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.

No comments: