Should the Baptized say, “Come Holy Spirit”?

May 16, 2013

One of the song that I and my wife chose during our wedding day was “Veni Creator Spiritus” (Come Creator Spirit), believed to be written by Rabanus Maurus in the 9th century. And some of our friends asked why would one choose a song about the coming of the Holy Spirit for their wedding day. My response at that time was, “why not? we need the Holy Spirit in our marriage life”. I have to admit that it was an interesting question.  However, I have heard an even more interesting question, “why would you ask the coming of the Holy Spirit if you have been baptized, and the Holy Spirit is already IN you? We already have the Holy Spirit!” Well that makes a lot of sense. Why then? It is a question that I believe requires an answer as we approach the feast of Pentecost.

The funny thing that I realized is that, not only some people ask for the Holy Spirit to come. I would say even the Church continues to ask for the Holy Spirit to come. The song Veni Creator Spiritus was written in the 9th century and since then it has been one of the most loved traditional song sang in churches. People sing it during Easter vigil baptism ceremony. People sing it during ordination for priesthoods and bishops. People sing it during Pentecost. And people even sing it when they choose a Pope! In a word, the Church has been asking the Holy Spirit to come! Does that mean that the Church does not have the Holy Spirit all this while? Have you ever asked that question?

And I would say that the Church not only sing “Come Holy Spirit”. I believe the Church continues to pray for the coming of the Holy Spirit. And believe it or not, it is every time the Eucharist is being celebrated, that she prays for the coming of the Holy Spirit. In the second Eucharistic prayer we hear the epiclesis (Greek word for invocation or calling down from on high):

Make holy, therefore, these gifts, we pray

by sending down your Spirit upon them like the dewfall,

so that they may become for us

the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ.

And what are the gifts that the priest is praying for? They are surely the bread and wine. But what does the bread and wine symbolizes? It is our life offerings! The Eucharistic prayer follows the offering and it is these life offerings that are brought into the altar, so that just as the bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Christ, we too may become one body in Christ. Do we not receive Christ’s Spirit then when we receive His body?

Humbly we pray,

that, partaking of the Body and Blood of Christ

we may be gathered into one by the Holy Spirit.

So it seems to me that the Church never stops asking the Holy Spirit to come. And I strongly believe that the Church is filled with the Spirit. But then why she ever needs to ask for the Holy Spirit to come? Do we need to ask for the Holy Spirit to come then? Maybe we have been asking the wrong question. Maybe we should ask what does it mean when the Holy Spirit is coming?

Who Proceeds from the Father and the Son

St. Thomas Aquinas once argued in his Summa Theologica that

Gift, taken personally in God, is the proper name of the Holy Ghost

Gift is the proper name of the Holy Spirit? Maybe that helps us to understand the preaching of St. Peter on the Day of Pentecost when he says

Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 2:38)

Now what is interesting is that Peter used a singular for the word “gift” rather than the plural “gifts”. Peter was not talking about the seven messianic gifts or even any charismatic gifts. He was talking about the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the Gift.

The Catechism of the Catholic church paragraph 733 onwards has a heading titled “the Holy Spirit – God’s Gift”. It says that:

“God is Love” and love is his first gift, containing all others. “God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” (CCC 733)

The very reason why Gift is a proper name for the Holy Spirit is because Gift implies Love. Thomas Aquinas said that a gift is properly an unreturnable giving, quoting Aristotle. We do not expect any return when we give gifts (though some of us do these days). Now since giving gift does not expect any return, the only reason for this gratuitous donation is love. And so Thomas Aquinas said that love has the nature of first gift.

But we have not really answered our question on what it means by the coming of the Holy Spirit, haven’t we? Yes, we have not, but it gives us a glimpse about why the word “coming” is easily associated with the Holy Spirit. The reason is that the Holy Spirit is the Gift. The Holy Spirit is the Gift of the Father and the Son. It is through the Holy Spirit that God has loved us first.

The word Gift also shows us the dynamics of God. As the Gift from the Father and the Son, the Holy Spirit comes forth from the Father and the Son to us. The Holy Spirit is the eternal Gift of God himself to us. Since the Holy Spirit is eternally the Gift, He eternally comes forth from the Father and the Son.

I think that answers partly of why the Church continuously ask for the coming of the Holy Spirit. The reason is that the very nature of the Holy Spirit is Love. This love actualizes in the Gift of God himself. God gives himself to us. I believe that the best gift a person can give is not chocolate, flower, or even money. The best gift a person can give to others is himself.  This is what God does through the Holy Spirit. Through the Holy Spirit, the Gift, God gives himself. This giving of God himself does not happen only once in awhile. This gift of God himself, through the Holy Spirit, is eternal. In fact, we can say that the very life of God is this giving up of himself to the other. By the way, that is what love is all about. The very life of the Holy Trinity is to love and to receive love (CCC 735).

