Sunday thoughts: May

By Monsignor John Devine

I started in the junior seminary at Upholland in 1960. After we prayed the rosary each evening, we said a special prayer for the success of the Second Vatican Council. Called by Pope John XXIII in 1959, it was due to begin in 1962. I remember one phrase in that prayer: "Pour out your Spirit as you did on the first day of Pentecost."

Other times I recall invoking the Holy Spirit when were sitting O and A Levels and for my driving test. We prayed to Saint Anthony if we lost something and to Saint Jude for hopeless cases. Prayer to the Holy Spirit was a commendable private devotion. The Spirit was a problem solver.

The story of Philip and the Samaritans in the Acts of the Apostles relates how the Samaritans had "accepted the word of God" but had only been baptised "in the name of the Lord Jesus". Up to that point the faith of the Samaritans had been two-dimensional. Philip sent for Peter and John who prayed for them to receive the Holy Spirit.

Although I received the Holy Spirit at Baptism, if I am honest, I operate on a two-dimensional model of the Godhead. The Holy Spirit is the life force and pulse of the Church, indeed of creation, yet I am for the most part unaware of it. I operate as if everything I do is the fruit of my own determination: God loves me and I do my utmost to replicate that love in my life. Jesus became man and showed us how to live. On my best days I follow him and my life is effectively a self-improvement programme. I comply but do not flourish. Only the Holy Spirit can bring my faith to life.