Sunday Stride – I miss the sea of red.

Every school year, Jesuit schools around the world start with the Mass of the Holy Spirit.

It is, by far, my favorite mass of the school year. We invite the whole student body to wear red ties. Teachers join in dressed in their best red as well. We drape the podium, altar, and credence table in red. The priests and altar servers too. The feeling of hope and excitement for the year ahead is palpable. And as the choir sings the notes to “Veni Sancti Spiritus” – it feels, just for a moment, like we are in the room with the apostles having the doors blown open wide with the breath of the spirit.

One of my favorite parts of this mass is the prayer of the faithful. We always ask a dozen members of the community to speak aloud an intention in their native language. It is our own small testament to the beautiful words of the first reading today: “At this sound, they gathered in a large crowd, but they were confused because each one heard them speaking in his own language.” It’s a reminder that the Holy Spirit comes to each of us as we are, in the just way we need.

We certainly didn’t realize when we held this year’s mass of the Holy Spirit how much we would need the Holy Spirit this year. As we celebrate the Feast of Pentecost today, I find myself longing to be back in that room in that sea of red singing for inspiration, wisdom, and hope. And I pray that one day the Spirit may bring us back together to pray, rejoice, and sing.

For now, I pray for an increase in love in all of our hearts so that when we return, we can be signs of the Holy Spirit alive in our world.

This is a prayer I wrote for the “Waiting for the Spirit” retreat. Let us pray it together for inspiration and an increase in love on this Feast of Pentecost:

“Come, Holy Spirit, and infuse my heart with love for God and others.

Inspire me so that others may hear only love in the words I speak,

Fortify me that I may become a person that acts with love in every encounter.

Challenge me to let go of all that stands between me and the one who loves me unconditionally.

Come, Holy Spirit, and change my heart so that I may, like Peter, be reconciled to God.”

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