The Holy Spirit always comes forth from and go to somewhere else. Love always flows out. Love is not static, it is dynamic. Love always flows out to someone else. And so the Holy Spirit always proceeds from the Father and the Son, because the Holy Spirit is Love.

And so now we can answer a little bit of what it means when we pray “Come Holy Spirit”. The Holy Spirit is God’s Gift, God’s outpouring of love. It is in this context of love that we ask the Holy Spirit to come. It is also in this context of love that Jesus speaks about the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in us.

If a man loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him (John 14:23)

In fact the Church Fathers see the “we” in this verse as referring to the Holy Spirit.

So what does it mean by the coming of the Holy Spirit? It is the outpouring of the love of God himself to us. It is the coming of God to dwell in us. But this indwelling is not something static but rather dynamics. Some people used to explain to me that we already have the Holy Spirit just like a milo which is already in a cup of water.  I don’t really think that the Holy Spirit is like a milo in a cup. I think the Holy Spirit is like a waterfall! The question is not about whether we have the Holy Spirit. The question is whether the Holy Spirit has us!

One of the most beautiful image that Jesus used when talking about the Holy Spirit is “living water” (John 4:10).  The word living water also reminds us that the Holy Spirit is not like any static water. The Holy Spirit is like a fountain, it flows out. The Holy Spirit comes forth from a source and flows out.  That is the reason why we said in our creed, the Holy Spirit who proceeds from the Father and the Son.

The Coming of the Holy Spirit

Let us now talk about the effect of the Coming of the Holy Spirit. It is only then, we can answer convincingly, yes, we need to pray “Come Holy Spirit”.

One of the earliest traces of the Holy Spirit in the Bible is in the book of Genesis. There we read,

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.  The earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the Spirit of God was moving over the face of the waters. (Gen 1:1)

If you have been following our argument of why we pray “Come Holy Spirit”, you will notice that the Spirit of God in this verse is associated with “moving over”. The Holy Spirit always comes forth from and go to somewhere else. But what is interesting is that in the beginning, there were darkness and disorder, but after creation, there is order and beauty and light. When the Holy Spirit comes, he creates. And not only just he creates any thing, but he creates something beautiful, something good, something orderly.  This is what happens when the Holy Spirit comes. In fact, one of a traditional prayer for the coming of the Holy Spirit says,

Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and enkindle in them the fire of Your Love. Send forth your Spirit, O Lord, and they shall be created, and you shall renew the face of the Earth.

The coming of the Holy Spirit is closely link to creation. Not just the creation of the first heaven and earth that we are living now, but also of the new heaven and the new earth that we are waiting for.  When the Holy Spirit comes, he renews and changes us, and not only us, but the whole of creation.

The idea of creation also links to the giving of new life. In Genesis chapter 2, we read,

then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being (Gen 2:7)

By the way, the Hebrew word for Spirit is the same as “breath”. The Holy Spirit gives us life. That is what the creed also reminds us, I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life. He not only gives us this physical life, but also our new life in Christ Jesus. It is in baptism that we receive our new life in Christ Jesus, and we receive that new life through the Holy Spirit. The water of baptism symbolizes the living water who is the Holy Spirit.

This idea of a new life is also seen the vision of the prophet Ezekiel. Ezekiel saw a valley full of dry bones, and God ask him to prophesy to the dry bones.

Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, Thus says the Lord GOD: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live.” (Ez 37:9)

Of course the dry bones in this context was Israel who felt abandoned, dried up, and lost hope.  But I believe the Word of God applies even for us today. God is able to give us hope and new life. He is able to heal us from our brokenness and sins. It is when the Holy Spirit comes into our lives that we receive this newness of life and hope in Christ Jesus.  When the Holy Spirit comes, he restores us to life!

There are many other things that we can see from the Scripture on the action of the Holy Spirit in our lives. But let me just conclude this article with one more reflection from the words “Come, Holy Spirit”.

