Editor’s Note: Due to an oversight, this column is being run out of order. We thank Cassandra Poppe for sharing her writing with us! LMH
“We offer Thee, O Holy Spirit, this thirteenth decade in honor of the mystery of Pentecost, and we ask of Thee, through this mystery and through the intercession of Mary, Thy most faithful spouse, Thy holy wisdom so that we my know, really love and practice Thy truth, and make all others share in it”
When it comes to the life of Christ, any story worth telling should also be worth repeating. And Pentecost, in many ways, is an all-encompassing retelling of God’s plan for salvation, reduced to a flickering flame that would catch souls on fire around the world.
The Church’s repetitive cycle of the liturgical year shows us this. And for many centuries, it was Pentecost that was the climax of this fascinating story. After searching our wills in the desert of Lent, we purge ourselves of our sinful habits and return to God through confession and penance. Once sin is removed, the life of God returns to our souls, preparing us to give Him our own “yes”, and to do His will in all things – whenever he makes His will known.
It is a time of darkness and suffering. But Easter comes and hope is renewed. Mary, while awaiting the coming of the Messiah, lived in the darkness of the world, but faith and hope resided in her heart. Our sinful nature keeps us in darkness, but faith and hope come to us through the mysteries of the resurrection and ascension. It is a personal journey for us – we wrestle with our private darkness and then bask in the season of Eastertide and His loving promise of salvation.
But this is not the end of His plan for us. Even as we celebrate His resurrection, we hear in our hearts a higher calling, for our journey does not end with Easter. While we know we cannot hide this light under a basket, how do we go about spreading it to others? We once again look to Mary for answers. Once faith and hope are ours, we must go forth and make Christ known to others in a visible and viable way. And glory of glories, it is Pentecost. The birth of the Church! The Holy Spirit descends upon the souls of the faithful, bringing with Him the gifts we need to fulfill His plan.
While it took nine months between the annunciation and nativity for Mary, our own annunciation and resulting birth of His will happens in an instant.
While all his gifts are important, it is wisdom that brings His will into focus. “Grant, Almighty God, that the coming of the Holy Spirit may glorify Thy Son by making known to us His grandeur!” the ancient prayer from the Gelasian Missal says. This great wisdom – to know the grandeur of God, discern His plan and how to go about fulfilling it – is a vital gift of the Holy Spirit we must receive if we are to be a light to others.
Throughout all of the Church’s history, shepherds and kings alike have been drawn to this great light. A single light, at first appearing as a faint glow in the distance, spreads from one soul to the next will soon become brilliant and irresistible to those who see it. But for this to become a reality in our time, we must ask ourselves if we are truly prepared for this great Pentecostal event in our souls. Are we, with God’s help, as holy as we can possibly be? Are we firm in our resolution to purge ourselves of “self” to take on the higher identity of being a vessel of God? Can we, as Mary did in the annunciation, give Him our firm and absolute “yes”, trusting He will bestow upon us all the graces we need to serve Him in any way He asks?
Accept the Holy Spirit and His gifts with an open heart, allowing Him to descend upon you and show you how to fearlessly and effectively bring forth the light of Our Lord to those around you. “Just as when a sunbeam falls on bright and transparent bodies, they themselves become brilliant too, and shed forth a fresh brightness from themselves, so souls wherein the Spirit dwells, illuminated by the Spirit, themselves become spiritual, and send forth their grace to others.” (St. Basil the Great)
Trust in Mary to obtain these graces form her Holy Spouse, that we too can bring Christ to others in a visible way. And expect nothing short of miracles, for Pentecost, if we are properly prepared, will be no different for us than it was for those first apostles. “For each year when the Church celebrates Pentecost in mystery the Holy Spirit brings about an effect like that of the Pentecost of history, pouring into the Church and into the souls of the members of the Mystic Christ the activity which is His life, which is grace – the “wonderful work of God.” (Saint Anthony’s Messenger, ’44)
“Grace of Pentecost, come down into my soul and make me really wise in the eyes of Almighty God.”
Copyright 2011 Cassandra Poppe