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Tuesday, May 6, 2008

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Pentecost Novena - Day 5

Acts 20:17-27
Psalm 68:10-11, 20-21
John 17:1-11

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honey, i shrunk the church

"I have never shrunk from announcing to you God's design in its entirety." —Acts 20:27

Satan must be enjoying the shrinking in the Church: the shrinking ranks of priests, religious sisters, and brothers, shrinking faith, shrinking attendance at Mass, shrinking collections, shrinking lines for Confession, shrinking numbers of catechumens, shrinking family sizes, and so on. Numerous seminaries, convents, inner-city parishes, and parochial schools have shrunk so much that they've been closed. Some days it seems that the only thing pertaining to the Church that's not shrinking is the number of people lining up to criticize her.

Historically, when the Church has been shrinking, the Lord has raised up shrink-resistant men and women who never shrink from speaking the total truth of God's plan (Acts 20:27). They insist "solemnly on repentance before God" (Acts 20:21). They never shrink from telling people what is for their good, or from teaching them in every way God's truth (Acts 20:20).

The Holy Spirit lavishes us with grace to expand. Yet we must put aside our old, fearful nature which shrinks from the fear of man. Jesus taught that no one sews a new "unshrunken" cloth onto an old cloth (Mt 9:16), else it would tear loose. We can't mix our old "shrinking-violet" ways with the Holy Spirit. Nothing good comes from shrinking away. As Job proclaims: "What I fear overtakes me, and what I shrink from comes upon me" (Jb 3:25).

Repent of fear. Be shrink-resistant in the Spirit (Acts 2:4). Help the Church expand again. "The Spirit God has given us is no cowardly spirit, but rather One That makes us strong" (2 Tm 1:7).

Prayer:  Father, I'm not ashamed of the gospel (Rm 1:16). I'm "proud to profess it in Christ Jesus" (Easter Baptismal Promises).

Promise:  "Eternal life is this: to know You, the only true God, and Him Whom You have sent, Jesus Christ." —Jn 17:3

Praise:  Once Sarah didn't dare speak out against wrongs she saw. Now in the Spirit she fights boldly for the Truth.

Reference:  (This teaching was submitted by a member of our editorial team.)

Rescript:  †Reverend Joseph R. Binzer, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, October 23, 2007

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