Gleanings: Fiery Spirit!

 

“Gleanings” offers spiritual reflections from some of the Christian tradition’s most insightful and beloved authors.

Our Pentecost offerings are gleaned from that remarkable woman of God, Hildegard of Bingen (12th century), Cyril of Alexander (5th century), and Basil of Caesarae (4th century). All three are canonized saints.

 

Sequence for the Holy Spirit

By Hildegard of Bingen

Fiery Spirit,
fount of courage,
life within life
of all that has being!

A medieval portrait of the Holy Spirit descending on Hildegard as she composes.

Holy are you, transmuting the perfect
into the real.
Holy are you, healing
the mortally stricken.
Holy are you, cleansing
the stench of wounds.

O sacred breath O blazing
love O savor in the breast and balm
flooding the heart with
the fragrance of good,

O limpid mirror of God
who leads wanderers
home and hunts out the lost,

Armor of the heart and hope
of the integral body,
sword-belt of honor:
save those who know bliss!

Guard those the fiend holds
imprisoned,
free those in fetters
whom divine force wishes to save.

O current of power permeating all
in the heights upon the earth and
in all deeps:
you bind and gather
all people together.

Out of you clouds
come streaming, winds
take wing from you, dashing
rain against stone;
and ever-fresh springs
well from you, washing
the evergreen globe.

O teacher of those who know,
a joy to the wise
is the breath of Sophia.

Praise then be yours!
you are the song of praise,
the delight of life,
a hope and a potent honor
granting garlands of light.

 

The Role of the Holy Spirit

By Cyril of Alexandria

All of us who have received the one and the same Spirit, that is, the Holy Spirit, are in a sense merged together with one another and with God. For if Christ, together with the Spirit of the Father and himself, comes to dwell in each one of us, even though there are many of us, then it follows that the Spirit is still one and undivided. He binds together the spirit of each and everyone of us and makes us all appear as one in him. For just as the power of the holy flesh of Christ united those in whom it dwells into one body, I think that, in much the same way, the one and undivided Spirit of God, who dwells in us all, leads us all into spiritual unity.

The Work of the Holy Spirit

By Basil of Caesarea

All who are in need of sanctification turn to the Spirit; all those seek him who live by virtue, for his breath refreshes them and comes to their aid in the pursuit of their natural and proper end. Capable of perfecting others, the Spirit himself lacks nothing. A light perceptible to the soul, he supplies through himself illumination to every force of reason searching for the truth. By nature inaccessible, he can be understood by reason of his goodness; filling all things with his power, he communicates himself only to those who are worthy of him. Simple in essence, varies in his miracles, he is wholly present to everyone and wholly everywhere at the same time.

The Spirit is present to all who are capable of receiving him as though given to them alone, and yet he sends forth full and sufficient grace for all humanity, and is enjoyed by all who share in him, according to the capacity, not of his power of of their nature. Souls in which the Spirit dwells, illuminated by the Spirit, themselves become spiritual and send forth their grace to others.

 

Sources: Hildegard, Scivius; Cyril, In Ioannis evangelium; Basil, De spiritu sancto

Sing to Me

Dan Miller-Gartner

At the end of the path

Through the cedar

And past the birch

Down where the Cut River

Meets Lake Michigan

I sat under the crabapple tree

In the white sand

Do you remember, Oh Lord?

You sang to me

This sweet, sweet song,

gently in my ear.

My heart danced

And the fear and anger in me

Their tethers on my soul cut free.

Drifted off toward the horizon.

 

The Autumn wind rolled

Off the lake and over me,

But I was in your warm embrace

Wrapped in that song

That lifted my spirit

And it danced in love.

I remember

Sing to me again, oh Lord,

Please, sing to me again.

 

David Miller-Gartner

St. Odilia ANCC (Fargo, ND)

 

Devotional: A Reflection on Pentecost

Mother McHugh

The day was hot—no escape from

the beating-down sun, no shade, no respite here

or anywhere

the upper room close and stifling, sweat glistening on every upturned face

anticipating, knowing not what, but waiting nonetheless, faithful to the angel’s instruction.

And then, of a sudden, a subtle change. . .and out of nowhere a curl of air teases

“Glory be to God!” it is deliciously cool

and they give thanks.

