No. 17 Pentecost Thoughts
By the grace and love and mercy of God, and through the ministry of the Church, we have, in recent weeks, received the blessings of Christ’s love in abundance: the Last Supper, his Agony in the Garden, his Crucifixion and Death on the Cross, his Resurrection, his Ascent to the Father, while those who love him have been commissioned to carry his Good News of life, mercy and forgiveness to all nations. Grace upon grace has been showered upon us.
And now it is Pentecost. The birthday of the Church. The time of the Holy Spirit, the promise of Jesus. The Holy Spirit, the Living Love of the Father for the Son and of the Son for the Father, who comes down upon us, and indeed all creation, with power and with his many gifts for those who would accept them. Gifts for our good, for the Church, for the world. For the greater glory of God. To transform us by the life-giving and life-renewing Fire of Divine Love. These graces are here for those who yearn for the Spirit of God, and are willing to open their hearts and lives to the Holy Spirit in our today. Even the ‘hard’ graces. And to try to give effect to them in our lives.
For the Holy Spirit is the Purifier, the Sanctifier, the source of all holiness.
Spirit of God, on the waste and the darkness
hov’ring in power as creation began,
drawing forth beauty from clay and from chaos,
breathing God’s life in the nostrils of man,
Come and sow life in the waste of our being,
pray in us, form us as sons in the Son.
Open our hearts to yourself, mighty Spirit,
bear us to life in the Three who are One.
(Stanbrook Abbey Hymnal)
The Spirit Who Comes
For, our world, which is blinded by its own self-will and ‘genius’, and which stumbles from crisis to crisis: political, ecological, social, moral and religious, we pray for the coming of the Holy Spirit.
Very specially, for the Catholic Church, the bastion of faith and the visible and God-given font of the things of God, which is itself staggering under the weight of the weakness and sin, both within its bosom, and the severity of attacks from without.
But the Church is for sinful man, and is of Christ. And on the feast of Pentecost, the birthday of the Church, the Holy Spirit is with the Church. As the Catechism of Church assures us, the Holy Spirit comes unceasingly into the world to animate all creation. To awaken faith. To reveal God. To reveal the Holy Trinity. To renew the Church. To help people to grow in spiritual freedom and to restore the divine likeness where it has been lost. To cleanse. To overcome darkness. To restore life. To lavish upon us His gifts, so that they may bear abundant fruit.
However, as on the eve of the first Pentecost, we must pray and wait for Him, as the disciples did in the Upper Room, the Cenacle, in the company of Mary.
Although we find ourselves pitted against the forces of darkness, there is no place for despair where there is the Holy Spirit..
The Christian and the Church at Pentecost
As we pray for the gifts and fruits of the Spirit, we all need to look at the Church afresh, which is for saint and sinner, the strong and the weak, and to pray for its renewal in our day.
Pope Benedict XVI recently said on his visit (May 2010) to Portugal and the Shrine of Our Lady at Fatima, that the Church has a very deep need to acknowledge that it must do penance for its sins and accept purification. As he prayed before her statue there, which his predecessor had done too, he said that the sufferings of the Church come very largely from sins inside the Church itself.
He also declared, “It is a profound consolation to know that you (Mary) are crowned not only with the silver and gold of our joys and hopes but also with the ‘bullet’ of our anxieties and sufferings.”
Words of Wisdom
For those who are angered by the shortcomings and failures of some Church leaders or who waver in their confidence because of them, or who are saddened but yet hope and trust in the promise of Christ, the words of Carlo Carretto, are to be pondered.
“How much I must criticise you, my Church,
And yet, how much I love you.
How much you have made me suffer,
And yet, how much I owe you.
I should like to see you destroyed,
And yet I need your presence.
You have given me so much scandal,
And yet, you have made me understand holiness.
Never in the world have I seen anything
more obscurantist, more compromised, more false;
Yet never have I touched anything
more pure, more generous or more beautiful.
How often I have felt like slamming
the door of my soul in your face,
And how often have I prayed
that I might die in your sure arms.
No, I cannot be free of you,
For I am one with you,
even though not completely you.
Then too, where should I go? To build another?
But I cannot build another without the same defects,
For they are my own defects I bear within me.
And again, if I build one It will be my church and no longer Christ’s.”
(Carlo Carretto, “I Sought and I Found”, Darton, Longman & Todd, 1984, p.135.)
Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of the faithful, and enkindle in them the Fire of your Love. May your Divine power be always with us; let it mercifully purify our hearts, and safeguard us from all sin and harm. Grant this through Christ our Lord, Amen.