Blog Post

The Holy Spirit and Mary: Lessons for Pentecost

by Kathleen Beckman

She, who at the start of the Redemption gave us her Son, now by her most powerful intercession obtained for the newborn Church the prodigious Pentecostal outpouring of the Spirit of the Divine Redeemer who had already been given on the Cross. Pius XII, Mystici Corporis, 29 June 1943

Mary is our sure path to a closer friendship with the Third Person of the Holy Trinity. At Pentecost the Blessed Virgin Mary received the Holy Spirit with unique fullness because hers is the freest human heart. The Lord promised to those who love Him: we will come to him and make our home with him (Jn 14:23). In Our Lady this promise is most fulfilled since she, the masterpiece of God is most prepared to be the living tabernacle of the Son of God and temple of the Holy Spirit. When the Angel greeted Mary: Hail, full of grace (Lk 1:28), she was already possessed by the Holy Spirit and filled with His grace. Yet, at Pentecost the Holy Spirit descended upon Mary and filled her soul in a new way. With God there is always more and ever-new grace for souls and the work of the Church.

The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you (Lk 1:35). Redeemed, in a more exalted fashion, by reason of the merits of her Son and united to Him by a close and indissoluble tie, she is endowed with the high office and dignity of the Mother of the Son of God, and therefore she is also the beloved daughter of the Father and the temple of the Holy Spirit. Because of this gift of sublime grace, she far surpasses all creatures, both in Heaven and on earth. (Lumen gentium, 53)

The descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost prepared Mary and the Apostles for their respective post Ascension missions. The tongues of fire that appeared in the Upper Room infused their hearts and minds with charisms and gifts required for their vital mission of evangelizing the world: worshipping, preaching, teaching, healing, administrating, serving and unifying the people of God. The Holy Spirit effected their transformation into Christ.

Christ did not send the Apostles forth immediately following His ascension. He directed them to the holy ground of the Upper Room where He had instituted two key sacraments for the birth of the Church: the sacrament of His body and blood—the Eucharist, and the sacrament of Holy Orders—the priesthood. Christ sent them to the Upper Room to be near Mother Mary who would prepare them to receive and respond to the Holy Spirit in an altogether new way of holy conviction.

Heart of the Church: Mary & The Holy Spirit, Collaborators

We cannot separate what God has joined together—Mary and the Holy Spirit are mystically espoused and always work in communion for the sanctification of souls.

From the birth of the Church up to our own day all the good that has been done is the work of the Holy Spirit.

1. Evangelization of the nations 2. Conversions to Christ Jesus 3. Fortitude of the martyrs 4. Holiness of its members 5. Spiritual & corporal works of mercy 6. Sacramental fruitfulness

St. Augustine teaches, “What the soul is to the body of man, the Holy Spirit is in the Body of Christ which is the Church. The Holy Spirit acts in the Church as the soul acts in the members of a body (Sermon, 267)”. The Church is Christ’s living mystical body breathing with two co-dependent lungs: institutional and charismatic—as St. John Paul said at the 1998 Pentecost Vigil in Rome. The Hebrew name for spirit is “ruah” meaning both breath and wind. The necessity of breath to a living organism is obvious. The breath of God is the life of the Christian, the love that animates the soul and fills it with the splendor of truth.

It is sublime to realize that the Holy Spirit is in love with us first. To be possessed by the Holy Spirit is to be loved in an absolutely perfect divine way that frees us from the tyranny of false loves. Mary is the perfect model of full possession by the Holy Spirit and therefore she magnifies God alone. She can teach us to do the same —to abide with the same docility to the Holy Spirit’s action in our soul.

All our good works, every prayer that we offer, the promptings and desires which impel us to be better, the necessary help to realize the inspirations of God, is the work of the Holy Spirit, our sweet divine guest, comforter, and sanctifier.

Our divine Teacher holds his school within the souls of those who ask him and who really want to have him as their Teacher. His action is preceded by the beaming rays of His light and knowledge. He comes with the truth of the real protector; for He comes to save, to heal, to teach, to counsel, to strengthen, to console, to illumine in the first place the mind of the person who receives Him, and through that person’s works, the minds of others. —St. Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechesis on the Holy Spirit, 1.

He who receives the gift of the Holy Spirit finds his soul full of light, and raised above natural reasoning, able to see that which he did not know formerly. There is quite a distinction between my human judgment of things and the divine discernment of God derived from the Holy Spirit. Mary is the model discerner. God communes in various ways in the silence of a recollected soul, in the gentle whisper of a wind, or the shaking of the heart pierced by some truth. Mary is God’s chosen vessel who assists in attuning our hearts to perceive the Holy Spirit prompting us, “Go this way, not that way” or “Arise and begin this work that I am calling you to do.”

The Holy Spirit never ceases to act within the Church: awakening new desires of holiness, new and at the same time better children of God. Our Lady, collaborating always with the Holy Spirit in souls, exercises maternal wisdom for all her children. Our Heavenly Father and Jesus have provided for us the very Gift of God—the Holy Spirit. It is consoling to remember that Christ, at the time when His Ascension was near, taught that it was better (better!) that He go to the Father so that His Spirit would come and be poured into our hearts. We are not able to see Jesus as did the Apostles but we have God with us through the abiding gift of the Holy Spirit.

Simple Marian Lessons for Pentecost

1. Luke 1:38: I am the handmaid of the Lord. Invoke the Holy Spirit to possess you more fully with His love and receive Him anew with docility and joy.

2. Luke 1:38: Be it done unto me according to your word. Desire to receive, respond, and retain an active love relationship with the Holy Spirit.

3. Luke 1:47: The Mighty One has done great things for me. Humbly pray for the Spirit’s fire to set your heart ablaze and welcome the gifts and fruits of the Spirit.

4. Luke 1:46: My spirit rejoices in God my Savior. Acknowledge before God and man that whatever is good in you and your life is the gratuitous work of the Holy Spirit.

5. Luke 1:53: He has lifted up the humble. Stay in the middle of the collaborative action of Mary and the Holy Spirit so that you remain in the love that protects, sanctifies, equips you and empowers your mission.

6. Luke 1:48. His mercy endures forever. Contemplate the Upper Room and Christ’s three interrelated initiatives for love and life: Eucharist, Priesthood & Pentecost.

7. John 2:5: Do whatever He tells you. With expectant faith daily invoke the Holy Spirit as your soul’s best friend seeking loving companionship, counsel, courage, and direction.

Scriptural Prayer for Pentecost (cf. John 16:13-14 and John 14:26)

Christ said, “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth.” Spirit of truth, guide me always, I pray.

Christ said, “He will glorify me, for He will take what is mine and declare it to you.” Holy Spirit, help me to glorify The Father and to declare with my life that Jesus Christ is Lord.

Christ said, “The Counselor, the Holy Spirit will teach you all things and brings to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” Divine Counselor, please enlighten my mind to the teachings of Christ, and help me to recall His words that are spirit and truth.

Holy Spirit, please come anew; fill me with your love, life, joy, peace, and wisdom as I pray for my personal Pentecost through the intercession of your beloved spouse, the Virgin Mary. Amen.

Reprinted with the kind permission of Catholic Exchange.

Kathleen Beckman is our speaker for our Benedicta Leadership Enrichment Seminars and Women of Grace® retreats to be held in Lafayette, Louisiana from June 20-23 and Albuquerque, New Mexico from  August 1-4. Click here for more information on these exciting events!