 

But then wisp gradually gusts to wind, a breath so cool and refreshing, swelling and more insistent

until its whisper grows to a moan and the moan to a roar

and the disciples know there is Someone in the wind,

Someone is coming, the One they have been waiting for

—no dread, no fear, only joy.

 

Then on and all about them there are flames

bathing them in the Spirit of God, incandescent with the power of the coming

And they are free of all that held them back

Held them down.

Held them under.

Now, at last ready, they pour into the streets

Speaking his name, proclaiming the message

And all understand

And caught up in the message believe

and embrace each other

and in that moment, know peace beyond all understanding.

 

Transformed and newly wise

the disciples smile

for so, it begins. . .

 

Rev. Phyllis McHugh

St. Thomas More ANCC (Elkins Park, PA)

Spirit of Love

Until I was 48 years old, I lived in my head and hands—rational, down-to-earth, a cradle Roman Catholic who put aside the mystical element of our faith tradition, not so much in disbelief as out of practicality. It was a Grandfather clock in the corner of a room, impressive but unnecessary.

Then one day I had a chance encounter with a friend whose life had taken a 180 degree turn toward love and happiness even as he had just been diagnosed with a soon-to-be fatal heart condition. Afterward, I found myself praying for this man, trying at the same time to understand his extreme open-heartedness. I prayed for this to happen to me, without even having a clear idea what it was I was asking for.

Suddenly, I was engulfed in a cloud, a place, an atmosphere of such pure LOVE, for lack of the proper word, that it transcended anything I had ever imagined. It was PERSONAL. I was loved so completely and unconditionally, it filled every thought, feeling, sensation, movement of my being. I knew this was God, and why God could not have a name, because a small thing like a name could never refer to this immensity of love.

Along with this experience of limitless and pure love came a feeling of horror at the realization of my failures in loving, my personal sins, all of which came down to holding back love due to every single person, all of whom were also God. The word, sin, seemed too small, too minuscule for the devastation and destruction my failures in loving wreaked on other people, and in some way, on God, who continued to love me with this white-hot passionate love.

That night I knew I was changed forever, and I knew I needed to practice loving everyone in every way, at all times. I knew that I could not see anyone else’s sin because my own simply blocked it out, but I could recognize its similarity to my own, and in loving others, also love myself.

This was the Spirit of Love, and I somehow had finally received it, like the Apostles at Pentecost. It is entirely right that I am now a parishioner of Holy Spirit, an ANCC parish.

Barbara Gimino

Holy Spirit ANCC (Montandon, PA)

Bishop’s Pentecost Message: Fellowship in the Holy Spirit

May the peace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God,

and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you my dear ones.

 

Bishop George Lucey

This greeting, used by St Paul in his second letter to the church at Corinth, is the first use of the salutation of and to the Trinity. It is a greeting often used at the beginning of every Mass, and fittingly it’s a greeting that echoes the sign-of-the-cross worshippers have just made on their bodies. It’s a greeting that succinctly declares the core of our belief: the Holy Trinity. Moreover, Paul’s greeting allows us a glimpse into the mystery, the depth, and the complexity of the character of God.

The mission of the Holy Spirit is to draw us to Christ by manifesting the risen Lord to us, by recalling his word to us, by opening our minds to the understanding of the mystery of his death and resurrection, by making present the mystery of Christ in the Eucharist, by reconciling us to God, and by bringing us into communion with God.

On the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit filled the apostles and destroyed the barriers of fellowship by allowing Jesus’ followers to communicate God’s plan of salvation to people who did not share a common language. Language, culture, ethnicity were no longer barriers to fellowship.

The Holy Spirit guides, teaches, motivates and communicates to us God’s desires and instructions. The Holy Spirit is our link and connection to God; allowing fellowship between creator and creature. Consequently, now filled with the Spirit, we are drawn into fellowship with others who follow Jesus.

Grace, love, and fellowship are the fruits of being in a relationship with God, the triune, the fullness of three beings: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Each expresses a definitive trait: Jesus shows the grace of God, the Father shows us love, and the Holy Spirit draws us into fellowship.

Three in one.

 

Most Reverend George R. Lucey, FCM

Presiding Bishop

St. Francis of Assisi ANCC (Glen Ridge, NJ)