Search This Blog

Thursday, June 2, 2022

Fr. Tom's Reflection on the Coming Feast of Pentecost and the Need for Penance

Anthony Van Dyck 1599 – 1641 The Descent of the Holy Spirit

As we prepare for the celebration of the Solemnity of Pentecost this year, I am disturbed by the fact that this celebration, if lacking a serious commitment to integration into Christ, will be merely emotional, and not transformative.

This concern came as I reflected on the fact that Jesus, as the Head of His Mystical Body, had to suffer, die, rise and ascend into heaven in order for us to receive the Holy Spirit.

Just as a drowning man can only breathe if his head is above the water, so also Christ’s Mystical Body can only breathe spiritually if its Head is able to regularly inhale the Holy Spirit.

But He can only inhale the Holy Spirit into His Body to the degree that He is allowed first of all to exhale the pollution of sins. And such spiritual exhalation can only take place through an ongoing repentance of its members in humble docility to the whole truth of God.

Sadly, however, over the past sixty years, only a small number of the members of the Mystical Body regularly exhale their sins in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. And the vast majority, completely ignoring the precept of the Church that they humbly and contritely receive this sacrament at least once a year and being seduced into forming their consciences by perverted secular values, rather than by the objective virtues proclaimed by the Church’s magisterium often receive Holy Communion in the state of objectively serious sin. This, in turn, has subtly and incrementally brought many to the point where their spiritual lives are guided not by a sincere conscience, but a sin-seared conscience.

As indicated above, Jesus can only inhale the Holy Spirit into His Mystical Body to the degree that the members of that Body first exhale the pollution of sin through sincere repentance. If such repentance is lacking, there is little room for the breath of the Holy Spirit to be inhaled into that Body. And shallow breathing is not an indication of good health.

Descent of the Holy Spirit
Anton Raphael Mengs, 1751

Note also that breathing is not a once-only activity, it is an essential dynamic for preserving and enhancing life. This is true also for the Mystical Body of Christ. The members of the Church can only live the life of grace to the degree that they make sincere repentance an integral part of their spiritual life.

On the first Pentecost, three thousand, guided by the proclamation of God’s Word by St. Peter, humbly and contritely exhaled the pollution and perversion of their sins so as to allow the Head of the Mystical Body to inhale the Holy Spirit into their lives.

Lacking a commitment to regularly exhale the poisons and perversions of sin through life-giving repentance, a person’s spiritually life and relationships will continue to be poisoned and perverted by festering resentments.

Thus it is that, gratefully relying on the gracious assurance of Divine Mercy by Christ, members of His Mystical Body are free, through sincere repentance, to fully exhale the toxins of their sins, so as to share in the awesome blessings infused into them as the ascended Christ continues to inhale the Holy Spirit into His Mystical Body.

God bless you!

Fr. Thomas Collins

Hot Springs VA

1 comment:

Aqua said...

I love the depiction of our Queen, especially in the first painting by Anthony Van Dyck.

Surrounded by stupendous activity and the miraculous entry of God the Holy Spirit into the infant Church … there is our mother, an oasis of peace, lost in pure communion with the unseen God - the mother of all Contemplatives.