A Man Open to the Holy Spirit

(Homily for Pentecost Sunday 2004)

Before reading today's Gospel, we listened to the Sequence. Originally titled, Veni, Sancte Spiritus, (Come, Holy Spirit) scholars consider it one of the great masterpieces of Latin poetry.

I’d like to tell you a bit about its author; his life illustrates what can happen when someone is open to the Holy Spirit. He was an Englishman named Stephen Langton. Recognized for his learning and holiness, Pope Innocent appointed him Archbishop of Canterbury. However, the English king did not accept him and he was exiled to France for six years. While in France, he composed the wonderful hymn to the Holy Spirit: “Come Holy Spirit…Father of the poor!…You, the best of comforters, You, the soul’s most welcome guest.”

If Langton had only written this one hymn, he would deserve remembrance. However, he did something more. Up until the thirteenth century, no one had divided the Bible into chapters and verses. To enable more exact reference to the Scripture, Archbishop Langton undertook that project. Anytime someone mentions a Bible verse such as “John 3:16” or “First Corinthians 12:4” they are taking advantage of Langton’s great labor of love.

But there is more. When Stephen Langton returned from exile, he recognized that the King was ruling in an arbitrary and unjust manner. He gathered the English barons at a place called Runnymede in June of 1215 to discuss the situation. As the Cardinal Archbishop, he helped them write a document which detailed basic rights regarding taxation, due process and certain legal protections for the Church. They called their document the Great Charter, although we are more familiar with its Latin name - the Magna Carta. As every schoolchild knows, the Magna Carta was the embryo from which English democracy developed. In America – and many other countries – we owe Archbishop Stephen Langton a huge debt.

A beautiful hymn to the Holy Spirit, an important tool for studying the Bible and a document which launched the modern democratic experiment: Stephen Langton shows what a person can accomplish when imbued with Christian tradition – and open to work of the Holy Spirit.

O most blessed Light divine,
Shine within these hearts of thine,
And our inmost being fill!

On the faithful, who adore
And confess you, evermore
In your sevenfold gift descend;

Give them virtue’s sure reward;
Give them your salvation, Lord;
Give them joys that never end. Amen. Alleluia

************

Spanish Version

From the Archives:

Pentecost 2011: It Was the Holy Ghost
2010: The Power of the Holy Spirit
2009: The Soul's Most Welcome Guest
2008: Double Gift
2007: With You Always
2006: He Testifies to the Truth
2005: The Greatest Unused Power
2004: A Man Open to the Holy Spirit
2003: To Drink of One Spirit
2002: Healing of Memories
2001: Hateful Comparisons & Precious Gifts
2000: The Spirit & The Flesh
1999: Each in His Native Language
1998: Empty Rites?

Other Homilies

Seapadre Homilies: Cycle A, Cycle B, Cycle C

Bulletin (Seattle Priest Cleared of Sex Abuse Charge, Tent City in Bothell Parish, Fr. Noah Casey, Dr. Colecchi)

Announcements

New Website: Catholics and Political Responsibility (by Women for Faith and Family)

The essential difference between paganism and biblical revelation

Todd's New Blog!

American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists: Birth Control Pill: Abortifacient and Contraceptive

Holy Mass Etiquette & Attire

Catholic Democrats Rebuke Bishops

You mean we can't order them by catalog?

Eugenicists Strike Again!

About the Greatest Experiment Ever Performed on Women (interview with Barbara Seaman)

Bishop Henry on John Kerry and Paul Martin

Bush Caused Killer Cicada Plague (Seattle's Liberal Larry uncovers conspiracy)

my bulletin column

SMV Bulletin

Parish Picture Album

Are these homilies a help to you? Please consider making a donation to St. Mary of the Valley Parish

Footnote to comments on World Civilization Course: There is a lot one could say about this high school textbook. It purports to be comprehensive, but it leaves a lot out. For example, its ample index does not have an entry for Mother Theresa or Pope John Paul II. Even from a secular point of view they are two people who had a deep and ongoing impact on our world. By way of contrast, the textbook did have a section on Betty Friedan! Subsequently I came across this quote from University of Wisconsin Professor Stanley Payne about the current state of history studies:

Major themes are replaced by comparatively minor considerations, which emphasize small groups, deviants and cultural oddities. Most studies are required to fit somewhere within the new sacred trinity of race, class and gender - the new "cultural Marxism." Research that does not conform to these criteria is increasingly eliminated from the universities, where hiring practices in the humanities and social science have become blatantly discriminatory. (from "Controversies over History in Contemporary Spain")

Reasons Young People Leave Their Faith - Presentation for Monroe Christian Pastors. (For pdf format click here)

Home