Many people, out of their good intentions, think that they do not need to call for the Holy Spirit to come as they already have the Holy Spirit in their lives. But the very words of this prayer “Come Holy Spirit” reminds us that we are always in need of the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit is first and foremost a Gift. We do not deserve it and maybe we can never contain him fully in a way a cup of water can contain milo.  The Holy Spirit is this living fountain that continues to be poured out for you and for me, and this brings us to the other point of this reflection.  When the Holy Spirit is poured out to us, and dwells in us, he does not dwell in a way like any static or still water. When the Holy Spirit dwells in us, he continues to spring up and flow out.  The Holy Spirit is God’s Love, and Love always flows out from the lover to the beloved. And so it is appropriate that Jesus say

He who believes in me, as the scripture has said, `Out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water.'” (John 7:38)

We, who believes in Jesus and baptized, have received the Holy Spirit. It is about us that Jesus says, “out of his hearts shall flow rivers of living water”.  The Holy Spirit does not dwell in us idle and dead.  The Holy Spirit moves us to be a new fountain where other people can taste and drink, and where other people can receive God’s life as well.

It is no wonder, then, that on the day of Pentecost, the church began her evangelization mission.  We simply cannot contain the Holy Spirit! As the Holy Spirit is being poured into the Church, the Church is moved to go out and share the good news.  That is what should happen in our lives as well.  When we say that the we have the Holy Spirit, one of the authentic signs of this indwelling in us is that we become a spring of living water for other people.  

Now if you remember your science lessons in schools about the cycle of water, I am sure you will see the similarities between water and the Holy Spirit.  In this cycle, we see that rains fall from heaven to earth and gives life to earth, and the earth will bear fruits.  But the story does not stop here, the water continues to flow and at the end go up again to heaven.  This cycle between heaven and earth is what sustain life on earth. Similarly, we can see the Holy Spirit who comes forth from the Father is being poured to us and gives us life.  But it should not stop there.  We should bear fruits and our love should flow back to God.  This cycle of love between heaven and earth is also what sustain our lives. This is the ecosystem of our spiritual lives.

Let me conclude with a beautiful image of living water from the book of Ezekiel chapter 47.  Ezekiel saw a river flowing from the temple and an angle of the Lord ask him to measure the depths of the river.  As Ezekiel followed the river outside the temple, the water got deeper and deeper, until the water was too deep.  The spring had become a big river. And this is what the angel said to Ezekiel,

And wherever the river goes every living creature which swarms will live, and there will be very many fish; for this water goes there, that the waters of the sea may become fresh; so everything will live where the river goes. (verse 9)

And on the banks, on both sides of the river, there will grow all kinds of trees for food. Their leaves will not wither nor their fruit fail, but they will bear fresh fruit every month, because the water for them flows from the sanctuary. Their fruit will be for food, and their leaves for healing.” (verse 12)

I think this is a beautiful image of the Holy Spirit.  The river comes forth from the temple and flows out and gives life to every living creature.  I cannot resist the temptation to compare this image with our Eucharistic gathering every Sunday.  It is there from the altar that we receive the body and blood of Christ. And whenever we receive his body, we too receive his Spirit. And if only we hear carefully the call to go out after every Eucharistic celebration and can see the church from above, we will see people flowing out of the Church to go to their houses, families, friends, and work places.  We see a living water flowing out from the temple of God.  And this living water grows into a big river that gives life to every creature.  When we say, “Come Holy Spirit”, it is just a humble prayer asking the Holy Spirit to flow over us and gives us life, so that at the end we too may give life to others.  The question we should ask to ourselves is whether our lives give life others.  Can other people drink from us and be refreshed? Or have our lives bring bitterness and sickness to those who drink from us? So, when someone ask whether the baptized should say, “Come Holy Spirit” I would say, “Why not?”

Come Creator Spirit

Come, O Creator Spirit, come,

and make within out heart thy home;

to us thy grace celestial give,

who of thy breathing move and live.


O Comforter, that name is thine,

of God most high the gift divine;

the well of life, the fire of love,

our souls’ anointing from above.


Thou dost appear in sevenfold dower

the sign of God’s almighty power;

the Father’s promise, making rich

with saving truth our earthly speech.


Our senses with thy light inflame,

our hearts to heavenly love reclaim;

our bodies’ poor infirmity

with strength perpetual fortify.


Our mortal foes afar repel,

grant us henceforth in peace to dwell;

and so to us, with thee for guide,

no ill shall come, no harm betide.


May we by thee the Father learn,

and know the Son, and thee discern,

who art of both; and thus adore

in perfect faith for evermore.


Speaking in Tongues at Mass

August 25, 2010


ROME, AUG. 24, 2010 ( Answered by Legionary of Christ Father Edward McNamara, professor of liturgy at the Regina Apostolorum university.

