Pentecost and Captain America / Pentecostés y el Capitán América

In the movie, Captain America, Steve is a young man of strong character who wants to work for justice in the world, in spite of his evident lack of bulk and brawn. Steve has everything going for him except the physical strength to carry out his laudable ambitions. 

His situation reminds me of the apostles before Pentecost, before the promised Holy Spirit descended upon them in the upper room as He did in today’s First Reading. The apostles loved Jesus. Their intentions were golden. These earnest men had learned a great deal by being with Our Lord, and it was their desire to continue His life-saving mission. But they were too feeble. 

In the case of the earliest Church leaders, it wasn’t physical strength they needed, it was the courage, the love, and the power to do all that Jesus had commissioned them to do. Now, in the upper room, Christ keeps his last promise to his beloved friends and sends them the Holy Spirit. Similar to the way Steve was changed in mere moments through a scientific experiment into the buff and beautiful Captain America, the apostles were filled with the Holy Spirit and utterly transfigured. This historic moment wasn’t just a radical turning point in the lives the apostles, it was the birth of the Church. Furthermore, ever since that moment, every human being has had the opportunity to share in God’s Divine life through the Spirit. The power Pentecost unleashed on the world was tsunamic in the best way possible.

Again and again, the Catechism of the Catholic Church refers to the action of the Holy Spirit: He animates all creation, awakens faith, enables communication with Christ, helps man grow in spiritual freedom, is the master and source of prayer, is the principal author of Scripture and so on. The Catechism also highlights the gifts of the Holy Spirit (1831), His fruits (1832), and His charisms (2003).

It is breathtaking to think that, at the moment of our baptisms, the third Person of the Trinity comes to dwell in us and bestows supernatural gifts upon us. If we cooperate with the movement of the Spirit in our lives and in our souls, we will receive whatever we need to grow in holiness and minister to those around us. He wants to empower us. The apostles, who desired the Holy Spirit, awaited Him eagerly, and responded whole-heartedly to His inspirations, are models for us to imitate. 

The kind of decision that the character of Steve in Captain America had to make was one that faces all of us in the spiritual realm. Are we content to be spiritually puny, reticent to tap into Divine power? Or are we ready to take our good intentions and our knowledge of Christ to the next level, out of love of God and neighbor, by allowing the Holy Spirit to even more radically transform us? The world awaits our answer.

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En la película Capitán América, Steve es un joven de carácter fuerte que quiere trabajar por la justicia en el mundo, a pesar de su evidente falta de corpulencia y fuerza. Steve tiene todo a su favor menos la fuerza física para llevar a cabo sus loables ambiciones.

Su situación me recuerda a los apóstoles antes de Pentecostés, antes de que el Espíritu Santo prometido descendiera sobre ellos en el salón del segundo piso como lo hizo en la Primera Lectura de hoy. Los apóstoles amaban a Jesús. Sus intenciones eran buenas. Estos hombres fervorosos habían aprendido mucho al estar con Nuestro Señor, y era su deseo continuar Su misión de salvar vidas. Pero eran demasiado débiles.

En el caso de los primeros líderes de la Iglesia, no era fuerza física lo que necesitaban, sino el valor, el amor y el poder para hacer todo lo que Jesús les había encomendado. Ahora, en el salón del segundo piso, Cristo cumple su última promesa a sus amados amigos y les envía el Espíritu Santo. Semejante a la forma en que Steve fue transformado en meros momentos a través de un experimento científico, en el musculoso y hermoso Capitán América, los apóstoles fueron llenos del Espíritu Santo y completamente transfigurados. Este momento histórico no fue solo un punto de inflexión radical en la vida de los apóstoles, fue el nacimiento de la Iglesia. Además, desde ese momento, todo ser humano ha tenido la oportunidad de participar de la vida divina de Dios a través del Espíritu. El poder que Pentecostés desató sobre el mundo fue como un tsunami de la mejor manera posible.

Una y otra vez, el Catecismo de la Iglesia Católica se refiere a la acción del Espíritu Santo: anima a toda la creación, suscita la fe, posibilita la comunicación con Cristo, ayuda al hombre a crecer en la libertad espiritual, es el maestro y la fuente de la oración, es el autor principal de las Escrituras, etc. El Catecismo también destaca los dones del Espíritu Santo (1831), Sus frutos (1832) y Sus carismas (2003).

