One of the weirdest stage sets offered in the Eurovision Song Contest on Saturday was one in which the grand piano caught fire – on purpose! As the vocalist, sitting at the piano, sang and played, flames flickered at first, then rapidly grew in ferocity, shooting out from the ‘bowl’ of the piano, in a rather alarming way! All part of the plan. The singer just got up and carried on singing, and the fire kept on burning dramatically behind him. He looked as if he was caught on fire. Surreal!
That image of suddenly catching fire, seemingly being on fire, and carrying on seemed to fit our Pentecost feast this weekend. Our school of the gospel, pulsing away week after week at the heart of our catechumenate experience, and even more intensely in the Lenten period leading up to Easter, has now been fully ignited, through Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist, with a powerful outpouring of the gift of the Holy Spirit in our own Pentecost. Being on fire with faith is a powerful witness to those we meet. There is a new cheerfulness, a new joy, a new sense of unity with everyone and everything. If you come close, it’s catching!
It’s in the strength of the Spirit that we go out and meet in each person, each event, each moment in life (cf 1 Cor 2:5). And the Spirit is given to each person, for a good purpose we are told in that same letter, heard on Sunday.
- Have a conversation together – newly-baptised, newly-received and parishioners, either in your RCIA group or other groups in the parish where ‘new Catholics’ are involved, or in family groups.
- What difference has the experience of the Easter Vigil, and initiation (reception) made to us?
- Have a look again at the Pentecost scriptures, and reflect. What does Pentecost and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit mean for us in our day to day lives? Tell stories of how each person thinks/feels that the ‘gifts’ have been received and used, as witnesses to Christ and His way of love and life to the full, in ways of thinking, praying, acting? In households, at work, in any encounters, e.g. through service, doing what is right, active in matters of justice, respect and dignity of all, especially those who are poor or are suffering in any way, reconciliation, peace-making, and bringing cheer and joy!?
- We have seen and known and been touched by the power of Holy Spirit in the catechumenate experience, shaping our lives as individuals and as a parish. In what ways might we continue to accompany one another in our faith journey?
- This is a great opportunity for a parish reflection on how the whole community grows in faith, what nurtures this and how we fan the flames of the Spirit at work with us – building good relationships with one another in our community life, having opportunities for going deeper with Scripture (resources, groups, ways of praying etc), conscious of what makes for celebrating good liturgy, and how all these spill out into our sharing in the mission of God in daily life, making it real in the way we see and act.
‘May these gifts we have consumed benefit us O Lord, that we may always be aflame with the same Spirit, whom you wondrously poured out on your Apostles, through Christ our Lord’.
(Prayer after Communion, RM, Pentecost Vigil)