Stories Seldom Heard
262nd Edition - May 2021
Pentecost: A Present Revelation
The Feast of Pentecost is celebrated this month on May 23. Some of you might remember that we used to celebrated the Octave of Pentecost. The Sundays that followed Pentecost were numbered in relationship to Pentecost. Now, however, we do not have a Pentecost Octave. The Sundays that follow Pentecost are identified as the Sundays of Ordinary Time. As I pondered this change, a friend reminded me of a comment Raymond E Brown, SS, the renowned biblical scholar, theologian and author offered concerning this change. Commenting on the importance of the Feast of Pentecost, he said that Pentecost is such a central feast, it cannot be adequately celebrated on just one day. It takes a whole year to unpack its meaning and significance in our lives.
Carroll Stuhlmueller, also a renowned theologian, lecturer and a contemporary of Raymond Brown, explored the ongoing influence the Holy Spirit has on the church as a whole and on our individual lives. We often speak of the Gifts and Fruits of the Spirit, while at the same time forgetting that the “Gift” is the Spirit. This Gift moves the whole church in astounding ways that makes the reign of God more visible in our world. The Spirit also is personal and reaches into the depth of our hearts and the minds. Because the Spirit is overwhelmingly powerful, She can summon us to heroic, life-giving acts. Yet, many of us don’t feel or recognize the Spirit’s influence. Perhaps, if we prayed to the Spirit more intentionally in our formal prayers as well as throughout our daily routines, the Spirit’s influence might be more available to us and visible in our decisions?
Over the centuries, composers, poets, mystics and people of prayer, like you and me, have written many prayers asking the Holy Spirit to be present and active in their lives. This is an excellent way of raising our consciousness of the Spirit’s presence. Could this practice help raise our awareness? Would it allow the Spirit to influence our daily decisions and actions more easily?
Over this last year some people with whom I have spoken, especially in spiritual direction, have said that “prayer” has been difficult. It has felt dry, heavy or without a lot of joy. One of the Gifts of the Spirit, a sign that the Spirit is active in our lives, is joy - not a frivolous or shallow joy, but a deep sense of calm: a whisper that reminds us that “all shall be well.” So, I would like to suggest the following prayer practice for this month. Write your own prayer, song or poem to the Holy Spirit. It’s an invitation that the spirit won’t refuse.
There’s no one magical way to begin. But the following two suggestions might help. Begin by reading and meditating on I Corinthians Chapter 12. What words or images capture your attention? Write your comments and insights. Don’t critique your writing or spelling, just allow your thoughts, feelings and insights guide your prayer. The very “doing” of this practice is prayer. A second suggestion is to find a prayer to the Holy Spirit that you especially like. Your prayer could mirror some of the words and images of the original prayer. The following prayer by the Irish theologian, author and retreat director Diarmuid O’Murchu. might be of help to you. And remember the Season of the Spirit is woven throughout the year. Repeating this practice will help the Spirit be more active and obvious in your daily actions and decisions. I promise because that is what Jesus said. This first writing could become your first of many drafts. Perfection is not the goal.
Diarmuid O’Murchu. Beginning Reflections
Come, Holy Spirit, Your breath, (“ruah” in Hebrew)
breathe life into our troubled world. “breathed” life into chaos.
Shake the tired foundations “And it was good.”
of our crumbling institutions…
and from the dust and rubble, Holy Curiosity, “In-Spire” us as we
gather up the seedlings gather seedlings and hold them in
of a new creation prayer until they burst new life.
Come, Holy Spirit,
enflame once more the Stir the ashes. Spark creativity,
dying embers of our weariness. Feed the fire of love.
Shake us of our complacency.
Whisper our names once more, Shout.
and scatter your gifts of grace Strain our reach.
with wild abandon. Trust Wisdom.
Break open the prisons of our inner being, Keys of courage unlock our cages
and let your raging justice be our liberty. Banish indifference.
Come, Holy Spirit,
lead us to places we would rather not go; Create good trouble
expand the horizons of our limited imagination.
Awaken in our souls dangerous dreams “without a vision we, Your people
for a new tomorrow, perish”
and rekindle in our hearts
the fire of prophetic enthusiasm. “to each individual the manifestation of the
Spirit is given for some benefit.” (ICor. 12)
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