“Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love.”

Gospel Acclamation, Pentecost Sunday
This Sunday is Pentecost, the great celebration of the Church when we “remember” the descent of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles 50 days after Easter as they were huddled in the Upper Room.  I think a close look at the prayers for Mass makes clear that we are “remembering” in the Biblical sense of the word.

The Hebrew people recalled the great things God had done for them when he led them out of Egypt and into the Promised Land at each Passover celebration.  And they understood that by their remembrance God once again brought forth blessings upon His people.  In the same way, when Jesus says at the Last Supper, “do this in memory of me,” this “remembering” was to be more than merely a walk down memory lane. In our remembering each week (or every day) the words Jesus spoke at the Last Supper, He comes, really and truly, to be with us.

In the same way, as we celebrate the great feast of Pentecost, we are not just recalling the events which transpired in the second chapter of Acts when the apostles heard a loud noise and tongues of fire descended upon them, but we are also earnestly praying for and anticipating an outpouring of the Holy Spirit in our own day.

In the opening prayer, the Collect, we ask that God:

  • Sanctify the whole church in every people and nation
  • Pour out the Gifts of the Holy Spirit across the face of the earth
  • Fill the hearts of all believers with the same grace that was at work when the Gospel was first proclaimed

In the Prayer After Communion we ask God to:

  • Safeguard the grace He has given
  • That the gift of the Holy Spirit poured out upon the Church retain all its force
  • That the spiritual food we have received would gain us eternal redemption

Finally, in the Solemn Blessing, we ask for:

  • Gladness
  • To abound in the gifts of the Spirit
  • That the same flame that appeared to the Apostles would cleanse our hearts from every evil and pervade them with purifying light.
  • Perseverance in faith
  • The ability to journey in hope to clear vision

I am in awe of that list when I read it.  This is what the Church longs to give us this Sunday.  This is what is available to us if we open our minds and hearts to the Holy Spirit.  What would the world look like if every Catholic prayed fervently for these things and prepared their hearts to receive the Holy Spirit in a new and powerful way this Sunday?

I often listen to Fr. John Riccardo’s daily podcast, “You Were Born For This” and I have been somewhat haunted by a question he asked on May 13th:  “What will be the difference in the lives of those who come forward to receive the Eucharist as we return to the public celebration of the Mass?  Will the world notice that Catholics have returned to Mass? What are the fruits of our communion that the Lord expects from us?”  Likewise, I am asking myself, “How will life be different for us on June 1st, the day after Pentecost?”

Let us all spend some time in the days remaining before Pentecost reflecting on the gifts we will be praying for at Mass on Sunday.  Let’s follow the advice of St. Philip Neri, whose feast day we celebrated on Tuesday, and picture ourselves as beggars before the Lord asking for spiritual alms “with the same earnestness as a poor fellow in the streets would ask alms of us.”  Let’s beg the Lord for a new and powerful outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon our whole Diocese. Finally, I would also exhort us to BELIEVE that the Lord CAN and WILL do great things if we believe and open our hearts to do his will. Let us ask from the bottom of our hearts for a Pentecost as powerful as the one that infused life into the Church and believe that the Lord has not left his Church, He wants to renew it and let us say a resounding “yes” to help him do it. 

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