Feast of Pentecost - Luis Maria Martinez

Source: District of Asia

(Extracts from his book El Espiritu Santo, ed. Studium-Cultura, Madrid, 1952.)

1. Pentecost, a consoling feast:

It is a joyous feast because it is the feast of love, which follows from it as logically as the flame from the fire, the perfume from a flower and splendour from light. The Preface, synthesis of the whole liturgical spirit of this Sunday, tells us that Christ, by pouring out his Spirit upon us, spread joy throughout the whole world.

But the only true and complete joy is that of heaven, because here on earth all our joys are those of exile, mixed with sorrow, for which reason they receive the name of consolations. It is the joy which includes sorrow, which is almost a form of sorrow. Therefore the Holy Spirit is called the Paraclete, because he pours out on our souls the joy in exile, the joy which is not incompatible with sorrow, but which in some way supposes it.

2. Sorrow and consolation in Christ and the Christian:

Jesus did not eliminate sorrow. We might even say that he came to make it more profound and universal, since he says: Do not imagine that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have come to bring a sword, not peace (Matt. ro. 34). Let those who wish to follow me take up their cross and come after me to Calvary.

But if he did not suppress it, he did something equally beautiful; he surrounded it with joy and made perfect happiness bud forth from the very sorrow itself. This is the consolation of which the Scripture speaks as well as the liturgy—and it is poured out by the Holy Spirit. . . . How are we to verify in ourselves this union of sorrow and joy; the spirit of love?

3. Consolation of liberty:

We are not happy because we are slaves, even though our ignorance of our condition makes us kiss the very chains at times. What impedes our happiness are those things to which our hearts cleave; riches, which make us materialistic, pleasures which weaken us, pride which takes us out of our rightful place—and all these obstacles exist as such, even though we feel that we can find true happiness in them. The slave can never be happy. Only when we break these chains, purifying our soul and heart, do we realize the true consolation of happiness. . . .

The Holy Spirit is the liberating Spirit. Have you not heard it said that love is a strong as death ? (Cant. 8. 6). Death breaks all earthly bonds; so does love. The Spirit frees us from our chains, giving us the joy which only the free man feels. How? By means of the joy of love.

4. The joy of love:

When the heart is free of earthly affections it enters triumphantly into heavenly love. We possess God precisely to the extent to which we abandon creatures. . . . Love means two, fusing into one. And this fusion is never brought about more perfectly than in divine love. The Scripture tells us this: Whereas the man who unites himself to the Lord becomes one spirit with him (1 Cor. 6. 17).

We shall bear God in our hearts, and in that sea of infinite love, in spite of all our sorrows, we shall always find consolation and happiness, because we possess the Beloved, source of all consolation. Donoso Cortes said: 'When love calls me I do not ask it whence it comes or whither it is going; I follow it because, wherever it may lead me, there we shall be, my beloved, myself and our love—and that is heaven.' Of course, it is not heaven, but it is a most solid consolation which covers sufferings with a heavenly mantle of joy. It is the consolation of union.

5. The consolation of hope:

We carry this treasure around with us in very fragile vessels, which can break at any moment. We do not possess perfect happiness, but the Holy Spirit gives us the consolation of hope. St Paul has a profound phrase about this: In him you, too, were called, when you listened to the preaching of the truth, that Gospel which is your salvation. In him you, too, learned to believe, and had the seal set on your faith by the promised gift of the Holy Spirit; a pledge of that inheritance which is ours, to redeem it for us and bring us into possession of it, and so manifest God's glory (Eph. I. 13-14).

The Holy Spirit, dwelling within us, is heaven, not possessed in all its splendour, but of which the Third Person is the guarantee of what is promised. We carry around within us the substance of that which we hope for (Heb. 11. 1).

We have not merely a hope, but we rejoice in our hope, because its full pledge is in our hearts. If Abraham rejoiced in a promise he had received, what security and joy should be ours, when our pledge of it is the Holy Ghost.

6. The joy of pain:

It sounds absurd, but a golden ring joins these two—joy and pain —it is love. Love is a wonderful thing ... the one thing which makes difficult things easy, bitter things sweet. There is nothing so sweet, nothing so excellent. It carries burdens without difficulty, never tires of giving, is never disquieted (cf. Imitation of Christ). Give me someone who loves, and he will understand what I say, says St Augustine. For one who loves it is sweet and easy to suffer for the beloved. Let mothers give testimony to this!

Love is the most perfect gift of ourselves. I love you until death . . . until it hurts . . . these are earthly formulas; but the one who does not know how to pronounce them has not yet reached the heights of love. The Holy Spirit teaches us this love (2 Cor. 7. 4). St Ignatius M. longed to feel the teeth of the wild beasts, St Teresa felt the dilemma of suffering or dying; St Therese, said, shortly before her death: I find joy and happiness on this earth, but only in sorrow.

7. The need to allow the Spirit to guide us:

The consolations of the Holy Spirit are within our reach, but we are not always disposed to receive them or to perceive their exquisite savour. Gross palates, which do not appreciate delicate foods, need to be educated. The Holy Ghost knows how to accommodate himself to our weakness and littleness, but we must ask him to allow us to rejoice in him.