The Spirit Is Alive and Well: A Weekly Reflection

By Fr. Mike Boutin

Check out this Methodist Church's Pentecost dance, thanks to Youtube!

http://www.calvin.edu/worship/stories/images/chapel_seminary/Princeton%20Chapel%20liturgical%20dancers%20by%20Emily%20Dumler.jpg

I saw the Spirit today. I was at Mass at St. Augustine's Church in Washington, D.C. It's the oldest black Catholic parish in our nation's capital: 152 years old! 

Today was the feast of the Pentecost, and at Mass, I saw it with my own eyes: the Holy Spirit appeared! It was remarkable . . .

Let me describe it:  she came running down the main aisle, carrying a red flag, and as this incredibly dynamic choir sang a spirited (!) Gospel song about Pentecost, she waved that flag, and danced with the joy of the Spirit. She shared that joy with everyone who was blessed to be there.

The Spirit appeared in the music I heard: this very racially integrated "black" Gospel choir, singing and clapping and praising God; and we were filled with the music of the Spirit.

I saw the Spirit in the welcome of all the African Americans who were so delighted to welcome us "white folks" to this mother church of the African Americans, with a stained glass window of a very African St. Augustine and his equally African mother, Monica. I was reminded of my narrow perceptions about our Catholic faith, and I was welcomed and smiled at and made to feel like "I belonged." The Spirit led me home . . .

I heard the Spirit in the preaching of this very Catholic and very African American pastor, who inspired, and challenged, and aroused, and fanned the flame of faith in my heart and all those who gathered to worship. He reminded us of our God-given dignity, and then he called us to live it in the Spirit.

I watched the Spirit dance in the incense as it was carried into the midst of the assembly of God's people . . . up, and around, and down, and under, and over, and everywhere . . . the Spirit in the midst of God's people: the fragrance of Christ's Body risen from the dead.

I saw the Spirit in bread and wine changed into the Body and Blood of the Risen One, in the faces of all those who gathered: whites and blacks, young and old, strangers and friends . . . in the Word proclaimed, shouted, announced, and left for us to digest and live . . . and in the eyes and heart of the priest who led our prayer.

The Spirit was alive and well and appeared to us today . . .

But then the challenge came: stop sitting there, just watching me. Go, make a difference. Go, preach the Gospel. Go, care for the sick and the hungry and the lonely. Go.

I am with you always . . .

Now pray . . .

Father Mike Boutin is the co-pastor of the Church of the Blessed Sacrament, Walpole, MA, and travels widely, leading pilgrimages throughout the world to various Catholic religious sites. He is a frequent speaker on liturgy, music, spirituality, and pastoral ministry.