Pentecost – the role of the Holy Spirit

May 29, 2020

The Pastor's Page

As we celebrate Pentecost, this is an opportune time to reflect briefly about the nature of the Holy Spirit, the third Person of the Most Holy Trinity.

As a youngster, my parish priests, the Sinsinawa Dominican religious sisters at Incarnation Catholic school where I grew up in South Minneapolis, and my parents taught me constantly about God the Father, the all-powerful Creator of the world, and Jesus, his only Son, our Savior and Redeemer, and what he did and said as reported in the gospels, but I heard next to nothing about the Holy Spirit, the Sanctifier, who is more mysterious and difficult to explain.

A stained glass window is from St. Emily’s Catholic Church in Emily, Minnesota. The dove is a symbol for the Holy Spirit, and the seven rays represent the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit.

As I have advanced in years, my devotion to and dependence upon the Holy Spirit has increased enormously. As I have searched for God, I learned that the Spirit is God’s abiding presence among us; as I have attended school, studied for tests, and written term papers, I discovered that the Spirit is enlightenment, truth, and understanding; as I have tried to live my faith with more conviction, I found out that the Spirit provides courage, stamina, and strength; as people have sought my advice, I learned that the Spirit is counsel and wisdom; and when I was ordained a priest and began the daunting task of writing homilies and articles, preaching, and exercising spiritual leadership, it became obvious that ministry is bigger than me or any human being, and the Spirit provides the insights, creativity, and inspiration.

When people ask me how they can support me as a priest, I ask them to pray to the Holy Spirit on my behalf. When it comes time to speak, the Spirit provides the words; when faced with hard decisions, the Spirit provides the guidance; when disputes arise, the Spirit is the source of justice and fairness; when tempted to react impulsively, the Spirit is patience; when sins have been committed, the Spirit makes forgiveness possible; when feeling downcast, the Spirit is joy; when self-absorbed, the Spirit teaches generosity; when filled with anxiety, the Spirit provides peace; and in the daily struggle to stay in right relationship with others, the Spirit is love, charity, and kindness.

Each of us desperately needs the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete, our Advocate. As you pray to the Holy Spirit for me, I promise to pray to the Holy Spirit for you as well. The power of the Holy Spirit will wash over us, like it did over the Blessed Virgin Mary (Lk 1:35), and the Holy Spirit will brace us to live according to God’s will (Lk 1:38). In fact, with the power of the Spirit we will be able to do great things because “nothing will be impossible for God” (Lk 1:37).

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About Father Michael Van Sloun

Father Michael A. Van Sloun is the pastor of Saint Bartholomew of Wayzata, MN. Ministerial interests include weekly Bible study, articles on theological topics, religious photography, retreats on Cross spirituality, and pilgrimages to the Holy Land, Italy, Greece and Turkey.

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