The goal of the Incarnation, the Cross, and the Resurrection is Pentecost. If God has become man, if he has suffered and died for us and risen from the dead, it is in order finally to fill us with the Holy Spirit. Jesus says it with crystal clear words: “I came to cast fire upon the earth; and would that it were already kindled!” (Lk 12:49).
In one of the manuscripts of Luke’s Gospel, it says “May your Holy Spirit come”, instead of may “Your kingdom come” (Lk 11:2). God’s kingdom is identified with the Holy Spirit. When we are filled with him, God is truly Lord in us.
The theology of the West is sometimes criticized for its “mono-Christ-ism”. It seems that theologians have devoted themselves in a biased, almost exclusive way toward Christ. But we cannot understand Christ, the truth, if we are not led by the Spirit of truth, who leads us into all truth (Jn 16:13). Perhaps this is also the reason why the theology of the West is so cold, dry, and abstract. The flame is missing. We have needed the Charismatic Renewal to become aware that the Church is not only the Church of Christ but also the Church of the Holy Spirit.
There are three Persons in God. We may not omit or pass over any one of them. Each one of the three Persons has his own function and his own role. We miss out on something essential if we limit ourselves to one or two Persons.
In the beginning, God’s Spirit hovered over the waters (Gen 1:2). We could speak of a cosmic Pentecost, which prepared, and in some way even anticipated, the actual and definitive Pentecost. The Spirit is present from the beginning, and he sighs in creation and makes it sigh with him. “We know”, writes Saint Paul, “that the whole creation has been groaning with labor pains” (Rom 8:22). It begins already on the first day of creation, and this groaning is the work of the Spirit.
It is man’s calling to be a conscious pneumatoforos (Spirit bearer). What is unconscious in creation becomes conscious in man. It is his function to interpret the language of creation, to be in harmony with it and articulate it, so that it becomes a song of praise that not only God but even his fellowmen can understand.
Every human being has an innate longing for an inner fire. The fire we long for is the Holy Spirit. Once the Spirit begins to burn in us, all the old, bad habits will successively be driven out. For this reason, the fire will create conflict. It isn’t our purpose to create conflict, but we must not be afraid of it when it comes. Conflicts, be they exterior and interior, are signs of health if they are a consequence of the Spirit burning within us.
Do not be afraid of the anxiety that the arrival of the Spirit may bring. Don’t go back to the lifeless peace which may have characterized your life up till now. Let yourself be shook up by the Spirit. The peace Jesus promised presupposes a complete reorganization of your life. Don’t be afraid to leave old habits behind; it’s natural at first to feel insecure and unsure. Don’t be afraid of the truth, even if it is uncomfortable.
Do not be afraid of becoming a sign of contradiction either. If the Spirit burns in you, you necessarily become a different person. You become a stranger in the world, a pilgrim on the earth. You will disappoint some people; others will consider you naïve. But you are not seeking the world’s peace. Jesus says: “…my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives.” (Jn 14:27).
The world is charged with the grandeur of God. It will flame out, like shining from shook foil; It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod? Generations have trod, have trod, have trod; And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil; And wears man’s smudge and shares man’s smell: the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.
And for all this, nature is never spent; There lives the dearest freshness deep down things; And though the last lights off the black West went Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs — Because the Holy Ghost over the bent World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.
Jesus says: “Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division!” (Lk 12:51). To understand the meaning of what Jesus says, we must remember that there are two kinds of peace: a false one and true one.
Jesus definitely came to bring peace, true peace. But in order to accomplish it, he must first destroy the false peace. This process of destruction is a kind of warfare, and it starts when the fire, which Jesus had spoken about in the previous verses, burns in someone. This fire is the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit shakes us up in order to show that all that appeared peaceful has nothing to do with true peace. The Spirit exposes our egoism and narcissism. The Spirit forces us to question old values and to gather all our energy—which formerly went in all directions—so that it begins to focus on a single goal: God.
From time to time, you will get a foretaste of the unity and peace which the Spirit keeps creating in the midst of all the unrest. A foretaste that encourages you to persevere by making you understand that the unrest is a sacred unrest moving you toward an unimagined peace.
~ A Meditation by Father Wilfrid Stinissen, O.C.D.
It is only meaningful to listen to the Holy Spirit and obey him if he speaks.
Does God really speak to us? Are there not many people who, instead of hearing God speak, feel they are encountering absolute silence? And among those who do hear him speak, are there not a good many who are merely hearing themselves, their own thoughts and fantasies?
There are people who, no matter what they do, feel affirmed by God. If they have success, it is clear that God is with them and blessing their plans. If they have opposition, it is even more clear that they are doing right. Everything that comes from God should be marked by the Cross, they say. Did not Jesus himself fail . . . ?
