Pentecost Sunday is one of the feasts of the liturgical year that surprises us with an extra song before the Gospel at Holy Mass. Just when we are ready to launch (or heave, or slowly straighten) ourselves out of our pews for the Alleluia, the musicians seem to get confused and start singing a hymn. And so, we sit a bit longer, puzzled but hopefully also noticing the rich meaning of the words being sung.
The musicians are not confused. The “extra” song is a part of the Church’s sacred liturgy, meant to emphasize the special importance of certain feasts days. The words of the Pentecost sequence are as follows:
Come, Holy Spirit, come!
And from your celestial home
Shed a ray of light divine!
Come, Father of the poor!
Come, source of all our store!
Come, within our bosoms shine.
You, of comforters the best;
You, the soul’s most welcome guest;
Sweet refreshment here below;
In our labor, rest most sweet;
Grateful coolness in the heat;
Solace in the midst of woe.
O most blessed Light divine,
Shine within these hearts of yours,
And our inmost being fill!
Where you are not, we have naught,
Nothing good in deed or thought,
Nothing free from taint of ill.
Heal our wounds, our strength renew;
On our dryness pour your dew;
Wash the stains of guilt away:
Bend the stubborn heart and will;
Melt the frozen, warm the chill;
Guide the steps that go astray.
On the faithful, who adore
And confess you, evermore
In your sevenfold gift descend;
Give them virtue’s sure reward;
Give them your salvation, Lord;
Give them joys that never end. Amen.
This hymn, which is around 800 years old, offers a beautiful poetic picture of the Holy Spirit at work in our lives. But now, we will move quickly from the sublimity of ancient liturgical texts to a more contemporary culture reference in order to understand our faith in the Holy Spirit more deeply.
There is a scene in the original Star Wars movie in which Luke Skywalker has just met Han Solo and is shown to the hangar where Solo’s ship, the Millennium Falcon, is docked. Luke, who needs a fast and able ship in order to elude the fleet of the evil Empire, looks the Millennium Falcon over and, noticing its age and pretty obvious wear-and-tear, refers to her with some disbelief as “that hunk of junk.” Han Solo, ever touchy about his favorite ship, replies defensively, “She’s got it where it counts, kid.”
It is good to consider what it means for a Catholic disciple to “have it where it counts,” and it is unsurprising to find that it has a lot to do with the Holy Spirit.
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