On the morning of Saturday, May 30, at least 20 US cities woke up to destruction and arrests from protests over the death of George Floyd according to the Washington Post and other mainstream media outlets. Floyd is a 46-year-old black man who died in police custody after h was arrested for paying for cigarettes with a counterfeit $20 bill. The arresting officer has been charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter.
It’s a terrible situation no matter how you look at it. The call to further investigation and justice is merited and peaceful protests are understandable. Violence, however, is not merited. There already has been bloodshed, and countless businesses have been looted, destroyed, and set ablaze. Police precincts have been breached and burned. An angry mob has even set fire to the pews in the Basilica of St. Mary in Minneapolis. It seems that right now our entire nation is burning.
I find it ironic and at the same time important to note that our country has been set afire – figuratively and actually – as we celebrate Pentecost. As our Lord’s disciples and the women (approximately 120 in all) gathered in the Upper Room after the Ascension, they awaited the coming of the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete who would set their hearts aflame with love for Christ and his mission. The Holy Spirit approached as violent wind that filled the entire house in which they were sitting. The wind then divided into tongues of fire that came to rest on each one of them.
Violence, and then fire – an intriguing parallel between Pentecost and the George Floyd riots. But, unlike the violence and fire of an out-of-control plea for justice, the violence and fire of Pentecost were life-giving and transformative. They brought forth courageous men who went forth to spread the Good News to the ends of the earth. Many of them suffered martyrdom after having given witness to Christ. They were men and women of conviction who stood strong against hostility.
We need men and women like that now who are filled with the Holy Spirit and will remain strong against the hostility. To physically enter the fray, of course, would be dangerous. Instead, we can spiritually enter the fray by invoking the Holy Spirit and calling on him to descend upon us all. We can ask for his holy wind to blow across our nation to calm the violence and extinguish the flames of destruction. We can ask that our hearts will be set ablaze with the love of Christ. What is needed most of all at this time is intense prayer and sacrifice.
I’d like to share with you my favorite prayer to the Holy Spirit. I think it’s a great Pentecost prayer in general but even more so now during this present Pentecost. It was formulated by Servant of God and founder of the Apostolic Movement of Schoenstatt, Fr. Joseph Kentenich. The roots of this prayer go back to Désiré-Félicien-François-Joseph Mercier (1851-1926), a Belgian Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church.
Fr. Kentenich advocated spending a few minutes every day contemplating the power of the Holy Spirit. Then, we should ask the Spirit to enter and govern our souls. “If you make an effort to do this, you will not only remain happy and cheerful but also content and high-minded even in the most difficult situations and moments of suffering,” he said in 1965. The text of the prayer is below. May the Spirit fill you with his gifts on this Pentecost Sunday, and may he guide you in spiritually standing strong against the fray.
Prayer to the Holy Spirit
Holy Spirit, you are the soul of my soul. I humbly adore you.
Enlighten me, strengthen me, guide me, comfort me.
Reveal your wishes to me as far as they are in accordance with the will of the Eternal Father.
Show me what Eternal Love wants of me. Show me what I should do. Show me what I should suffer. Show me what I should humbly and thoughtfully accept, bear and endure.
Holy Spirit, show me your will and the will of the Father, for I want my whole lif eto be nothing else than a continuous, and everlasting yes to the wishes, to the will of God , the Eternal Father. Amen.