Fr. Terrence McKenna, right, will break down three exhortations St. Peter preaches about in Acts 2:38, after the Pentecost. Photo above from CNS/ Crosiers, photo right courtesy of Fr. Terrence McKenna

Lenten reflections series explores Pentecost story

  • March 26, 2017

Begin at the end and work backwards.

That’s how Fr. Terrence McKenna suggests Catholics prepare themselves during the Lenten season.

“We have a vision of what we want to be and then we work back from that destination,” said McKenna, a councilor with Catholic Charismatic Renewal Council and the guest preacher of a six-day Parish Lenten Mission at St. Philip Neri Parish in Toronto beginning March 26.

“Just as when you’re building a house, you want a roof. That’s the last thing to go on. The first thing is to dig the hole for the foundation.”

For Lent, McKenna said our destination is Pentecost. When the Holy Spirit came down as tongues of fire, Jesus’ disciples began to speak in other tongues. This was the true beginning of the Church because it marked the beginning of the disciples’ mission to evangelize all nations.

If this is the goal of the Lenten season, to be empowered by the power and presence of the Holy Spirit on Easter, McKenna said it must therefore inform the prayer life we lead during these days of preparation.

McKenna will use his time at St. Philip Neri to unpack the story of the Pentecost, specifically Acts 2:38: “And Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.’ ”

“Peter has authority under the Holy Spirit and as the first vicar of Jesus, so if he says it, it has a lot of weight and I think our job is to explore it and find why it is so significant,” said McKenna.

After the disciples received the Holy Spirit, they looked to Peter and asked, “What shall we do, brothers?” Peter’s answer was threefold: to repent, to be baptized and to receive the Holy Spirit. McKenna sees this first teaching of the first pope as the foundation in which all Catholics are called to return to in their Lenten self-examination.

The first three evening reflections (March 26-28) will explore each of these three exhortations. The fourth evening (March 29) will be on the secrets Our Lady of Fatima revealed to three shepherd children 100 years ago.

On March 30, St. Philip Neri parish pastor Fr. Joseph Lourdusamy will lead a communal celebration of the Sacrament of Penance and the Lenten parish mission will end on March 31 with a High Mass, followed by the Way of the Cross.

McKenna said that Lenten parish missions are an important part of parish life. It is a unique spiritual exercise that gives the community the opportunity to experience a renewal together as one Church.

“Lent sets the stage for Easter and so, this is a long tradition to have Lenten missions in parishes,” said McKenna. “We need this time of cultivation and preparation... to set aside the time, for the whole Lenten season, but particularly for the Lenten mission that’s going to be a concentrated opportunity to expose one’s self to the wisdom of the tradition.”

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