Q: What is allowed for regarding the (so-called) “speaking in tongues” during a Charismatic Mass? And what exactly is an acceptable type of such Mass? Recently, I attended a Mass where the priest added his own prayers during the elevation of the Eucharist (having said the formal prayers of consecration) and, with those present (who were, excluding myself, members of the parish charismatic prayer group), prayed in tongues during the Eucharistic Prayer and at other moments of the Mass. There were various other obvious illicit moments during the Mass and perhaps afterward as well (e.g., layperson anointing with some type of oil), but I’m particularly curious about the “tongues.” As far as I can deduce, this is not allowed, but it’s exceedingly difficult to find anything to the contrary aside from mere opinions. — P.H., Limerick, Ireland

A: There are practically no universal guidelines on this subject, except of course the general norms that prohibit adding anything whatsoever to officially prescribed texts.

Although some individual bishops have published norms for their dioceses, as far as I know the most complete treatment of this subject is that published by the Brazilian bishops’ conference. The document, “Pastoral Orientation Regarding the Catholic Charismatic Renewal,” was issued in November 1994. It can be accessed in the Portuguese original at the bishops’ Web

It must be noted that the Brazilian bishops have a generally positive view of the Charismatic Renewal, and a significant number participate in charismatic Masses. The renewal is considered as being especially attuned and appealing to a wide swath of Brazilian society and is credited as helping to stem the hemorrhaging of Catholics toward Pentecostal sects.

Therefore, the norms issued by the bishops should be seen as genuine orientations to help the Catholic Charismatic Renewal achieve its full potential as an integral portion of the wider Catholic community. They should not be seen as condemnation of aberrations and abuses.

In dealing with liturgy (Nos. 38-44), the bishops’ document recommends that the members of the renewal receive an adequate liturgical formation. It reminds them that the liturgy is governed by precise rules and nothing external should be introduced (No. 40). No. 41 has precise indications:

“In the celebration of Holy Mass the words of the institution must not be stressed in an inadequate fashion. Nor must the Eucharistic Prayer be interrupted by moments of praise for Christ’s Eucharistic presence by means of applause, cheers, processions, hymns of Eucharistic praise or any other manifestations that exalt in this way the Real Presence and end up emptying out the various dimensions of the Eucharistic celebration.”

In No. 42 the bishops indicate that music and gestures should be appropriate to the moment of the celebration and follow the liturgical norms. A clear distinction should be made between liturgical hymns and other religious songs that are reserved to prayer meetings. Hymns should preferably be chosen from an official repertoire of liturgical songs.

Finally, the bishops say that Charismatic Renewal meetings should not be scheduled to coincide with regular Masses and other gatherings of the whole ecclesial community.

When referring to speaking in tongues (No. 62), the document offers the following clarifications:

“Speaking or praying in tongues: The object or destination of praying in tongues is God himself, being the attitude of a person absorbed in a particular conversation with God. The object or destination of speaking in tongues is the community. The Apostle Paul teaches, ‘When I am in the presence of the community I would rather say five words that mean something than ten thousand words in a tongue’ (1 Corinthians 14:19). Since in practice it is difficult to distinguish between the inspirations of the Holy Spirit and the instigations of the group leader, there should never be a call encouraging praying in tongues, and speaking in tongues should not take place unless there is also an interpreter.”

I think that these wise counsels and norms from the Brazilian bishops show that it is not in conformity with the authentic charism of the Catholic Charismatic renewal to speak in tongues during Mass.

Gift of Tongues during Pentecost

June 2, 2010

There has been some questions whether the apostles received the gift of tongues during Pentecost. Some people claimed that it is not gift of tongues, since Paul said that those who speaks in tongues cannot be understood, while what happened at Pentecost is that people can understand them.

I have no doubt Gift of Tongues appeared on the first Pentecost day in Acts 2. Let me first give the references, and the logic behind these scholars.

Catholic Bible Dictionary, editor Scott Hahn:

TONGUES, GIFT OF A spiritual or charismatic gift that enables a believer to speak to God in a language other than his own. Tongues first appeared as a manifestation of the Spirit on the first Pentecost, when the apostles began preaching the Gospel in a variety of different languages and dialects (Acts 2:4-11). Thereafter in Acts the gift of tongues is always associated with the descent of the Holy Spirit on those who came to believe (Acts 10:44-46;19:6). In this context, speaking in tongues is a sign that the Christian message is a universal message to be preached to all nations (Mark 16:15-17).[…]

Notice that the story of Pentecost on Acts chapter 2 is included in this category of gift of tongues. Moreover, it has become associated with other stories of descent of the Holy Spirit in the book of Acts.

