On the Church's Baptism Day

«The Breath of the Holy Spirit Fills the Universe»

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VATICAN CITY, JUNE 12, 2011 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today before and after praying the Regina Caeli with those gathered in St. Peter’s Square.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters!

The Solemnity of Pentecost that we are celebrating today concludes the liturgical season of Easter. In effect, the paschal mystery — the passion, death and resurrection of Christ and his ascension into heaven — finds its fulfillment in the powerful effusion of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles gathered together with Mary, the Mother of the Lord, and the other disciples. It was the «baptism of the Church,» a baptism in the Holy Spirit (cf. Acts 1:5). 

As recounted by the Acts of the Apostles, on the morning of Pentecost, a roaring, as of wind, rolled through the cenacle and upon each of the disciples a tongue like fire descended (cf. Acts 2:2-3). St. Gregory the Great comments: «Today the Holy Spirit has descended with a sudden sound upon the disciples and within his love has transformed the minds of beings of flesh, and while tongues of fire appeared without, hearts became enflamed within so that, receiving God in the vision of fire, they were ardent with love» (Hom. in Evang. XXX, 1: CCL 141, 256). 

God’s voice divinized the human language of the Apostles, who became able to proclaim the one divine Word polyphonically. The breath of the Holy Spirit fills the universe, generates faith, brings truth, preparing unity among the nations. «At that sound the crowd came together and was disturbed, for each one heard in his own language» of the «great deeds of God» (Acts 2: 6, 11).

Blessed Antonio Rosmini explains that «on the day of Christian Pentecost God promulgated … his law of love, writing with the Holy Spirit, not on tablets of stone but in the hearts of the Apostles, and through the Apostles communicated it then to the whole Church» («Catechismo disposto secondo l’ordine delle idée,» no. 737, Torino, 1863). The Holy Spirit, «who is the Lord and giver life» — as we recite in the Creed — is joined to the Father through the Son and completes the revelation of the Most Holy Trinity. He comes from God as the breath of his mouth and has the power to sanctify, to abolish divisions, to resolve the confusion wrought by sin. He, incorporeal and immaterial, bestows the divine goods, assisting living beings, so they act in conformity with the good. As intelligible Light he gives meaning to prayer, he gives vigor to the evangelizing mission, he makes the hearts of those who hear the glad tidings burn, he inspires Christian art and liturgical melody.

Dear friends, the Holy Spirit, who creates faith in us in the moment of our baptism, allows us to live as children of God, conscious and obliging, according to the image of the Only Begotten Son. The power to remit sins is a gift of the Holy Spirit too; in fact, appearing to the Apostles on Easter night, Jesus breathes upon them and says: «Receive the Holy Spirit. Those whose sins you forgive shall be forgiven» (John 20:23).

To the Virgin Mary, temple of the Holy Spirit, we entrust the Church, that she might always live according to Jesus Christ, his Word, and his commandments, and that through the perennial action of the Spirit Paraclete she might proclaim to all that «Jesus is Lord» (1 Corinthians 12:3).

[After praying the Regina Caeli, the Holy Father addressed the pilgrims in various languages. In Italian he said:]

Dear brothers and sisters, I am happy to recall that tomorrow in Dresden, Germany, Alois Andritzki, priest and martyr, who was killed by the National Socialists in 1943 at the age of 28, will be proclaimed blessed. Let us praise the Lord for this heroic witness of the faith, who joins the ranks of those who gave their lives in the name of Christ in the concentration camps.

This day of Pentecost I would like to entrust to your intercession the cause of peace in the world. May the Holy Spirit inspire courageous proposals for peace and support the effort to advance it, that dialogue might prevail over arms and respect for man’s dignity overcome party interests. May the Spirit, who is the bond of communion, rectify hearts twisted by egoism and help the human family to rediscover and carefully safeguard its fundamental unity.

The day after tomorrow, June 14, is World Blood Donor Day — millions of persons who in a silent way contribute to the help of brothers in difficulties. To all blood donors I address a cordial greeting and invite young people to follow their example.

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

I offer a warm welcome to the English-speaking visitors gathered for this Regina Caeli prayer. My particular greeting goes to the group of ringers from the United States. On this Pentecost Sunday we celebrate the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the Church. Let us pray that we may be confirmed in the grace of our Baptism and share ever more actively in the Church’s mission of proclaiming the Good News of our salvation in Jesus Christ. Upon you and your families I cordially invoke the Holy Spirit’s gifts of wisdom, joy and peace.

© Copyright 2011 – Libreria Editrice Vaticana

[Concluding in Italian, he said:]

I wish everyone a good Sunday.

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