The Spirit of the Lord has filled the whole world and that which contains all things, understands what is said, hallelujah.
Welcome to ChantWorks. ChantWorks is an apostolate of lay men and women devoted to renewing Catholic worship through sacred music and the singing of the Mass. Part of renewing Catholic worship is the prayful reading for Sacred Scripture. These readings and reflections are intended to help readers prepare for their part in the Mass and to help others listen attentively to the proclamation of the Word.
The readings for Pentecost are the same each year. Pentecost comes from the Greek word, for the Jewish Feast of Weeks called Shavuot. It means 50 or 50 days because it commemorates the giving of the law, which took place 50 days after the Exodus from Egypt. It also coincided with the end of the wheat harvest, which began at Passover. The wind, the fire and the shaking of the house in Acts, chapter 2, echoes the appearance of God on Mount Sinai in Exodus chapter 19 when God establishes his covenant with Israel.
On this day in the church, then, we celebrate the giving of a new law—the law of the gospel, the law of mercy and forgiveness which brought about an abundant harvest of new members for the church. The outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the disciples in the first reading confirms the new covenant, which Jesus instituted at the last supper. Along with this new covenant comes a new law, the law of the gospel, the law, the law of love.
A reading from the Acts of the apostles.
When the time for Pentecost was fulfilled, they were all in one place together and suddenly there came from the sky a noise like a strong driving wind and it filled the entire house in which they were. Then there appeared to them tongues as a fire, which parted and came to rest on each one of them, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues as the spirit enabled them to proclaim.
Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven staying in Jerusalem. At this sound they gathered in a large crowd but they were confused because each one heard them speaking in his own language. They were astounded and in amazement they asked, are not all these people who are speaking Galileans? Then how does each of us hear them in his native language? We are Parthians, Medes and Elamites, inhabitants of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt, and travelers from Cyrene, as well as travelers from Rome, both Jews and converts to Judaism, Cretans and Arabs—yet we hear them speaking in our own tongues of the mighty acts of God.
The responsorial psalm focuses on the Holy Spirit as the Lord and Giver of Life, as we say in the Creed. Just as the Spirit hovered over the face of the waters at the creation of the world in Genesis, chapter one.
That self-same Spirit now brings forth a new creation beginning with the resurrection of Jesus Christ and on this day the birth of the holy Catholic church. The Holy Spirit, the life of Christ and of the Divine Trinity is poured into believers through the Sacraments renewing the face of the earth.
Lord, send out your spirit and renew the face of the Earth. Lord, send out your spirit and renew the face of the Earth. Bless the Lord, oh my soul, oh Lord my God, you are great indeed. How manifold are your works, O Lord, the Earth is full of your creatures. Lord, send out your Spirit and renew the face of the Earth. If you take away their breath they perish and return to their dust. When you send forth your Spirit they are created and you renew the face of the Earth. Lord, send out your spirit and renew the face of the Earth. May the glory of the Lord endure forever. May the Lord be glad in his works. Pleasing to him be my theme, I will be glad in the Lord. Lord, send out your spirit and renew the face of the Earth.
In the second reading, St. Paul explains how the Holy Spirit lives in the Church through her members. The Spirit is one, he says. But the manifestations of the Spirit are many. As the soul is the life of the body so the Spirit is the life of the church—the body of Christ.
The unity of the Church, then, is based on the fact that the Holy Spirit is one in the same throughout the Church, manifested through a diversity of gifts. Every member is filled with the same Spirit and endowed with some special gift for the good of the whole.
A reading from St. Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians.
Brothers and sisters, no one can say Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit. There are different kinds of Spiritual gifts but the same Spirit. There are different forms of service but the same Lord. There are different workings, but the same God who produces all of them in everyone. To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit. As a body is one though it has many parts, and all the parts of the body, though many, are one body—so also Christ.
For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, slaves or free persons, and we were all given to drink of one Spirit.
As we mentioned in our commentary for Easter, there are four times during the year when the church prescribes a specific hymn called a sequence hymn to be sung just before the Gospel. Pentecost is one of those times. The other feasts are Easter, Corpus Christi and All Souls. The Easter and Pentecost hymns are, perhaps, the most familiar and the sequencing for Pentecost, Vene Santo Spiritus, is perhaps the best known of all. It is a prayer to the Holy Spirit.
