We are happy this morning to assemble here in the excitement of this new university space. It is space dedicated to sports and athletics, to song and dance, to play and fun. But it is space also designed for large university gatherings, for fiestas, for college days, for large academic convocations, for theatrical presentations, for college graduations. It is space also dedicated to large university liturgies such as this. This morning, at the outset of a new academic year, we gather for the Mass of the Holy Spirit. In our shared faith, in our silence, in our song, in our need as a blessed community to express to God our gratitude for his many gifts, in our awe, in our vulnerability, in our sinfulness, in our need to fall down and worship our one and only God, this profane space becomes sacred. It is sacred in the Holy Spirit moving us to worship the Father through the Holy Sacrifice of His Son. It is sacred in our calling on the Holy Spirit to make this day and this entire year special and sacred. Through the Holy Spirit, eternally everywhere, time and space are sacred.
The Spirit of God the Father
The Holy Spirit is pure gift. We do not organize it. It is wind. We do not control it. It is a flame that separates and sets afire the hearts of those it will. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God the Father. The Father is the God of creation. He made the heavens, the sun, the moon, the stars, the comets, the meteors, the black holes. He made the earth, the mountains and valleys, the rivers and lakes, the mighty glaciers and the gentle dewdrops. He made the human person, you and me. He made freedom and knowledge, stability and spontaneity, permanency and creativity; he put these into people like you and me. He loved what he created, even when people abused their freedom and sinned. He was angered by their sin, and in his anger he punished passionately in justice. But because of his love, his justice was expressed in compassion, in forgiveness, in restorative love. The Spirit of God the Father is a Spirit of creativity, awesome creativity, that crested in the creation of freedom, making love in freedom possible. The Spirit of God is a spirit of justice that unfolded itself not in retribution but in redemption, love, and empowerment to love. The Father sends his Spirit. Today we ask him to send his Spirit to us, that through the activities of this academic year we may be formed in his creativity, his justice, his compassion, his love.
The Spirit of God the Son
The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God the Son. God is love. The Son is God’s Word of love. That Word is spoken in all that is created; without this Word nothing is created, not the tiniest of electrons, not the vastness of the universe. Through God’s Word of Love, awesome humanity is created in freedom, errant humanity is redeemed in mercy. The Holy Spirit of the Son is God’s love incarnating itself in this sinful world confused and compromised by sin, reaching out to us confused and sinful. The Spirit of the Son is God’s love calling us in our disbelief to belief, in our cynicism to faith, in our sinfulness to repentance, in our alienation to the Father’s embrace. The Spirit of the Son is God’s love calling us to the Kingdom of God, and in the selflessness and compassion of God to the selflessness and compassion of the Christian. “Whatever you do for one of these the least of my sisters and brothers, that you do to me” (cf. Mt. 25:40,46) and “Blessed are [you] poor in spirit, for [yours] is the Kingdom of heaven” (Mt. 5:3). “Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you falsely for my sake. Rejoice and be glad because your reward is great!” (Mt. 5:11). The Spirit of the Son of God calls us to remember him, internalize him, in his self-sacrificing love for us, and to do likewise. From the Cross, in the eyes of the Crucified Lord, the words, “Do this in memory of me” (Lk 22:19). “Take me, eat me” (cf. Jn 6:43)… “I am the Bread of life” (Jn 6:48).
One Spirit of God
The Spirit of the Father and the Spirit of the Son is the one Spirit of God sent by the Father and the Son to us as a university community. It is the Spirit of God that gathers us in shared purpose united by the same vision, impelled by the same mission. It is the Spirit of God, from the heart of the Church, working creatively in the tension we experience in knowing God as the truth, and yet having to search in Him for truth, in the faith we experience seeking understanding, and in the understanding we experience seeking faith. It is the Spirit of God empowering us to think and search in academic freedom, but moving us to check ourselves in academic responsibility. It is the Spirit of God impelling us to share belief in an unbelieving world, to pursue social justice for our marginalized and excluded, for our Bangsamoro and our indigenous peoples, to promote resilient cultural communities in a globalizing world, to engage in inter-faith and intra-faith dialogue, to seek reconciliation not only with God and with humanity, but with creation. This means not only demanding that others be environmentally conscious, but that we be environmentally responsible, reducing our use of fossil fuel, being less wasteful in our use of paper, separating our trash habitually, and doing our part, as Pope Francis teaches, to take care of our common home. It is the Spirit of God moving us to search for better ways of using renewable energy and to improve our systems of education.
Spirit of the Catholic University
At this Mass we say, “Come, Holy Spirit, come! Fill the hearts of your faithful servants!” Come, Holy Spirit, fill the spaces of our heart that have become void of your presence, empty in our “intelligence,” foolish in our superficiality, haughty in our “rationality,” hateful in our frustration, and miserable in our self-built Towers of Babble! Come, Holy Spirit, restore us in all our defaulting connectivity to connectedness with the Father, connectedness with the Son, connectedness with each other, and connectedness with nature. Teach us to pray, to converse with one another, to be fair, to be just, to love, to laugh, to sing, to dance, to appreciate anew the scent of the sampaguita and the fragrance of the the dama de noche. Come Holy Spirit, fill our classrooms with the joy of your Gospel, the honesty of our inquiry, the rigor of our thought, and the awe of your truth. Fill our research with the excitement of penetrating the mystery of the godly in the worldly, the sacred in the profane, and even the Holy in the sinful. Fill our community service with your compassion and your courage.
In the Holy Spirit: one God, one University, one Kingdom, one community, one Bread, one Body, one truth. “Take and eat,” the Lord says. “Love one another, as I have loved you.” “I am the Bread of Life.”