VATICAN CITY, MAY 31, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI is affirming the importance of cultivating a relationship with the Holy Spirit by waiting in prayer and spiritual openness, putting aside preoccupation with doing many activities.
The Pope said this today in a homily during the Pentecost Mass that he presided over in St. Peter's Basilica.
"If we do not want Pentecost to be reduced to a mere ritual or to a suggestive commemoration," he said, in order that it can become a "real event of salvation," we must "predispose ourselves to God's gift in religious openness" through a "humble and silent listening to God's Word."
Perhaps there is need, the Pontiff suggested, "for the Church to be less preoccupied with activities and more dedicated to prayer."
"Mary Most Holy, the Mother of the Church and Bride of the Holy Spirit, teaches us this," he said.
The Holy Father noted that this year's solemnity coincides with the feast of the Visitation, which celebrates the "little Pentecost" that brought forth "joy and praise from the hearts of Elizabeth and Mary -- the one barren and the other a virgin -- who both became mothers by an extraordinary divine intervention."
Benedict XVI stated, "Among all the solemnities, Pentecost is distinguished by its importance, because in it that which Jesus himself proclaimed as being the purpose of his whole earthly mission is accomplished."
Explaining the importance of this celebration, the Pope noted that "what air is for biological life, the Holy Spirit is for the spiritual life."
He continued, "As there is air pollution, that poisons the environment and living things, there is also pollution of the heart and the spirit that mortifies and poisons spiritual existence."
The Holy Father encouraged his listeners to not be complacent "about that which corrupts the spirit."
He pointed out some "pollutants" that circulate in society, such as images "that make pleasure a spectacle" or "violence that degrades men and women."
"It is said that this is freedom," Benedict XVI noted, "but it is just a failure to recognize all that which pollutes, poisons the soul, above all of the new generations, and ends up limiting freedom itself."
He added, "The metaphor of the impetuous wind of Pentecost makes one think of how precious it is to breathe clean air, be it physical air without lungs, or spiritual air -- the healthy air of the spirit that is love -- with our heart."
Today, the Pope asserted, "human beings seem to claim themselves as gods and want to transform the world excluding, putting aside or simply rejecting the Creator of the universe."
"Man no longer wants to be the image of God," he said, "but the image of himself; he declares himself autonomous, free, adult."
"Obviously that reveals an inauthentic relationship with God, the consequence of a false image that has been constructed of him," the Pontiff affirmed.
Speaking of the story of the first Pentecost, in which the Apostles were given the courage to preach the Gospel, the Holy Father noted that "the Holy Spirit overcomes fear."
After Pentecost, the Apostles "had no fear, because they felt that they were in stronger hands," he said.
Benedict XVI continued: "Where the Spirit of God enters, he chases out fear; he makes us know and feel that we are in the hands of an Omnipotence of love: whatever happens, his infinite love will not abandon us.
"The witness of the martyrs, the courage of the confessors, the intrepid élan of missionaries, the frankness of preachers, the example of all the saints -- some who were even adolescents and children -- demonstrate this.
"It is also demonstrated by the very existence of the Church, which, despite the limits and faults of men, continues to sail across the ocean of history, driven by the breath of God and animated by his purifying fire."