|Devotion to Our Lady||
Not Very Important
Pentecost is the Feast of the Holy Ghost. It is a feast of supreme importance in the eyes of the Church. To impress its importance on our minds, she celebrates it with the same solemnity with which she celebrates the great feasts of Christmas and Easter. We could call these a “Trinity” of Feasts. In spite of this, however, most people, in general, do not seem to participate in her celebration of Pentecost with the same festive spirit that is so evident in their celebration of Christmas and Easter. They enter fully into her spirit of delight in the possession of the Incarnate Son of God at Christmas. They do not seem to have caught, in any great measure, her spirit of exuberant joy and gladness in the possession of the Holy Ghost.
It is not surprising, of course, that in a certain sense, the feasts of Christmas and Easter should prove more appealing to us than the feast of Pentecost. It is only natural that the Divine Person Who presents Himself to us, clothed in a body and soul as we ourselves are, should, at first glance, appear more attractive to us than the Divine Person Who is not united in this same way to our human nature. At best, we are left with images of doves and tongues of fire!
This has led to the phenomenon of the Holy Ghost being treated like “Forgotten Friend” or Friend that you don’t know what to do with! It is almost as though the Holy Ghost has been placed on the back-burner or in some cupboard—we can’t get rid of Him (that would really be a sin against the Holy Ghost!), so we shelve Him.
The Holy Ghost Is the Spirit of Christ
It was so, for example, with the Apostles. At the Last Supper, when Christ promised to send them the Holy Ghost, they did not manifest any great enthusiasm. Perhaps they did not relish the idea of exchanging the warm companionship of Christ's human presence, for what may have seemed to them, at first, the cold comfort of His Spirit. Even in the presence of the Risen Lord Himself, they felt ill at ease at first, because they thought He was a spirit, and no longer a human being like themselves.
The Master knew how deeply attached to His Sacred Humanity the Apostles had become during the three years He had been with them. He wanted their love for Him as a Divine Person to be even greater. That they might know something of His Divine Personality as the Only-begotten Son of God, He spoke to them constantly of His Father. That they might know still more, He promised to send them His Holy Spirit. "He shall glorify Me” He told them, "because He shall receive of Mine, and shall show it to you" (John 16:14).
Enlightened by this Divine Spirit, they would come to see more clearly the glories of His Divinity. They would see that He was never alone, but that always His Father and His Spirit were with Him in the unity of the indivisible Godhead. They would see more clearly too into the depths of His Sacred Humanity. They would see in His Sacred Face not only the reflection of the beauty of the Son, but traces also of the majesty of His Father and the sweetness of His Spirit.
What the Holy Ghost Did for the Apostles
At the Last Supper, the Apostles apparently could not understand why their Divine Master attached so much importance to the coming of the Holy Ghost. He had told them that the presence of this Divine Spirit in their hearts, would mean much more to them than would even their continued possession of His own human presence. "It is expedient to you that I go," He told them, "for if I go not, the Paraclete will not come to you: but if I go, I will send Him to you" (John 16:7). When this Divine Spirit, however, actually came down upon them on the day of Pentecost, they realized at once that Christ had not exaggerated in the slightest the importance of what the Holy Ghost was to do for them. They found that He kindled in their hearts a far greater love for Christ than they had ever known before.
A New Found Friend
They had thought they had loved Christ and were willing to die for Him, but they had every one abandoned Him. Now, however, in the company of His Holy Spirit, they went forth into the whole world to confess Him fearlessly, counting it a privilege to suffer for His Holy Name. They found, too, that side by side with this new love, there grew up in them likewise a new awareness of the presence of Jesus. Though they could no longer see His face or hear His voice, they found that the Holy Ghost kept them in constant touch with their beloved Master, just as really, though in a different way, as when they walked the roads of Galilee by His side.
As this new and greater love for Christ was born within them, there was born in them also a deep and lasting gratitude to the Divine Spirit Who had kindled it in their hearts.
As they experienced this new and greater intimacy with Christ, their hearts went out in glad surrender to the Holy Ghost, that He might bind them ever closer to their beloved Jesus. They recognized now that this Divine Spirit was just as delightful a Personality as they had found Christ Himself to be. Henceforth their enthusiastic appreciation of the Holy Ghost knew no bounds. A zealous devotion to Him filled their hearts and flowed over to leave its witness in loving profusion on the Scriptural record of their words and works.
