As we approach the great Feast of Pentecost, join those across the diocese for a novena to the holy spirit – that the Holy Spirit would inflame our hearts with his power and grace. Those who wish to pray this novena in preparation for Pentecost (May 31) would begin on Friday, May 22. A link to the Novena to the Holy Spirit can be found above.
The Holy Spirit is the unseen moving force of God in the world — unseen but not unheard. It was the Holy Spirit who inspired the prophets of the Old Testament to lead the people to God. It was the Holy Spirit who inspired the evangelists to write the Gospels and Epistles. It is today the Holy Spirit who guides the faithful: “and I will send the Holy Spirit to inspire you.”
Pray to and invoke the Holy Spirit daily for the seven gifts: Wisdom, Understanding, Right Judgment, Courage, Knowledge, Reverence, and Wonder and Awe.
Prayer of the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit
O Lord Jesus Christ, before ascending into heaven you promised to send the Holy Spirit to finish your work in the souls of your Apostles and Disciples. Grant that I may be open to the work of that same Spirit within me.
Grant me the Spirit of Wisdom
that I may not be attached to the perishable things of this world but seek the things that are eternal.
Grant me the Spirit of Understanding
to enlighten my mind with the light of your divine truth.
Grant me the Spirit of Right Judgment
that I may choose the surest way of pleasing God.
Grant me the Spirit of Courage
that I may bear my cross with you and that I may overcome all the obstacles that oppose my salvation.
Grant me the Spirit of Knowledge
that I may know God and know myself.
Grant me the Spirit of Reverence
that I may find the service of God sweet and attractive.
Grant me the Spirit of Wonder and Awe
that I may be filled with loving reverence towards God and may avoid anything that would displease him.
Mark me, dear Lord, with the sign of your true disciples and animate me in all things with your Spirit
Last fall, I would often find on the GroupMe App for the Newman Rocksquad, “I am praying night prayer at 9 p.m. or 10 p.m.; would anyone like to join me?” I would always try to say yes to this and join the students for night prayer. These invitations led us to begin offering a communal half-hour of Adoration followed by Night Prayer at the Newman Center each evening. With the suspension of public Masses in mid-March, we, like many other communities, began streaming this public prayer along with Mass via Facebook Live.
Night Prayer includes an examination of conscience. I have chosen to lead the community in an Examen during this time. In the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius, he describes the daily prayer of the Examen in five simple successive steps: gratitude, petition, review, forgiveness and renewal.
In these Covid-19, days I have been trying to focus more on the first step of the Examen, the prayer of gratitude and thanksgiving. I realize that, “as we praise God, our spirits become awakened and alive to his love. Our minds become aligned with His purposes, and we began to be aware of all that is possible and available to us from his throne of grace … Our natural tendency is to praise God only when things are going well. But Scriptures tells us, rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (Dr. Mary Healy, Magnificat 3/26/20)
LuAnn Lindskov, a parishioner at St. Mary’s in Isabel, sent me this email after encountering our nightly prayer on Facebook. “For several years, I have heard the Lord call me to pray the Ignatian practice of the Examen at the end of my day. I really struggled with completing night prayer with consistency. One of the many blessings during this time is the many opportunities for participation in an online community. Praying night prayer, including an examination of conscience, with Fr. Mark and the young people at the Newman Center is inspiring and helping me build this discipline. The church is alive and well and I am thankful for the beautiful witness of young people. During this time of separation, we are not alone, Jesus is walking with us. Our Lord answers our prayers by whatever means He desires and for me, 7:30 p.m. Night Prayer on Facebook with the Rapid City Catholic Newman Center is what my heart and soul are longing for.”
Along with LuAnn, several of our seminarians have also shared with me the encouragement they are experiencing because of their practice of the Examen. Max Vetch, a junior at Immaculate Heart of Mary Seminary, shares, “I think one of the biggest graces of this time is realizing how helpless we really are. Everyone seems to be using the words ‘uncertain times’, but as Christians we have been living in the end times since Jesus first came. This is not to say that we should be frightened at the possibilities of danger. We have the greatest certainty of all in the victory of the resurrection. This is what we especially celebrate during the Easter season.”
