May 19 – Pentecost

In high school, I suffered from a pneumothorax, which means that my right lung collapsed. When it happened, all I felt was sharp back pain. My parents began to drive me to the emergency room, but I decided it really wasn’t a big deal and I made them turn around and go back home. The pain continued, so I eventually went to see a doctor. He listened to my lungs with a stethoscope, and when he got to my right lung, he said very calmly, “There are no lung sounds in your right lung. You need to get to the emergency room immediately.” He explained that in thinner young men, small bubbles called blebs form on the tops of their lungs and can pop, creating a hole in the lung, and causing the area above to fill with air. After I spoke with the doctor, I was able to go the emergency room to get the surgery and care I needed. Thankfully, I haven’t had another pneumothorax for over ten years.

I bring this up because when I had the surgery for my pneumothorax, I learned that the word that Jesus uses for the Holy Spirit in the Bible is pneuma. It can mean spirit, and also more literally, breath and wind. The Responsorial Psalm says, “If you take away their breath, they perish […]. When you send forth your spirit, they are created, and you renew the face of the earth.” The Holy Spirit is as necessary to us as our breath. Just as we need to breathe to stay alive, we need the Holy Spirit to fill our souls to keep us spiritually alive.

We first receive the Holy Spirit at our Baptism, and we receive the fullness of the Holy Spirit at our Confirmation. And so we are alive. But many of us do not know the Holy Spirit. Many of us are like me after my lung collapsed. We are still alive, but we feel that something is wrong. We just can’t put our finger on it. And maybe, like me, we refuse to go to the emergency room because we think we are okay. But in reality, we are trying to breathe with only one lung while the other lung has a hole in it!

So what’s the remedy to this? We need to ask the Holy Spirit to renew the grace of Pentecost in our hearts so that we can live out the mission He is calling us to. And after we ask the Holy Spirit for this grace, we need to get to know Him, becoming more aware of His voice, and following His promptings in our daily lives. We might not notice any change at first, but when we open the Upper Rooms of our hearts to the Holy Spirit, we will be amazed at the transformation He will begin to work in our lives. And it all begins with one simple prayer: Come, Holy Spirit!  

Father Frank