Whether your parish celebrated the Feast of the Ascension this past Thursday or is celebrating it today, you and I find ourselves looking forward with hope to the Feast of Pentecost, celebrated next Sunday, May 29. Pentecost is the day the Holy Spirit of Jesus was poured out on Mary and the apostles, and now, in His blessed goodness, on all of us who are believers.
The story of the coming of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost is told in the Acts of the Apostles. At the Last Supper Jesus had promised that He would send His Spirit to the apostles and all believers after them—and this Pentecost day was the fulfillment of that Promise. In Chapter 2:1-13 we read of the moment when the Spirit came to rest upon the gathered group nine days after the Ascension of Jesus. There was a rushing wind, and tongues of fire rested above the head of each person there. These signs, wind and fire, speak of the profound inner gift of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit with His gifts of wisdom, understanding, fortitude, counsel, piety, knowledge and fear of the Lord (reverence for God). Those present at the first Pentecost were instantly transformed from frightened, insecure people to brave seekers and speakers of the Word of God. The Holy Spirit of Jesus is the Gift of God. And what a gift He is! He is called by many names: the Fountain of our holiness, the Breath of God, the Spirit of Fire, the Voice of Truth, Comforter and Advocate. He comes to us as we are, bringing with Him the specific Graces we need to be faithful to our Baptism and to become the saints we are called to be. He teaches us all we need to know, and inspires us with virtue to love God and to love our neighbor, meaning every person whose life touches ours.
When He first came to the apostles and disciples at Pentecost, there were miracles of tongues. When they spoke of Jesus to the crowds, people from all over the known world who had gathered outside the doors where the apostles had been praying and waiting for nine days understood the words they spoke to them. This understanding is reflected in the way the Holy Spirit speaks within each of us today: He places on our hearts the desire to do good to someone in need, or to choose a certain college, or to leave one job for another; to marry the person of our dreams or to enter the Religious Life. He tells us softly to avoid a certain situation because it will be hurtful to our soul, or to embrace a charitable project that might be costly but rewarding for others. Above all He tells over and over that when we are wounded, God heals us. Though we are broken, we are precious to God. The Spirit of Love is the Light in our darkness, the Fullness in our emptiness.
During this coming week, let us join with Catholics all over the world who are making a novena (consecutive days of prayer), asking that the Holy Spirit will find our hearts ready and open to receive Him next Sunday, Pentecost. There are no specific prayers required for this novena, but we may find some in our Mass books or on the internet. We are also free to make our own novena: prayerfully read the account of the first Pentecost in the Acts of the Apostles or take a few minutes each day to ask the Holy Spirit to prepare our hearts for His special gifts. Don’t let this beautiful Feast pass us by. May we be found waiting for Him with longing hearts. He will not disappoint us.
Have a week of expectation. A fervent week. God will not disappoint you.