Come, thou Holy Spirit, come; and from thy celestial home shed a ray of light divine. Heal our wounds, our strength renew; on our dryness, pour thy dew. Wash the stains of guilt away. Bend the stubborn heart and will. Melt the frozen, warm the chill.
These selected verses from an English translation of the venerable hymn, the Veni Creator Spiritus, remind us that the Holy Spirit has the amazing power to change things, and people. But that shouldn’t surprise us at all.
Recall how the Holy Spirit changed the Apostles on that first Pentecost Day. When the Spirit descended upon them as they were gathered behind locked doors of the Upper Room, he changed them from weak, timid, confused men into courageous and articulate preachers of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit changed the Apostles and then they changed the world.
But the transforming power of the Holy Spirit isn’t a one-time relic of salvation history. It continues even today, every day!
At every Mass, in the epiclesis, it is the Holy Spirit who transforms the simple gifts of bread and wine into the precious Body and Blood of Christ, the Bread of Life, the Bread of Angels. “Let your Spirit come upon these gifts to make them holy,” we pray.
In the Sacrament of Confirmation, we pray that the Holy Spirit will descend upon the young people being confirmed to strengthen their faith and to bless them with his seven-fold gifts. I often wonder if the teenagers are any different at home after they are confirmed. (Parents, any thoughts?)
It is the Holy Spirit who changes a man, with his human imperfections and limitations, into a Priest of Jesus Christ, a Priest of the New Covenant, commissioned and empowered now to act in the Person of Christ. We know, of course, that a priest remains completely human, a mere earthen vessel that contains the glory of God.
And it is the Holy Spirit who infuses the soul of a consecrated woman or man moving them to leave behind their natural attachments to the things of earth and embark upon a life of poverty, chastity and obedience. Such a transcendent journey cannot be explained in human terms alone.
We should pray, then, with renewed zeal, that the Holy Spirit will come to our world and our Church once again, to “shed a ray of light divine.” We need the Spirit now as much as ever.
Something to think about: What can the Holy Spirit help you with today?