A Prayer Guide for St. Mark’s Pentecost Prayer Vigil
Prepared by Clifford Smith
VENI SANCTE SPIRITUS
“Unless I go the Advocate [the Spirit] will not come to you; but if I do go, I will send him to you. He will lead you to the complete truth.” – John 16:7, 13
With these words Jesus points forward to the new life in the Spirit that will be revealed at Pentecost. It will be a life lived in “complete truth.” Closely related to the word “betrothal,” the “complete truth” means full intimacy with God, a betrothal in which the complete divine life is given to us.
“When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting.
“Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak different languages as the Spirit gave them power to express themselves….
“Now all who heard and saw these things were cut to the heart and said to Peter and to the other apostles, “Brothers, what should we do?” Peter said to them, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you, for your children, and for all who are far away, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to him.” . . . So those who welcomed his message were baptized, and that day about three thousand persons were added. They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.” — Acts 2:1-4, 37-40, 41-42.
THE SPIRIT ACTUALIZES OUR FAITH
We are waiting for the Spirit to come. Are we really? This morning during the Eucharist I spoke a little about preparing ourselves for Pentecost just as we prepare ourselves for Christmas and Easter. Still, for most of us, Pentecost is a nonevent. While on secular calendars Christmas and Easter are still marked, Pentecost is spectacularly absent.
But Pentecost is the coming of the Spirit of Jesus into the world. It is the celebration of God breaking through the boundaries of time and space and opening the whole world for the re-creating power of love. Pentecost is freedom, the power of the Spirit to blow where it wants.
Without Pentecost the Christ-event—the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus—remains imprisoned in history as something to remember, think about, and reflect on. The Spirit of Jesus comes to dwell within us, so that we can become living Christs here and now.
Pentecost lifts the whole mystery of salvation out of its particularities and makes it into something universal, embracing all peoples, all countries, all seasons, and all eras. Pentecost is also the moment of empowering. Each individual human being can claim the Spirit of Jesus as the guiding spirit of his or her life. In that Spirit we can speak and act freely and confidently with the knowledge that the same Spirit that inspired Jesus is inspiring us.
We certainly have to prepare ourselves carefully for this day of Pentecost so that we can not only receive fully the gifts of the Spirit but also let the Spirit bear fruit within us.
Henri Nouwen, adapted from: Jesus: A Gospel
It is the eve of Pentecost, the celebration of the coming of the promised Spirit. It is the vigil of the day that commemorates the beginning of the Church as bearer of the divine breath…. Pentecost is a moment of great prophetic significance. It marks the beginning of the Church and, therefore, is now the celebration of the Church’s birthday. Pentecost affirms that the Church is an enspirited continuance of the prophetic mission and power of Jesus the Christ.
The Church today continues to witness to the movement of the Spirit in the world, the Spirit which groans in us as it responds to the misery, the hatred, the hunger, and despair that burdens humankind. Centuries ago Paul wrote to the church in Rome about the groaning and indwelling of this Spirit. His words still ring true for us today:
“We know that the whole creation has been groaning in travail together until now; and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait for adoption as children, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what they see? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.
“Likewise, the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but God’s own Spirit intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words. And God who searches the hearts of all knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.” — Romans 8: 22-27.
Pentecost celebrates the indwelling of God’s hope in us, incarnate in our world through our lives.
Wendy M. Wright, adapted from The Rising
Who could turn a band of frightened fisherman into powerful preachers?
The Holy Spirit!
Who could begin the day with 120 believers, including the twelve disciples
and Jesus’ Mother, and end the day with more than 3,000?
The Holy Spirit!
And who empowers believers today, adding to their number and
challenging them to be a part of the Church He is building?
The Holy Spirit!
VENI SANCTE SPIRITUS
FOR REFLECTION AND PRAYER
1. How have you experienced the Holy Spirit in your life as Advocate or Helper? as Comforter? as Consoler? as Guide? as empowering?
2. Does it make any difference in your life —
- To consciously regard yourself as the Body of Christ, that is, a member of the “body of believers,” the community of faith, the Church?
- To know that the Spirit of Christ seeks to indwell in your heart, so that God’s hope and love can incarnate in today’s world through your presence and actions, through your life?
- To know that you carry the “indwelling Spirit,” to know that you are a manifestation of the continuing incarnation?
3. What specific miseries and burdens of humankind cause you to “groan in travail with the whole of creation?” Pray that the Spirit assist you in prayer regarding these heartfelt “miseries and burdens.” Remember: “God’s own Spirit intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words.”
4. Offer your personalized and specific prayers for the well-being and fruitful action of today’s Church.
- 5. Where and how have you experienced the enlivening and empowering action of the Holy Spirit in the history and ministry of St. Mark’s?
Does it make any difference to know that the same Spirit that inspired and empowered the apostles on the day of Pentecost is today inspiring us at St. Mark’s and all of the Church?
A Prayer for Pentecost
Spirit of God
who bursts into rooms
of fear, laughing life …
still echoes in
this womb of earth
as we anticipate
the dance of fire.
Sigh in our souls
today, O God.
Throw open the doors.
Slip into our hearts
and sweep grace
into those secret places
known only to you.
We stand on tip-toe
straining, longing to see,
to feel the flame …
praying it will consume
and transform us
into gifts for one another.
Greet us with wisdom
that we may be channels
Encourage us with
that we may affirm
Support us with counsel
that we may choose
Sustain us with fortitude
That we may pursue
What is just.
Open our minds with
That we may realize
you are God.
Bless us with devotion
that we may always
cling to you.
Anoint us with reverence
that we may bow
before the holy within
and around us.
Prayer to the Holy Spirit
Come, Holy Spirit —
from our narrow ways
in our faint of heart.
with divine inspiration.
to life and
within us …
until our dying embers
in the heart of God.
you will breathe
new life, once again.