On Pentecost Sunday, an often overlooked part of the liturgy is the Pentecost Sequence. This prayer to the Holy Spirit is inserted into the Mass between the conclusion of the Second Reading and the Alleluia before the Gospel. Since we rarely hear the Sequence at Mass, it can seem a little out of place. But the Sequence for Pentecost is an extremely powerful prayer in which we invite the Holy Spirit to come and renew our hearts on this very important day in the liturgical year. As I was reflecting on the Sequence, a few lines section caught my attention:
Heal our wounds, our strength renew;
On our dryness pour your dew;
Wash the stains of guilt away:
Bend the stubborn heart and will;
Melt the frozen, warm the chill;
Guide the steps that go astray.
This is a prayer we can offer first of all for ourselves. If we are honest, we can all admit that we have wounds that need to be addressed in our lives. We often feel dry when it comes to prayer or our participation at Mass. We can all cling stubbornly to our will. Calling upon the Holy Spirit to address those areas within us can be a very powerful prayer. I never get tired of reminding people (and myself) that the same Holy Spirit that set the hearts of the Apostles of the early Church on fire, as well as saints throughout history, is available to us today. He wants to melt our hearts, frozen in complacency and inactivity, and warm the chill of our lack of concern for the needs of those around us so that we can be those dedicated, missionary disciples He has equipped us to be through our Baptism and Confirmation.
After begging the Holy Spirit to renew our hearts, we pray for the rest of the Body of Christ to be awakened to the power of the Holy Spirit. We pray for a New Pentecost, so badly needed in the Church and in the world. We can and should be talking about all the legislative and cultural situations that need addressing, the rights of the vulnerable that are being overlooked, the structures in society that need so to be addressed. But more importantly than all of that is to call upon the Holy Spirit to come to our aid, so that we can benefit from His powerful gifts which will be the most effective in bringing about conversion and change. We need the Holy Spirit to point out how and what needs to be addressed, not simply relying on the spirit of the world, otherwise known as popular opinion. Speaking of the Holy Spirit whom He would send, Jesus told His Apostles: “But when He comes, the Spirit of truth, He will guide you to all truth.” (John 16:13)
As we look at the many difficult situations that face our Church, our nation, and our world, it can feel very overwhelming! Before we give in to despair or discouragement, let us proclaim with confidence: “Come, Holy Spirit, come!” In doing so, we are reminded of how the power of the Holy Spirit has worked throughout the history of the Church, a power that the Lord is eager to continue to send to us if we are but willing to receive it.