Study Guide, New Jerusalem Bible Study Edition:

TONGUES Speaking in tongues is a form of ecstatic speech inspired by the Spirit, bursts of praise unintelligible to the ordinary listener and needing an interpreter. Paul recognises but does not fully encourage this phenomenon (1 Cor 14:1-25 and notes). At Pentecost Ac describes a similar happening, when the apostles preach intelligibly in tongues unknown to themselves ( Ac 2:1a)

and note “h” on 1 Cor 12:10 from the New Jerusalem Bible Study Edition

h. The gift of ‘tongues’, or glossolalia, is the power of praying, especially praising God, under the action of the Spirit and under the pressure of ecstasy, by making sounds which, though continuous and syllabled, are not intelligible as language. This is what Paul calls ‘speaking in tongues’ (14:5,6,18,23,39) or ‘speaking in a tongue’ (14:2,4,9,13,14,19,26,27). This gift was one of the first visible effects of the outpouring of the Spirit in the primitive Church. See Ac 2:3-4; 10:44-46; 11:15; 19:6.

As can be seen from the references, there is no doubt that what happened at the first Pentecost in Acts chapter 2 is the gift of tongues. How can these bible scholars so convinced?

The key is at the story of Cornelius conversion on Acts 10 and at the reaction of the those listeners in Acts 2. In the story of Cornelius, as Peter preached, the Holy Spirit came on those who listened to him, and those who accompanied Peter were astonished

since they could hear them speaking strange language and proclaiming the greatness of God. (v 46)

And Peter demanded that they should be baptised, since now

they have received the Holy Spirit just as we have (v 47)

Peter noted that the pentecost of the gentiles (which many scholar name this event with) resembles the first pentecost. And for Peter, what he heard was what he experienced on the first pentecost.

In the story of first pentecost at Acts 2, those who listened were astonished listening at the apostles. These astonishment not because the apostles were preaching ordinarily, but rather because there were speaking in burst of praising God that caused some people to say

they have been drinking too much new wine (v 13)

Now, in conclusion, it is worth to read the note “a” from the New Jerusalem Bible Study Edition on Acts chapter 2 (the first pentecost)

a. The phenomenon of Pentecost has elements common to the speaking in tongues experienced by Cornelius (10:46seq;11:15) and by the disciples of John at Ephesus (19:6), which Paul discusses in 1 Cor 14. In none of these cases is there any question of a continuous speech of instruction, but what happens is praise of God (2:11; 10:46; 1 Cor 14:2,16) by ecstatic speech which surprises the listeners (2:13; 1 Cor 14:23). Analogous happenings in the ancient contemporary world show that these bursts of praise used words of foreign languages (2:6,11; 1 Cor 14:10-11,21). Luke uses this fact to see in this occurrences at the beginning of the Church a foretaste of the preaching which was soon to carry the good news to all the peoples of the world, and thus undo the confusion of languages at the Tower of Babel (Gn 11:6-6). He could have been helped in this by a Jewish tradition which commemorated on the day of Pentecost the theophany at Sinai and which claimed that the voice of God, mediated by flames of fire, was then addressed to all the peoples of the world, but was rejected by all except Israel which accepted the Law. In this new Sinai all the peoples are challenged, and they accept.

Fr. Cantalamessa personal testimony

February 9, 2010

I found an interesting article on Fr. Cantalamessa testimony of how he got to know about the Charismatic Renewal. The article seems to be written for Word Among Us somehow.

Praise and Worship in a Catholic Setting

December 31, 2009

The Emmaus has just finished uploading the video and slides for the workshop conducted on :

  1. Music in the history of our faith (15min)
  2. Catholic Charismatic Prayer meeting: format and structure

To view the session go to:

Praise and Worship, and the prayer of the Church (Divine Office)

October 28, 2008

Just want to share something that I wrote last year, in fact february last year. I am reminded of this article when Fr. William Goh (SACCRE Spiritual director) shared his reflection on praise and worship and Divine Office. It’s beautiful indeed. He encourages us in the charismatic renewal to also pray the prayer of the Church, the Divine Office. It’s solidly based on the word of God, which our praise and worship session should be also. He mentioned that the praise and worship sessions is similar in structure to the Divine Office.

anyway, this is a reflection that I wrote on praise and worship, I hope it benefits some of you.

If you are interested to pray the Divine Office online, you can go to the link in this website

there is a link to Morning Prayer (Lauds) and Evening Prayer (Vespers) for each day

A Guide to Leading Effective Praise and Worship

October 16, 2008

Interesting article for worship leaders 🙂