What the Holy Ghost Does for Us
The attitude of the average Catholic towards the Holy Ghost is unfortunately too much like the attitude of the Apostles at the Last Supper. Our Divine Lord in His Sacred Humanity has won the affection of our hearts as He had won that of the Apostles.
Like them, we do not feel any desire for, or even any need of, another Comforter. We do not seem to realize how much we already owe to the Holy Ghost. We forget that we could not have any true devotion at all to our Divine Lord, if it were not for the operation of the Holy Ghost within our souls: “No man can say the Lord Jesus, but by the Holy Ghost” (1 Corinthians 12:3).
Our devotion to Him will increase, too, only inasmuch as we co-operate with the loving impulses of His Holy Spirit. As the Holy Ghost kept the Apostles in close touch with the Divine Master Whom they could no longer see or hear, so He will keep us in touch with Him, too.
We often wish that the supernatural presence of Christ's humanity in the Blessed Sacrament would convey to us the same sense of reality that the natural presence of His body and soul conveyed to the Apostles. If only He were as vividly real to us in His sacramental life as He was to them in His public life! We pray to Our Lord as the Apostles did: “Increase our Faith” (Luke 17:5).
We seldom think to ask the Holy Ghost to increase in us His gift of Understanding, and yet it is precisely an abundance of that gift that we need, if our supernatural vision is to become as acute as we should like it to be.
Faith—The Divine Microscope
Faith is, as it were, a divine microscope, given to us to enable us to perceive what is not visible to the naked eye. Unless the microscope is properly focused, however, the image we see will be vague and blurred. It is only the Holy Ghost Who knows how to focus properly the divine microscope of faith that is in us.
He is the Finger of God, and as He adjusts the microscope for us by His gift of Understanding our vision will become clearer, and we shall see with the eyes of our mind illuminated by the light of faith, that the Host before our eyes contains in very truth our Divine Lord and Master Himself. And as we approach to receive Him, the Holy Ghost will also quicken in us by His gift of Wisdom our supernatural sense of taste, so that we can relish the exquisite flavor of this heavenly food.
As the Holy Ghost fills our mind with the knowledge of Christ and floods our hearts with His love, we shall come to know more about this Divine Spirit also. We shall learn that our Divine Lord has far more love for us than He could ever express through His Sacred Heart alone; that His love for us is not only a human love, it is also the love of a Divine Person; and that it is to satisfy His Divine Love for us that He sends us His Holy Spirit, because the Holy Ghost is the Person of Love in the Blessed Trinity. It is in the Holy Ghost that the Father and the Son love both themselves and us (Summa Theologica 1a, q. 37, art. 2).
The Kiss of the Father and the Son
At Pentecost, therefore, the Church calls on us to rejoice, because there is given to us the Holy Ghost, Who is “the Kiss of the Father and the Son” (St. Bernard). It needs little reflection to see that we could have no greater cause for joy.
If we really love Christ, we shall long for an ever increasing participation of His Spirit, and we shall pray to receive It because Christ Himself has told us “...how much more will your Father from Heaven give the good Spirit to them that ask Him” (Luke 11:13). Since, however, the Holy Ghost is Himself a Divine Person, we should extend to Him the courtesy of a direct invitation, beseeching Him in the words of the Church: “Come, Holy Ghost, fill the hearts of Thy faithful and kindle in them the fire of Thy love.”
On the day of Pentecost, therefore, and on every day of our lives, we should open our hearts in cordial welcome to the Divine Spirit Who comes to take up His abode within us. Instead of offering Him merely our implicit, if not perfunctory adoration, we should pay constant and eager attention to this Divine Guest, listening for His every word, and anticipating His every desire.
Under His loving guidance, we shall learn to serve God in the same spirit of abounding love and glad enthusiasm that characterized the early Christians, and that now characterizes those whose piety is truly Christian, because it is inspired by the Spirit of Christ. As we gaze on the face of our Redeemer, we shall raise our minds also, in prayer, to the Holy Ghost, Who applies the fruits of Christ's redemption to our souls.
Whoever is thus devout to the Holy Ghost—thinking of Him, praying to Him and listening to Him—will, like the Apostles, soon discover that He is indeed, as the Church tells us, “of all consolers best.”