Pentecost Sunday: The Coming of the Holy Ghost
by Fr. Raphael Frassinetti, 1900
Gospel. John xiv. 23-31. At that time, Jesus said to His disciples: If any man love me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him, and will make our abode with him. He that loveth me not, keepeth not my words. And the word which you have heard is not mine: but the Father’s who sent me. These things have I spoken to you, abiding with you. But the Paraclete, the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, He will teach you all things, and bring all things to your mind, whatsoever I shall have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, do I give unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, nor let it be afraid. You have heard that I have said to you: I go away and come again to you. If you loved me, you would indeed be glad, because I go to the Father: for the Father is greater than I. And now I have told you before it come to pass: that when it shall come to pass, you may believe. I will not now speak many things with you: for the prince of this world cometh, and in me he hath not anything. But that the world may know that I love the Father: and as the Father hath given me commandment, so do I.
The disciples and the Blessed Virgin were assembled in the cenacle. For ten days they had been meditating and praying in unison with God, when of a sudden a great noise was heard, as of a violent hurricane, which shook the house in which they were, and then they saw that fiery tongues settled down on the heads of each one of them. They felt themselves illumined, strengthened, encouraged by the Spirit of God, the Holy Ghost. They began to speak in different languages. People of every nation had come to Jerusalem to celebrate the great Jewish feast of Pentecost, a feast which was held by them in commemoration of the giving of the law on Mount Sinai to Moses; and all the Jews wished to see the magnificent ceremonies in their temple in Jerusalem.
Though these Jews had come from different places, where different languages were spoken, still they understood what the Apostles said. Such were the wonderful effects which the Holy Ghost produced in the Apostles. They were illumined by a clear, celestial light, which made them understand all the truths of God, and the future Church, and gave them the faculty of forming right judgment in all things that came under their jurisdiction.
This will also be the effect on you, my dear young people, if you beg the Holy Spirit to come into your hearts. You will feel these effects when He has come, and your way of thinking, your old way of judging, will have changed. New thoughts and other desires will grow up in you. You understand what the thoughts of young people are generally; what their hearts are fixed on; what they delight in. The young man and woman want pleasure, enjoyment, plenty of money, and good company, and they care not whether these things are sinful or not. But when the Spirit of God shall come into their hearts they will no longer love what is sinful; they will avoid all such pleasures. Then they will know, too, that all in this world is vanity, and that it is all-important to serve God and love Him.
Not only did the Holy Spirit infuse a great light into the minds of the Apostles–He also inspired them with great courage. After the death of Christ, the Apostles had become very much disheartened, and very fretful. They had not the courage to stand up openly and boldly. Before the death of Christ, Peter even denied Christ three times, and the Apostles all fled in dismay when He was apprehended. As soon as the Holy Ghost had come down on them they were changed men; they no longer feared; they confessed Christ before the tribunals of tyrants; they were not dismayed at tortures; they feared neither the sword nor the bitterest death; they braved every danger to preach the Gospel before the nations of the earth. My dear young people, if you really receive the Holy Ghost into your hearts, you also will courageously profess the faith of Christ, and human respect will not affect you any more. How many, however, are there who in spite of having received the strength and illumination of the Divine Spirit, are weak and infirm in doing good; they fear to speak a word of correction to a wicked companion, who is likely to draw them away from the path of rectitude.
With all the other gifts came that of holy charity upon the Apostles. With what lively flames of love did not their hearts burn towards their neighbor. Charity is the great virtue of the Apostles. With their hearts burning with this divine flame they went forth to enkindle it in all parts of the world, and to set the hearts of all on fire. Their sermons were frequent appeals to the intellect and hearts of their hearers. At. St. Peter’s first sermon three thousand were converted, and at another five thousand. St. Peter came out on a balcony, his face all aglow with a holy zeal. It is thus related in the Acts of the Apostles: “Ye men of Israel hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by Him in the midst of you, as you also know: This same being delivered up, by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, you by the hands of wicked men have crucified and slain: Now when they had heard these things, they had compunction in their heart, and said to Peter and to the rest of the Apostles: What shall we do, men and brethren? But Peter saith to them: Do penance, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of your sins: and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” They were converted, and baptized; they, too, received the Holy Ghost, and after that became zealous members of the holy faith.
Let us pray, my dear young people, that the Holy Spirit kindle in our hearts also this fire, that we may become, like the Apostles, strong in word to persuade people to follow Christ; and that we ourselves show our love for God by openly practising virtue. Happy shall we be if such is the fire of love of God and man in our hearts.
But is your heart really inflamed with divine love? Do you not on the contrary feel that you are cold and careless? Few there are indeed among young people who think so much of religion and God that they become enthusiastic to do something for His greater glory. In your younger days, in your school-days, perhaps, you were better; you loved God more tenderly. Now it may be said of you, ” You always resist the Holy Ghost.” You have the spirit of the world and of sin for your guide, and in this way you sadden the Holy Ghost. We resist the Holy Ghost when we go to confession, and fall back into sin, because we do not reform our lives, as the Holy Spirit asks of us. We resist the Holy Ghost and sadden Him when we follow bad companions, when we are disobedient or impudent to our superiors, who wish to guide us in the paths of virtue. On the contrary we give joy to the Holy Spirit by our good will, and He will fill our hearts with His heavenly graces.
Should one of you not yet be confirmed, let him look for an opportunity to receive this sacrament, so that he may receive the necessary virtues which it confers, namely: the spirit of Wisdom, and of Intellect, spirit of Counsel and of Fortitude, of Piety and of Knowledge, of the Fear of the Lord. In order that we may be filled with the Holy Ghost, let us live always a pure, good, and holy life. It is only with those who lead such a life that the Spirit of God remains. We read a beautiful example illustrating this in the Roman breviary. The impious governor Paschasius asked of St. Lucy, “Is this Holy Ghost in you?” The virgin answered, “They whose hearts are pure, and who live piously, are the temples of the Holy Ghost.” “But,” said the wicked man, “I will make you fall into sin, and then the Holy Ghost will leave you.” To which the virgin Lucy answered, “I will remain faithful to God, and not consent to sin, and the Holy Spirit will double my reward of glory.”
Then the tyrant had her dragged to a place of infamy. Arriving there she stood so firm in the one spot that no power could move her further, and she had to be brought back, when she said to the tyrant: “You see, now, I am the temple of the Holy Ghost, and He protects me; no power on earth can move me, unless He permits it.” In this wise, too, should we fly from sin, and we shall be the temple of God and the habitation of the Holy Ghost. Come, O Holy Ghost, fill the hearts of Thy faithful, enkindle in them the fire of Thy love. Yes, the Holy Spirit will help us to pray “with inexpressible groans.” Let us pray to the Holy Ghost, and in our soul will burn such a flame that we will not be able to resist any longer, we shall run delighted in the odor of the love of God. Then may we repeat the words of the Apostle Paul to the Thessalonians: “All you are the children of light and children of the day.”