Pentecost 2017

June 4, 2017 | Reflections From Sr Mary

Over the past nine days, as we gathered here in our own “upper room”, we have sung and prayed the words,
Come Holy Spirit.
Fill the hearts of your faithful
and kindle in them, the fire of your love.

As we sang this prayer after each office, I remembered the words spoken to us some years ago by Abbot Hugh Gilbert…

“So I wonder”, he said,
“How fares the flame of love in our communities?”…
Love of Christ…
Love of the Church…
Love of the suffering…
Love of one another…
Love of those the Lord gives us to care for…
Love of our monastic life…
How fares the flame of love in each one of us?

This is a good question to ask of ourselves very often but especially on this Pentecost Sunday.

We have all prayed for the Spirit to come upon us during our Novena and I feel sure that each and every one of us has received the fullness of the Holy Spirit’s gifts and fruits today – it is now up to us to claim those gifts and, as St Paul tells us, “fan them into a flame” especially the flame of love.

We never know what is going to happen when we pray for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit and that of course is part of the excitement and the element of surprise. I think, after all the times we have sung “Come Holy Spirit” we should expect an explosion of the Holy Spirit within our community!

In fact, with Tasha’s Entrance into our community on Friday and Marie Joseph’s clothing yesterday, we have already shared in the explosion and excitement of the Spirit! May the fire of the Spirit in each of the four young women beginning their monastic life (and in Hien who is here with us at present), stir up the embers in all of us who are a bit further along the way and fire us up with longing, fervor, faithfulness and joy!

In our Hildegard’s Lectio Notes and Pax Newsletter for Pentecost, she quotes St Hildegard on the Holy Spirit and shared with us the following:

The Holy Spirit bestows all excellence,
sparks all worth,
awakes all goodness,
ignites speech,
enflames humankind.

The Holy Spirit kindles the hearts of humankind.
Like tympanum and lyre it plays them,
gathering volume in the temple of the soul.
The Holy Spirit is life-giving life,
root of all being,
absolver of faults,
balm of all wounds, …
the Holy Spirit resurrects and awakens everything that is.
The Holy Spirit… sparks all worth,
awakens all goodness,
enflames humanity.

What a wonderful collection of verbs St Hildegard uses! Sparks, awakes, ignites, enflames, sets ablaze, absolves, resurrects! It strikes me that all of them have something in common and that is about bringing newness, purpose and life to something already there, something that has become dim, dormant, unsure or becalmed.

In the case of the first Pentecost, the Spirit came to Mary and the disciples whose hearts had been crushed by the crucifixion, thrilled by the Resurrection and possibly confused by the Ascension. They were not sure what to do next so they gathered to pray as Jesus had told them. The Spirit ignited the embers within them, filled their void with presence, enflamed their fears with courage and awakened a new vision within them, a vision to go forth and preach the Gospel.

And what about you and I? At the end of this Paschaltide, where are we? I am sure each one of us can identify with some of the same emotions of Mary and the disciples.
Am I down at heart?
Perhaps feeling alone or afraid?
What parts of me feel dim…
or empty…
or confused…
or becalmed…
or just in need of an injection of life and hope?

St Hildegard would tell us, that whatever state we find ourselves in, we are perfect candidates for the Holy Spirit to come with power… kindling our hearts, playing them
like tympanum and lyre, gathering volume in the temple of our souls. 

So, in the days ahead, let us take heart that the Holy Spirit’s work and play within us has already begun because that is the promise of Pentecost and the gift of Jesus to us! And even though Paschaltide officially ends tonight and we reconnect with “Ordinary Time” once again, let us continue our Novena to the Spirit every day, praying those words, “Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in us, the fire of your love.”

Let us go forth from this Pentecost with Mary the Mother of Jesus and the disciples to share the Spirit of fire and love with one another and, through our prayers, with our Church and the whole world – especially in those areas that are aching with fear, hunger, terror, abuse, darkness and tears.

May everything we touch become drenched with the holy.
Every word we speak bring comfort and healing.
Every gaze speak of loving kindness.

Come Holy Spirit! Come fire! Come love!

Altar for Pentecost