This Wednesday (5/26), Bishop Caggiano will be coming to confirm 23 young men and women of our parish. It’s a lovely thing to have Confirmations so soon after celebrating Pentecost, the great feast on which the Church commemorates the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the world 50 days after Easter. As part of the liturgy of Pentecost, the Church gives us something called a “sequence” that we sing prior to the Alleluia. There are four times over the course of the liturgical year that we have a sequence at Mass – Corpus Christi, All Souls’ Day, Easter, and Pentecost. The sequence for Pentecost is called Veni Sancte Spiritus, or “Come, Holy Spirit,” and it traces its origins to the 13th century. The lyrics to the sequence are included in this week’s bulletin, and through its beautiful poetic language we call upon the Holy Spirit to descend upon the earth, bestowing spiritual refreshment, consolation, and strength to the faithful dwelling on earth.
Over the next few days, I ask you to pray for our Confirmation students and for all confirmed members of the Church, keeping in mind the following words of the sequence: 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. It is no secret that one of the great challenges we face is the diminishing participation of young people in the life of the Church. But we would be foolish to give in to despair over the future. The Lord has not abandoned us. Rather, He is calling us to turn with greater faith to the Holy Spirit, asking for mercy for the sins of the Church – especially our own personal sins (go to confession!). He is also inviting us to pray for the healing of the wounded hearts of our brothers and sisters who have become cynical and disillusioned with the Church, that they might be touched by grace and opened to the fullness of life in the Spirit. True conversion as the response to God’s grace is the key to a great reawakening of Faith.
The sequence of Pentecost concludes with the following petitions: 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. Here, we find reference to the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit: Wisdom, Understanding, Counsel, Fortitude, Knowledge, Piety, and Fear of the Lord. All who have received the sacrament of Confirmation have access to these gifts. These gifts are real, they are precious, and they are meant to be used because they are the aid that God offers us in our lives on earth to know even now the joys that never end.