On Many Pentecosts

The Church «Lives Constantly From the Effusion of the Holy Spirit»

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VATICAN CITY, MAY 23, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today before and after praying the midday Regina Caeli with those gathered in St. Peter’s Square.

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Dear brothers and sisters!

Fifty days after Easter we celebrate the solemnity of Pentecost, in which we recall the manifestation of the power of the Holy Spirit, who – as wind and as fire – descended upon the Apostles gathered together in the Cenacle, and made them able to preach the Gospel to all nations with courage (cf. Acts 2:1-13). 

The mystery of Pentecost, which we rightly identify with the event of the Church’s true “baptism,” is not, however, exhausted by this. The Church in fact lives constantly from the effusion of the Holy Spirit, without which she would exhaust her own powers, like a ship with sails and no wind. Pentecost is renewed in a special way in certain powerful moments, whether this be at the local or the universal level, whether it be in small assemblies or in great convocations. 

The councils, for example, had sessions gratified by special outpourings of the Holy Spirit, and among these is certainly the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council. We might also recall that celebrated meeting of the ecclesial movements with Venerable John Paul II, here in St. Peter’s Square, precisely on Pentecost in 1998. But the Church knows countless “pentecosts” that vivify the local communities: We think of the liturgies, particularly those experienced in special moments of the community’s life, in which the power of God is perceived in an evident way, infusing joy and enthusiasm in souls. We think of many other gatherings of prayer in which young people clearly feel the call of God to root their lives in his love, even consecrating themselves entirely to him.

Thus, there is no Church without Pentecost. And I would like to add: There is no Pentecost without the Virgin Mary. This is how it was at the beginning, in the Cenacle, where the disciples “were perseverant and united in prayer, together with certain women and with Mary, the Mother of Jesus, and with his brothers” — as the Acts of the Apostles says (1:14). And this is how it always is, in every place and in every time. I witnessed it a short time ago at Fatima. What did that great multitude on the green of the shrine experience, where we were all one heart and one soul, if not a renewed Pentecost? In our midst was Mary, the Mother of Jesus. This is the typical experience at the great Marian sanctuaries — Lourdes, Guadalupe, Pompeii, Loreto — or even in the smaller ones: Wherever Christians gather in prayer with Mary, the Lord grants his Spirit.

Dear friends, on this feast of Pentecost, we too would like to be spiritually united with the Mother of Christ and of the Church, invoking a renewed effusion of the Paraclete with faith. We invoke this for the whole Church, in particular, in this Year for Priests, for all the ministers of the Gospel, that the message of salvation be announced to all the nations.

[The Holy Father then greeted those present in various languages. In Italian he said:]

Yesterday, in Benevento, Teresa Manganiello was proclaimed “blessed.” She was a faithful laywoman who was a Third Order Franciscan. Born at Montefusco, the 11th child of a peasant family, she lived a simple and humble life between house work and spiritual work in the church of the Capuchins. Like St. Francis of Assisi, she tried to imitate Jesus Christ, offering up sufferings and penances in reparation for sins, and she was filled with love for her neighbor: She spent herself for all, especially for the poor and the sick. Always smiling and sweet, she departed for heaven, where her heart was already living, when she was only 27. Let us thank God for this luminous witness to the Gospel!

Tomorrow, May 24, the liturgical memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Help of Christians, offers us the possibility of celebrating the Day of Prayer for the Church in China. While the faithful in China pray that the unity between them and with the universal Church continues to deepen, Catholics throughout the world — particularly those of Chinese origin — unite with them in prayer and in charity, that the Holy Spirit may fill our hearts especially on today’s solemnity.

[Translation by Joseph G. Trabbic] [In English, he said:]

I offer a warm welcome to the English-speaking visitors gathered here today. On this Pentecost Sunday let us pray for a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the Church. May the Spirit’s gifts of life and holiness confirm our witness to the Risen Lord and fill our hearts with fervent hope in his promises! Upon all of you I cordially invoke Spirit’s abundant gifts of wisdom, joy and peace.

©Copyright 2010 – Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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