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A New And Personal Pentecost

Allegra Mutanda explains how attending a Life in the Spirit seminars helped her to become aware that God loves her personally and experience a new Pentecost.


This weekend, we celebrate the great Feast of Pentecost, praying that the Holy Spirit will fill us as He did the disciples on that momentous day. Before His ascension, Jesus had told the disciples that He would be sending them what the Father had promised them and to stay in the city until they were clothed with the power from on high (Lk 24: 49).


When that day came, it would be a grace-filled and life- transforming moment for them (Acts 2: 1-13). On that day, the Church was born. The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) tells us that ‘the Church was made manifest to the world on the day of Pentecost by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit’ (1076). God the Holy Spirit has always been present in history. We read about Him in the very first line of Genesis, ‘…and God’s spirit hovered over the water’ (1:1) and in the last lines of Revelation, ‘The Spirit and the Bride say, ‘Come’ (22:17). And of course, throughout Scripture, both in the Old and New Testaments.


The Great Unknown


And yet, for many, the Holy Spirit is the more ‘obscure’ member of the Holy Trinity. In Acts 19, Paul asked Apollos whether they had received the Holy Spirit to which he replied,’…we were never told there was such a thing as a Holy Spirit’. As a cradle Catholic, I understood better the notion of God Father and Creator, Jesus as our Saviour who took on flesh. But the Holy Spirit seemed more unfathomable. I heard that, in Italy, He has been referred to as ‘Il Grande Sconosciuto’: The Great Unknown. How can this be?


I want to share with you how I came to know and experience the Holy Spirit in my own life.

Originally from DR Congo, I grew up in a Catholic home. I had faith but not a strong one. I went to Mass every Sunday, said my prayers, and went through the Sacramental programs. I could tell you things about God, but I couldn’t tell you why I believed what I believed, and I certainly couldn’t talk about knowing God.


Things changed in 2001. I had been living in England for six years but had stopped attending Mass regularly; God was important but not a priority. My sister’s faith had come alive through an Alpha course that year and she invited me to the next faith course organised in her diocese. I had no idea what ‘Life in the Spirit’ seminars were, but I went along – never discount the power of invitation! There I met people whom I can only refer to as ‘odd’, having the same faith but their understanding of it seemed different to mine.


The word I would use to describe it is ‘alive’. They would share their faith openly and pray to know God in deeper and more profound ways. They spoke of Jesus as if they knew Him personally! How could this be? Surely, we were talking about God Almighty? This was alien territory and very much out of my comfort zone and yet, somehow, I found it strangely attractive. Could I dare pray to know the God in the sky more personally, more intimately? I wanted to!

 

'I wanted to tell others how amazing God was'


This course ran in Eastertide and soon, we were praying together with the whole Church for a new infilling of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. To be honest, I wasn’t sure what it all meant but I knew I wanted, needed more. And surely, praying for God to fill my life was a good thing? And so, I prayed.


There was no ‘bang’ moment; most people don’t get a St Paul’s experience! But something within was changing. To start with, I had a growing desire to read the bible more: I wanted to know God in His word. I was praying more; speaking and listening to God. I started to recognise the voice of God and would try to listen to the promptings of Spirit. I was hungry for the Sacraments: I went back to attending Mass more regularly; I wanted to feed both on the Word and the Eucharist. I started to go to confession more frequently desiring to be reconciled to God (and to others).


I was making changes to my lifestyle, wishing to break away from destructive patterns and behaviours which were bringing me discomfort. I fell in love with the community of the Church; it became family and a place of belonging. And finally, I wanted to tell others how amazing God was, waking up to my baptismal call to share the Good News.  

 

Saviour, Friend


The Church teaches us that these are signs of the Holy Spirit (see CCC 688) though I didn’t know it at the time. She says, “God's Spirit, who reveals God, makes known to us Christ, but the Spirit does not speak of himself. The Spirit makes us hear the Father's Word, but we do not hear the Spirit himself. We know him [the Holy Spirit] only in the movement by which he reveals the Word [ Jesus] to us and disposes us to welcome him [Jesus] in faith (687).


And so, progressively, Jesus started to become ‘real’, revealing Himself more and more in my life. I was discovering Him as Friend, Lord, Saviour, Brother. The Church tells us that, ‘No one can say “Jesus is Lord” except by the Holy Spirit’ and that, ‘to be in touch with Christ, we must first have been touched by the Holy Spirit who comes to meet us and kindle faith in us’ (683). I was discovering a God who loved me personally and was longing for relationship with me and, for the first time, I was seeking Him too.

 

 This was 23 years ago. A life transforming experience which would change the course of my life (and career). Every Pentecost is an anniversary for me as I remember consciously saying yes to the Lord and inviting the Holy Spirit to come into my life; something I still do to this day. My prayer for you this Pentecost is that you too, will consciously renew your ‘yes’ to God and invite the Holy Spirit to come into your life and fill you anew. You may wish to pray this ancient, yet most powerful prayer ‘Come, Holy Spirit’ over and over again. And see what God does through your openness.

 

Komen


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