How have you grown in virtue?

In a positive way, how do you manifest the presence of the Holy Spirit within you? How are you different this year than last year at this time? How have you grown in virtue? The Church teaches that all the good that we do, results from the Holy Spirit within us, and our individual cooperation with this power of God. The divine Holy Spirit wishes to transform our human spirit.

Pentecost Sunday celebrates the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the apostles, and the permanent presence of the Spirit within the Church. Pentecost is a Greek word; the prefix Pente means fifty. The descent of the Holy Spirit occurred fifty days after Jesus' resurrection.

Through the Church, we and all baptized Christians enjoy the presence of the Spirit within us. All religions participate in the Holy Spirit to the extent that they participate in "holiness and truth." We believe that the Catholic Church possesses the fullness of truth and holiness, because Christ founded this Church, and his Holy Spirit abides within the Church.

Today, immediately after the homily, we will celebrate the entrance of two men into full communion with the Catholic Church. Both men were born, baptized, and raised Lutheran. They are very good living men. Both men have decided to enter the Catholic Church. They wish to enjoy the fullness of its sacraments. In a few minutes, you will see Tom Wilhide and Chuck Jensen step forward. Because all mainline Christian Churches recognize Christian baptism in other mainline Christian Churches, these men are ready to receive Confirmation and Holy Communion. These three sacraments represent the three sacraments of initiation into the Catholic Church.

Why are these two good men converting, and what are their Confirmation names? Tom Wilhide has been driving on a weekly basis Sr. Mary Bernadette, D.C. to visit the sick, homebound, and hospitalized members of our parish and our town. Tom has been volunteering for this activity for the past ten years. He started after Sr. Bernadette visited his dying mother. The Holy Spirit shines through Sr. Mary Bernadette, in what she does, and how she does it. And for the last two years, Tom has been receiving instruction from our parishioner Linda Duffy. Tom is ready and willing to become Catholic. For his Confirmation name, Tom has selected Peter because Tom sees himself joining the Church which is the Rock, on which Jesus founded his Church.

Chuck Jensen and his wife Andrea have been coming to Mass every Sunday for the last fifteen years. And their two children join them every Sunday. Andrea in her way of speaking, acting, praying, loving, and believing has manifested the Spirit to her husband. What has precipitates Chuck's joining the Catholic Church? One of our teenage Confirmation students has been so impressed by Chuck as a model of Christian living, that this teenage boy asked Chuck to be his sponsor at the teenager's Confirmation next week. What an honor, yes: that a teenager boy looks up to you, as a model for Christian living? Two small issues, however: Chuck isn't Catholic, and Chuck himself has never received Confirmation. So in the past few months, Chuck has taken weekly instruction, and now he steps forward to join the Catholic Church. What Confirmation name has he selected? Joseph, because Joseph was a carpenter, and Chuck is a carpenter. For his livelihood, Chuck builds homes.

To the family members and friends, to the sisters and priests who have influenced these men for the past ten-fifteen years, I want to say a sincere "Thank you," and "Thanks be to the grace of God."

On this Mother's Day, let's ponder how our mothers have positively influenced us. What do you remember most positively about your mother, and for what are you most grateful? For human life and for loving us, sacrificing for us, teaching us, and countless other caring behaviors, I'm sure. Think about it. And thank your mother, living or deceased, this day especially, and please God, everyday.

My mother? Among the many things for which I am most grateful, I would single out "faith and fairness." Faith, I remember passing my parents' bedroom various times, and I in my younger and older years would see my mother kneeling at her bedside, saying her night prayers. Wow. Now, almost every night, when I am so tired as I approach the bed, I still recall my mother kneeling at her bedside, so I am inspired to kneel at my bedside. Secondly, fairness. My mother saw each person as a child of God. She respected everybody. It did not matter to her, what race, religion, political party, economic class, or educational background someone came from. She saw everyone as God's child, God's creature, and she treated everyone accordingly.

Today, thank God for the good people who manifest God's Holy Spirit to us. Most of all, today, we thank God for our mothers.

Read other homilies by Father O'Malley