Are you hearing your own voice or the voice of God? Is it you who are speaking to yourself, or are you listening to God speaking to you? Perhaps the question is not nuanced enough. It need not be a question of either/or. God can speak through your own self. And that is usually what he does, provided that you stand before him in all honesty and live from the basic attitude of wanting to do his will. As soon as you want to listen to the Holy Spirit, he becomes active in you, for no one can begin to listen to God on his own initiative. The will to listen is already a work of the Holy Spirit. “It is the Spirit himself bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God” (Rom 8:16), so the Spirit speaks together with our spirit about what God’s will is. The Spirit uses our deep, true self to make understand what God wills.
I am often asked the question: “Does God want me to enter a monastery?” My immediate reply is: Do you want it? Do you have the desire to enter a monastery, not only with a theoretical, abstract desire, but are you drawn there, do you believe you will be happy and find your home there? If you truly want it, it is likely that God wants it also, that he wills it through you. Then it remains to be seen if you have the necessary qualities of physical and psychological health, common sense, and a certain spiritual maturity, and if the religious community to which you are drawn wishes to accept you. A vocation consists mainly of these three elements:
(1) a personal desire; (2) the capacity to live the life; (3) a religious community that opens its doors to you.
God seldom speaks directly with audible, perceptible words. He speaks, for the most part, indirectly, via your own deep, truth-seeking will. I say “deep” will. For alongside the deep will there are many superficial “wills” , namely, all the small opposing desires that often drown out the deep will.
God also speaks through events, circumstances, encounters with other people, and through books. Much of what is happening around you contains a secret message from God. It is a question of deciphering and interpreting it. In everything that happens, you can gradually learn to recognize a You. The impersonal becomes personal. Apparently random events become personal messages from God.
God speaks uninterruptedly. He instructs, encourages, challenges, and comforts. He truly walks in our garden of Eden (cf. Gen 3:8). Yes, our life becomes again something of a paradise when we continually meet God.
If we read the Bible, it is, among other things, to learn this fact: that God is constantly speaking to us. “And God spoke to Moses and said. . . ” How often we read that phrase! It does not mean, of course, that Moses constantly heard God’s voice. But he was so in harmony with God, so completely on the same wave-length, that he thought the same thoughts as God. For the most part, we deserve this mild reproach from God: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts” (Is 55:8). But that can change! We can come to the point where we think God’s thoughts, where God thinks with our understanding and loves with our heart.
We can eventually receive “the mind of Christ” (see Phil 2:5) and, like him, encounter the Father in all things. When he admired the lilies of the field and saw how the birds were fed without sowing or reaping, he saw in this the Father’s love and care (Mt 6:26-29).
When he heard talk of the collapse of the Tower of Siloam (Lk 13:4-5), he saw it as a call to conversion. In everything he met a You.
It would be wise to take few minutes each day to examine one’s conscience and ask oneself: What has God wanted to teach me today? Where have I encountered him, or where should I have encountered him?
If you object that one should consider one’s sins during the examination of conscience, I can answer that this is one of our greatest sins: that we do not recognize God, who walks in our garden.
“What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the human heart conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Cor 2:9). These words are usually interpreted as if they exclusively spoke about life in heaven following death, but they are primarily about the everlasting life we carry within us here on earth. This everlasting life begins when Christians are filled with the Holy Spirit.
Every Christian must experience Pentecost, which is when he or she enters into the holy of holies, into God’s own life, and for ever after feels at home there. When the Spirit fills you, you learn to think God’s thoughts and love with God’s love. Everything Jesus has done and taught is given insight from within, because the same Spirit who filled and led Jesus in everything he did now fills you as well and has become your Spirit, too.
“As for you, the anointing that you received from him abides in you,” writes Saint John, “and so you do not need anyone to teach you…his anointing teaches you about all things” (1 Jn 2:27). It isn’t possible to say that the words of Jesus are too difficult to understand or comply with. You have an inner teacher who explains everything while giving you the strength to live what Jesus has said.
You are capable of so much more than you think; you have received God’s own life…God’s Spirit, who lives his life in you, if only you let him. “All mine is yours,” says God when he gives you his Spirit. The divine life is no longer something foreign to you. It is the air you breathe.
~ A Meditation by Fr. Wilfrid Stinissen, O.C.D.
O Holy Spirit, teach me to know You, to want You, to love You, and to prepare myself to second Your action in my soul.
~ Father Gabriel of St Mary Magdalen, O.C.D.
Holy Spirit, I see You coming down into the soul like the sun which, finding no obstacle, no impediment, illumines everything; I see You descending like a fiery thunderbolt which, in falling goes to the lowest place it finds and there it reposes, never stopping on the way nor resting on the mountainous or high places but rather in the center of the earth. Thus You, O Holy Spirit, when You come down from heaven with the fiery dart of Your divine love, You do not repose in proud hearts or in arrogant spirits, but You make Your abode in souls that are humble and contemplative in their own eyes.
~ By St. Mary Magdalen dei Pazzi, Carmelite nun and mystic
Wishing all of you a very joyful and blessed Feast Day of Pentecost! ❤