Potential Energy and the Spirit

Potential Energy and the Spirit

A Thai depiction of Pentecost via my friend Anthony Crifasi.
A Thai depiction of Pentecost via my friend Anthony Crifasi.

The deacon’s homily for the feast of Pentecost had so much potential energy that was never released. He began by describing forest fires in the Western United States, and talked about how the roar and the wind and the flames were similar to the Gospel’s description of the action of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. And he described, though not very thoroughly, the way forest fires are creative and life generating, clearing out deadwood and underbrush and opening pine cones that (he left this part out) only open when activated by fire.

I loved the bit where he described the potential energy in Jerusalem after Jesus’ death, burial, resurrection, and ascension and how it was released by the roaring flames of the Spirit. And he talked about a global universal Church not divided by language but brought together by the action of the Spirit. And he did try to make it relevant by talking about the action of the Spirit in the local Church, in our very parish.

And this is where an opportunity was missed. He mentioned the children who’d just received their first communion and confirmation. He mentioned those who had been received into the Church at Easter, but he did not mention to the rest of us sitting in the pews that the Holy Spirit is also active in our lives. The next logical step would have been to add that we too are full of potential energy for discipleship just waiting to be unleashed if only we welcome the Spirit into our lives and allow ourselves to be inflamed. The descent of the Holy Spirit is not just something that happens to other people: to the apostles long ago or to people in foreign lands or to people receiving the sacraments of initiation. It’s not just a one time thing or a long ago thing or a someone else thing. We too can receive the Holy Spirit and catch fire, here, now, today.

How is the Spirit working in your life? Do you hear Him calling you? Will you let yourself catch fire? Will I?

I’ve been about those giant sequoias whose seed cones are only opened by the heat of fire and imagining what if all of us catch fire and drop seeds. What if those seeds grow into giant trees and then drop more seeds and more. I imagined a forest of towering sequoias, a country filled with the Spirit. If we let ourselves catch fire what might not grow in the wake of the flames? What glory might we not see? So much potential energy, so many seeds waiting to germinate.

“Go set the world on fire.” — St Ignatius of Loyola.

”Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.” – St Catherine of Siena.

“I have come to set the world on fire, and I wish it were already burning!” Luke 12:49

“Holy Spirit, Lord of light,
From Thy clear celestial height
Thy pure beaming radiance give.

Come, Thou Father of the poor,
Come with treasures which endure,
Come, Thou Light of all that live.

Thou, of all consolers best,
Thou, the soul’s delightsome Guest,
Dost refreshing peace bestow.

Thou in toil art comfort sweet,
Pleasant coolness in the heat,
Solace in the midst of woe.

Light immortal, Light divine,
Visit Thou these hearts of Thine,
And our inmost being fill.

If Thou take Thy grace away,
Nothing pure in man will stay;
All his good is turned to ill.

Heal our wounds; our strength renew;
On our dryness pour Thy 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.

Thou, on those who evermore
Thee confess and Thee adore,
In Thy sevenfold gifts descend:

Give them comfort when they die,
Give them life with Thee on high;
Give them joys that never end.”

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1 comment
  • This post put me in mind of St Francis’ “Canticle of the Sun”:

    “Be praised, my Lord, through Brother Fire,
    through whom You brighten the night.
    He is beautiful and cheerful, and powerful and strong.”