Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Reflections on the Holy Spirit by Dennis Hankins

Year C
Season of Pentecost
Reflections on the Holy Spirit
By Dennis S. Hankins
May 30, 2007, Eve of the Visitation of the Virgin Mary to Elizabeth

From now until the First Sunday in Advent I plan to share some Personal Reflections on the Holy Spirit.  These reflections will be in addition to my Reflections on the Readings assigned for Sunday Mass.  Reflections on the Holy Spirit will appear as time permits.  

As I stated in my Reflections on the Readings for Pentecost Sunday, the Pentecostal Church was the church of my youth.  In that article I briefly spoke of how as a young boy, I received the Lord as my Saviour and was filled with the Holy Spirit in the Pentecostal church.  Later I came to understand as stated in the Nicene Creed, the Church has always believed in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son and with the Father and the Son he is worshipped and glorified.  He has spoken through the Prophets.  

Traditionally, the church numbered the Sundays after Pentecost as the First Sunday after Pentecost and so forth.  Not until Vatican II did this change for the Latin Rite.  This is odd given the fact John Paul II described that event as called for by His Holiness John XXIII as a direct inspiration of the Holy Spirit.  John Paul II of that event stated: We can say that the Holy Spirit was the protagonist of the Council, from the time the Pope convoked it, declaring that he had received the idea as an interior voice from on high that resounded in his spirit (cf. Apostolic Constitution Humanae salutis, 25 December 1961, n. 6).

The Liturgical Calendar referenced as Sunday after Pentecost would be a reminder to the faithful of our need to always pray, 'Come Holy Spirit."  In the Eastern Rite, this numbering is retained.  But for now we will stress there is nothing 'ordinary' about any Sunday in Ordinary time!

I am satisfied that had there been no Vatican II or John Paul II, I probably would not have entered into the fullness of Christ's Church.  First, as to Vatican II, David du Plessis in his book A Man Called Mr. Pentecost describes his overwhelming experience at the concluding Mass of Vatican II.  He was the only Pentecostal invited to be an observer of the proceedings of Vatican II.  As a Pentecostal reading that book, I was able to see through Mr. du Plessis' eyes a new understanding of the faith and Church Catholic.  Recently I mused about what was the single most influential moment that prompted me to think more ecumenically as well as differently if not admiringly on the Catholic Church back in the late '70's and early '80's.  The answer is this book A Man Called Mr. Pentecost.  Even though David du Plessis never converted to the Catholic Church, he brought to the Church, to both Protestants and Catholics, a testimony of what it means to be filled with the Holy Spirit.  

Second, as a Pentecostal and lover of scripture, I could not ignore John Paul's own love of scripture and the Holy Spirit.  His writings contain voluminous references to both scripture and to the Holy Spirit. Indeed the Father, Son and Holy Spirit figure prominently in his teachings.  And he emphasized in his Papacy the Church's birthright to be filled with the Spirit.

Please read this prayer of Blessed John XXIII for Vatican II and pray it for the continuing need to understand and receive the blessing of Vatican II:

O Divine Spirit, sent by the Father in the name of Jesus, Who dost infallibly assist and guide the Church, pour forth the fullness of Thy gifts upon the Ecumenical Council. 
Kind Teacher and Comforter, enlighten the minds of our Bishops, who, responding to the invitation of the Sovereign Roman Pontiff, will gather in solemn assembly.
Grant that from this Council there may come forth abundant fruits:  that the light and strength of the Gospel may ever more widely influence human society; that new vigor may infuse the Catholic religion and its missionary task; that the Church's teaching may be better known and Christian morality more widely practiced.
Sweet Guest of our souls, confirm our minds in truth, and dispose our hearts to obedience, so that the decisions of the Council may find in us generous acceptance and prompt fulfillment.
We beseech Thee, too, on behalf of those sheep who no longer belong to the one fold of Jesus Christ, that they also, glorying as they do in the name of Christian, may finally regain unity under one Shepherd.
Renew in our time Thy wondrous works, as in a new Pentecost, and grant that holy Church, gathered together in unanimous, more intense prayer, around Mary, the Mother of Jesus, and guided by Peter, may spread the kingdom of the Divine Saviour, which is the Kingdom of truth, of justice, of love, and of peace.  Amen.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Except By The Holy Spirit

Year C
Pentecost Sunday
May 27, 2007

Reflections on the Readings by Dennis Hankins

Acts 2:1-11
Psalm 104:1, 24, 29-30, 31, 34
I Corinthians 12:3-7, 102-13
John 20:19-23

Theme: Except by the Holy Spirit

No one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.

The Church of my youth was the Pentecostal Church. It was there I received the Lord and was filled with the Holy Spirit. It was in that Church founded by my Great-Grandfather where I heard and read the stories of men and women full of the Holy Spirit.

From my father, I heard true stories of a layman named Mr. Huebner from Ohio, mightily and graciously a vessel of the charismata, i.e. manifestations of the Spirit. At about age 45, daddy left the Pentecostal Church and entered into full-time Pastoral Ministry in the United Methodist Church. During the interview process by the Board of Ordained Ministry, daddy was asked how he would handle his understanding of the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues as a UMC pastor. Daddy was never one who would deny what the Lord had done for him. So his response was, “I would never force what I have experienced in the Holy Spirit on anyone and I cannot deny what God has done for me. However, I would highly recommend it!” Daddy served the UMC as a pastor for 30 years, and entered into his heavenly rest in May of 2006

What a privilege it was to have been taught by mature and wise parents about the ministry and purpose of the Holy Spirit. It was they who inspired me to desire the deep and good things God has prepared for us. From my earliest memory, it has been my understanding that the Holy Spirit would be in us as rivers of living water. Jesus said, He who believes in me, as the scripture has said, `Out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water." Now this he said about the Spirit, which those who believed in him were to receive; for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.

On the Day of Pentecost, Jesus’ glorification and ascension having occurred just 10 days before, the text says they were all filled with the Holy Spirit. And the message that ensued was that Jesus Is Lord. The message of the Holy Spirit is that Jesus is Lord in heaven and on earth and in the Church. Animated by this Spirit of the Lord, it is the Church who proclaims in word and sacrament that Jesus loves us, forgives us, and will never leave us or forsake us. Today, filled by the same Holy Spirit as the 120 on the Day of Pentecost, our message is their message and that is Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, today and forever. (Hebrews 13:8)

This prayer of Blessed John XXIII can be our prayer today:

"O Holy Spirit, Paraclete, perfect in us the work begun by Jesus: enable us to continue to pray fervently in the name of the whole world: hasten in everyone of us the growth of a profound interior life; give vigour to our apostolate so that it may reach all men and all peoples, all redeemed by the Blood of Christ and all belonging to him. Mortify in us our natural pride, and raise us to the realms of holy humility, of real fear of God, of generous courage. Let no earthly bond prevent us from honouring our vocation, no cowardly considerations disturb the claims of justice, no meanness confine the immensity of charity within the narrow bounds of petty selfishness. Let everything in us be on a grand scale: the search for truth and the devotion to it, and readiness for self-sacrifice, even to the cross and death; and may everything finally be according to the last prayer of the Son to his heavenly Father, and according to the pouring out of your Spirit, O Holy Spirit of love, whom the Father and the Son desired to be poured out over the Church and her institutions, over the souls of men and of nations." (Discorsi Messaggi Colloqui, cit., IV, p. 350).

Come Holy Spirit, come. AMEN.