This coming Sunday is Pentecost.  The description in the Acts of the Apostles makes it sound very exciting.  There are wind and fire and the building shaking.  The disciples are fired with new boldness and enthusiasm.  The message seems to be that the Holy Spirit is highly active; there is dynamic life and energy.

This feast always stirs me to compare notes with those events of the first Pentecost.  What has been my experience of the Holy Spirit?  How about you?

I always like very much the reference in Paul’s Letter to the Romans about the Spirit praying within us when we don’t know how to pray (Romans 8:26-27).  I take comfort in that.  It tells of God’s actions within us at all times, whether we are aware or unaware.  I try to be conscious of that mysterious reality.

However, my experience of the Holy Spirit is not usually in terms of fiery tongues, or wind, or a building shaking.  Most often, if I am aware, it is in terms of quiet, almost imperceptible movements.

I think of preaching, which I have the privilege to do in the Catholic Church.  And it is a privilege and a gift, and nothing I deserve by any merit.  There are moments when I am preparing a homily and am reading the Scriptures, and I will get a certain insight or a way of connecting the readings with some aspect of daily life and I ask, “Now where did that come from?”  It could be from life experience or past reading or both of those as nudged by that inner Spirit.

And many preachers have had the experience, often after a homily that one didn’t feel good about, when someone will come up and thank us for saying something they needed to hear.  Oh?

There are other moments when speaking privately with an individual, when one feels moved to say a certain thing and it feels like one had some assistance.  If the Holy Spirit is real, and is really living within us, then why not have those experiences of help and inspiration?  And this has nothing to do with being an ordained clergy, but has to do with being baptized into the Body of Christ.

It is all so subtle and mysterious.  All of us in the Church – and perhaps beyond the Church? —are invited to pay attention to those very subtle but real promptings of the Spirit.  And if there is an occasional “mighty wind,” we will praise God for that as well!

Happy Pentecost! 


– Fr. Tom Zelinski OFM Cap.