Do you have trouble remembering birthdays? Pentecost Prayers can help you remember a very special one, the birthday of our Church!
When the Holy Spirit came to the Upper Room where the disciples and the Blessed Mother were praying on Pentecost, ten days after our Lord’s Ascension into Heaven, it was with great power, in the form of a driving wind and "tongues as of fire" (Acts 2:3) descending on each of them.
(This is depicted in the artwork by Anthonis Van Dyck above in which the Holy Spirit appears as a dove at the top of this painting.)
The Holy Spirit (also referred to in older texts and prayer books as the Holy Ghost) immediately transformed the timid disciples on Pentecost and enabled them to proclaim Christ’s Word with apostolic zeal!
They now fully understood the significance of our Lord’s Passion: Namely, that His death and resurrection made it possible for them, and indeed for all of us, to join Him in His Heavenly kingdom in Eternal Life, not in some Earthly kingdom for Israel.
The disciples started speaking boldly about God in languages that they didn't even know, much to the amazement of those who heard them, devout Jews staying in Jerusalem "from every nation under heaven" (Acts 2:5) for the feast of Pentecost. (Pentecost was celebrated at that time as a harvest feast as well as a commemoration of Moses' having received the Jewish law on Mount Sinai.)
In addition, about 3000 people were baptized that day after hearing St. Peter’s passionate message calling for repentance and conversion
(Acts 2:14-41). This was coming from the man who had denied Christ three times less than two months earlier!
We may not be transformed quite as suddenly by the Holy Spirit as the disciples were. Yet, Pentecost prayers can help each of us listen to Christ’s guidance through His Spirit!
Among many fine Pentecost prayers are the hymns Veni Sancte Spiritus and Veni Creator Spiritus, which are often spoken as well as sung at mass on Pentecost day itself (also known as Whitsunday), a Prayer for the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit, and the Prayer to the Holy Spirit (also listed in some books as Come Holy Spirit).
Here are some other good short prayers:
We beseech you, O Lord, let the power of the Holy Spirit be always with us; let it mercifully purify our hearts, and safeguard us from all harm. Grant this through Christ our Lord, Amen.
May the Comforter, Who proceeds from You, enlighten our minds, we beseech you, O Lord, and guide us, as Your Son has promised, into all truth. We ask this through Christ, our Lord, Amen.
Holy Spirit, Sweet guest of My Soul, Abide In Me
and Grant That I May Ever abide in Thee.
Keep in mind however that, like most Pentecost prayers, these can be said all year round and indeed are a great way to ask for God’s assistance when we are facing a particular problem or trial, or need help bearing our crosses. Just as the Holy Spirit enabled the disciples to proclaim the Gospel with fervor and love, He can work similar wonders in our souls.
Although our Lord told the apostles the night before His Passion that "it is better that I go" (John 16:7) so that His Father could send them the Holy Spirit to "teach you all things, and remind you of all that I told you" (John 15:26), the Holy Spirit by no means overshadows the Son, He is Christ's Spirit, after all, dwelling in us! Remember that one God in three distinct persons work together seamlessly.
It is important to remember here, as St. Paul said in his letter to the Corinthians, that as the Holy Spirit dwells in each of us (1 Cor 3:16), it is crucial for our salvation that we listen to Him.
Our Lord indeed wants us to ask for His help and guidance through His Spirit. But, given our free will, He will not force Himself on us. We must choose to follow Christ on His path of sanctifying grace. St. Paul’s words to the Galatians (Gal 5:19-26) provide a good itinerary for this journey: we must avoid immorality, jealousy, hatred, selfishness, quarrels and the like.
For the Holy Spirit to dwell within us we need to have the opposite emotions such as love, patience, kindness, generosity and self-control, even in difficult situations.
Pentecost prayers can help us be Christ-like as we listen to the teachings and promptings of His Spirit in our hearts! Keep in mind in this regard, if you’re not sure, that Holy Spirit will never suggest that it’s OK to cheat on your taxes or your spouse, for example, or that it’s quite all right to get back at someone who’s wronged you somehow. (After all, who do they think they are??).
Similarly, angry thoughts at others because they that got house, car, job, or promotion that you deserved don’t come from the Holy Spirit! Prayer, scripture readings, studying the teachings of our faith, and receiving the sacraments of the Eucharist (at Mass) and of Penance (in Confession) can help us discern God’s will for us as we listen to His Spirit.
If your journey to Heaven doesn't seem all that heavenly at times (and even when it does!), seek out the guidance and comfort of our Lord in His Holy Spirit in Pentecost prayers.