St Peter Julian tells us that through the Eucharist, Jesus is continually bringing us all the “fruits and flowers of Paradise.” What are these, if not the Holy Spirit Himself? Jesus said He had to ascend to the Father so that the Father could send the Spirit to us, and “when he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth” (John 16:13).
I’ve been staying at the beach for the last few days, and, as I watch the waves crash with their beautiful symphony of sounds at the shore, I see in the distance, in the deep, a calmness that seems constant and unmovable. On the surface, it appears that the beach is much more interesting than the deep waters, which seem either dull or dangerous. I look down at the kids playing on the waves with their surfboards. They gather their boards and swim to the back, waiting to catch the next wave, as they laugh with glee when they feel the power of the wave pushing them back to the shore. They do this repeatedly until they are utterly exhausted and come out of the water to rest.
We can do this in our spiritual lives. We can keep ourselves completely engaged in the shallow waters where the spirit of the world and the Spirit of God collide. Here the anxieties and worries of life have great force and can knock us off our feet. If we spend enough time there, maybe we get good at riding the waves and fool ourselves, thinking that these temporary highs are all there is. We end up flat with our faces on the sand and wonder how much longer we can endure this. The spiritual life seems too hard. We sometimes look at the distance and see the peaceful waters as “deep calls to deep in the roar of your torrents, and all your waves and breakers sweep over me” (Psalm 42:8). We want to respond, but we are afraid. What if I get tired of swimming and drown? What if I drift and never find a resting place?
This must be how the apostles felt on the morning of Pentecost. Even after they had experienced the Risen Christ, they were afraid. They gathered with Mary and prayed behind locked doors, waiting for the Promise of the Father. After the Holy Spirit was manifested at Pentecost, the apostles lost all their fear and had everything they needed to fulfill their mission. It is the same for us today. When we receive the Eucharist, Jesus brings His Spirit down with Him to abide in the depths of our hearts. It is here where “deep calls to deep,” where “the one who searches hearts knows what the intention of the Spirit is because it intercedes for the holy ones according to God’s will” (Romans 8:27). If we allow it, the Spirit of Truth will guide us into those deep tranquil waters, where we can be transformed and have no more fear.
Let us then prepare for each Eucharistic encounter in the same way the apostles prepared for Pentecost, by devoting “themselves with one accord to prayer, together… with Mary…all in one place together” (Acts 1:14, 2:1). Let us be awake and ready, for “the kingdom of God is at hand” (Mark 1:15).