Calling on God’s power in the Holy Spirit Print
Living and Learning
Thursday, May. 28, 2009 -- 12:00 AM
Living and Learning column by Msgr. Daniel T. Ganshert

Pentecost. “Let your Spirit come upon these gifts to make them holy, so that they may become for us the body and blood of our Lord, Jesus Christ.”

Those familiar words from the Mass accompany the action called the epiclesis, Greek for “to call forth.” The General Instruction of the Roman Missal says more about the understanding of these words, which, by the way, are spoken as the priest extends his hands over the bread and wine being offered.

Church calls on God’s power

The Instruction says that in this special invocation, the Church, that is, the whole assembly, calls on God’s power and asks that the gifts offered by humanity may be consecrated, that is, become the body and blood of Christ.

The Church calls on God’s power. So, this is what we are doing at the epiclesis. You and I are calling on God’s transforming power in the Holy Spirit. It is our role to participate in this invocation together where we ask that the gifts offered may be consecrated, that these offerings may become the body and blood of Christ, and, as the Catechism of the Catholic Church states, “that the faithful, by receiving them, may themselves become a living offering to God.” “A living offering.”

Alive in the Holy Spirit

Isn’t this what we will encounter in the readings for this Pentecost? A living offering? And, oh, they are so alive who are described in the Acts of the Apostles and in the words of St. John the Evangelist where Jesus breathes on them and says, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”

I like to think this was the moment when the Apostles came alive as integrated people. The gift of the Holy Spirit brought their minds and hearts together in a way that changed them forever.

They not only received the gifts of the Holy Spirit: wisdom, understanding, the spirit of right judgment and courage, the spirit of knowledge and reverence, the spirit of wonder and awe in the Lord’s presence, things of the mind, but the fruits of the Holy Spirit were also strengthened in them: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, generosity, gentleness, faithfulness, modesty, self-control, and chastity, things of the heart.

This is what happens to us, as well, when we participate in the Mass. We are brought together in unity by the Holy Spirit. We are transformed. We become a living offering. Our minds and hearts are changed.

What we participate in on Sunday is also to have an effect on the way we act the rest of the week. In other words, we don’t leave this experience in church. We take it home, to work, to school, into the community.

This Pentecost finds us being sent from Mass, once again. Sent as people who have received the Holy Spirit so that others might see and love in us what they see and love in Christ, a living offering to the Father. To our Father, who is waiting for us to call upon his power, sending forth his Spirit in you and in me to renew the face of the earth.

Msgr. Daniel Ganshert is the vicar general for the Diocese of Madison.