Ten years ago, I sat in the back of a Florida conference room waiting for Fr. Andrew Apostoli, CFR, to talk on the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit in relation to St. Teresa of Avila’s Interior Castle. When he spoke his first three words, “The Holy Spirit…,” grace surprisingly and tangibly fell over me, and I started sobbing. My life had already been given over to the Lord. Yet, there was MORE! Something or Someone essential had been absent in my spiritual life…now, I knew it! Since then, I have pondered what this all meant, especially upon learning that some theologians see the Holy Spirit as the “forgotten Person of the Trinity.”
We are called to profess the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (CCC, #14), but our profession should be alive and intimate. Although each person or Catholic association may emphasize one aspect or another, authentic Catholic spirituality is Creational (the Father authors and provides), Incarnational / Pascal (the Son became man to die and rise as our Lord and Savior), and Pentecostal (the Spirit is sent to empower). Jesus taught, “these signs will accompany those who believe,” and these signs (healings, miracles, deliverance from evil spirits, tongues, solidarity, etc.) abounded in Christians, after Pentecost to “confirm the message” (Mk 16: 17; 20). Rereading or repraying Acts of the Apostles afresh impacts us today.
The first centuries of Christianity and 2 millennia of saints reveal that these signs, though initially abundant, were never lost altogether. However, many do not realize that Pope Leo XIII (who previously saw the smoke of Satan entering the Church), with the prompting of Bl. Elena Guerra, consecrated the 20th century to the Holy Spirit on January 1, 1901. This initiated an outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon some Protestant groups that same day! Then, Pope John XXIII asked that all Catholics pray, “Lord, renew your wonders in this our day, as by a new Pentecost,” before and during Vatican II. In 1967, students and professors of Duquesne University prayed for the Holy Spirit and experienced an outpouring of charismatic gifts (1 Cor. 12-14). This started the Catholic Charismatic Renewal. While people need not join the Renewal, intimacy with the Holy Spirit is not optional (Dave Pavonka, TOR, Encounter Ministries).
Pentecost points to baptism in the Spirit and growth in sanctity. The Renewal emphasizes “baptism in the Spirit,” which is not a replacement, but a release of sacramental graces through surrender in faith to the Lordship of Christ according to papal preacher Raniero Cantalamessa, OFM Cap. The Spirit empowers believers to evangelize by proclamation with signs. All this is for ordinary Christians to build the Church. But what is our definition of ordinary? The late Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, OP, applies The Three Conversions of the Spiritual Life to St. Peter the Apostle: the first conversion made Peter a disciple of the Teacher; the second conversion enabled faithfulness to the Pascal mystery; and, the third conversion, at Pentecost, filled him with conviction unto martyrdom. Perhaps it is time to reclaim the ordinary goal of being a saint with confidence in extraordinary graces for these times.
The outpouring of the Holy Spirit is a game changer. The Spirit activates the gifts, if we but surrender with trust. The burning question is, “have we met the Holy Spirit as ‘giver of life,’ yet” (CCC, #184-185)? We might consider praying, “Come, Holy Spirit, blow where you will!” Some formative resources are: the classic by Luis Martinez called The Sanctifier, which explains the true devotion to the Holy Spirit and the seven “sanctifying” gifts; The Spiritual Gifts Handbook, by Catholic Dr. Mary Healy and Protestant Randy Clark, which explains the 20th century outpouring and charismatic (“Church building”) gifts; or, there is a superb series of 30 minute videos by Fr. Dave Pavonka, TOR, called The Wild Goose: Discovering a Deeper Relationship with the Holy Spirit (purchased as DVDs or free on YouTube). The song, Overshadow Me (Ruach), by Dr. Sean Tobin goes straight to the heart of all this. Let us pray…
“Mother Mary, spouse of the Holy Spirit, help us take the same posture of receptivity, trust, and surrender to the Spirit that you had at the Annunciation and at Pentecost. You were OVERSHADOWED more than once. Thank you for directing us to your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. Sweet Jesus, you came that we might have life in abundance, and the life you want to impart is Your very own Spirit. We say, “Yes, Lord.” We say, “Come, Holy Spirit! Have your way with us. Overshadow us, that we might have MORE of You, more divine life within us and overflowing to others for the praise of His glory and the salvation of souls. Heavenly Father, set us on fire with Your LOVE. Amen.”