We can almost imagine the apostles together with the blessed Virgin Mary singing this beautiful hymn in the upper room as they awaited the coming of the Holy Spirit promised by Jesus in Acts chapter 1. Most people are mystified by the Holy Spirit and aren’t sure how to relate to him. The sequence hymn for Pentecost is an excellent model of how to prayer to the Holy Spirit.
Veni Ssancti Spiritus,
Et emit te caelitus Lucis tuae radium
Come Holy Spirit! Send forth the heavenly ray of your light.
Veni, pater pauperum,
Come, father of the poor,
Veni dator munerum, Veni lumen cordium
come, giver of gifts, come, light of hearts.
Dulcis hospes animae
sweet guest of the soul,
LatinIn labore requies,
In labor, rest, in heat, temperateness, in tears, solace.
in aestu temperies,
in heat, temperateness,
In fletu solatium
in tears, solace.
O lux beautissima
O most blessed light,
reple cordis intima tuorum fidelium.
fill the inmost heart of your faithful.
Sine tuo numine,
Without the nod of your head,
Nihil est in homine
there is nothing in man,
Nihil est innoxium
nothing that is harmless.
Lava quod est sordidum,
water that which is dry,
sana quod est saucium.
heal that which is wounded.
Flecte quod est rigidum,
Bend that which is inflexible,
fove quod est frigidum,
warm that which is chilled,
rege quod est devium.
correct that which has gone astray.
Da tuis fidelibus,
Give to your faithful,
in te confidentibus,
those who trust in you,
the sevenfold gifts.
Da virtutis meritum,
Give the reward of virtue,
da salutis exitum,
grant them a peaceful death
da perenne gaudium.
give joy constantly.
In this week’s gospel we hear John’s account of the coming of the Holy Spirit, which took place in the evening of that first Easter. What’s significant about it is that it demonstrates how the gift of the Holy Spirit didn’t happen just once at Pentecost, the Holy Spirit is a perpetual gift of the risen Christ to his Church. Jesus imparts his own divine life to the apostles when he breaths on them, just as God had done with Adam: The Lord God breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and man became a living soul (Genesis 2:7).
With the giving of the Holy Spirit, man is reborn, that is to say a new reality comes into existence and a new mission begins. If you forgive the sins of any Jesus says, they are forgiven. The gift of the Spirit coincides with the command to forgive sins, thus a new Sacrament, the Sacrament of Reconciliation, is established. The fullness of God and the fullness is not made manifest until Christ had been glorified in his resurrection. The glorification of Christ and the giving of the Holy Spirit thus are parts of the same theodrama wherein God is ever at work reconciling the world to himself.
The heart of the church’s mission is to reconcile all people with God and thus renew the face of the Earth. The church does this through all her apostolic activities, but primarily through the Sacraments, which is why the church herself is called the universal Sacrament of Salvation. Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah. Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah.
Come Holy Spirit fill the hearts of the faithful and kindle them in the fire of your love. Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah.
A reading from the Holy Gospel according to John, glory to you, Oh Lord. On that evening on that first day of the week when the doors were locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, peace be with you. When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Father has sent me, so I send you. And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, receive the Holy Spirit: Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them And whose sins you retain are retained.
The gospel of the Lord. Praise to you Lord Jesus Christ.
God’s plan from the beginning was for man to share in his own blessed life (Catechism, paragraph no. 1). His plan has been fulfilled every time a new Christian receives the Holy Spirit and is born again through the Sacraments. The Holy Spirit is the life of God and the soul of the church who lives in each individual member for just as the life of an individual person is in every cell of his or her body. So, the life of God, the Holy Spirit dwells in the soul of each believer. The Holy Spirit is perhaps the most mysterious of the three persons of the Trinity. The reason is that the Holy Spirit is closer to us than we are to ourselves, and knows us better than we know ourselves.
If we think of the father as God above us, and the son as God with us, then we might think of the Holy Spirit as God in us. The Holy Spirit is the life of God without whom the soul withers and dies. We receive this life-giving Spirit through the Sacraments by which God pours his own life into our souls. And this gift is not for us alone. The love of God that has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us, Paul says in Romans, is not something we can keep to ourselves, by its very nature it demands to be shared with others for this after all is the nature of love. This is the nature of the Holy Spirit. This is God.
They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke of the marvels of God, hallelujah.
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