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Solemnity of Pentecost by Fr. Reid

In 05 Homilies by Fr. Reid on 2011/06/11 at 7:00 AM

• Immediately before the Alleluia today we heard the singing of the Pentecost Sequence, Veni Sancte Spiritus, which is a poetic text set to a Gregorian chant mode.

• While there have many sequences for various Masses composed over the centuries, since 1570 there are only four feast days in the liturgical calendar that still employ these beautiful chants: Easter, Pentecost, Corpus Christi, and All Souls Day.

• The purpose of the sequence is to help us delve more deeply into the mystery of Faith that we are celebrating, but to do so in a way that not only provides some measure of catechesis, but that also inspires us with its artistic beauty.

• Moreover, the use of a sequence at Mass marks a feast day as being particularly important to the life of the Church. As such, today’s feast of Pentecost is one of the most important feasts that we celebrate each year!

• This is because this is the particular day of the year that we honor the 3rd Person of the Holy Trinity: the Holy Spirit, who is the Paraclete, the Advocate, the Comforter, and the Sanctifier.

• The sequence that we used today serves as an invitation to the Holy Spirit to come to us. Indeed, Veni Sancte Spiritus means “Come, Holy Spirit!” And in this sequence we invite Him to come and impart to us His gifts of holiness, comfort, and peace.

• On this glorious feast of Pentecost, not only should we beg for the Holy Spirit to come to us, but we should also meditate on His nature and role in salvation history.

• As the Holy Spirit is one of the three Persons of the Holy Trinity, because He is God, it is impossible to fully understand Him, but there is much that we do know.

• As we mediate on the Holy Spirit and contemplate His role in salvation history, we can see that the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth, the Spirit of Love, and the Spirit of Power.

• It is Jesus who, in the Gospel of John, refers to the Holy Spirit as the Spirit of Truth, and in doing so Jesus tells us that when the Holy Spirit – the Spirit of Truth – comes, He will guide us to all truth.

• This is because the Holy Spirit is a unifying force who has come not only to enlighten our hearts and minds, but Who also safeguards the Church’s teachings from error. He is also a light that shines upon our intellects so that we may know and accept the teachings of Christ.

• Jesus knew that He would not be staying on earth forever and that He would need a mechanism for continuing His mission on earth after He ascended into Heaven.

• Thus He created the Church, built upon the foundation of the apostles, to be both the repository for His teachings and the means for spreading those teachings throughout the world.

• Because man’s salvation depends upon His teachings, it makes perfect sense that Jesus would want some means in place to protect the truth of His teachings, and that means of protection is the Holy Spirit.

• Thus, because of the Holy Spirit, who is the Spirit of Truth, we can be confident that the teachings of the Catholic Church in matters of faith and morals are all objectively true and therefore can never be changed.

• While Church leaders may themselves fall into sin or have lapses of judgment, the Holy Spirit is our guarantee that what we believe as Catholics in matters of faith and morals is true and has been revealed by Christ Himself.

• The Holy Spirit is also the Spirit of Love, enflaming our hearts with desire for our Lord.

• The Scriptures tells us that when Our Lady and the Apostles were gathered in prayer at

Pentecost, the Holy Spirit descended upon them like tongues of fire. In fact, the red vestments that we wear today are meant to symbolize this fire of the Holy Spirit.

• This fire of the Holy Spirit is a fire of love, which purifies our hearts of sin and evil desires and enflames us with a desire to serve our Lord and our fellow man.

• As the Spirit of Love, the Holy Spirit enkindles within us a burning charity that helps us reach out to others and that ultimately sanctifies us.

• Thirdly, the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Power, a power that not only can affect natural phenomena, as we hear in the first reading today, but that can also change and purify hearts and bring unity and peace to people of disparate lands, cultures, and languages.

• As we consider the mystery of Pentecost, we must realize that the Pentecost is not an isolated event in Church history. Indeed, the Holy Spirit continues to come upon His Church in this way, particularly through the Sacrament of Confirmation.

• While we may not experience the same phenomena of tongues of fire and rushing winds that our Lady and the apostles experienced at the first Pentecost 2000 years ago, the Holy Spirit is no less powerful today.

• We experience the power of the Holy Spirit within ourselves. At times we experience Him as an inspiration or a sudden thought to do or say something. At other times we experience Him as a deep and abiding sense of peace in the midst of trials and sufferings.

• The history of the Church is suffused with examples of the Holy Spirit working in and through the saints. The Spirit has guided many holy men and women to witness to the Faith with their very lives, to found religious orders, and to teach and explain the doctrines of Catholicism.

• It was the Holy Spirit that led St. Augustine to conversion and inspired his teachings that the Church still relies upon today. It was the Holy Spirit that gave St. Paul the courage to preach the truth of Christ in the midst of terrible sufferings and persecutions, even to the point of death.

• It was the Holy Spirit who inspired Blessed Mother Teresa to found a religious order to care for the poorest of the poor. And it was the Holy Spirit who nurtured and stirred the young heart of St. Therese of Lisieux to teach the Church how to love.

• As we consider how the Holy Spirit works through us and in us as the Spirit of Truth, Love, and Power, we must do our best to receive Him and cooperate with Him.

• We do this first by exercising the virtue of docility, which enables us to be obedient to the teachings of Christ and His Church, which guide us and protect us from sin.

• We do this by seeking to unite ourselves to Him in prayer, conversing with Him, listening to His promptings, and asking Him to fill us with His love.

• And finally, we do this by exercising the virtue of courage, which enables us to embrace the cross, which is the heart of living our Christian faith and which is absolutely essential for growing in a life of holiness.

• Suffering comes to all of us, and this is not because God doesn’t love us. God allows suffering because He does love us! And it is the Holy Spirit that enables us to courageously accept our sufferings so that we may become more like Jesus.

• My dear friends, as we invite the Holy Spirit to come to us today, may we truly receive Him. Through humble docility, prayer, and the exercise of courage, may He transform us, comfort us, and sanctify us. And may He bless us always with His peace.

Copyright 2010 by Reverend Timothy S. Reid

Reverend Reid is pastor of St. Ann’s Catholic  Church in Charlotte, NC

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