And just as dry soil cannot bear fruit unless it receives moisture, so we, who to begin with are dry wood, can never bear the fruit of life unless the rain from heaven falls upon our wills. St Irenaeus
These words impressed themselves upon me as I read them during the Office of Readings today, not least because the rain was pouring outside my study window! As we drove to Buckfast Abbey for the Mass of Pentecost, the rain was drenching everything. As I reflected on the saint's words I thought, indeed I need the rain of heaven to fall on my will.
Making Right Connections
Father Abbot was in very fine form today vested in his pontificals, not least in his homily. In the quest for human knowledge and endeavour there is always the need for linking things together, or, we might say making right connections. Imagination stimulates this, it is the fire that stimulates us to make the right connections. Not only is this true for human advancement in science and invention, but also in the religious sphere of life. Yet as we consider the human search for that which is noble and that which is true, there seems to be much confusion (the tower of Babel comes to mind). The more human influence, the more confusion, it seems, yet we say that we have access to the Spirit, to know the way, the truth, and the life. And on this day, Pentecost, connections were made in those who received the Holy Spirit. A light dawned in which connections were made between the salvation history of Israel and their experience of Jesus Christ, especially their encounters with the risen Christ. It was not an individual subjective experience. It was a shared experience. The Apostles, the other disciples (men and women) and the Blessed Virgin Mary shared this Pentecost outpouring of the Spirit. Minds were set on fire. The confusion of the human spiritual quest was replaced by the order of the descent of the illuminating Holy Spirit. A new Light was shed upon them. Faith and reason were united as never before. Yes it was a small group, a small spark, but it was a spark that set the whole world on fire.
How could they not be on fire, not communicate this to the world? How can we not be on fire today, and not communicate this to the world? And so the Church was born that used its sacramental weapons, brought forth sacred Scriptures for illumination, and guided people in the way by the Tradition, the faith handed on.
All of us have a vocation in the Body of Christ and need the Spirit to fill us with Christ. The Holy Spirit moulds us into sons and daughters of God, and we become sharers in the divine life.
It seemed to me that nearly all that we need to meditate upon regarding the Holy Spirit was contained in some way in the liturgy of Mass today, but for me the Sequence brought me gentle gladness. It was sung very beautifully in Latin, but with the help of the translation, we could rest in the beauty of the truth that bathed us through these holy words. I will pray it each day now before my ordination on Friday.
Blessings upon all God's people and may the sevenfold gifts of the Spirit be warmly received by us all... as rain pouring on parched earth.