The Church awaits the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost which for the Catholic Liturgical Year falls on 23rd May of this year, 2021 (usually referred to as Pentecost Sunday). As we await the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, let us reflect on the paradigm of Mary who gives shelter to the Holy Spirit and also stays with the apostles and other disciples of Jesus Christ during the day of Pentecost. In fact, one of the titles the Fathers of the Church gave to Mary was Temple of the Holy Spirit. Contemplating and communing with Mary and the apostles as we eagerly await the descent or the outpouring of the Holy Spirit will help us do deeper reflections. Mary gave birth to Jesus Christ who sent the Holy Spirit and she (Mary – Acts 1:14) was there when the infant Church received the outpouring of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:1-31).

The Church Fathers were keen on giving various titles and attributes to Mary and these are sometimes from Sacred Scripture (the Bible) or Sacred Tradition (teachings handed down by the apostles to generations). Mary herself expresses this when she says “henceforth all generation shall call me blessed.” (Lk.1:48) The humility and the disposition of Mary must be emulated by all Christians of all generations. That is why it is apt in this month of the Holy Rosary that we commune and contemplate with Mary (through the praying of the Rosary) and the apostles as we all await the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

Although it is symbolic, the universal Church awaits and prepares for the descent of the Holy Spirit. St. John Damascene declares that “O Virgin full of Divine grace, holy Temple of God that the spiritual Solomon, the Prince of peace, has constructed and dwelt in, and adorned not with gold or lifeless stones but rather with the Spirit.” Mary is the temple of the Holy Spirit because she houses the Holy Spirit in order to conceive Jesus Christ who is the Son of God. If that is the case, then we are also called to share in this singular honour of Mary by communing with her so that as we receive the Holy Spirit, we can be well disposed.

A lot of Christians today despise the Virgin Mary because they think she was just a woman like any other human being like us. But the honour and the privilege given to this woman to share in the motherhood of God was no small feat. Interestingly, for St. Jerome, Mary is the “Temple of God, seat of the Holy Spirit.” And the Constitution on the Church, n. 53 added that Mary is called Mother of the Word and the “Temple of the Holy Spirit.”

The Holy Spirit descended on Mary and the words of the angel Gabriel was prophetic “The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you…” (Lk.1:35) This was the same way the Holy Spirit came upon the Mary, the apostles and the other disciples and they received power to proclaim the Gospel. We are also praying for the gifts and power of the Holy Spirit as we await the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Mary is the only one who can show as the surest way in this preparation to receive the descent of the Holy Spirit.

Consequently, “the disciples exited the Upper Room like new persons, eager to preach the Gospel and to give their lives, if need be, for the Risen Lord. Mary shone forth as the Mother cherishing the infant Church in her love and as the supreme example of prayer in oneness of heart.” (Buono, 2008, p.280) Christians all over the world especially Catholics are encouraged to contemplate with Mary and pray the Holy Rosary as she (Mary) was in prayer in oneness of heart with the apostles and disciples when the Holy Spirit descended. Just as the Holy Spirit prepares Mary for her role in the Divine plan, we are also entreated to be with the Temple of the Holy Spirit so that she who is also the seat of the Holy Spirit can help us sit in her divine motherly abode as we await the outpouring of the Holy Spirit

May Mary who “was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit…She has conceived what is in her by the Holy Spirit” (Mt.1:18, 20) help us pray the Holy Rosary so that as the Holy Spirit descends we can receive the gifts. May the Holy Spirit also empower and inspire us to always pray.

SOURCE: REV. MICHAEL SELASI COMBEY /ADM