The Coming of the Holy Spirit
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ Jesus,
As we conclude the month of May, the month of our Blessed Mother, the Virgin Mary, let us continue to strive to grow closer to her Immaculate Heart! This Sunday we celebrate Pentecost Sunday! I share with you a meditation on this great mystery. I encourage you to reflect over this message a few times this week:
The Coming of the Holy Spirit: The Jewish feast of Pentecost. The sending of the Holy Spirit. The rushing wind and the tongues of fire. The love of God has been poured into our hearts by His Spirit living in us, Alleluia. (Entrance Antiphon, Holy Mass of the Vigil, Rom. 5:5, 8:11)
Pentecost was one of the three great Jewish feasts. Many Israelites used to go as pilgrims to Jerusalem during these days,
to adore God in the Temple. The feast originated from a very ancient thanksgiving celebration, in gratitude to God for the yearly harvest about to be reaped. Later, another motive was added to this day’s celebration with the remembrance of the promulgation of the Law given by God on Mount Sinai. This was celebrated fifty days after the Pasch. So the material harvest which the Jews celebrated with such joy became a feast of immense rejoicing, by God’s design, in the New Dispensation: the coming of the Holy Spirit with all His Gifts and Fruits.
When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly a sound came from Heaven like the rush of a mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. (Acts 2:1-2) The Holy Spirit shows Himself in those elements which usually accompanied the presence of God in the Old Testament: wind and fire. (cf. Ex. 3:2)
Fire appears in Sacred Scripture as love which penetrates all things and as a purifying element. (cf. M.D. Philippe, The Mystery of Mary, Madrid) These are images which help us to understand better the action which the Holy Spirit carries out in souls: Ure igne Sancti Spiritus renes nostros et cor nostrum, Domine: Lord, with the fire of the Holy Spirit, purify our inmost being and our heart.
Fire also produces light and signifies the new brightness which the Holy Spirit sheds on the doctrine of Jesus Christ: When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth… He will glorify me, for He will take what is mine and declare it to you. (cf. John 16:13-14) On this occasion Jesus had already forewarned His disciples: The Counsellor, the Holy Spirit… will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. (cf. John 14:26) It is the Holy Spirit who leads us to a full understanding of the Truth taught by Christ, who completed and perfected Revelation and confirmed it by Divine guarantees… finally by sending the Spirit of Truth. (Second Vatican Council, Dei Verbum, 4)
In the Old Testament the action of the Holy Spirit is often intimated by the word breath. This expresses both the gentleness and the strength of Divine Love. There is nothing subtler than the wind, which manages to penetrate everywhere, even to reach inanimate bodies and give them a life of their own. The rushing wind of the day of Pentecost expresses the new force with which Divine Love invades the Church and souls.
When St. Peter sees the multitudes of people gathered near the Cenacle, he convinces them that this is the fulfillment of what had been foretold already by the Prophets. (Joel 2:28) And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh. (Acts 2:17) Those who receive the outpouring of the Spirit are no longer a privileged few, like the companions of Moses (cf. Num. 11:25) or the prophets. No, these are all mankind, in the measure in which they receive Christ. (cf. John 7:39) The action of the Holy Spirit was to produce, in the disciples and those who heard them, such an admiration that they were all enraptured, full of love and joy.
The Paraclete continually sanctifies the Church and every soul. Correspondence with the motions and inspirations of the Holy Spirit.
The coming of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost was not an isolated event in the Church’s life. The Paraclete sanctifies it continually as He also sanctifies every soul. This He does through the innumerable inspirations which are all the attractions, motions, rebukes and interior compunctions, lights and intuitions which God works in us. So He strengthens our heart with His blessings, with His care and fatherly Love, so as to arouse us, move us, impel us and draw us to holy virtues, to heavenly Love, to good resolutions: in short, to all that leads us to our eternal life. (St. Francis de Sales, Introduction to the
Devout Life, III, 18) His action in the soul is gentle and mild… He comes to save, to cure, to enlighten. (St. Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechesis 16 on the Holy Spirit, 1)
At Pentecost, the Apostles were strengthened in their mission as witnesses to Jesus, to announce the Good News to all peoples. But not only the Apostles. All who believe in Him will have the happy duty of announcing that Christ has died and is risen for our salvation. A nd in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and daughters will prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; yea, and on my menservants and my maidservants in those days I will pour out my Spirit; and they shall prophesy. (Acts 2:17-18) So Peter preaches on the morning of Pentecost and so begins the epoch of the last days, the days in which the Holy Spirit has been lavished newly upon those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God and who fulfil His doctrine.
