In a few days, we will turn a page on the calendar. I find myself thinking, “Where does the time go?” It really does not seem possible that June is just a few days away or, by the time you read this article, already here.
As we move through the calendar year, the Church Year is also moving along. Having celebrated the Solemnity of the Ascension, there are only a few days left before Pentecost Sunday and the end of the Easter Season. For 50 days, the readings at Mass have directed our attention to the glorious, risen life of Jesus and the early days of the Church. As we enter Ordinary Time, the great commission announced on Ascension Thursday gives us direction and focus: “Go make disciples of all nations” (Mt 28:19).
It is fitting as we end the Easter Season that we do so reflecting on the role of the Holy Spirit in our personal lives and in the life of the Church. “Evangelization will never be possible without the action of the Holy Spirit. . . . In fact, it is only after the coming of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost that the Apostles depart to all the ends of the earth in order to begin the great work of the Church’s evangelization” (Evangelization in the Modern World, Pope Paul VI, 75).
The Holy Spirit enlightens our minds and hearts with the deep meaning of the teachings of Jesus and pours into our hearts the sacred gifts that empower us to live as faithful disciples of Jesus. He gives us the words to proclaim the mysteries of our faith and predisposes the hearts of those who hear the good news to be open and receptive to it. “It must be said that the Holy Spirit is the principal agent of evangelization: it is he who impels each individual to proclaim the Gospel, and it is he who in the depths of consciences causes the word of salvation to be accepted and understood” (Evangelization in the Modern World, 75).
Although the Bible says a great deal about the saving action of God the Father and Jesus Christ, the message about the Holy Spirit is more abstract. We know that the Holy Spirit is the third person in the Trinity. We know we receive the Holy Spirit at Baptism and we receive Him again at Confirmation. We know the Holy Spirit came at Pentecost and He brings gifts, although we may have difficulty naming the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit. That is the extent of our knowledge about the Holy Spirit.
Pope Francis has warned that the Holy Spirit is often forgotten. “We often pray to Jesus; we pray to the Father, especially in the ‘Our Father;’ but not often to the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit who has entirely animated the life and ministry of Jesus, is the same Spirit that today guides the Christian existence, the existence of a man and a woman who say they want to be Christian” (January 11, 2015).
There are many beautiful prayers to the Holy Spirit. Perhaps some of you remember a refrain I learned in elementary school, “Come, Holy Spirit fill the hearts of your faithful and enkindle in them the fire of your love.”
The beautiful sequence of Pentecost is a rich source for reflection. “Come, Holy Spirit, come! And from your celestial home shed a ray of light divine. . . . Shine within these hearts of yours, and our inmost being fill. . . . Heal our wounds, our strength renew. . . . Bend the stubborn heart and will. . . . Guide the steps that go astray. . . . On the faithful you adore . . . in your sevenfold gift descend. . . . Give them joys that never end.”
As we draw near to Pentecost, and in the days and months that follow, let us take a few minutes frequently to be still before the Lord and ask that the Holy Spirit become more real to us and draw us into a deeper and more profound relationship with God. With the Holy Spirit’s assistance, we can do our part in fulfilling the great commission to preach the good news and draw others to the rich treasure of our faith as we move on from the Easter Season!
If you have a prayer intention you would like me to consider during the weeks ahead, please mail it to my attention at 240 E. Onondaga St., Syracuse, N.Y. 13202.