June 9, 2017


Come, Holy Spirit, bring us joys that never end

The Sequence for Pentecost Sunday, “Veni, Sancte Spiritus,” offers a profound reflection on the joy of Easter by calling on the third person of the Blessed Trinity to come into our hearts, bringing light for our darkness, comfort for our distress, healing for our soul’s sickness, warmth for our frozen hearts, and joys that will never end.

Why would we ask the Holy Spirit for the gift of unending joy? We know that our lives are filled with sorrow and disappointment. We know that even after receiving God’s saving grace and being reconciled to him in the sacrament of penance, we will sin again. We know that all those whom we love, and we ourselves, will one day suffer and die. What’s the point of asking for joy that will not end?

Our faith is weak, isn’t it? Just weeks ago, we celebrated Easter, the great miracle of our salvation and the true source of all human hope and joy. We believe that the Lord is risen, that he has conquered sin and death, and that we are truly free.

We believe this, and yet we have our doubts. We hope in him, and yet we give in to sadness and despair. This is precisely why he sent us his Holy Spirit—to give us courage in our weakness, to sustain us in our fidelity to his word, and, yes, to fill our hearts with joys that never end!

Joy and hope do not eliminate our grief and anguish. They transform them—making them like the Lord’s passion and death: a participation in the painful pilgrimage of human suffering to the abundant joy of eternal life.

This is why Easter is the season of hope. Our hope is not idealism, a form of “wishful thinking.” Our hope is not political or ideological. It is Christian realism, grounded in the person of Jesus Christ and in the story of his life, death and resurrection.

Christian hope is not an illusion. As the Letter to the Hebrews assures us, “we have [hope] as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul” (Heb 6:19). We are truly anchored to our heavenly home regardless of the storms we encounter along the way.

For Christians on the way to our heavenly home, life’s difficulties are not eliminated, as if by magic. They are endured with confidence, with hope and, yes, with the joy of the risen Christ.

That’s why we dare to invoke the Holy Spirit and to ask for joys that never end. We know that we need the help of God’s grace to face the pain and the weariness of daily life. We know that we need the Spirit’s sevenfold gifts (wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety and fear of the Lord) to sustain us in life’s journey. We know that, as Pope Francis reminds us, hope is not only an anchor in the storms of life; it is also a sail that drives us forward joyfully.

That was certainly true for the disciples of Jesus. Many faced bitter persecution and death as they carried out the Lord’s great commission to go out to the whole world as missionaries to preach the Gospel and heal the sick in his name. They experienced no end of suffering and disappointment, but they served the Lord joyfully because they were empowered by the Holy Spirit and burning with the fire of God’s love.

When the dark days come—in our personal lives and in our common life as disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ—let’s pray together this great Sequence of Pentecost:

Come, Holy Spirit, Come!
And from your celestial home
Shed a ray of light divine!
Come, Father of the poor!
Come, source of all our store!
Come, within our bosoms shine….
Guide the steps that go astray…
Give them your salvation, Lord;
Give them joys that never end. Amen.

May the Holy Spirit grant us everlasting light and endless joy in Jesus’ name!

—Daniel Conway

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