Robert Kinyon, second year of theology, notes “This difficult time has provided me an occasion to recognize more deeply that everything I have is a gift from God — even my very existence. By virtue of His sheer gratitude, I have life. Sometimes my life is riddled with frustration and stress, but such emotions only become more taxing when I strain to control and manipulate circumstances that are outside my sphere of influence. God is good. He governs the world by his wisdom. I need only to cooperate with Him.”
VanderMay shared this beautiful grace, “When I serve Mass, the priest has me ring the big church bell so that all in the neighborhood would still know that even if they cannot be in the church, Jesus still comes and is searching for us all. He too, is waiting for us to be able to come together again.”
You can hear the gratitude and blessing in these words. Fr. Timothy Gallagher, says the key to the Examen prayer is gratitude. In fact, to be able to name God’s concrete gifts during the day, lies at the very heart of our entire relationship with God (The Examen Prayer: Ignatius wisdom for our Lives Today).
In these challenging and constantly changing times, in which we live, it is easy to see and focus on the negative rather than the positive and on the abundant graces that God continues to bestow on us. But as these witnesses attest, it is possible, even in the midst of a pandemic, to “rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in all circumstances” remembering that “this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus” (1Thes 5:16-17).
By Fr. Michel Mulloy
I shudder when I think of some of the crazy things I did as a young priest in liturgy. Reflecting on my youthfulness and energy makes me laugh and sometimes cry. I say to myself, “How could I be so stupid?”
I am not sure it was stupidity or even youthful ignorance that guided my decisions. Rather, if I am honest, it was pride. I thought I knew better than the centuries of wisdom distilled in the guidelines that governed the celebration of the sacraments. Thus, I set about improving the Mass, making the baptism more meaningful or the wedding more relevant. Pride, nurtured and cultivated with what I thought was sound reasoning and carefully selected research to agree with my ideas, reinforced my opinion. It took years to even realize this, and I am still unraveling this vice. Pride continues to rear its ugly head.
I make this confession in a column about liturgy because I believe I am not very different from you. We all get stuck in our pride, do we not? We allow ourselves to become convinced that we are right. Whoever thinks or acts differently than me, be that the pastor, a fellow parishioner, a different group or whoever, is wrong. We then resort, as I did and still do, to complaining, gathering likeminded friends, sulking and remaining resentful. It can take a long time to process through anger, frustration and discontent to look more deeply at the situation and allow truth and wisdom to surface. I have wasted time in this journey.
So what, then, is a better approach? When I confront an opinion or a practice in the celebration of the liturgy that does not set well with me, I strive first to reflect quietly on what I have experienced. The questions I ask myself are, “Why does that bother me? What difference does it make? Is this any of my business?” The beauty of this sort of approach is it allows me to reach inside and discover my understanding and convictions. I can do research to determine if my understanding of an aspect of the liturgy is accurate and/or if there is another way of looking at whatever it is that is bothering me. I can ask questions and explore options. In the end, I might well find out that there is more than one way of approaching a subject. I might also find my concern valid.
Gaining a deeper understanding of a liturgical subject can also prompt me to explore my convictions and values. Hopefully, I can probe more deeply into how this aspect of the liturgy touches me deep inside. This deeper reflection unfailingly leads me to appreciate what I cherish and love about the Mass or other sacrament.
I can also examine the emotions triggered by this aspect of the celebration and why I care about it so much. This allows me to explore my own history and my faith journey. I can appreciate the ramifications of my own understandings and how they flow into other considerations and dimensions of my celebration of liturgy or my Catholic faith as a whole. This sort of reflection allows me to act in truth, rather than out of pride.
I can accept diversity where it is appropriate. I can choose to celebrate with freedom, without allowing my personal preferences to adversely affect my response to the whole celebration. If possible, I may choose another parish to celebrate. Above all, I may also choose to visit with the pastor or person whose comments or actions caused my concern and lead me on this reflective journey. I can do that not to win an argument, but rather to seek further understanding, seek correction of a practice that is in error or simply express my concern.
To be clear, there are rights and wrongs here. The church has given us guidelines to follow and even these guidelines allow for some interpretation. They are also in certain ways, very specific. On the one hand, we should not demand of ourselves and others more than these guidelines expect. On the other hand, we should not settle for less. Priests are not always right. I certainly was not for many years. Neither are lay people. We can all be misguided. We can be wrong or wrestle with pride. Situations of discomfort and struggle will always arise. It is better to take the time to reflect and come to an understanding that is grounded in the truth and then decide how best to respond.
