Matthew & Mary celebrating their wedding with their CVV Community
Experiencing the Holy Spirit
Matthew has a lot of experience with full time volunteer programs. Before coming to CVV, Matthew, did a year of service at Amate House, and after CVV, he worked at the Jesuit Volunteer Corp. During his CVV year, Matthew, served at the St. Francis Center. Currently, he and his wife (Mary, CVV 20) live in Denver. Matthew graduated from St Edwards in Austin so don’t be surprised if you see him wearing cowboy boots.
“When the time for Pentecost was fulfilled, they were all in one place together. 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: 1-4
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, on your own intelligence do not rely.” Proverbs 3:5
Do you trust in the Lord? Do you question when terrible things happen, or when seemingly everything goes wrong? Frequently, I find myself lacking trust in God, and while my faith is strong, active, and participatory, I know that God is calling me to trust more in the presence of the Holy Spirit. If you look at the state of our country, the world, or perhaps even reflect on your own life, this is easier said than done. What would happen, however, if we had faith that could indeed move mountains? Could we speak in tongues as the Apostles did at Pentecost? Would we waiver when challenged by friends or family on societal issues, abuse in the Catholic Church, or why we believe what we do? While I have never spoken in tongues I have had a moment, rather my family has, that upon reflection, the Holy Spirit had certainly been present and guiding us. Confidently, I can proclaim, the Holy Spirit was in that room, that Divine Providence guided us on our journey. Sharing that story with you speaks witness to the Holy Spirit very present in our world.
This past April marked the one year anniversary of the death of my younger brother, Owen. On Thanksgiving Day 2017, Owen was brought to the Emergency Room, and after a few days of tests, it was discovered that he had a brain tumor. Coupled with an immune condition, ITP, that greatly reduced his platelet counts, Owen spent the next several weeks in the hospital. Christmas that year was spent there, yet Owen was still able to lead prayer before our meal together. Eventually, Owen transitioned home, and his attitude was one of gratitude and trust. Owen knew the Holy Spirit, and he became a witness of the Spirit present today. Fast forward to April 2018 and another tumor had grown. On April 19, 2018, I received a call to come home, Owen was on a breathing tube, and while there is no guarantee, they could keep him comfortable until people arrived.
My fiancé, now wife, Mary, and I took a flight that night and drove two hours to Cleveland. Later that day, we went to the hospital and had several hours with my family, and Owen. We prayed the Divine Mercy Chaplet, as well as other prayers. We had a moment to say goodbye. Around 7 p.m. that Friday, April 20, the breathing tube was removed. Comfortable still, Owen continued to breath for a few hours. We continued to pray, hold each closely, and comfort each other as needed. Approximately three hours after we removed the breathing tube, my mother, while sitting on his side, holding his hand, asked, “Does anyone want to read Psalm 23?”
Mary pulled up the Psalm on her phone and I began to read, “The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I lack. In green pastures he makes me lie down; to still waters he leads me.”
As I began to read one of Owen’s doctors walked in, and I paused. Around the same time, Owen’s breathing suddenly changed, and he led out a long exhale. Silence. We gathered around his bedside and I continued.
“He restores my soul. He guides me along right paths for the sake of his name. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff comfort me. You set a table before me in front of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Indeed, goodness and mercy will pursue me all the days of my life; I will dwell in the house of the Lord for endless days.”
April 20, 2018 Owen went home to a merciful, loving, God. The following week we shared the story of his passing. It still gives me chills, not because of great suddenness in losing my young brother, but because of the powerful experience in that hospital room. What prompted my mother to ask if anyone would read Psalm 23? What allowed smooth and immediate travel from Denver, Atlanta, and southern Ohio for his siblings to be present, and equally important, to comfort our parents? God was present in every moment of Owen’s journey, and the Holy Spirit was with us the night he died. On Holy Saturday, April 20, this year, my family and I went to the Easter Vigil mass. During the celebration, the Priest consecrated bread and wine into the body and blood of Jesus Christ at nearly the same time Owen died one year earlier. Lent had ended, Christ had risen! He is now our Advocate, and will be with us always (John 14:16).
Though we may not all have such beautiful moments of the Holy Spirit with us, may sharing it with you be witness of the Holy Spirit very much present in the world today. Circling back to my introductory questions, however, why do I still not trust? God has shown me that He resides in our world, and is with us always. Therefore, I must be witness to this presence. We have daily opportunities to be witness of Christ to others. In the workplace, with our friends, and yes, even when suffering, tragedy, or death surrounds us, we can bear witness to Christ’s resurrection. This encompasses true Christianity, true discipleship. Perhaps if I did this more, if we all did this more, our country, and world, would not be so divided?
However, I can only speak to my own actions and words, which means I have to put my full trust in the Lord. With uncertainty, with life transition, and with sorrow, I must look to the Holy Spirit for guidance. I can also pray to Our Mother to be my advocate. Ultimately, I must trust that God will guide, and lead me, to wherever He wills. Pentecost is a great reminder that God is with us always, the Holy Spirit very much present in our lives. Should I still forget, however, and find myself a lost sheep once again, there is always a Good Shepherd to guide and lead me once more. Never abandoned, the Holy Spirit is always with us.