Where do you see the Holy Spirit? Part 5
The Holy Spirit can be seen in the strength and the appeal of the Catholic Church today, a reader says answering our Pentecost question.
Guest blog post by Cynthia Trainque
The Holy Spirit is very present in his church today. In many dioceses across the U.S. priestly vocations are up for the first time in decades. The church is growing quite rapidly in Africa, Asia, and South America. For the first time since Roe v. Wade (1973), more people than ever are deciding that abortion is morally wrong.
While no-one Protestant group is saying “Let’s return to Rome,” there is a desire among some groups to return to (or at least, to look at) the ancient church—especially in pursuit of more formal/organized worship services—and discover Catholicism, of course. More Protestants are open to the Virgin Mary as part of their observances—talking about her, praying the rosary. The observation of Lent is making inroads in some Protestant communities—complete with the imposition of ashes—a once-shunned action because it naturally involves the use of symbols.
A higher number of laity are going into ministry in the church and pursuing a formal education (most always a master’s degree) to do so. In the Archdiocese of Boston, attendance is up at Mass—Boston having been one of the first and hardest hit by the priestly sex abuse scandal. Programs like Catholics Come Home are the invitation people have been waiting for. The church is far more “accessible,” too: Catholic Radio (EWTN) is moving into all kinds of markets, Catholic TV (not to be confused with EWTN) is drawing an ever-widening (and diverse) audience and, yup, “there’s an app for that,” too!
These signs are all good—and seem to be here for the long run. Even the Sacrament of Reconciliation is making a come-back. My parish of Our Lady of the Lake in Leominster, Massachusetts (Diocese of Worcester) held a 4-day Lenten Mission in March. On the visiting priest’s last day, he stated that he would be available for Reconciliation from 8:15 to 5:15, figuring about 20 people would show up. He stopped counting at 60 in the early afternoon.
The Pastor went to help him at 5:15 and then at 7:00, another 100 or so people showed up for the Reconciliation service. Many came home to the Sacrament after 20, 30, 40 years away. Some 200-plus people received this glorious sacrament in one day.
While some parishes are closing or being consolidated, many are growing in the outlying areas. My parish grew by 186 new families since January 2010. While Fitchburg, Massachusetts went from eight parishes to four in 2010, Our Lady of the Lake built an addition back in 2004.
None of this is accidental. It is all the work of the Holy Spirit who sanctifies us. The question is: Are we open to the workings of the Holy Spirit? I have great hope for the future of the Catholic Church, both here in the United States and abroad. I believe that God is purifying his church, his bride and preparing her for greater things.
Guest blogger Cynthia Trainque, a reader from Leominster, Massachusetts.
Guest blog posts express the views of the author. They do not necessarily reflect the views of U.S. Catholic, its editors, or the Claretians.