Today we celebrate the great solemnity of Pentecost. If, in a certain sense, all of the Church's liturgical celebrations are great, this one of Pentecost is so in a singular manner, because, arriving at the 50th day, it marks the fulfillment of the Easter event, of the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus, through the gift of the Risen Lord's Spirit. The Church has prepared us in recent days for Pentecost with her prayers, with the repeated and intense plea to God for a renewed outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon us. The Church re-lived in this way the events of her origins, when the Apostles, gathered in the cenacle in Jerusalem "were perseverant and united in prayer together with some women and Mary, the mother of Jesus, and his brothers" (Acts 1:14). They were gathered in humble and confident expectation that the Father's promise communicated to them by Jesus would be fulfilled: "Before long you will be baptized in the Holy Spirit ... you will receive the power of the Holy Spirit, who will descend upon you" (Acts 1:5, 8).
Easter, Ascension & Pentecost: June 2011 Archives
On this Pentecost Sunday, Pope Benedict XVI placed the cause of world peace in the hands of those who gave their lives for Christ in concentration camps during the praying of the Regina Caeli. His weekly Sunday address and prayer to the Mother of God for assistance called for world peace and unity among Christians. The intercession of the martyrs before the Throne of Grace is a powerful witness and desire on the part of the faithful who have confidence that God hears the cry of the poor and those who through a total gift of self shed their blood for Christ. This appeal to the martyrs is appropriate that on June 13, the Catholics in Dresden will be a part of history when Father Alois Andritzki, a martyr, was killed in 1943 at 28 years old, by the Socialists.
The prayer of the Pope goes like this:
"May the Holy Spirit inspire courageous resolutions for peace and support the work to continue, so that dialogue may prevail over arms and respect for human dignity over partisan interests. [That the] Holy Spirit may, "heal hearts warped by selfishness and help the human family to rediscover its fundamental unity. On this Pentecost Sunday we celebrate the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the Church. Let us pray that we may be confirmed in the grace of our Baptism and share ever more actively in the Church's mission of proclaiming the Good News of our salvation in Jesus Christ. The Church is one, Catholic and Apostolic. This is its true nature and must be recognized as such. [The Church] is holy not because of the capabilities of [the Church's] members, but because God Himself, with His Spirit, creates and sanctifies always. [The] Spirit that created all things and the Holy Spirit Christ brought from the Father to the community of disciples, are one and the same. Creation and redemption go together and they constitute, deep down, a single mystery of love and salvation."
The sequence, as you know, is a poem of the Middle Ages that was composed for specific feasts of the Paschal Mystery, holy days and feasts of saints to draw our attention to the truth of the faith. It is the lex orandi tradition at its best. While not taken from the Bible, the sequence relates to us the major themes of sacred Scripture to which we need to give some attention. The sequence is sung after the second reading and right before the Alleluia verse (Gospel acclamation).
Here are but a few lines from "Veni Sancte Spiritus" to bring to prayer:
O most blessed Light fill the inmost heart of thy faithful.
Without your spirit, nothing is in man, nothing that is harmless.
Wash that which is sordid water that which is dry, heal that which is wounded.
Make flexible that which is rigid, warm that which is cold, rule that which is deviant.
"He in fact came to the world to bring men back to God, not on the level of ideas - like a philosopher or master of wisdom - but really, as a shepherd who wants to lead his sheep back to the fold . . . It is for us that he came down from Heaven, and it is for us that he ascended there after making himself like men in all things, humiliated to the point of death on the cross, and after touching the abyss of the greatest separation from God".
"And what does man need more in every age if not this: a solid anchoring for his existence? After the Ascension the first disciples remained gathered together in the Cenacle around the Mother of Jesus, in fervent expectation of the gift of the Holy Spirit, promised by Jesus (cf. Acts 1:14).... [this divine invitation is offered to us] "to remain united together in prayer, to invoke the gift of the Holy Spirit. In fact, only to those who 'are born again from above,'", that is, of the born of the Holy Spirit.
Pope Benedict XVI, Ascension, 2008