by Fr. Bryan Cunningham on 29/05/2011 -
Our next celebration of Family Mass at the Shrine falls on Pentecost Sunday. As families we are invited into the ‘Upper Room’ to welcome the gift of the Holy Spirit poured out for our time. Our Pentecost reflects the needs of our time. On the one hand, our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI while in England encouraged us to take our place in the pubic square and bear witness to God in our lives. St John tells us: ‘Witness to Jesus is the spirit of prophecy’ (Rev 19:10). This is the experience of the original Pentecost and the challenge to break out from the enclave of our own fear and reach out to many who are searching for God in their lives.
On the other hand we are given the gift of unity through the Holy Spirit. St Luke shows the universality of this unity by listing the number of different peoples present at Pentecost – all of whom understood the word of the Apostles in their own language. But he also knows the Holy Spirit effects the unity within the family and within the individual. The Apostles were united with Mary, the Mother of the Lord in expectation of the Spirit and founded a new community in the birth of the Church through the coming of the Spirit. (to download text: Click here )
Pentecost means a unity of heart in Jesus through the Holy Spirit. The woundedness of the sons and daughters of Adam is healed and in grace overcome – “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” (1Cor 15:55) The promise of the prophets of simplicity of heart is fulfilled: I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh.( Ezekiel 11:19) The community of the Cenacle find a new and deeper unity among themselves at the birth of the Church and they are commissioned with the proclamation of this Good News to the ends of the earth. St Paul says in his second letter to the Corinthians that this witness to Christ comes from the depths of our hearts because ‘you show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts’. (2 Corinthians 3:3)
The Spirit of unity is a unity from within not an external demand. Raniero Cantalamessa reports that in the earliest times of the Church a comparison was made between those who attempted to build the Tower in Babel and the birth of the new community, the Church, at Pentecost. St Augustine says in comparing Babel and Pentecost: “Through proud men the languages were divided; through humble apostles, they were united.” St Cyril of Jerusalem says that the confusion of tongues among the people of Babel resulted from a division of purpose. Whereas the union of minds at Pentecost restored unity of purpose among the disciples.
“The passage from Babel to Pentecost, which occurred historically once and for all and is narrated in Acts 2, must be carried out spiritually every day in our lives. We need to pass continually from Babel to Pentecost, as we must pass continually from the old man to the new man” (Cantalamessa, 16) At the building of Babel every people on earth ‘spoke the same language’ (Gen11,1) but did not get on. At Pentecost each person hears the apostles ‘speaking in his own language, (Acts 2:6) The unity of Babel is a human unity based on self-interest. The miracle of unity at Pentecost was because the apostles were not raising a monument to themselves but to God.
St John tells us that when Jesus the risen Christ appeared to his disciples he breathed on them and said “Receive the Holy Spirit” (John 20:22) This gift of the Spirit is the gift of Spirit (Life) and of Truth. In the time Jesus was with them after the Resurrection. For the birth of the Church he gave his Spirit which is captured in Creed of the Church describing the vivifying (life-giving) role and in the prophetic work of the Spirit. The Council of Constantinople of 381 added to the article of the Nicene Creed “And I believe in the Holy Spirit” the phrase “the Lord and giver of Life… he has spoken through the prophets.” St Paul tells us the this Holy Spirit which pours love into our hearts and gives us charity is the one Spirit who gives all the gifts in Christ Jesus to be used to build up God’s Kingdom “So it is with you. Since you are eager for gifts of the Spirit, try to excel in those that build up the church.” (1 Cor 14:12)
In a special way we consider the building up of our neighbours and the building of God’s Kingdom as something special for the family and our homes become the place of the new Pentecost. Fr. Kentenich prays for both of these intentions . In the Dachau Prayers he meditates on the out-pouring of the Holy Spirit as the gift to enable the world to be changed on the shoulders of weak women and men. In a prayer which he adapts from Cardinal Mercier he prays that our homes become the Cenacle and our hearts the Temple of the Holy Spirit.
Mary, In the midst of the apostles you powerfully implore the coming of the promised Spirit,
who transforms weak men and women and directs the Church on the road to victory.
Open our souls for the Spirit of God, that he may change the course of the world. (JK Dachau Prayers)
Holy Spirit, you are the soul of my soul. I humbly adore you. Enlighten me, strengthen me, guide me, comfort me. Reveal your wishes to me as far as this is in accordance with the will of the Eternal Father. Show me what Eternal Love wants of me. Show me what I should do. Show me what I should suffer. Show me what I should humbly and thoughtfully accept, bear and endure. Holy Spirit, show me your will and the will of the Father, for I want my whole life to be nothing else than a continuous, an everlasting yes to the wishes, to the will of God, the Eternal Father. (JK 1965 adapted from Cardinal Mercier) To download Poster Click here
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