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Imagining the Spirit
When you look around any church you will find that there is no shortage of images, mostly in the form of statues, paintings, stained glass, carvings and plaster moulds. They are mostly images of Jesus, Mary and of the saints. There are also images of some figures from the Old Testament, such as Abraham and Melchizedek. There is a long tradition of images within the church, beginning with the paintings in the Catacombs in Rome. The Holy Spirit, whose feast we celebrate today, does not lend itself all that easily to imagery. The traditional image of the Holy Spirit is the dove. That is drawn from the gospel accounts of the baptism of Jesus. However the language of the evangelists in that passage is very tentative; they simply saw that the Holy Spirit descended on Jesus like a dove, in the way that a dove might descend. There are two other images of the Holy Spirit in this morning’s first reading from the Acts of the Apostles. There again the language is very tentative. Luke says that all who gathered in one room heard what sounded like a powerful wind from heaven; he goes on to say that something appeared to them that seemed like tongues of fire. Just as the evangelists do not say that there was an actual dove at the baptism of Jesus, Luke does not say that there was an actual wind and fire at Pentecost. The Holy Spirit does not lend her/himself to concrete representation, because the Holy Spirit cannot be seen as such. Yet the Holy Spirit is profoundly real.
Spirit of Light, let the fire of your wisdom burn brightly within us.
Spirit of Silence, in the still moment may we be open to God’s presence.
Spirit of Courage; dispel the fear that lingers in our hearts.
Spirit of Fire, engulf us with the passion of Christ’s love.
Spirit of Peace, help us to be attentive to God’s word in the world.
Spirit of Joy, enthuse us to proclaim aloud the Good News.
Spirit of Love, compel us to open ourselves to the needs of others.
Spirit of Power, bestow the gifts of your strength upon us.
Spirit of Truth, guide us to walk in the way of Christ.