Pentecost II

In 05 Homilies by Fr. Reid on 2016/05/15 at 12:00 AM

With today’s very important feast of Pentecost, we see fulfilled Jesus’ promise of the sending of the Holy Spirit, the Advocate, the Spirit of Truth, who will lead us to all truth.

In a rather dramatic event in the life of the Church, we recall today how there came from the sky a noise like a strong driving wind, and that the Spirit descended upon Mary and the apostles as tongues as of fire as they were gathered in prayer 9 days after our Lord’s Ascension into Heaven.
And amazingly, each of them began to speak in various tongues and languages – and with perfect understanding.
But more important than speaking in other languages, those first followers of our Lord were filled with the power to proclaim and witness to the truths of Gospel, a power that enabled them to endure the most terrible hardships with courage and love – even to the point of being willing to suffer cruel forms of martyrdom for the sake of that Gospel!
This grace that our Lady and the apostles experienced at Pentecost is still active within the Church. Indeed, it is a grace given to us through the Sacrament of Confirmation.
While we may not receive the capacity to speak and understand other languages at the moment of our confirmation, all who are confirmed are given the grace to be good soldiers for Christ and witnesses to His Gospel.
Sealed within us at our confirmation are the 7 gifts of the Holy Spirit: wisdom, counsel, knowledge, understanding, piety, courage, and fear of the Lord. It is these 7 gifts that enable us proclaim by word and deed the truths of our Christian faith.
And if we earnestly and consciously strive to use these 7 gifts of the Holy Spirit in order to live our Christian faith well, the Holy Spirit strengthens us so that we are able to be an effective witness to the Gospel, even if we have to suffer and die in order to do so.
Of the 3 Persons of the Holy Trinity, perhaps the Holy Spirit is the hardest to know and understand.
Jesus walked the earth as both God and man; He is an historical figure. We also experience Jesus in a very particular way through the Eucharist. So it is easier for us to know Him and love Him.
And while certainly mysterious and unknowable through our physical senses, God the Father is nonetheless easier for us to grasp and know because we can reason our way to the necessity of His existence.
We instinctively know that there has to be a First Cause or originating principle for all of creation. Simple logic tells us that there must be a Creator for creation to exist!
Furthermore, we also have the experience of our biological fathers who generate us and govern us, and who thereby present to us a concrete image of God the Father.
But the Spirit is different, and we do not have the same helps to knowing Him as we do God the Father and God the Son. But He is every bit as important as the Father and the Son, and as Christians we must all seek to know Him if we are to hope for Heaven!
So as we consider the necessity of the Holy Spirit in the life of the Church and in the personal sanctification of each of us, we must consider how it is that we can draw closer and become more intimate with the Holy Spirit.
The obvious answer, of course, is prayer. We can certainly pray to the Holy Spirit just as we pray to the Father and the Son, and in doing so we naturally grow closer to Him.
In addition to praying to the Holy Spirit, we can exercise the 7 gifts of the Holy Spirit, and this, too, will naturally draw us closer in union with Him.
But there is another means to drawing closer to the Holy Spirit that we may not readily see, and that is through uniting ourselves to our blessed Lady: Mary.
Outside of Jesus Mary is the person most closely united to the Holy Spirit in
Scripture. In fact, so close is this connection between the Holy Spirit and Mary that Pope Leo XIII referred to her as the “Spouse of the Holy Spirit” in his encyclical, Divinum Illud Munus.

When the Archangel Gabriel appeared to Mary at the Annunciation, he said: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you” (Luke 1:35).
Just as a husband “overshadows” his wife in the consummation of their marital vows, so too does the Holy Spirit consummate His marital union with Mary as the Christ Child is conceived within her by His power.
This was not a physical act, but a spiritual one, and it was an act that made our Lady a unique vessel of the Holy Spirit for the accomplishment of God’s will. Thus, her relationship with the Spirit is unlike that of any other person.
And because of this spousal relationship with the Holy Spirit, because of the way she singularly cooperated in obedience, faith, hope, and charity with the Lord’s will for man’s salvation, Mary is the mother of us all in the order of grace (cf. CCC 967-969).
St. Maximilian Kolbe, who wrote so beautifully and extensively on the relationship between Mary and the Holy Spirit, taught that while all grace is given to us by God the Father, through the merits of Jesus Christ, and distributed by the Holy Spirit, in the process of distributing grace, the Holy Spirit works in and through our Lady.
Kolbe said that because Jesus, Who is the source of all grace, came to us through Mary by the power of the Holy Spirit, it is therefore fitting that all graces poured out upon mankind continue to come through Mary by the work of the Holy Spirit.
You see, my brothers and sisters, because of her intimate union with the Holy Spirit, Mary always and in every way perfectly fulfilled God’s will in every aspect of her earthly life. Indeed, she is united with God more perfectly than any other creature.
Now in Heaven, where she reigns as Queen, the Holy Spirit acts through our Lady’s intercession to bring people into communion with Christ (CCC 725) and to bring us the gifts of eternal salvation (CCC 969).
Like a good mother, she pleads constantly with her Son for our benefit, procuring for us every grace we need to grow in holiness and virtue.
And this is precisely why we should unite ourselves to her: Mary brings us closer to the Holy Spirit so that He can accomplish His work of holiness within us. And by her example, she shows us what the Spirit can accomplish within a soul docile to Him.
St. Louis de Montfort said that “when the Holy Spirit, Mary’s spouse, finds a soul united to Mary, ‘He flies there. He enters there in His fullness; He communicates Himself to that soul abundantly, and to the full extent to which it makes room for His spouse’” (Gaitely, 33 Days to Morning Glory, p. 108).
Trusting in her powerful intercession, let us all unite ourselves ever more closely to her who is “our life, our sweetness, and our hope,” knowing that she will draw us to ever closer union with her divine Spouse so that we may indeed be good soldiers for Christ.
Come, Holy Spirit, come by the means of the powerful intercession of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Your well-beloved spouse. Amen.
18 May 2013

© Reverend Timothy Reid

Fr. Reid is the pastor of St. Ann Catholic Church, Charlotte, NC

Homilies from June 17, 2012 onward have audio.
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