This Sunday we celebrate the Solemnity of Pentecost, that day on which the Holy Spirit appeared to the apostles in the Upper Room as tongues of fire and came to rest on each one of them (Acts 2:3). "[The Holy Spirit] is going to accomplish a divine work in us; to trace in our hearts the living image of Jesus, that image which we must bear in order to enter into the eternal mansions" -- Archbishop Luis Martinez
GLADE PARK, CO (Catholic Online) -- This Sunday we celebrate the Solemnity of Pentecost, that day on which the Holy Spirit appeared to the apostles in the Upper Room as tongues of fire and came to rest on each one of them (Acts 2:3). The Catechism of The Catholic Church explains that fire symbolizes the transforming energy of the Holy Spirit's actions (696). Indeed, the infusion of the Holy Spirit enabled the apostles to plunge bravely ahead into the midst of a world filled with severe and even murderous opposition.
When Jesus Christ promised to send the Advocate to the apostles, he assured them that the Spirit of truth would guide them into all truth (John 16:13). This gift of the Spirit was given to the Church as a means of sanctifying her not only on Pentecost but for all eternity: "The Holy Spirit was sent on the day of Pentecost to sanctify the Church unceasingly, and thus enable believers to have access to the Father through Christ in the one Spirit" (Lumen Gentium 4). On that day the Church "was openly displayed to the crowds and the spread of the Gospel among the nations, through preaching, was begun" (CCC 767).
On Pentecost the Church receives the mission, supported by the guidance of the Holy Spirit, of proclaiming and establishing the Kingdom of Christ; she then becomes "on earth the seed and the beginning of that kingdom" (LG 5). The Church is thus established as the sacrament of salvation, a visible and spiritual community of faith, hope and charity founded and sustained by Christ, through which the Risen Lord communicates truth and grace to all men (cf. CCC 771).
It is the Holy Spirit who reveals Christ, "the way and the truth and the life" (John 14:6); and it is that same Spirit who is the Spirit of truth, since he proceeds from the Father and the Son as from one principle, the origin and source of truth. It is the Holy Spirit who awakens in us the life of faith, and who, according to the Father's plan, draws us into mother Church whose life-blood flowed forth from our Lord's pierced side on the cross. Simply, the Holy Spirit calls us to access the fullness of truth held within the Church, fall in love with it, and live immersed in its beauty throughout our entire existence.
However, truth is a concept which is often misunderstood in contemporary Christendom: there is often a perplexing and frustrating lack of concern for the fullness of truth, for unity of faith and morals, and for that oneness which the very name Christian implies. How often is Christ's own ardent prayer for oneness (John 17:21) overlooked, dismissed, or forgotten; how frequently is the notion of personal infallibility adamantly held; and how numerous are those who live as if the Magisterium -- in which we indeed hear the word of God -- were an intrusion on the Gospel.
We often wonder: "What has happened?" While the situation is complex, it nevertheless is as if Pentecost has, for many, lost its meaning. There are, of course, nominal Catholics and other Christians who are heavily influenced by the incessant undertow of radical secularism, relativism, and religious indifferentism found in the West. It is not unlike choking on pollution. Therefore some posit that the lackadaisical attitude so often displayed by Christians is simply the product of an inescapable secular conditioning which begins during childhood and continues right on through public school and college, establishing itself quite firmly as adults immerse themselves in the often empty yet demanding world of business.
However, while it is true that Christians are often affected by the negative influences of society, it is incorrect to think that they are incapable of breaking free from them. For God has given us the Advocate who unceasingly reaches out to us, who desires to carry us along on the wind of his love, and who constantly moves us delicately toward Christ. Thus each and every one of us is provided with the grace necessary to turn away from the evils often found in the world, set our gaze upon our Savior, and begin our journey of salvation.
The Spirit of Truth Invites Us To A New Life
The Spirit of truth unceasingly calls us to respond to his grace, to open our hearts to his transformative, regenerative and healing love, which empowers us to live fully the sacramental life of the Gospel, and which grants us new eyes with which to see. If we will but turn to the Holy Spirit in prayer, give him his due attention as the Person of unspeakable importance that he is, relinquishing self in abandonment to the Advocate, we will begin to understand -- a new world will slowly yet steadily unfold before us. It is the Spirit of truth who reveals Christ to every Christian, and it is through the Catholic Church that Christ communicates his truth and grace to all men.
In response to the impulse of the Spirit of truth, who instills in us a thirst for the fullness of truth, thousands of Anglicans and others are journeying into full communion with the Catholic Church. This journey begins with God's grace, flourishes in recognition of the continuity of faith and morals found in the Catholic Church, and is actualized in taking concrete steps to enter into full communion with mother Church. That the Spirit of truth seeks to lead us into the fullness of truth rather than simply partial truth is all about Love. If it can be said that the importance of love is infinite, the same can be said of truth; for love and truth do not exist in isolation, but rather together as aspects of the one God.
We begin to glimpse the importance of truth and oneness when we meditate upon the Holy Trinity: The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit who are all one God in substance, and whose life is one of existential unity and love, each giving infinitely of Self to the Other. The Holy Trinity is the foundation of the Christian faith and the source of all truth. This Truth is an undivided and indivisible Truth, it is an inviolable Oneness of power and glory which is the cause of all that is visible and invisible. It can hardly seem possible that Christians would not fall in love with truth, thirst for it, and seek it out always and everywhere.
Further, since God himself has revealed to the faithful this secret of his inner life, this Trinity of Persons whose embrace of supreme love and devotion is limitless, and whose attribute is Truth, it hardly seems possible that Christians could fail to quickly notice the supreme importance of truth and unity. Those who do notice, flock toward the truth and unity which shines forth with such brilliance in the Catholic Church; for it was the Holy Spirit who was given to the Church on Pentecost, who dwells within her "as in a temple," and who guides her "into the way of all truth" (LG 4; cf. John 16:13).
Catholics who, in response to the grace of the Holy Spirit, have abandoned themselves in love to Christ and his Church understand that the fullness of truth is an incomparable treasure through which they access the means to attain life, security and peace. For these Catholics, truth is not simply an abstract, malleable concept which is of little significance, but rather becomes their very life, for they recognize that the life they have received is from Truth Itself: God.
Abandonment To The Spirit
The experience of Pentecost is not lost to the past, but rather is a reality which continues to live on in the Church, for Christ does not revoke what he has promised: "I am with you always" (Matt. 28:20). On the day of Pentecost, Christ's Passover is fulfilled in the outpouring of the Holy Spirit (CCC 731), a gift of Love which is unceasing. The question remains: do we thirst for the Spirit's love with such ardent desire so as to abandon self and devoutly embrace the movements which he instills within our hearts?
Archbishop Luis Martinez wrote: "Sweet abandonment to all the movements of love is the characteristic mark of devotion to the Spirit. To love this divine Spirit is to let ourselves be taken along with him, as the feather is carried along by the wind; to let ourselves be possessed by him, as the dry branch is possessed by the fire that burns it; to let ourselves be animated by him, as the sensitive strings of a lyre take life from the artist's touch" (The Sanctifier 83).
The Byzantine liturgy of Pentecost proclaims: "We have seen the true Light, we have received the heavenly Spirit, we have found the true faith: we adore the indivisible Trinity, who has saved us."
F. K. Bartels is a Catholic writer who knows his Catholic Faith is one of the greatest gifts a man could ever have. He is a contributing writer for Catholic Online. Visit him also at catholicpathways.com
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