Pentecost is quite possibly my favorite day of the church year. Is it yours? Should it be? Strangely enough, many of us somehow have not yet learned the rich history of the celebration, nor recognized its proclamation of a present and a future absolutely saturated with dynamic, divine life.
The word Pentecost is from the Greek for “fiftieth.” If you start with the celebration of the Easter vigil and count out 50 days, you’ll land on Pentecost. But that’s not when the party first got started, 50 days after Jesus’ actual resurrection. Instead, Pentecost was first celebrated by the faithful as a renewal of the covenant God made with Noah. Later, the Jewish feast shifted focus to the life-changing gift of another covenant: The Ten Commandments. No wonder so many people of different languages were gathered in Jerusalem on that day! And what wonderful reasons they had to rejoice together!
And then, along came an even greater gift – a fulfillment of the past covenants and a whisper of our ultimate divinization. He ushered Himself in as a feast for the senses, with tornadic winds, supernatural spurts of fire, a chaos of voices, and an internal reeling so obvious that those who received The Gift that morning appeared to be intoxicated — and, indeed, they were: on Him. The Holy Spirit gave Himself to those first believers so that they could, in turn, go forth to all the nations to convert and baptize. As their heirs, so too are we called to do the same. We are called to accept His Spirit so that we may speak love to the people God has put in our lives. We are called to use His courage to preach the good news of redemption through our actions, stories, choices, mercies. We are called to daily open our hearts to His virtues and strengths so that we may serve the needs of the Kingdom of God.
If you do not yet have a dynamic, personal relationship with the Holy Spirit, today is the perfect day to begin. If you have already begun, today is the perfect day to ask for renewal. Let’s listen for the wind as we pray…
Prayer for the Indwelling of the Spirit from St. Augustine of Hippo
Holy Spirit, powerful Consoler, sacred Bond of the Father and the Son, Hope of the afflicted, descend into my heart and establish in it your loving dominion. Enkindle in my tepid soul the fire of your Love so that I may be wholly subject to you. We believe that when you dwell in us, you also prepare a dwelling for the Father and the Son. Deign, therefore, to come to me, Consoler of abandoned souls, and Protector of the needy. Help the afflicted, strengthen the weak, and support the wavering. Come and purify me. Let no evil desire take possession of me. You love the humble and resist the proud. Come to me, glory of the living, and hope of the dying. Lead me by your grace that I may always be pleasing to you. Amen.