Tag Archives: Holy Spirit

St Basil the Great at Pentecost

We are fast approaching the great feast of Pentecost. A saint to attend to is St. Basil the Great.

Basil’s work is understood as a key and definitive statement on the divinity of the Holy Spirit in the early Church. A monumental intellectual work on the Holy Spirit won’t appear for many centuries later with Cardinal Ives Congar’s 3 volume work, I Believe in the Holy Spirit (1982).

As one commentator writes, “Unlike the previous approach to defending Christ’s divinity—which had relied on language outside of Scripture since Arian heretics had an explanation for every verse cited against them—Basil based his case for the divinity of the Holy Spirit on an extraordinarily close reading of the Bible, which makes his work unique both for its theological contributions and its exegetical style.”

We all ought to be familiar with the Holy Spirit and what the Church believes and teaches about the Spirit and so if you are inclined, read Basil’s On the Holy Spirit here and here to read the Office of Readings (from the Divine Office) for his feast day.

Holy Spirit at the 50th day?

We are at the Pentecost –50 days since Easter. Are you ready (“made fit for the gift”) for the Holy Spirit to pour His gifts upon you? Have you asked for this outpouring?

“But why did the Holy Spirit not come to them while Christ was present, rather than immediately after his departure? Instead, although Christ ascended on the fortieth day, the Spirit came to them when the day of Pentecost had come. …It was necessary for them to have a longing for the event, and so receive the grace. For this reason Christ himself departed, and then the Spirit came. For if he had been present, they would not have expected the Spirit so earnestly as they did. For this reason he did not come immediately after Christ’s ascension, but after eight or nine days. Our desire toward God is most awakened when we stand in need.

For this reason, John sent his disciples to Christ at the time when they were to be most in need of Jesus, during his own imprisonment. Besides, it was necessary that our nature should be seen in heaven and that the reconciliation should be perfected, and then the Spirit should come and the joy be unalloyed. For, if Christ had then departed, when the Spirit had already come, and the Spirit remained, the consolation would not have been so great as it was. For indeed they clung to him and could not bear to part with him. To comfort them he said, “It is to your advantage that I go away.” For this reason he delayed also for the intervening days, that they, for a while disheartened and standing, as I said, in need of him, might then reap a full and unalloyed joy.…For it cannot, it cannot be, that a person should enjoy the benefit of grace unless he is wary. Do you not see what Elijah says to his disciple? “If you see me as I am being taken from you, it will be granted you,” that is, you will have what you ask for.

Christ also said everywhere to those who came to him, “Do you believe?” For unless we are made fit for the gift, we do not feel its benefit very much. So it was also in the case of Paul: grace did not come to him immediately, but three days intervened, during which he was blind, being purified and prepared by fear. For just as the dyers first prepare the cloth that is to receive the dye with other ingredients to prevent the color from fading, likewise in this instance God first prepared the soul so that it was anxiously awaiting and then poured forth his grace. For this reason he did not immediately send the Spirit, but on the fiftieth day.

St. John Chrysostom, Homilies on the Acts of the Apostles 1.

Spirit is manifest

Byzantine priest at DLIn each of us the energy of the Spirit is made manifest according to the measure of his faith (Rom 12:6). Therefore each of us is the steward of his own grace and, if we think logically, we should never envy another person the enjoyment of his gifts, since the disposition which makes us capable of receiving divine blessings depends on ourselves.

– St Maximus the Confessor, 500 Various Texts

Romero’s beatification date set

Romero posterAfter years of reading and talking and listening to the case for Archbishop Oscar Romero’s beatification, Pope Francis heard the final testimony that it was the hatred for the Catholic faith that Romero was killed. He declared his intention to name Romero a martyr.

A CNS story talks about the recent decision to beatify Oscar Romero and set the date of Saturday, May 23, 2015 as the day for the ceremony in El Salvador. This is the eve of Pentecost this year. The Prefect of the Congregation of the Causes for Saints will offer the Mass and the rite of beatification, Cardinal Angelo Amato.

Carlos X gives this analysis of the connection with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost and Romero’s beatification:

[the day can be understood] as a retrospective on his ministry as a bishop, and as a meditation on the great charge that Romero sought to fulfill.

  • First, Romero died during Lent and was buried on Palm Sunday.  It seems sadly and sweetly fitting that he should return after Easter, resurrected not only in his people but in his Church, in which he will be raised to the honor of its altars.
  • Second, this Pentecost will be the 40th anniversary of Romero’s first pastoral letter, “The Holy Spirit in the Church,” issued in May 1975 while he was Bishop of Santiago de Maria.  Many will want to read that pastoral letter; they will find that it serves as an apt road map for the bishop that was Oscar Romero, and that he was faithful to its most fervent objectives.
  • Finally, Pentecost is the inspiration for the Second Vatican Council, and the Latin American bishops’ synods at Medellín (1968) and Puebla (1979), which guided Romero’s ministry.  It is impossible to read Romero’s episcopate but through the prism of these modern “Cenacles.”

Augustine’s Prayer to the Holy Spirit

augustineBreathe in me, O Holy Spirit, that my thoughts may all be holy.
Act in me, O Holy Spirit, that my work, too, may be holy.
Draw my heart, O Holy Spirit, that I love but what is holy.
Strengthen me, O Holy Spirit, to defend all that is holy.
Guard me, then, O Holy Spirit, that I always may be holy. Amen.

(St Augustine of Hippo)

Are you begging the Holy Spirit for a new outpouring of His gifts?

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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