Es impresionante pensar que, en el momento de nuestro bautismo, la tercera Persona de la Trinidad viene a habitar en nosotros y nos otorga dones sobrenaturales. Si cooperamos con el movimiento del Espíritu en nuestra vida y en nuestra alma, recibiremos todo lo que necesitamos para crecer en santidad y ministrar a los que nos rodean. Él quiere empoderarnos. Los apóstoles, que desearon el Espíritu Santo, lo esperaron con ansias y respondieron de todo corazón a sus inspiraciones, son modelos a imitar para nosotros.

El tipo de decisión que tuvo que tomar el personaje de Steve en Capitán América fue una que nos enfrenta a todos nosotros en el ámbito espiritual. ¿Estamos contentos con ser espiritualmente insignificantes, reticentes a aprovechar el poder divino? O ¿estamos listos para llevar nuestras buenas intenciones y nuestro conocimiento de Cristo al siguiente nivel, por amor a Dios y al prójimo, permitiendo que el Espíritu Santo nos transforme aún más radicalmente? El mundo espera nuestra respuesta.

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A lover of Jesus Christ, a wife, and a mother of five, Christine is the author of Everyday Heroism: 28 Daily Reflections on the Little Way of Motherhood. She is a graduate of Franciscan University, an instructor for the Institute for Excellence in Writing, and an experienced catechist. Thrilled to have recently become grandparents, she and her husband currently live in Upstate, NY. Visit her author webpage at

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Today we celebrate the Feast of Pentecost – the day the Holy Spirit descended upon the Apostles in the Upper Room and the day in which the Church was started. 

In the Upper Room, Christ tells the Apostles, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you”. He starts off with “Peace be with you” because it is God who brings peace to our hearts. Christ follows that invocation of peace with a challenging call: “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” Well Christ just suffered immensely as part of the mission He was called to. Is He telling the Apostles, and in turn us, that He is calling them to suffer? Yes! But He is also telling them that the Holy Spirit will be with them and will provide them with the courage and strength necessary to carry out their mission. The suffering the Apostles, and we, will endure is in the name of God. God would not leave us alone; He would not call us to something of which we are incapable. He calls us because He knows we are capable of rising to the challenge of bringing more people into the body of Christ. 

I love today’s readings from Acts and from 1 Corinthians because they both bear witness to the universality of the Church. St. Paul tells the Corinthians, “For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, slaves or free persons, and we were all given to drink of one Spirit”. When Jesus sends the Apostles out into the world, He does not intend for them to only spread the Gospel to one particular group of people. Rather, He wants the Gospel to be spread to all peoples. In Acts we hear the story of the Apostles preaching to the people of Jerusalem and being heard in many different languages. These two readings show us that the message and mission of Christ belongs to all people. 

So, what does Pentecost mean for us today? St. John Paul the Great said, “The Church of Christ is always, so to speak, in a situation of Pentecost; she is always gathered in the Upper Room in prayer, and at the same time, driven by the powerful wind of the Spirit, she is always on the streets preaching”. In the same way the Holy Spirit entered the hearts of the Apostles, we too must allow the Holy Spirit to enter our hearts in order that we can go forth spreading the light of Christ. It is our mission to share that message of Christ to all those we encounter. 

Please pray for our son, Theophilus Mark, who will be baptized and welcomed into the Church today!

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Dakota lives in Denver, CO with her husband, Ralph, and their two sons, Alfie & Theophilus. She is the Dean of Enrollment Management for Bishop Machebeuf High School where her husband also teaches. You can find Dakota at the zoo or a brewery with her family or with her nose in a book at home. For more of Dakota’s writing check out

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Pentecost: now what

So, Yeah: Pentecost. Now What?

Pentecost is a big deal for Catholics. The musicians pull out all the stops, the priest wears distinctive red garments we don’t see very often, and there is that whole thing about wind and tongues of flame and the birthday of the Church. The Holy Spirit was promised and sent.

So now what?

Pentecost can definitely seem like one of those historical events we learned about in school, but it’s never happened since. Just what does that event have to do with us, hear and now?

