St. Francis Xavier preaching
The last words that St. Ignatius of
Loyola addressed to his dear friend Francis Xavier, before he embarked on one
of the greatest missionary enterprises in the history of Christianity on his
way to India were GO SET ALL ON FIRE! (Read the classic of Louis de Wohl on the
life of St. Francis Xavier titled, “Go
set all on fire”).
The fiery Dominican Apostle and
preacher, St. Vincent Ferrer, O.P. asserted: “Fiery darts cannot shoot out of a
man with an icy heart!” Jesus Himself gave witness to this: “Out of the
abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.”
From the depths of His Sacred Heart
Jesus exclaimed: “I have come to cast
FIRE on the earth and I am not at peace until that fire be enkindled.”(Lk.
12:49) One of the prayers in the Litany
of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is “Sacred Heart of Jesus, burning furnace of
charity, have mercy on us.”
After nine days of prayer and fasting
in the Upper Room (Cenacle) with the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Holy Spirit
descended upon the Apostles in tongues of fire.
This fire of the Holy Spirit transformed these weak, irresolute,
confused and somewhat ignorant men into valiant soldiers of Christ, ready and
willing to travel to the most distant and remote regions of the earth to preach
the Gospel of Jesus Christ. (Acts 2) All of them—with the exception of the
Apostle St. John—sealed their lives with the glorious shedding of blood in
martyrdom. God’s FIRE transformed them radically and permanently!
St. Philip Neri and fire
St. Philip Neri had his own Pentecost experience. After praying
and fasting for nine days in one of the catacombs of Rome, the Holy Spirit
descended in the form of a ball of FIRE and entered his mouth and descended
into his heart. From that time on his heart would beat violently due to the
excessive love of the FIRE of God’s love that literally consumed him. After
death on examining Neri, they noticed that his rib cage protruded and ribs were
actually broken. How? The violent beating of the heart ended up by breaking his
rib bones! GOD’S FIRE!
INDIFFERENCE! One of the most
widespread and pernicious signs of the times is that of RELIGIOUS INDIFFERENCE.
Indeed there are hostile and antagonistic forces against Jesus and His
Church--- there always have been and always will be! However, a modern malady
of Indifference, tepidity, lukewarmness,
a ‘Whatever” attitude has permeated modern society. The fire has been
extinguished and the ashen coals are smoldering in a weak stew of indifference
which engenders mediocre followers of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
The Archbishop Cardinal of Buenos Aires in the
1980’s (Juan Carlos Aramburu) put it bluntly:
“The Church is a sleeping giant!” There are more than a billion Catholics
spread throughout the world! How many of
these are asleep, taking a siesta or might even be in a state of coma???? Where is that fire?
How does God view this lack of
FIRE? How does God look down from heaven
on the indifferent? The words from the final book of the Bible, the Book of
Revelation, should penetrate us to the very depths of our hearts!
Following are two sharp exhortations
and admonitions. The first is, “Be careful because you have lost your first
love. Return to your first love or else I will take your candelabra.” Remember
the fervor you experienced that day of your first Communion? Has that fervor
all but extinguished in your heart?
Then listen to these words: “To the
angel of the church in Laodicea, write this: “The Amen, the faithful and true
witness, the source of God’s creation says this: I know your works; I know that
you are neither cold nor hot, I wish you were either cold or hot. So because
you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.”(
Apoc. 3: 14-16).
REMEDY FOR THE SMOULDERING WICK, THE
TEPID AND LUKEWARM, THE MEDIOCRE CHRISTIAN. Let us give simply one suggestion
here and now!
Pentecost and tongues of fire
To keep a bonfire burning the key is
to keep feeding the flames. Brushwood, dry leaves, twigs and branches must be
constantly cast into the fire, if not there is the risk that the bonfire will
die! We must fan the flame in our
FIRE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT!!!! Why not
in this precise moment fall to your knees and beg for your own personal PENTECOST
experience! It is never too late! God is
always ready and waiting patiently for well-disposed, humble and docile hearts!
If the Apostles could receive that
FIRE, if St Francis Xavier was commissioned to ignite flames, if St. Philip
Neri was consumed to the very depths of his heart with that Pentecost FIRE why
can’t we open our hearts here and now to receive that same FIRE!
GOD GIVES! The nature of God’s essence is utter goodness
and self-giving. God loves to give. He gave His only Son for us to save us for
all eternity. God still longs to give to us. We will more quickly tire of
receiving God’s gifts than God tire of giving His gifts to us!
Jesus and the Holy Spirit
Jesus gave a special Gift that Easter
evening when the Apostles were in the Upper Room. The Risen Lord came through the door and
greeted the Apostles with these words: “Shalom! Receive the Holy Spirit….” (Jn.
As the Holy Spirit rushed impetuously
on David upon his anointing by the prophet Samuel, may the Holy Spirit rush on
us.(I Samuel 16:13) As Jesus breathed forth the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles,
may Jesus breath on us. As the Holy
Spirit descended upon the Apostles in tongues of fire on Pentecost may we
receive at least a spark of that same Holy Spirit!
A most efficacious remedy for the
malady of “spiritual coma” (lukewarmness and tepidity which generates
mediocrity) is the FIRE of the Holy Spirit.
May Our Lady come to our aid! Mary is
Daughter of the Eternal Father, Mother of the Divine Son, and Mystical Spouse
of the Holy Spirit. Let us implore her intercession: “Come Holy Spirit come,
through the heart of Mary….”