come, holy spirit!

Charles Daudelin’s altarpiece, Chapel of Notre-Dame du Sacré-Coeur, Montréal

Recently, we were chatting with friends and the topic of the Holy Spirit came up. What exactly IS the Holy Spirit? What does the Holy Spirit do? How do we know when the Holy Spirit is present? Hubby presented his own theological thesis, based on much deep thinking and pondering as a child. God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are like Dad, Son, and Uncle!

For me, the Holy Spirit is best expressed through her gifts, described by the prophet, Isaiah,

The spirit of the Lord shall rest on him,
The spirit of wisdom and understanding,
The spirit of counsel and might,
The spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord….

(Isaiah 11:2)

The Holy Spirit is our divine inspiration (in-“in” + spirare “to breathe”), our creative force, the wisdom that is deeper than our own knowledge. The Holy Spirit is at work when we see clarity in the midst of muddiness. When we can dig into the dark recesses of our brain and pull out a wee nugget that brings understanding to us or another. When we have the courage to speak, and have the wisdom to stay silent.

Joanne McCracken, a dear friend and member of the Our Lady of the Round Table prayer community, shared a wonderful reflection with us this week. Here are her words of wisdom….

Back in the dark ages of my youth in Catholic school, the Holy Spirit was known as the Holy Ghost and came, it seemed, not in the shadows of some dark and stormy night but only when one was confirmed, in some invisible tongues of fire. Then he/she /it returned to the proverbial closet not to be mentioned except once a year, fifty days after Easter. On this annual visit he/she /it was mostly associated with speaking in multiple languages (all at once) further confusing in my mind. Who was this creature? Then, about 15 years ago I read this wonderful article in US Catholic entitled; God is More Than Two Men and Bird! Once I stopped laughing and read the article it all became so much clearer.

Holy One who is a Spirit;
who like a spirit is illusive yet ever present,
who rushes like the wind where you will,
who inspires hope
gives courage for the struggle
brings wisdom in times of doubt
grants patience with God’s time,
opens minds and hearts,
bestows strength on flagging souls,
blesses us with humility
and carries us on a stream of ever flowing graces,
who is with us today, tomorrow and always.
We bless you and praise you
for we need you.


As we celebrate Pentecost this Sunday, may we join our prayers that God’s Holy Spirit might indeed blow freely through all minds and hearts.

And thank you, Joanne!

What image do you have of the Holy Spirit? How do you experience the Holy Spirit in your life?

2 thoughts on “come, holy spirit!

  1. After Jesus ascended into Heaven from the Mount of Olives, his disciples returned to the upper room in Jerusalem. The Acts of the Apostles, written by Luke, names the 11 leading male disciples and then continues, “All of these with one accord devoted themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.”

    Artists over the centuries distorted this image of the early church community when they depicted the descent of the Holy Spirit upon Mary and 11 male apostles. Scripture gives us a different picture of Pentecost, a mixed community of men and women: “the company of persons was in all about 120.”

    These artistic distortions of the Pentecost story appear pervasive and have affected the beliefs of many Catholics. The descent of the Holy Spirit upon the whole community is rarely, if ever, mentioned in homilies. Except for the inclusion of Mary, we again see an implied elevation and separation of a priestly cast from the community that is the church.

    Here is one of my favorite Holy Spirit prayers:
    “Come, Divine Spirit we pray; rattle our cages, brake into our locked houses, water our parched lands, undo our bends and twistedness, awaken our hearts, help us to overflow with kindness, and give us unending joy. Amen” (From an Ancient Pentecost Liturgy)

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