“[Then] 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 2:1-21.)
The Spirit of God is still transforming people dramatically. Bishop William Donald Borders ordained me 44 years ago this week in 1969 for the Diocese of Orlando and instilled in me a sense of personal responsibility and confidently shared some of his authority as a priest and diocesan liturgist.
Oh, the joy and excitement and enthusiasm I had in my priestly ministry. As a priest I was encouraged to discover and develop my gifts for ministry and to help people do the same.
Some of us have lost faith that the Holy Spirit can and will direct the Church as Jesus told us like “the wind that blows where it wills . . . though you do not know where it comes from or where it goes; so it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit”(John 3:8).
The Splendor of the Spirit is to encourage gifts. To invite risk.
To reach out beyond safe boundaries. To make connections.
To unite. To celebrate diversity.
The story of Pentecost states that the Spirit of God is uncontrollable – by us.
It comes as a “strong driving wind’ and “tongues [on] fire!
Or in “Trekkie” language, to go “where no one has gone before.”
The greatest saints did just that! Catherine of Siena (a woman religious!) chastised the pope;
Francis Xavier, undaunted stepped off the boat in Japan into a culture very foreign to him;
a peasant girl named Joan rallied the French army to victory and was burned at the stake because of it;
Katharine Drexel stepped beyond boundaries as she insisted upon treating Blacks and Native Americans as persons;
and a supposed “care-taker pope” John XXIII shocked everyone by calling a solemn Council of the Church.
They improvised! They pushed the boundaries of the established ways of doing things!
They were not afraid to do things differently.
They were bold in the confidence they received from the Spirit of God – just like at Pentecost.
They were the innovators, the Reformers. The ones who led and changed the Church.
They listened to the Holy Spirit who prompted /disturbed / prodded / led them/ inspired them / and became their “Defense Attorney or Advocate,i.e.“Paraclete.”
They simply learned to trust that they were in tune with God from moment to moment who would guide them in what to say and do at the appropriate time.
The Holy Spirit is about freedom, about encouraging gifts,
about inviting us to use our ingenuity, resources and gifts to help build up the [kin]dom of God.
We become co-creators with God.
The source of our talent is the Spirit, yes. But we have to shape it.
The Spirit is not afraid that people are going to make mistakes or go too far when given such freedom.
Thus, I believe it is a sin to demand absolute obedience of mind and will for bishops and priests and people who have also been given their portion of the share of the Spirit. The Nuremberg trials condemned men who excused themselves by saying they were only following orders. Responsible authority calls us to use the gifts of intelligence and courage and pastoral conviction for the sake of one’s people no matter what the cost. If that means risking ridicule or criticism for taking an unpopular stance, then fidelity to the gospel demands it.
Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful,
and enkindle in them the fire of your love.
Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created.
and You shall renew the face of the earth.
May it be so. May it be so.
Now, here’s the ancient Sequence for the Feast ~ or if you will, a poem that occurs within the Mass . . .
Come, Holy Spirit, come! And from your celestial home Shed a ray of light divine! Come, Father of the poor! Come, source of all our store! Come, within our bosoms shine. You, of comforters the best; You, the soul’s most welcome guest; Sweet refreshment here below; In our labor, rest most sweet; Grateful coolness in the heat; Solace in the midst of woe. O most blessed Light divine, Shine within these hearts of yours, And our inmost being fill! Where you are not, we have naught, Nothing good in deed or thought, Nothing free from taint of ill. Heal our wounds, our strength renew; On our dryness pour your dew; Wash the stains of guilt away: Bend the stubborn heart and will; Melt the frozen, warm the chill; Guide the steps that go astray. On the faithful, who adore And confess you, evermore In your sevenfold gift descend; Give them virtue’s sure reward; Give them your salvation, Lord; Give them joys that never end. Amen. Alleluia.
And before you go, here is the haunting chant melody “Veni Creator Spiritus” and the English “Come Holy Ghost.” Click here. Be sure to enter full screen. There are many images of Pentecost in art displayed there.