One of the problems we have is that Pentecost focuses our attention on the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is a mystery. Now, this doesn’t mean that the Hardy Boys are going to set off in search of clues, ultimately leading to the unveiling of the Holy Spirit, who was really Mr. Snively the bookkeeper, all along. No, a mystery – in the Catholic Faith – is something we cannot fully understand. We trust God and the Church to help us learn, but on this side of Heaven (and maybe even on the other side!) we are not going to put all the pieces together. That doesn’t mean we should stop trying, though.

Scott Hahn, the Catholic speaker and writer, believes that the key to understanding the Spirit is love. The Holy Spirit is, in essence, the overflowing love between the Father and the Son – that love poured out for us on the Cross but on the Church on Pentecost.

Think about it: the Holy Spirit drove out the fear the Apostles had. They boldly proclaimed God’s word. The Spirit allowed them to communicate with those they could not understand before. Doesn’t love do just this? Doesn’t love make us fearless? (Why else would we get married? Have babies?) Doesn’t love make us more understanding of others? Doesn’t love drive us out into the world to bring Christ to others?

Pentecost may have come and gone, but the Holy Spirit remains. Be bold. Be loving. It is your Catholic heritage, a gift from the Holy Spirit.


Pentecost: Receiving The Gifts Of The Holy Spirit

And suddenly there came from the sky a noise like a strong driving wind, and it filled the entire house in which they were. Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire, which parted and came to rest on each one of them. And they were all filled with the holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues, as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim. Acts 2:2-4

One of Jesus’ last Earthly promises was to send the Holy Spirit to the Apostles, and send it He did. A driving wind, tongues of fire, the sudden ability to proclaim the Good News in languages unspoken before: what a vivid image. What an incredible experience for the Apostles and for Mary, the Mother of God.

One might imagine that, following Jesus’ Ascension, the Apostles would be concerned about how they would continue the work at hand without Jesus. Yes, Peter had been appointed chief among them, but he was no Jesus. It was hard enough to get people to listen to the Good News when Jesus was the one teaching; what could the Apostles accomplish?

Of course, they had no way of knowing what Jesus meant when He promised to send the Holy Spirit. They had no idea that the power of Heaven would be unleashed and they would be filled with wisdom, understanding, knowledge, counsel, fortitude, piety and fear and awe of the Lord (the gifts of the Holy Spirit.)

These gifts are not reserved for the Apostles and Mary, nor for any other select group. The gifts of the Spirit are poured out upon any Catholic who has been baptized and confirmed. And yet, the whole thing still seems quite … odd, mysterious, almost unreal. It’s hard to think of ourselves as wise, or courageous, or filled with knowledge. What does this mean for you and me?

The great Christian writer C. S. Lewis, in his book Mere Christianity, put it this way:

This third Person is called, in technical language, the Holy Ghost or the ’spirit’ of God. Do not be worried or surprised if you find it (or Him) rather vaguer or more shadowy in your mind than the other two. I think there is a reason why that must be so. In the Christian life you are not usually looking at Him. He is always acting through you. If you think of the Father as something ‘out there,’ in front of you, and of the Son as someone standing at your side, helping you to pray, trying to turn you into another son, then you have to think of the third Person as something inside you, or behind you. Perhaps some people might find it easier to begin with the third Person and work backwards. God is love, and that love works through men-especially through the whole community of Christians. But this spirit of love is, from all eternity, a love going on between the Father and the Son.

And now, what does it all matter? It matters more than anything else in the world. The whole dance, or drama, or pattern of this three-Personal life is to be played out in each one of us: or (putting it the other way round) each one of us has got to enter that pattern, take his place in that dance. There is no other way to the happiness for which we were made.

We must believe that Pentecost was not a one time-only event, a bit of history like the Battle of Gettysburg or the signing of the Magna Carta. Pentecost, as Lewis points out, is here and now. It is personal for each of us. It is eternal love, given to us all; we choose to participate in it (or sadly, not.) These gifts of the Spirit, like any gift, must be opened, embraced and used. They are the eternal gifts of love from the One who loves perfectly, eternally; all we must do is celebrate these gifts.