Friday, June 10, 2011

Holy Spirit is Green

I like the specific mention of "dew" in the new translation of Eucharistic Prayer II, which is a clear translation of "Spiritus tui rore sanctifica", as opposed to the present lame duck translation "Let your Spirit come upon these gifts to make then Holy", where rore, dew, is omitted entirely.

"Like dew" is such a good image of the Holy Spirit. At Pentecost the Holy Spirit comes with the sound of roaring wind and tongues of fire but for the most part it comes "like dew". It is gentle, almost imperceptibly. Charismatics and Pentecostals give the impression of being taken by violence, almost being raped by the Holy Spirit, but that is not the sense conveyed by the Church's liturgy. In the New Testament itself St Paul identifies the Holy Spirit as the "Spirit of Holiness", the list of fruits of the Spirit are those things which make a Christian Christ-like growing like a seed, unperceived.

Passover was the barley harvest festival, Pentecost the wheat harvest festival; barley was chewy, impossible to grind finely, wheat, gentler more digestible.
In the Byzantine Rite green not red is the Pentecost colour. Green illustrating the Holy Spirit's fecundity, hence in the West green is used in "Ordinary Time", formerly "Time after Pentecost". It is during this time of the Holy Spirit, that like the dew the Holy Spirit was gently at work in the Church, sanctifying it. Red, I suspect was the Roman Church's Pentecost colour because its experience of the dew of the Holy Spirit was so often about shedding blood in martyrdom.

In various parts of Africa and South America, where rainfall is virtually unknown, the growth of anything is dependant on unseen dewfall.
How we perceive the Holy Spirit is important, is it the thunderstorm of "Majesty" with percussion, synthesizer, mics and arm waving, or gentle plainchant with its soaring notes? Is it young men and women stomping in their new found conversion or old men and women in the fortitude of faith quietly trusting in God's mercy? If it is the former then for 2000 years the Holy Spirit has been absent in the Catholic, if it is the latter then he has been present in great abundance.


Anonymous said...

."In the Byzantine Rite green not red is the Pentecost colour"

Perhaps they mistakenly think that the Holy Spirit is Irish. :). Or are they mistaken?

Terry said...

What a gentle, thoughtful piece amongst the rancour.
Rules, rules, rules, and here a little insight, a little calm.

More please, and our friend might continue his journey across the Tiber.(Roger, 9/6 comment)

Anonymous said...

" it the thunderstorm of "Majesty" with percussion, synthesizer, mics and arm waving, or gentle plainchant with its soaring notes? Is it young men and women stomping in their new found conversion or old men and women in the fortitude of faith quietly trusting in God's mercy?£

Maybe it's both, depending on the ability/capacity of the person receiving the Spirit? And changes according to the person's capacity for God, even though God himself never changes.

Anyway, Green is Good in Brighton, I guess!

Delia said...


Mike said...

"Drop Thy still dews of quietness,
Till all our strivings cease;
Take from our souls the strain and stress,
And let our ordered lives confess
The beauty of Thy peace."

Dew and fire as the occasion demands.
Like it.

Gigi said...

I also like the fact that the Holy Spirit can be likened to fire or to something as imperceptibly renewing as dew! I agree with Elizabeth of Sussex: I rather like the celebration of "young men and women stomping in their new found conversion". The dew sits just as well on straining sunflowers as it does on the oaks and the daisies! Nice post, in the midst of other news.

Maurice said...

Red? Fire/flames, as in the Acts of the Apostles?

Fr Ray Blake said...

That is an obvious idea, but I think it is wrong, simply because in Rome red is the Petrine colour above all.
Pope's mourn in red and die in red, for example. Red for Pentecost seems peculiar to the Roman dependant rites.

Flames in my experience tend to be yellow, rather than red, though yellow in some places is a liturgical colour, it is not used for Pentecost.

Michael Petek said...

"Charismatics and Pentecostals give the impression of being taken by violence . . . "

I think if you set aside the silly stuff you sometimes see at the fringes of Pentecostalism, you might not get that impression. As for flame colour I think you get a nice shade of blue if it's properly oxygenated.

Now, to basics on the Holy Spirit. Wherever God is named as the Father of Jesus Christ, wherever it is professed that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh, wherever there is conviction of the truth concerning sin, righteousness and judgement, there is the Holy Spirit.

nickbris said...

I think it used to be called Whitsunday and the vestments should be White.

Paul said...

Maybe the next time the missal is revised, they will add the word sacrifice to the second eucharistic prayer!

Physiocrat said...

The Jewish feast of Shavuot takes place on the fiftieth day after the beginning of Passover. It is sometimes called the Feast of Weeks, being seven times seven days. During that period the days of the "Omer" are counted. In some ways the period resembles Lent in that it is forbidden to marry or listen to music.

As with all three of the pilgrimage festivals, it is a double celebration - Shavuot celebrates both the first fruits and the Giving of the Law to Moses on Mount Sinai - thus it provides a parallel to the Giving of the Holy Sprit on the same day.

On the subject of Pentecostalism, we need to remember that the traditional Latin liturgy is characterised by the same things as those in a Pentecostal church - repetition of the phrase "Praise the Lord" and the uttering of pure sounds, as in the Gregorian Alleluia settings in the Proper of the Mass. The traditional Catholic liturgy, done correctly, IS Pentecostal.

Aaron Saunderson-Cross said...

I think the word "fecundity" is the single best word I've read to describe our understanding the Holy Spirit... and how better is that fecundity understood than by the birth of Our Saviour to the Blessed Virgin.

In John 7:38 Jesus describes the Spirit as "living water," and this perfectly fits the image of "fecundity," of "maturation." So often I hear people talk of the Spirit as "breaking out", "invading", and coming with a sense of force... and rather I agree with Father, that His work is silent, imperceptible, sustaining us.

Timothy Radcliffe, quoting the Blessed Cardinal Newman in "Why Go To Church" speaks of "God's noiseless work" (p.7) and I think this is how the Church (possibly) understands the Holy Spirit: as He that commits "God's noiseless work," whereby with Him nothing is impossible (Luke 1:37).

Thank-you Father for this reflection(!)

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