Welcome to April! This is the month traditionally dedicated by the Church to the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Holy Trinity. Veni sancte spiritus! Come Holy Spirit!
To meditate upon the significance of the Holy Spirit for each of us, here’s a great reflection by Father John Rocus, pastor of Holy Spirit parish in Brighton. Father Rocus writes:
JMJ. CHS. Well, I bet you recognized the JMJ but maybe not the CHS. That stands for “Come Holy Spirit” and, along with invoking The Holy Family, I begin my homily planning, my bulletin articles, and other writings like this one, with this humble request for help.
The Holy Spirit is perhaps, for most of us, the most confusing of the Three Persons of The Blessed Trinity. We have the Father who, despite the fact that He is pure spirit, has been depicted for us through the ages in the Bible, and through various media, as a human being. Typically, old with gray hair and beard. This helps us to relate. And his son Jesus, well, he is the easiest one to relate to because he lived among us as a man. We even have the Shroud of Turin which is as close to a photograph as we can have of the Son of God.
But, that Spirit. A wind, flames above the heads of Mary and the apostles in the upper room, and, of course, the dove. Here at Holy Spirit Church we have in our baptistery a wood carving of a dove suspended above a statue of Jesus being baptized by John. And on the wall, we have the words associated with that event. The dove alighting on Jesus, with the voice of The Father speaking from on high, saying “this is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:17)
And so the Trinity – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – came together in the same place and at the same time, at the Jordan river at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry. But, that Spirit. What is its significance for us in the here and now? Well, there is far too much to be said than what we can say here but let’s try.
Jesus made several allusions to the Spirit and His coming into the world: “If I do not leave, the Spirit will not come,” (John 16:7); “I will ask the Father, and He will send you an advocate,” (John 14:16); and “I have not told you everything…. but I will send you the Holy Spirit who will lead you to all truth,” (John 16:13).
Speaking for myself, I have to believe that the Spirit has been working in my life from the moment of my baptism. But it’s all been very subtle. No bells or whistles, no beams of light shining down through the clouds and alighting on me.
And as for all the prayers prayed over me for a greater outpouring of the Holy Spirit, well, nothing to report. No speaking in tongues, no words of knowledge and no special charisms. At least none that I can tangibly identify. Nevertheless, God took a very unlikely candidate, me, and transformed him into a priest. And one of the things I’ve learned over the years is that this is the way that God typically likes to work.
The best I can offer you today regarding the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in your life is just to be confident, to be faithful, and to simply ask from time to time: “CHS! Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful, and kindle in them the fire of your love”.
One final word of encouragement from Jesus himself as He refers to his loving Father: “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or, if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, as evil as you are, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Luke 11:11-13)
Father John Rocus
Pastor, Holy Spirit Church, Brighton / Hamburg