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  • Writer's pictureFr. Scott Haynes

Knit Together by the Power of the Holy Spirit

Fr. Scott A. Haynes

The humanity of Christ was formed from the flesh and blood of the Immaculate Virgin by the power of the Holy Spirit. In every Holy Mass the Holy Spirit descends to transform mere bread and wine into the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ. This relationship between the Incarnation, when Christ was made flesh in the womb of Mary, and the Sacrifice of the Mass, when the Word becomes flesh at the hands of a simple priest, is knit together by the power of the Holy Spirit.


Among the Eastern Rites of the Church, we find the Liturgy of St James. In that ancient rite of Mass, just before the consecration the Priest prays:

“Send down, Lord, we beseech thee, upon these proposed gifts, thy Holy Spirit, that coming upon them with His holy and glorious presence, He may hallow them and make this bread the Holy Body and this chalice the Holy Blood of they Son Jesus Christ.”


According to the Archangel St. Gabriel:

“The Holy Spirit will come upon thee [Mary] and the power of the Most High will overshadow thee.” (Lk 1:35)

Likewise, in every Mass, the Spirit of God accomplishes the renewal of this sacred mystery.


In the ancient Roman Rite, we have a beautiful prayer called the Veni Sanctificator:

“Come, O Sanctifier, almighty and eternal God and bless this sacrifice prepared in Thy holy name.”

In Milan, where Catholics celebrate the Ambrosian Rite, we hear:

“Send down, O Lord, the invisible majesty of thy Holy Spirit as he descended of old upon the holocausts of the Patriarchs.”

All the liturgies of the Church, from both the East and West, all call upon the power of the Holy Spirit to come down upon the Altar when we celebrate Mass.


The great mystic, St Hildegarde, Abbess, once was privileged to see a brilliant light come down from heaven when the Priest began the Sanctus. As he said the words, Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus (“Holy, Holy, Holy”), a flame of extraordinary brightness shone down from heaven upon the bread and wine. St. Hildegarde saw the bread and wine ascend into heaven and then descend back to the Altar, now transubstantiated into the Body and Blood of Christ. As she gazed upon the Flesh and Blood of Christ, she saw signs of the Incarnation, Birth and Passion of Our Lord.

Inasmuch as she was able to have a glimpse in the spiritual reality of the sacred mystery of Mass, this reminds me of a phrase we say in the Nicene Creed each Sunday. We say that we believe in “all that is visible and invisible” (visibilium et invisibilium). We believe in what we can see—in all the miracles Jesus works in His Church but we also believe and have faith in what we cannot see and understand.  For a moment, St Hildegarde was privileged to see the reality of the Eucharistic sacrifice. But this mystery occurs in this Mass and in every Mass. A celestial radiance surrounds the Altar, and at the moment of consecration the Holy Spirit transubstantiates bread and wine into the Eucharistic Presence of Christ.


Solomon in the Old Testament saw this fire of God descend in the temple and the “glory of the Lord filled the Temple.” (2 Chron. 7:2). And Aaron, in his sacrifice, related in the ninth chapter of the book of Leviticus tells us that “a flame leaped forth from before the Lord and consumed the sacrificial victim on the Altar.” (Leviticus  9:24). These instances of the power of the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament only point toward the reality of the work of the Spirit in the New Testament and especially toward the Sacrifice of the Mass.


Learn today from the goodness of the Holy Spirit, who intercedes for us with unspeakable groanings, to constantly call upon the power of the Holy Spirit that your life be transformed by his power. The Holy Spirit is our Advocate. He pleads for you at this Mass and every Mass. Let us place our hearts on this Altar so that God the Holy Spirit will transform it and set it on fire with His love.


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