of the family. In the beginning of this long document, he uses a great expression that really dignifies all of us. He says that we are meant to be an “inspiration to the church.” Yes, sometimes we may not be our best selves, but we are always in possession of grace that is the Holy Spirit. What’s more, we are possessed by the Holy Spirit in our baptism. Our God is never letting go of us! This echoes the sentiments of St. Francis de Sales who paraphrased the Song of Songs as he understood God’s love for his people in a motto made popular at a number of Oblate schools: Tenui nec dimittam (I have taken hold and will not let go.)

As we celebrate Pentecost, we are reminded of the gift of the Holy Spirit to the church as Jesus’ rich promise that he would always care for us. The Word made flesh keeps his word—a life-changing fidelity for which he shed his blood.

Another reason to wear red this Sunday.

From DeSales Weekly

Fr. Kevin Nadolski, OSFS