Limited public Masses are starting in our diocese. I have taken a little teasing about this label that I have created for this first step in our return to normal life. It is all in good fun, but I have learned over the years that words do matter.
These Masses are public in the sense that the faithful will be present. Priests will continue to offer Masses remotely so that those who are not able and/or are uncomfortable participating in person. Participating remotely has been a blessing and I know all the people of the diocese are grateful for that even as we all understand this is not ideal. Allowing parishioners to be present again if they choose is the goal of this next step in the unprecedented journey we are experiencing. Being present for the celebration of the Mass allows us to receive holy Communion. Both celebrating Mass and receiving communion are significant.
Participation in the sacrifice of Christ leads those who are present to the reception of holy Communion. We walk with Jesus to the cross and enter into his sacrifice with our own sacrifice so that, with Christ, we can rise to new life and full union with God. That is holy Communion, under the form of bread and wine here on earth and fully and completely in eternal life. Therefore, participating remotely has left people with a longing in their hearts.
These Masses are also limited. Unlike our faith practice two months ago, only a select number may be present at any given celebration of the Mass. In union with our governor, State officials and local civic leaders, we are continuing to do our part to protect our parishioners and priests and to slow the spread of the Covid-19 virus so that available medical resources are not overwhelmed. The CDC guidelines for proper distancing seem to have worked. We will never know the effect of our efforts, but we do know that limited exposure does reduce the possibility of spreading this virus.
Limiting the number present at a given time has led the priests of our diocese to make pastoral decisions that are not part of our regular practice. Parishioners will be encouraged and invited. This may be confusing or even frustrating for some. The Catechism of the Catholic Church says that, “The Sunday celebration of the Lord’s Day and his Eucharist is at the heart of the Mass (2177). It also assures us that, “The Eucharist is “the source and summit of the Christian life” (1324). In these unprecedented times the bishops throughout the country and I suspended the obligation to celebrate Sunday Mass. With that suspension still in place, I and my brother priests are hopeful that we can provide for the faithful, the opportunity to celebrate the Eucharist and receive communion as often as possible by offering Masses throughout the week. Scheduling more than five Masses per priest on Saturday and Sunday would not accommodate everyone during the weekend with proper distancing. Moreover, such a plan would soon become truly taxing for my brother priests who are already going over and above their normal ministry duties to reach all of you.
In unusual circumstances like these most people become self-focused, first considering their own family or their local parish community and convenience. Each of us needs to remember that this is not just about me or my family or even my parish community. It is about our whole diocese and about all of us who are the Diocese of Rapid City. Guidelines may be tailored to each parish community to a certain extent, but also must take into consideration the common bond we share with one another. We are small-towns, churches standing alone on the prairie and larger parishes in the hills. Pastors take care of multiple parishes. Priests are human, varying in age and health condition. Simply said, there are many factors to consider and many details to take into consideration in implementing the return to limited public Masses.
Our union with the Lord in the celebration of the Mass and the reception of holy Communion necessarily calls us to a love for one another. The God who loves me and calls me to union through his Son Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit also loves every other human person. Jesus died and rose to restore eternal life to everyone who accepts his call. We are bound together, brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ, who are also sons and daughters of God. We are a community. True freedom comes not in doing what I want, or worse yet getting what I want, but rather in seeking what is best and most just for all of us who are brothers and sisters in Christ. The easiest way to undermine our union with God in Jesus Christ is to see ourselves as unique and different. It is too easy to convince ourselves that the guidelines do not apply to us. We can quickly excuse our choices and behaviors under the guise that “it really doesn’t matter,” or “my choice doesn’t really hurt anyone else.” In the end, putting our self-interest first undermines the common good and, in truth, the call to love as Jesus first loved us.
I am proud of the dedication of my brother priests in these difficult circumstances. They deeply desire to help you achieve the goals of our limited public Masses. I would ask you to listen to them and follow their lead so that together we can grow in holiness. May God bless all of you, and may he accept our sacrifices and make this truly the beginning of a return to what we cherish as normal in our faith practice.
Want to see the the new Chancery Office in Rapid City? Check out this virtual tour, led by Father Michel Mulloy!
225 Main Street, Suite 100
Rapid City, SD 57701
Terra Sancta Retreat Center
2101 City Springs Rd, Ste 300
Rapid City , SD 57702