Today is Pentecost Sunday, the coming of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles and the beginning of the missionary Church. Next Sunday we can talk about the Trinity, but today, let’s talk about the Holy Spirit because he has descended today to be with us.
Jesus left Earth nine days ago at the Feast of the Ascension, rising by his own power to his throne in Heaven, where he reigns in glory surrounded by the Apostles and Martyrs and Seraphim and Cherubim. We get a beautiful image of the company of Heaven with the Lamb on his throne from St. John’s Revelation.
That means that Jesus has left us. He does not leave us alone, however. He promised he would send a helper, a comforter, a friend to be with us where we dwell. That is the Holy Spirit. Jesus is with us, really present in the sacraments, especially the Sacrament of the Eucharist, where we receive his body, blood, soul, and divinity into our earthly bodies at Holy Communion in the Mass.
Our understanding of that sacramental presence is why we should try to receive him in the most reverent way possible. If every particle of the blessed sacrament contains the divinity of Jesus, then we want – or we should want – to ensure that no particle is lost or dropped. The safest way to do this is to receive Him directly into our mouths, which we call reception on the tongue. As the devotion to the Blessed Sacrament grew through the centuries, reception on the tongue became the norm – the established way – to receive Holy Communion. There certainly is evidence that people have received Holy Communion in the hand, but that practice gave way to the other practice over the centuries. It recently came back as one of the changes coming out of the Second Vatican Council. Everyone here should consider spending time in prayer thinking about what it means to receive Jesus into our mortal bodies and how we should reflect our beliefs in our actions at Mass. However we receive Him, we really should do so with the greatest reverence possible.
Other than at Mass or in Adoration, the presence of God we feel is really the Holy Spirit. We know with our intellect that we receive the grace of God – that sanctifying grace that he gives us to grow more holy and closer to Him – through the Eucharist, Baptism, Confirmation, and the sacraments of Healing. And we get that grace whether we feel Him or not. The sacramental life is a life of God’s mercy, for it does not depend on us but is a pure gift from Him.
So while we know that we receive Grace objectively in the sacraments, our loving God knows that our feelings are a big part of what makes us who we are. God gave us our feelings because he wants us to feel. We are not robots; we are human persons with emotions, passions, intellect, and will. All those can be used for good, if we choose the good.Continue reading “Come Holy Spirit”