Sunday, June 12, 2011

Pentecost Sunday - “A sinner can no more repent and believe without the Holy Spirit's aid than he can create a world.”

O Holy Spirit, descend plentifully into my heart. Enlighten the dark corners of this neglected dwelling and scatter there Thy cheerful beams. - Saint Augustine

And suddenly there came from the sky a noise like a strong driving wind, and it filled the entire house in which they were. Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire, which parted and came to rest on each one of them" (Acts 2: 2-3).

Although it is true that the Holy Spirit can make his presence known through external signs and special gifts, our personal Pentecost begins with the Sacrament of Baptism and is made deeper through the Sacrament of Confirmation. Too much emphasis on special and private experiences can cloud, confuse and distort our understanding of the way the Holy Spirit lives in us through the Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation.

Through these sacraments, the Holy Spirit enlightens us with ten special gifts. The three gifts that we receive at our Baptism are faith, hope, and charity. The seven gifts we receive at our Confirmation are wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord.

We need to remember that through these sacraments we have received an amazing treasure of gifts. It is through our daily spiritual life that these gifts allow us to persevere on our journey to eternity and allow us to be effective and courageous witnesses of the Gospel.

On this Pentecost Sunday we need to open our hearts to the action of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Many times the gifts that we have already received through Baptism and Confirmation can not become fully effective in our lives because our sins, inclinations and attachments are blocking the action of grace in our souls. Sin, inclinations and attachments are like bad cholesterol.

Whatever may be holding us back from an intimate relationship with God must be uprooted from our lives so that we can fully live the new life that Jesus has gained for us through the Paschal Mystery. We need to leave behind our attachments to worldly desires. We need to avoid all those sinful attitudes and actions that give Satan a grip on our lives. On this Pentecost Sunday we need to renew our decision to always walk with the Lord. This continual struggle to love the Lord and do his will is not an easy task. However, the Holy Spirit not only assists us in this struggle, he is always there to renew our daily efforts.

In order that the gifts that we have received through Baptism and Confirmation can be effective and transforming, it is necessary that we be living deeply spiritual lives. First of all, we need to cultivate daily moments of silence. Secondly, we need to set aside time for contemplative prayer. Thirdly, in order to ensure our success in doing this, we need to regulate our daily lives with discipline so that we may carry out the duties and routines of our daily existence in an orderly manner, always allowing sufficient time for prayer. Daily prayer, sacramental life, and the meditation of the Scriptures need to be a part of our normal existence.

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