On Pentecost: Happy Birthday
Yes, Pentecost is known as the birthday of the Church. What a special occasion, far more important that the Fourth of July, the birthday of our nation! Celebrate it!
Pentecost is a Greek word meaning fifty days, and it was originally a Jewish celebration coming fifty days after Passover. Coming on the fiftieth day after Easter (hint: start counting on the Easter Vigil!), Pentecost is the day on which the Holy Spirit descended upon Mary and the apostles, as they waited and prayed expectantly in the upper room. Jesus had promised that "the Paraclete, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in my name will instruct you in everything." He does not disappoint. His promises are true and they are fulfilled.
Mary and the apostles of Jesus, gathered in the upper room, prayed the first novena. A novena consists of nine days of prayer, usually for a specific intention. Fearful of their precarious position after their beloved Jesus ascended to His Father in Heaven, they cowered, and Tradition tells us that Mary ministered to them, and encouraged them, and led them in constant prayer. On that day of Pentecost, a mighty wind was heard, and suddenly there appeared over them, as tongues of fire, the Holy Spirit. They were infused with the knowledge and courage they needed to go out and make disciples of all nations. Graced with the gifts of the Holy Spirit, the apostles went out among the people and taught, and all who heard understood in their own language and were converted.
The Holy Spirit is still alive and active among us. We are sealed with the Holy Spirit at our Baptism. The Sacrament of Confirmation confers the gifts of the Holy Spirit on the candidate who has freely chosen to receive them. (We can read about this in Acts 8, when Peter and John impose their hands upon the baptized, and they receive the Holy Spirit.)
The gifts of the Holy Spirit are wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety and fear of the Lord. When we cooperate with the grace of the Holy Spirit, we are filled with His gifts: charity, joy, peace, patience, benignity, goodness, faith, mildness, and temperance.
The novena to the Holy Spirit is the only novena ever officially prescribed by Holy Mother Church and is the oldest of novenas. One can receive a copy of that novena by contacting the Spiritans, the Congregation of the Holy Spirit. The novena is also easily found on the internet. Pope Leo XIII said, "We ought to pray and invoke the Holy Spirit, for each one of us greatly needs His protection and His help. The more we are lacking in wisdom, weak in strength, burdened with trouble, prone to sin, the more we should turn to Him Who is the never ceasing fount of light, strength, consolation and holiness."
Prayer for the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit (profound and efficacious)
O Lord Jesus Christ Who, before ascending into heaven
did promise to send the Holy Spirit to finish Your work
in the souls of Your Apostles and Disciples, deign to grant the same Holy Spirit to me
that He may perfect in my soul, the work of Your grace and Your love.
Grant me the Spirit of Wisdom that I may despise the perishable things of this world
and aspire only after the things that are eternal,
the Spirit of Understanding to enlighten my mind with the light of Your divine truth,
the Spirit of Counsel that I may ever choose the surest way of pleasing God and gaining heaven,
the Spirit of Fortitude that I may bear my cross with You
and that I may overcome with courage all the obstacles that oppose my salvation,
the Spirit of Knowledge that I may know God and know myself
and grow perfect in the science of the Saints,
the Spirit of Piety that I may find the service of God sweet and amiable,
and the Spirit of Fear that I may be filled with a loving reverence towards God
and may dread in any way to displease Him.
Mark me, dear Lord, with the sign of Your true disciples
and animate me in all things with Your Spirit. Amen.
There is a beautiful book entitled True Devotion to the Holy Spirit by (Archbishop) Luis M. Martinez, who calls the Holy Spirit "the Gift of the Love of God…Who lives in the center of the soul." Get to know Him. Invite Him to act in your life.
June 13, 2014