30 April 2008

Surprising Connection

Blessed Elena Guerra (+April 1), "Apostle of the Holy Spirit", founder of the Oblate Sisters of the Holy Spirit in Lucca, Italy at the end of the nineteenth century, urged Pope Leo XIII to lead the Church back to the Upper Room.

From 1895 to 1903 she wrote twelve confidential letters to the Pope, requesting a renewed preaching on the Holy Spirit. She exhorted him to invite the faithful to rediscover life lived according to the Holy Spirit. She called and prayed for a renewal of the Church, the reunion of Christianity, a renewal of society.
She wrote: "Pentecost is not over. In fact it is continually going on in every time and in every place, because the Holy Spirit desired to give himself to all men and all who want him can always receive him, so we do not have to envy the apostles and the first believers; we only have to dispose ourselves like them to receive him well, and He will come to us as he did to them."
Prompted by Sr. Elena, Pope Leo XIII issued several important documents concerning the Holy Spirit. In his 1897 encyclical letter, Divinum Illud Munus, he wrote: "...we ought to pray to and invoke the Holy Spirit, for each one of us greatly needs His protection and His help. The more a man is deficient in wisdom, weak in strength, borne down with trouble, prone to sin, so ought he the more to fly to Him who is the never-ceasing fount of light, strength, consolation, and holiness."

His Holiness urged the Church to pray a Novena to the Holy Spirit from Ascension to Pentecost (For those interested in doing it this year, start tomorrow May 1-10, 2008).

On January 1, 1901, at the request of Sr. Elena, Pope Leo XIII invoked the Holy Spirit by singing the hymn "Veni Creator Spiritus", in the name of the entire Church. At the same day, halfway around the world in Topeka, Kansas, at the Bethel College and Bible School, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit occurred which is generally accepted as the beginning of Pentecostalism.


Veni Creator Spiritus

Come, Holy Ghost, Creator blest,
vouchsafe within our souls to rest;
come with thy grace and heavenly aid,
and fill the hearts which thou hast made.

To thee, the Comforter, we cry,
to thee, the Gift of God most high,
the Fount of life, the Fire of love,
the soul's anointing from above.

O Finger of the hand divine,
the sevenfold gifts of grace are thine;
true promise of the Father thou,
who dost the tongue with power endow.

Thy light to every sense impart,
and shed thy love in every heart;
thine own unfailing might supply
to strengthen our infirmity.

Drive far away our ghostly foe,
and thine abiding peace bestow;
if thou be our preventing Guide,
no evil can our steps betide.

Praise we the Father and the Son
and Holy Spirit with them One;
and may the Son on us bestow
the gifts that from the Spirit flow.

~10 c. Latin, translated by Edward Caswall, 1849

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