Our Lord had sent the apostles into Jerusalem to prepare the Passover meal with explicit instructions about finding an upper room owned by a certain man whom he described in detail. The apostles found everything just as the Master had said. The Gospel accounts of those extraordinary days leading up to and following the Crucifixion and Resurrection are full of details, such as the arrangement of the shroud and linen face-covering in the empty tomb. That “room for rent” was transformed by the institution of the Eucharist and the appearance of the Risen Lord there, with the doors locked, on two Sundays. After the Ascension, that same room became an oratory where the apostles and our Lady and others, some specifically named, waited for the coming of the Holy Spirit, as promised.
Our Lord never fails to keep his promises, and the rushing wind and the flames that settled on each of them signaled the gift of the Third Person of the Holy Trinity: the bond of love between the Father and the Son, which has animated the Church ever since that first Pentecost. Recently Pope Francis offered the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in that upper room, invoking the Holy Spirit upon the bread and wine so that they might become the Body and Blood of Christ. That conjunction of things heavenly and earthly happens every day at Mass. The Holy Spirit thus saves the Church from being a museum of memories and gives it life from age to age, “ever ancient, ever new.” All the language surrounding Pentecost is about newness: “Kindle in them the fire of thy love . . . and thou shalt renew the face of the earth.”
In Confirmation the Holy Spirit blesses the soul with gifts of Wisdom, Understanding, Counsel, Fortitude, Knowledge, Piety and Fear of the Lord. The seven gifts enliven the intellect and the will, just as the Spirit of God breathed upon creation in seven stages. In speaking of character from the position of a detached philosopher, Aristotle emphasized three qualities of a well-integrated personality: Ethos (an honest use of talent); Logos (an honest use of the mind); and Pathos (an honest involvement with the sufferings of the world). The Holy Spirit shifts this into a supernatural dimension by an Ethos that lets God guide human talent, a Logos that perceives the ultimate truth of God behind all lesser truths, and a Pathos that unites human suffering with the suffering of Christ, turning tragedy into triumph.
The Holy Spirit thus unites all human expression into one joyful song, as John Donne wrote:
Bring us, O Lord God, at our last awakening into the house and gate of heaven, to enter into that gate and dwell in that house, where there shall be no darkness nor dazzling, but one equal light; no noise nor silence, but one equal music; no fears nor hopes, but one equal possession; no ends nor beginnings, but one equal eternity, in the habitations of thy glory and dominion, world without end. Amen.