Sunday, 11 May 2008

Pentecost: Holy Spirit and Our Lady, Shaftesbury

I want to say a few words about Our Lady, the Blessed Virgin Mary, first, because it’s her month of May, but also because I don’t think we talk enough about Our Lady these days.
In particular, on today’s feast of Pentecost, I want to say a few words about her relationship with the Holy Spirit, because she is the one the Church uniquely calls the ‘Spouse of the Holy Spirit’, and she shows us how to live in relationship with the Holy Spirit.

HS can sometimes seem a little remote and odd, pictured as dove not as a person.
But, though difficult to picture he is easy to recognise in his EFFECTS. Scripture tells us of 12 FRUITS the HS produces in those who allow him to enter their hearts. Among these are peace, joy, patience, and love/charity (Gal 5:22, also: self-control, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, generosity, modesty, chastity cf CCC 1832).

Those things can all seem a little vague and abstract, but when we look at Our Lady we see these things in their perfection. She had patience and peace –she endured the foot of the Cross. She had joy –the Magnificat. She had charity –when she heard she was to be pregnant and that her cousin already was, she didn’t think of her own needs to went straight to go and care for her cousin Elizabeth.

But these things in the life of Our Lady didn’t spring from no-where, they sprang from her unique relationship with the Holy Spirit.
At the Annunciation, the Angel Gabriel said ‘the Holy Spirit will overshadow you’ –and she was filled
At the Visitation to Elizabeth, the babe in her cousin’s womb leapt ‘filled with the Spirit’ when it sensed Our Lady’s presence.
At the Cross, when, the Spirit was breathed forth by Christ as he died on the Cross, it was there that she was.
[At the Res’n appearances, when the Risen Lord showed his wounds and breathed forth his HS again.]
At Pentecost, when the Apostles panicked and were in fear, we read that it was around HER that they gathered waiting for the HS to come.

WE often do not feel the HS. WE often can think he is distant or vague. We can hear of his peace and his joy and his patience, but these seem far away. Who can we turn to to find him? Our Lady.
Two things in her example:
(i) She was docile to the Will of God, and so the HS found room to dwell in her heart.
If we are docile, rather than being filled with ourselves, then HS can dwell in us.
(ii) She prayed. Scripture repeatedly refers to her contemplative nature, ‘she pondered all these things in her heart’. And it was around her prayer that Pentecost occurred. So we too must pray if HS to come.

More than her example, she is the Mother in heaven that Jesus has assigned to watch over me, and watch over you. The saints repeatedly teach that whatever she asks of God, God grants. He denies her not. Why? Because while she was on earth she was sinless, she denied Him not.
So, she is a powerful Mother to care for me.

I want the gifts of the HS. I want the fruits of the HS to be manifested in my life. But, by myself, I don’t know how. He seems strange to me.
Those gifts were manifested before: in the life of the sinless Virgin, our Mother. She can ask for a fresh outpouring of HS into my heart. She can ask for me to be aided in removing the obstacles to the HS in my life.
And, if we turn to her, if we entrust ourselves to her in this month of May, those fruits of the Holy Spirit can be ours too.

Newsletter quote:
“the month of May, coinciding at least in part with the Easter season, is quite propitious for illustrating the figure of Mary as the Mother who accompanies the community of disciples united in prayer in expectation of the Holy Spirit (cf. Acts 1:12-14)”. Pope Benedict, May 6, 2007

No comments: