The Day of Pentecost.

Holy GhostOn the Descent of the Holy Spirit under the Form of Fiery Tongues.


My God, I firmly believe that Thou art here present. I acknowledge that on account of my many sins I am utterly unworthy to appear before Thy sacred countenance. Yet, confiding in Thy infinite goodness and mercy, I venture to address Thee, to call upon Thy holy name, and meditate upon Thy commandments, in order that I may acquire a better knowledge of Thy holy will, and accomplish it with more fidelity. Wherefore enlighten my understanding that I may perceive what I ought to do or leave undone for the promotion of Thy glory and my own salvation; at the same time excite my will, that I may repent with my whole heart of my past sins, and resolve for the future to do all that Thou requirest of me. Grant me above all to know Jesus, my divine Teacher and Guide, more clearly, that I may love Him more dearly, and consequently labor, struggle and suffer with greater generosity and self-sacrifice in imitation of His example. Holy Mary, Mother of God and my Mother, show Jesus to me now, and let me study thy divine Son to the salvation of my soul. Holy Guardian Angel, keep far from me all distracting thoughts; my patron saint, come to my assistance. Amen.

On the Descent of the Holy Spirit under the Form of Fiery Tongues.

Represent to yourself, my soul, the grand, the wondrous scene when the Holy Ghost descended from above; imagine that you see the apostles and disciples of the Lord, to whom, they being all together in one place, there suddenly appeared “parted tongues as it were of fire, and it sat upon every one of them.” (Acts ii. 3.) It is said “as it were of fire “to signify that what appeared was not actual fire, but a supernatural, spiritual fire, which, taking the semblance of separate tongues of flame, descended and rested upon the head of each individual who was present. The fact that the mission of the Holy Ghost took place under this particular form is replete with mystic meaning.

1st. Consider that in the Old Testament fire is a symbol of the Deity in His external manifestation; of His sanctity and immateriality; of His outward action in purifying and enlightening, as well as in testing and consuming. It was one and the self-same divine fire that appeared in the bush as a flame and did not burn it; that was laid upon the lips of the prophet Isaias and cleansed them, and which, typified by the sacrificial fire under the Old Dispensation, was perpetually kept alive upon the altar of burnt offering. This spiritual fire parted itself into flames assuming the form of tongues to signify that it came from the Eternal Word, and its mission was to endow the apostles with power to preach the Word, to publish His doctrine to the whole world in purity of speech calculated to inflame charity, to kindle the heart. Oh how mysterious, how profound in meaning are these symbols of God and of His Church, yet the world in its ignorance and depravity does but mock at and despise them!

2d. Consider what St. Luke records our Lord to have said: “I am come to cast fire on the earth, and what will I but that it be kindled?“(St. Luke xii. 49.) The Holy Spirit thus sent down from above in the form of fire is the embodiment of charity of which we read that it is stronger than death. This charity is an all-consuming, all-conquering, all-devouring fire. St. Bonaventure thus speaks of it: “The Holy Spirit is a fire that inflames the affections, enlightens the understanding, kindles the will.” Again, St. Antony of Padua says: “The heart which is enkindled by the Holy Ghost cannot possibly be burnt by the fire of adversity or scorched by the flame of the temptations of the evil one, for the celestial fire of the Holy Ghost counteracts the flame of malign concupiscence.” Ponder, my soul, on the words of these two great teachers of the seraphic Order; and if our Lord on this day casts fire on the earth, and wills that it be kindled, oh why is not your heart inflamed by it? Ask yourself this question, ask it seriously, that Pentecost may not fail to be a season of grace for you.

3d. Consider the Apostle’s words: “Our God is a consuming fire.” (Hebr. xii. 29.) Fire consumes all corrupt matter; it consumes what is impure in anything, what is hurtful; it refines gold and separates it from the dross. St. Antony says: “Just as fire burns, purifies, warms, illumines, so the Holy Ghost burns up, destroys sin in the soul, cleanses the heart, banishes sloth, enlightens the ignorant mind.” Reflect upon this truth. For alas! How numerous are our sins and transgressions! Our hearts are sullied by corrupt propensities and thus they are unfitted for sweet union and communion with God. Who will cleanse us? The consuming fire of the Holy Ghost. As it once descended upon the sinful world, burning, purifying, enlightening, so it acts upon each individual soul on which it falls and which it kindles. Wherefore open wide your heart, to admit that devouring element, that mystic, spiritual fire, in order that by it you may be cleansed and refined; and repeat more fervently than ever the prayer: Come Holy Ghost, fill the hearts of the faithful and kindle in them the fire of Thy love.


My God, I give Thee heartfelt thanks for all the graces and all the light Thou hast conferred on me during this meditation. Pardon me all the negligence and the distractions of which I have been guilty, and give me strength to carry out the resolutions that I have made. Fortify me, that from henceforth I may diligently practise this virtue . . . avoid this fault . . . perform this action . . . to Thy honor. Help me to do this, sweet Virgin Mary; and if I ever forget my good resolutions, I entreat my Angel Guardian to recall them to my memory. Amen.

Meditations on the Life, Teaching, and Passion of Jesus Christ

(Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur: New York, December 31, 1900)

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