Daily Thought For May 30, 2019

The Amazing Grace of Pentecost 

We have reflected on the Holy Spirit as love in the Trinity and in the Church, and now it is time to be thinking of the Holy Spirit of Love in each believer, that is, in each one of us. For this purpose, we need to go back to the Pentecost event. 

If the Holy Spirit is indeed nothing other than the love of God, love in Person, the statement in Acts that "they were all filled with the Holy Spirit" can mean nothing other than that "they were all full of the love of God!" In this light, the Holy Spirit can truly be seen as the "seal" that is stamped upon all God's creative and redemptive work (see Eph 1: 13) and Pentecost as the culmination of all the works of God. Why did God create the world? Why did he send his Son to redeem the world from sin? Why would God have given us the Scriptures? For no other reason than that he wanted to fill his creatures with his love. 

Pentecost, therefore, was not only an event in the objective order, bringing a profound but unnoticed change beyond any awareness; it was also an event in the subjective order, an experience. The shift, from the slave-heart full of fear to the filial heart brimming with love, is not something that can happen without the one to whom it happens being aware of it; it is not the kind of heart transplant that is done under general anesthetic! On the contrary, the experience of the love of God was one of overwhelming intensity for the apostles: to be loved by God, and to love God in return! They were literally inundated, "baptized," in love. 

That was what moved them so much that they were beside themselves, to such an extent that people thought them drunk (see Acts 2:13). The sudden change in the apostles cannot be explained in any other way; it was the fire of divine love itself that flared up in them. What they did on that occasion are the sort of things that only love moves one to do. The apostles, as the martyrs would be later on, were in effect "drunk," but "drunk on love that came to them through the finger of God which is the Holy Spirit,'?' Drunk because "drenched in the torrent of divine delights; drunk with that sober inebriation that does sins to death and gives life to the heart." 

The fact that the sign of the coming of the Holy Spirit, on the subjective level, is an experience of love is confirmed every time there is question of a "new Pentecost." The people who took part in the retreat that proved to be the beginning of the charismatic renewal in the Catholic Church confessed later that there was a moment when they feared being loved too much and not being able to stand such love. In the words of one of them, "It was as if the God of Sinai had come into the place where we were gathered, and completely filled it and us too." Every time someone has a genuine, strong experience of the Spirit, the most vivid memory of the moment that the person retains is of an intense perception of the Father's love. Witnessing to this, someone said: "All my life long, I had felt unloved. The next day, that feeling vanished entirely. I felt myself immersed in a new experience of the love of God, and from that day it has never left me." 

This is the most beautiful moment of any creature's life: to know that one is loved, personally, by God, to feel oneself lifted to the bosom of the Trinity and to find oneself in the flood of love that flows between Father and Son, enfolded in their love, sharing their passionate love for the world. And all of this in one instant, without any need to think about it or for words to say it. 

Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa Come Creator Spirit — Meditations on the Veni Creator pp.144-145

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