Reflection for Pentecost - 23rd May 2021

I have found myself pondering one of the verses in the Veni Creator Spiritus since we sang it yesterday at Vespers, and as we approach the end of our retreat I’d like to share a few words with you to take out into the ‘ordinary time’ that now opens up before us. The verse is:

Set every sense on fire with light,
Pour forth your love to fill our hearts,
The weakness of our mortal flesh
Uphold with your eternal power.

I went out to pray at the Calvary in the garden after Vigils this morning and in the early morning sun it did indeed seem that every sense was on fire with light – the fresh green leaves of late spring filtering the rays of the sun, the smell of wet soil, a blackbird singing & wood pigeons cooing, the rough stones of the wall. Not just my own human flesh upheld by God’s eternal power, but all flesh, even the stones, animated by God’s spirit.

It was an exceptional and beautiful time of rejoicing in God’s good gifts but of course we cannot always live life on a high like that. Tomorrow in our liturgical calendar we move into a long period of what gets called ‘ordinary time’, a time of living into the gift of Pentecost.

What might it mean to live our ordinary, daily lives with every sense on fire with light? Ancient peoples thought of the light with which we see as coming out from our eyes to illuminate things. Although our science tells us that we are seeing the reflected light of the sun there is a sense in which the light within us shines through our eyes and affects the way we see things. Looking at someone or some thing with love is very different from looking with a view to how we may use them or it to our advantage. The same could be said for the way we listen or touch.

The weaknesses of our mortal flesh, our brokenness and emotional neediness, can lead us to a constantly self-centred or instrumental way of looking, listening and touching. But we are upheld by the Holy Spirit who sustains us in our need, fills our hearts with love and sets us free to look on others with that same love. All our senses can be set on fire with the light of the Holy Spirit, transfiguring the world around us. It may be as simple as that moment when I find myself able to let go with a good grace and bless the person that takes the piece of chocolate I wanted! Gradually our relationship with the world and with those around us is changed.

May the power of the Holy Spirit enable our eyes to be soft, our ears to be attentive and our hands to be gentle in the service of God’s love.


Mother Anne - 23rd May 2021