All we Christians have since then the mission of proclaiming and singing the magnolia Dei (Acts 2:11), the marvels which God has worked in His Son and in all those who believe in Him. We are already a holy people, bound to make known the greatness of God, who brought us out of darkness into His marvelous light. (1
When we realize that our sanctification and the apostolic effectiveness of our lives depend upon our correspondence with the motions of the Holy Spirit, we feel the need to ask Him often to wash what is stained, water our dryness, heal our infirmity, enkindle our tepidity, and direct our straying steps (cf. Sequence for the Mass of Pentecost), since we know that within us there are many defects - lukewarmness, stains, areas which do not give the fruit they should because they have dried up, elements which are diseased, as well as little deviations which must be corrected.
We need too to ask for a greater docility, an active docility that leads us to welcome the inspirations and the touches of the Paraclete with purity of heart. Correspondence: docility, life of prayer, union with the
If we want to grow in fidelity to the constant motions and inspirations of the Holy Spirit in our soul, we can fix our attention on three fundamental points: docility, life of prayer and union with the Cross.
First of all docility, because it is the Holy Spirit who, through His inspirations, gives a supernatural tone to our thoughts, desires and actions. It is He who leads us to be receptive to Christ’s teaching and to assimilate it in a profound way. It is He who gives us the Light by which we perceive our personal calling and the strength to carry out all that God expects of us. (J. Escriva, Christ Is Passing By, 135)
The Paraclete never ceases to act in our soul. Not a single aspiration do we say that is not inspired by the Holy Spirit (cf. 1 Cor. 12:3), as St. Paul tells us in the second reading of the Mass.
He is present and moves us in prayer, as we read the Gospel, when we discover new light through a piece of advice we have received, as we ponder upon a Truth of Faith which already perhaps we have often considered.
We realize that this clarity does not depend upon our will. It does not come from us, but from God. It is the Holy Spirit who leads us gently to the Sacrament of Penance to confess our sins, to raise our heart to God at an unexpected moment, to carry out some particular work. It is He who suggests to us to make some small sacrifice, or finds for us the right words to inspire someone to be better.
In the second place, a life of prayer, because the giving of one’s self, the obedience and meekness of a Christian, are born of love and lead to love. And love leads to a personal relationship, to conversation and friendship. Christian life requires a constant dialogue with God, One in three Persons, and it is to this intimacy that the Holy Spirit leads us… Let us acquire the habit of conversation with the Holy Spirit, who is the one who will make us holy. Let us trust in Him and ask His help and feel His closeness to us. In this way our poor heart will grow: we will have a greater desire to love God and to love all creatures for God’s sake. (J. Escriva, op. cit., 136) And finally, union with the Cross, because in the life of Christ, the Resurrection and Pentecost were preceded by Calvary. This is the order that must be followed in the life of any Christian… The Holy Spirit comes to us as a result of the Cross - as a result of our total abandonment to the Will of God, of seeking only His glory and of renouncing ourselves completely. (ibid., 37) We can end our prayer by making our own the petitions of the hymn which is sung in the sequence of the Holy Mass of this day of Pentecost:
Come, O Holy Spirit, send from Heaven a ray of Your Light. Come, O Father of the poor; come, O Giver of Graces; come, O Light of hearts. Best of all Consolers, welcome. Guest of the soul, cool refreshment. You are rest in our labor, peace in difficulties and solace in our grief. O most holy Light! Fill the inmost being of the hearts of Your faithful…Grant to Your children who trust in You Your seven Sacred Gifts. Give them the merit of Your virtue, the port of salvation; give them everlasting joy.
(Sequence for the Mass of Pentecost)
If we want to have a deeper friendship with the Holy Spirit, nothing is so effective as a close friendship with Mary. She it was who seconded, as no other creature ever did, the inspirations of the Holy Spirit. The Apostles, before the day of Pentecost, with one accord devoted themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary, the Mother of Jesus. (cf. Acts 1:14) (From: In Conversation with God by Francis Fernandez)
Through the intercession of Mary, Spouse of the Holy Spirit, St. Joseph, St. Michael and St. Paul, may God bless us and grant us the grace to share the Gospel with others!
In Christ through Mary,