Fr. Mark Gatto
Posted: May 22, 2021
True Prayer is very dangerous. And perhaps the most dangerous prayer of all is, “Come Holy Spirit.” When we call upon the Holy Spirit with an open heart then God will want to change and transform us, will want to work through us. We do not know where that may lead us. There are many images for the Holy Spirit, such as fire and wind. We warn children not to play with fire. We know that wind comes and goes sometimes without warning and we do not have control over where it blows.
The Risen Lord Jesus as he appears to the disciples, breathes on them and says, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” The breath of God transforming and changing them. In the story of that first Pentecost, the Spirit came like a rush of violent wind and as tongues of fire. Then we see the disciples speaking in many languages. The Church was being transformed and going out to all people, in all the world.
The Holy Spirit is able to transform and change everything. We see this in the Eucharist when the priest prays over the gifts of bread and wine on the altar. We call this the Epiclesis, the calling down of the Holy Spirit, as the priest extends his hands over the elements. This symbolizes the Holy Spirit transforming this simple bread and wine into the real presence of the Lord. This also reflects the Holy Spirit wanting to transform us, the people of God, into the body of Christ.
The Holy Spirit is the true power of the Church. Sometimes in history, the Church has had political power or economic power. Sometimes the Church has had great influence and control within society. But, this is not the true power at the heart of the Church. The true power at the heart of the Church is the power of the Holy Spirit. Not a power of control or political influence. After calling for the Holy Spirit to be received by the disciples, Jesus says, “If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them.”
The great power of the Church is the power of Holy Spirit seen in the power of forgiveness. Forgiveness has the power to transform people and communities and situations. When you forgive someone it can be like giving them new life. When forgiveness happens within a community or family, it has the power to change relationships, bringing healing and peace.
St. Paul lists the fruit of the Spirit. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. True prayer of the heart is dangerous. For it has the power to transform us and change us. Often in ways we did not expect. But, we need to have a heart open to the Holy Spirit, open to being changed and transformed.
We see the power of the Holy Spirit when a great sinner repents and changes. When a person who is a coward becomes courageous. When someone who was immersed in riches and possesions changes to embrace a simple way of life. We know that our prayer to the Holy Spirit is honest when it leads us to love, joy, peace, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
Pray for the coming of the Holy Spirit often. That simple prayer in our heart, “Come Holy Spirit.” At the beginning of each day. Before each encounter with someone in our family, or friends or coworkers. Before each social media post. “Come Holy Spirit.”
The Holy Spirit is able to transform how we act and think and treat others.