When last did you have a Pentecost moment? “What on earth”, you might think to yourself, but it is an authentic spiritual experience. Think of the prayer to the Holy Spirit. “Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in us the fire of your love. Send forth your spirit and they shall be created and you will renew the face of the earth.” When have you been filled with the fire of love and recognised it as God-love?
It has to do with how we see and understand the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Blessed Trinity, the love of the Father for the Son personified, as we teach our young. Does he, or she, set our hearts on fire? Has the Spirit, who so energised the apostles after the Ascension of Jesus that they were empowered and emboldened to change the world, affected our lives, our family lives? They began to grow The Way, a new movement that would change the world over the next 2000 years. Here, in 2017 can we ask, “Is that movement still growing or in decline as so much else in our modern technologically adept but increasingly irreligious and secular era?” Maybe irreligious is not the best term as while mainline churches are emptying new, different religious movements spring up. Are they true movements of the Spirit of Jesus? There are definite doubts about some.
At Confirmation and at Pentecost in the Church we focus on the gifts of the Spirit described in Isaiah chapter 11 and the fruits of the Spirit in Galatians chapter 5. As a family activity we can consider how these are manifested in our own lives and those around us. “Is mom patient, Jason kind, Joy joyful? Does Dad have the gift of knowledge which Peter is praying for to help him pass his midyear exams?” (See Pentecost Family activity at www.marfam.org.za)
But have we considered the presence of the Spirit in another way, a Pentecost moment that really set our hearts on fire and set us on a new way? It could have been a conversion experience on a programme such as Alpha, Life in the Spirit seminar, a retreat or for couples the experience of a marriage programme, e.g. Marriage Encounter. Pentecost rallies often promote enrichment too. For St Kizito who we commemorate on June 3 it could have been his martyrdom.
In unique ways, often quite inexplicable ways, our hearts are on fire, filled with the fire of God’s love. On a human level too it is said that falling in love is a Pentecost moment. It can be followed by many more, engagement, expressing wedding vows, the birth of a baby, a moment of pride in the success of a loved one, a near-miraculous healing after a devastating event or illness. Or a healing moment in a relationship with God after a challenge to one’s faith. Consolation after desolation. Are these not all moments when God is right here?
We are all buffeted back and forth by the tribulations of life. However everyone, in a recent or maybe an almost forgotten event or time, has surely been graced with God’s powerful and passionate love in the presence and grace of the Spirit, the Spirit of Jesus. And to quote Pope Francis “God loves the joy of his children.” AMORIS LAETITIA, 147. He develops the understanding of emotions more deeply in the document and states, “A person can certainly channel his passions in a beautiful and healthy way increasingly pointing them towards altruism and an integrated self-fulfillment that can only enrich interpersonal relationship in the heart of the family. This does not mean renouncing moments of intense enjoyment but rather integrating them with other moments of generous commitment, patient hope, inevitable weariness and struggle to achieve an ideal. Family life is all this, and it deserves to be lived to the fullest.” AL 148. That is If we reflect, remember and ideally share with one another for a most blessed Pentecost together. TR FAMILY WEEKLY 1 JUNE 2017
O God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit did instruct the hearts of the faithful, grant that by the same Holy Spirit we may be truly wise and ever enjoy his consolations. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.