The Holy Spirit – the Soul’s Sweet Guest.

Pentecostés -Palomino Y Velasco, Acisclo Antonio ©Museo Nacional del Prado

The account of Pentecost in the Acts of the Apostles is filled with powerful imagery. The Holy Spirit overcomes the confines of the Upper Room where the Apostles are gathered and, with the sound of wind and the appearance of tongues of fire, descends on each of them. The effects are instant. The Church is manifest for the first time. The Apostles overcome their timidity and go out to start to preach the Gospel to all nations as the Lord commanded them. For the Jews, the feast of Pentecost commemorated the declaration of the Law on Sinai. According to St John Chrysostom “the Apostles went out not bearing in their hands tablets of stones like Moses but carrying the Spirit in their minds and pouring fourth the treasure and fountain of doctrine and graces.” (Matt Hom 2 Cor iii,3)

At Pentecost we see that the action of the Holy Spirit that affected the body of the Church as a whole and each member individually. The tongues of fire resting on the heads of the Apostles are a symbol of the action of the Holy Spirit in their lives. In fact, the manner and action of the Holy Spirit on individuals is no less wonderful and continues today just as powerfully as it did on that Pentecost long ago. St Paul reminds us that our bodies are a temple of the Holy Spirit (cfr. 1 Cor 6:19) and it is at Baptism that this ‘Sweet Guest’ enters our souls. St Mary Magdaline di Pazzi said that if we saw the beauty of our souls where the presence of God lay we would die of love. Therefore, as Christians, we should profit from this intimate relationship with God within us by drawing ever closer to Him in love and by always striving to be a fitting temple for the Most High God.

The Lord wants us not only to be free from sin but to shine with the virtues of faith, hope and charity so that, like the Apostles, we too are able to spread the Gospel message. The Scriptures are clear about the need for the Holy Spirit to “guide us to all truth” (Jn 16:17) and so we cannot possibly know the mind of God and His Will for us (cfr. Rome 11:34) without His aid. Therefore, the Lord assists us with the gifts of knowledge, understanding of the faith, wisdom and counsel to aid our intelligence to see things as God sees them. Also, gifts of fortitude, piety and fear of the Lord which strengthen our will to follow the path of holiness. Even when we do not know what to ask God for, it is the Spirit that, “asks for us with unspeakable groanings” (Rom 8:26) to assist us in our deepest needs.

Pentecostés -Palomino Y Velasco, Acisclo Antonio ©Museo Nacional del Prado

The Holy Spirit helps us in so many ways. Sometimes we may feel His action, like the purifying fire of the faith, calls us to abandon a particular path or a behaviour contrary to the Gospel. Other times, he helps us through those gentle thoughts and inspirations that pass through our hearts naturally each day like that “gentle breeze” of which Elijah spoke. In all things we are encouraged to approach the fount of never ceasing light, strength, consolation and holiness such that the flame of the Gospel enlightens our lives and so it can also spread to others. The more we correspond to the gifts of the Spirit then the more we can bear the fruits of the Spirit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. These fruits enable what was difficult to become bearable or even easy for us and in all situations to be able to be filled with Christian joy.

Cardinal Mercier gave this advice of how to cultivate our relationship with the Holy Spirit and to grow in our love of Him.

Cardinal Mercier’s Prayer To The Holy Spirit
I am going to reveal to you a secret of sanctity and happiness. For five minutes every day quieten your imagination, close your eyes to everything visible and your ears to all external sounds and withdraw into the sanctuary of your baptised soul which is the temple of the Holy Spirit. There, speak to the Holy Spirit and say:

O Holy Spirit, soul of my soul, I adore you.
Enlighten, guide, strengthen and console me.

Tell me what I ought to do and command me to do it.
I promise to submit to everything that you ask of me
and to accept all that you allow to happen to me.
Just show me what is your will.

If you do this, your life will be happy and serene. Even in the midst of troubles, you will experience great consolation, for grace will be given to strengthen and help you to cope with every difficulty.

Our Lady was present in the Cenacle with the Apostles as they prepared to receive the Holy Spirit. We pray that she can also intercede for us to receive a great outpouring of the gifts of the Holy Spirit during this Solemnity of Pentecost so that we can grow closer to our soul’s ‘Sweet Guest’.