Pauca Verba is Latin for A Few Words.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

In Anticipation of Pentecost I

A sequence is a poem-prayer sung at Mass on certain feast days, for example, Easter and Corpus Christi. Over the centuries sequences have come and gone. But this Pentecost Sequence, Veni Sancte Spiritus has survived even the chopping block of the 1960's reforms. It is very beautiful and an invitation to deep prayer.

Getting ready for Sunday's Pentecost-Feast, here are the first two verses of the sequence with a few thoughts to help us reflect or understand.

Come, Thou Holy Ghost, come,
And from Thy celestial home
Shed a ray of light divine.

Holy Ghost - Holy Spirit: doesn't matter much perhaps. I was in 7th grade when the Roman Church changed Ghost to Spirit in the 1960's as in our culture ghost suggests haunted things, a popular cartoon character and Halloween costumes. And God is spirit after all. Ghosts can be seen and God's appearance among us is the Incarnate Christ, not a spectral ghost. 

And it is important that the word veni = come appears twice in just the first line of the prayer - so much of the culture demands that God go away. 

We're told that in Soviet times, old Russian peasant women were taken up into airplanes to prove to them that God was not hidden above the clouds. I don't imagine many of these old prayer-warriors were impressed with the trip or dissuaded from believing. Celestial is a lovely word suggesting that God is beyond us and our earthbound agenda, our puny thinking. Stars and planets are celestial - thus the prayer at once suggests that God is light.

Then the prayer asks God's Holy Spirit to gift us with God's own light: shed a ray of divinity, your very self, in and among us. Don't we need light? Such dark thoughts, dark choices, dark initiatives. Shed a ray! We're not asking much: Holy Spirit - just a ray of yourself, and things will be improve for us. 

~ ~ ~

Come, Thou Father of the poor,
Come, thou source of all our store,
Come, within our bosom shine.

Many people dislike or reject calling God, Father, because their own fathers were failed men. But I prefer to think that God is the best of what a father should be or could be. 

There's a lot of conversation/debate these days too about the meaning of gender and mother/father/male/female roles and even gender re-assignment transitioning and surgeries. But those issues are discussed elsewhere. Here in the prayer, God is addressed as Father. Maybe the poem-line means: Come to us, life-initiator - to us who are inwardly so broken, burdened, desperate, fearful, bankrupt. 

When Mother Teresa's Missionaries came to the United States and set up their house in New York City, she acknowledged that the poverty the sisters encountered here was much deeper than in Calcutta. The poverty here is primarily interior.

Source of all our store: God is the giver of all that we have and are: the beating of our hearts, our personal survival, our relationships,  our growing and evolving, all we know, our breaths, our capacity for love...

Come within our bosom shine. Bosom is an old-fashioned word. Maybe over time it became a little sexy. More plainly it is a word inviting God into our innermost place - the invisible, within-place where we are most ourselves and known to God most deeply. Shine in that place, Holy Spirit, dispelling all-darkness.


  1. Thank you from the top, the bottom and the whole of my heart for this inspiration.

  2. For even a singlet ray of light can illuminate a darkened place as it reflects on every surface. Let the ray of the Holy Spirit bounce off the walls of my heart and illuminate my inner self.

  3. Over time as monetary wealth is gained, we as a country have become poor in spirit. How do we get that back into our lives? Prayer and what else?

  4. I pray that the Holy Spirit will live in me more and more as I try to find the right path in life. Many years of wrong turns on the road of life and I am finally finding my way. Guide me with your rays of light. Thanks Father for putting this out there for us to learn and grow.

  5. I love the teaching aspect of your posts. I look forward to my evening classes.