By Fr Jason Smith, LC
What would a personal Pentecost look like?
At the beginning of the Second Vatican Council, as the Church reached out to an increasingly secular and rationalistic world, Pope John XXIII offered a providential and much needed prayer. He prayed for “a new Pentecost.”
Pope John XXIII could make this petition since the New Testament tells us that the Holy Spirit is not meant only for the disciples gathered in the Upper Room. While Pentecost itself remains a unique and unrepeatable event, the Spirit and it’s gifts are for Christians of every day and age.
Therefore we too can and should pray for our own personal Pentecost.
If the world John XXIII faced was secular and rationalistic, ours today is even more so. To survive in this world without losing our faith and, moreover, transform it with the Good News of the Gospel, we must rely on strength greater than ourselves. That strength can only come from the gifts of the Spirit alive in us.
How can each one of us achieve this personal Pentecost?
For many of us, our personal Pentecost is already underway. If we have been Baptized and Confirmed, if we receive the Eucharist and the Sacrament of Reconciliation, if we read Scripture, if we take time to pray – the seeds of a personal Pentecost are already alive within us. What we seek, then, is to release or actualize the grace God has already freely given us.
This actualization takes place through re-acknowledging Jesus Christ as Lord of my life with new openness toward welcoming the Holy Spirit.
In the Charismatic Renewal this moment is called a “Baptism in the Spirit.” This baptism occurs when one is prayed over to receive the Spirit, and the recipient truly opens his hearts to this profound influx of grace.
The release can come about in many ways: a sacrament faithfully and well lived, a personal decision to follow the inspirations of the Spirit, a moral conversion, an opening of one’s heart on retreat or on a pilgrimage, a prayer or novena to the Holy Spirit… There are as many different ways as the Holy Spirit can freely choose.
Yet, while not putting a limit on the Holy Spirit’s power, all these ways have a common element: daily giving God control of our life with expectant faith, while desiring that the Spirit be ever-present in our life in a decisively new way.
What are the signs that this new Pentecost has happened in my life?
When a person has a powerful experience of God’s presence, the fidelity of God’s promise, and the signs and wonders described in the Book of Acts, he knows that it’s real.
Here are some tangible signs that of what Jesus said the Spirit would satisfy in everyday life:
- One’s faith becomes stronger
- One finds joy in the midst of suffering
- One finds assurance and guidance in following the Lord
Then, the Spirits gifts found in Acts and St. Paul’s letters are recognized in the following ways:
- New manifestations of the Spirit’s workings in one’s life
- A striking increase of one’s power to bear Christian witness
- Even the conferring of charismatic gifts
To think the Spirit’s gifts are for a chosen few, or limited to the great saints, would be mistaken. The Holy Spirit is sent to all of us, and wants to guide and bestow gifts on every open heart. It is our task to open our hearts and allow ourselves to be directed, inspired, and gifted that the Spirit’s power will be unleashed in us.
So then, this Pentecost, pray for the gift of a personal Pentecost. Let your heart be open with vibrant faith, so that the Spirit will come into your life in a profound, new, and powerful way.