Thursday, June 16, 2011

Pentecost Meditation

The Easter mystery is brought to its completion with the coming of the Holy Spirit. On this 50th day of Easter, the Church brings us back to the evening of that first day of the week when Christ, risen from the dead, first appeared to his disciples. It was then that our Lord breathed on his disciples and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”

Blessed Columba Marmion said that the sending of the Holy Spirit, “like every other grace, was merited for us by Jesus. It is the fruit of His Passion; Christ purchased it by the sufferings endured in his sacred humanity.” (Marmion, Christ in His Mysteries, 377.) Before he suffered, the Lord assured his disciples of the necessity of his departure so that he could send them the Holy Spirit: “If I do not leave you, the Paraclete will never come. But if I go, I will send Him to you.” (John 16:7) By suffering and by dying on the Cross, Christ merited for us the grace of the Holy Spirit. The generous outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the Church is the very fruit of Christ’s labor.

The Holy Spirit in the Blessed Trinity “is the completion, the ending of path, the consummation of life in God; He closes the interior cycle of the wonderful operations of the divine life.” (Marmion, 380.) What does this mean? In the interior life of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit is the mutual love of the Father and the Son. Thus, the Holy Spirit completes the cycle of love in the Trinity. Because of what He is in the Trinity, the Holy Spirit completes, crowns, consummates everything in the work of grace and sanctification. “He is the Divine Artist who, by his finishing touches, brings the work to its sovereign perfection; He is the ‘Finger of God’s right hand’. The work that is attributed to the Holy Spirit – in the Church, as in souls – is that of leading to its end, to its completion, to its ultimate perfection, the unceasing labor of holiness.” (Marmion, 380-381.)

How does the Holy Spirit bring the unceasing labor of holiness to its ultimate perfection? First, he does this by leading us to all truth: He is the Spirit of Truth who will lead us to all truth and remind us of everything Jesus taught us. He gives us the interior witness to the Lordship of Christ. Thus St. Paul said to the Corinthians: “No one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord’ except by the Holy Spirit.” He is the One who convinces us interiorly that this Jesus of Nazareth is the One truly sent by God and made Lord of all. Because the tongue is the organ of speech by which witness is given and preaching of the name of Jesus is spread throughout the world, therefore on Pentecost day, the Holy Spirit descended visibly in the form of tongues.

But he also descended in fire. Tongues as of fire appeared and rested on the disciples. This is so “because the Holy Spirit comes to fill with love the hearts of the disciples. He is Love in person, subsistent Love, in the life of God. He is also like the breath, the breathing-forth of the Infinite Love from which we draw life. It is recounted in Genesis that God ‘breathed the breath of life’ into the matter formed from the mud of the ground. This vital breath was the symbol of the Spirit to whom we owe our supernatural life. On the day of Pentecost, the Divine Spirit brought such an abundance of life to the whole Church….By descending upon them, the Holy Spirit infused into them that Love which is Himself. It was necessary that the apostles be filled with love, so that in preaching the name of Jesus they might make the love of their Master arise in the souls of their hearers. It was necessary that their testimony, dictated by the Holy Spirit, be so full of life as to attach the world to Jesus Christ.” (Marmion, 382.)

It is by Truth and Love that the Holy Spirit perfects us in holiness. It is by guiding us to Truth that the Holy Spirit delivers us from the deceptions of this world and brings us to Jesus, the One and the only one who can truly give us life. It is by increasing us in Charity that the Holy Spirit brings us to a greater share in the life of God who is Love. Therefore, let us always listen and submit ourselves to him who is both the Spirit of Truth and the Love of God poured into our hearts. “Be faithful to this Spirit who comes within us, with the Father and the Son, to take his abode there. ‘Do you not know that you are the Temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells within you?’ (Eph 4:30) Every increase of grace is like new a reception of this divine Guest, a new taking of the possession of our soul by Him, a new embrace of love.” (Marmion, 390.) To him, we say: “Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of thy faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love.”

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