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Spirit of Unity

Today we celebrate the Solemnity of Pentecost, the feast that changed the course of history. Twelve men, who had locked themselves in the upper room out of fear for their lives, threw open the doors and windows and boldly proclaimed the gospel. The movement that started on that day transformed the world completely. Jesus and His teachings have been embraced by billions of people and Christianity has remained an overwhelming presence and a formidable force throughout history.

Every Pentecost we hear the story of how the Holy Spirit came down on the apostles. Peter preached to the pilgrims who had come from many parts of the then-known civilized world. Even though they spoke different languages they understood Peter’s message that was delivered in his tongue. The Holy Spirit destroyed the division of language and united them in the faith of Christ.

Several Scripture scholars have contrasted the story of Pentecost with that of the Tower of Babel as recounted in the Book of Genesis. Impelled by their egos, men of that time decided to build a tower that would rise up to the heavens. They wanted to make a name for themselves. Disdainful of their pride, God confounded their plans by causing division through language. They began to speak in different languages and could not understand each other. As a result, their building project came to a screeching halt. On the other hand, at Pentecost the Holy Spirit overcame the division of language and started building the one Church. The Holy Spirit is the agent of unity who destroys the divisions caused by our sins.

When we look at the Christian faith, we are saddened by the clear divisions that exist. St Paul would be heart-broken. At the Last Supper Jesus prayed thus for His disciples: “I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me” (John 17:20-21). It would seem that the prayer of the Master is yet to be realized.

St Cyril of Alexandria, a Father of the Church, gives us the necessary spiritual motivation to work towards our unity in the Spirit. The following words are taken from his commentary on the Gospel of John:

With regard to our unity in the Spirit, I shall follow the same line of reasoning and say again to begin with that we have all received one and the same Spirit, the Holy Spirit, and so in a certain sense are mingled with one another and with God. For although, taken individually, we are many, and in each of us there dwells the Spirit of the Father who is also the Spirit of Christ, nevertheless this Spirit is one and indivisible. According to his peculiar mode of being, through himself he binds together into a unity all the spirits that are broken off from the common unity, and in himself he makes all men appear again as one.

In his book, Confessions of a Mega Church Pastor, Allen Hunt reflects on the glaring disunity that exists in the Christian faith. He gave up his large Methodist congregation and converted to Catholicism. Hunt points out that today there are “33,000 different permutations of Protestant Christianity.” He writes: “We represent the unity of God in the world. Jesus envisions a high destiny for His people: that they may become perfectly one. Not just one, but perfectly one. Completely unified. Not separated or divided in any way. How in the world do you reconcile Jesus’ strong and clear prayer with the 33,000 different ways we Christians have found to disagree?”

That division exists not only outside the Catholic Church. Unfortunately we can see it within the Church. On this feast of unity all of us must ask ourselves whether we are making every effort to foster unity instead of causing division. It would seem that the same labels that are used in the civic sphere are utilized within the Church. We find ourselves polarized. It is easy to dismiss those who disagree with us on any point of doctrine or practice. We may even be tempted to wish that they would go away. Believe me, sometimes I too feel that certain Catholic elected officials who openly defy Church teaching should stop calling themselves Catholic. However, it is not for me to judge them or get rid of them. Final judgment is reserved for God. Even though we may disagree, we need to treat each other with respect. We must always try to give the other the benefit of the doubt.

In describing the Early Christians, Luke tells us that they were of one heart and one mind. Let us pray that in spite of our differences we may strive to engage each other in respectful dialogue and learn from each other. Perhaps by listening to each other’s viewpoints we will develop a greater sympathy for each other. Let us suspend judgment and keep our hearts and minds open. Let us ask the Spirit of God to give us tender hearts and flexible spirits. May we be one as Christ wants us to be!

Mission Statement: As children of God, living in a Catholic community of faith, we are united by the Gospel message of Jesus Christ. Aware that all we have is gift and grace from our Heavenly Father, we strive to give of our time, talent and treasure to build His kingdom on earth. We live this mission, challenged by the Word, nurtured by the Sacraments, and enlivened by the Spirit, to serve our brothers and sisters in peace, justice and dignity. All are welcome on this journey.

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Contact Information

St. Paul of the Cross

320 South Washington Street
Park Ridge, IL 60068


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Phone: (847) 825-7605
Fax: (847) 825-5186

Mass Schedule

Sunday

7:30 a.m. - Upper Church
9 a.m. - Upper Church & Holy Family Chapel
10:30 a.m. - Upper Church & Holy Family Chapel
12 p.m. - Upper Church
5:30 p.m. - Upper Church

Monday - Friday

6:25 a.m. - Upper Church
8:30 a.m. - Upper Church

Saturday

8 a.m. - Upper Church
4:30 p.m. - Upper Church & Holy Family Chapel