Every time we pray together the Profession of Faith we proclaim that "we believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life…."
It is the Lord, the giver of life who "hovered over the water" at the beginning of creation (Genesis 1: 2). It is the Lord, the giver of life who on Easter Sunday filled the Apostles with the power to bring back to life the spiritually dead through the forgiveness of sin (John 20: 22-23). It is the Lord, the giver of life who gave birth to the Church born on Pentecost (Acts of the Apostles 2: 1-13).
However, the greatest act of the giver of life is when the Word was made flesh in the womb of the Virgin Mary. Again, in the Profession of Faith we proclaim: "…by the power of the Holy Spirit he was born of the Virgin Mary, and became man". This man is the Lord Jesus. He is the Incarnate Word. He is true God and true Man. He is the way, the truth and the life.
Pope John Paul II, in his courageous encyclical letter "Evangelium Vitae" affirms that there is a "conspiracy against life". He wrote that "we are in fact faced with an objective conspiracy against life, involving even international institutions engaged in encouraging and carrying out actual campaigns to make contraception, sterilization and abortion widely available" (17.2).
The feast of Pentecost reminds us of our own personal Pentecost which took place when we received the sacrament of Confirmation. Let us remember what the Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us: "It is evident from its celebration that the effect of the sacrament of Confirmation is the special outpouring of the Holy Spirit as once granted to the apostles on the day of Pentecost" (#1302). The sacrament of Confirmation "gives us a special strength of the Holy Spirit to spread and defend the faith by word and action as true witnesses of Christ, to confess the name of Christ boldly, and never to be ashamed of the cross" (#1303).
The Holy Spirit has given us the power to proclaim and defend life. And how are we to carry out this mission of proclamation?
First of all, we must be witnesses of life. We can do this in two ways. Be a witness of a joy filled life. Radiate happiness. Secondly, love your children and be open to bringing into the world all of the children that Lord, the giver of life will give to you.
Secondly, we must take action. Prayer and fasting are important, but they are not enough. The severity of the conspiracy against life demands action on the part of every Catholic.
During his first pastoral visit to the United States, Pope John Paul II said:
"And so, we will stand up every time that human life is threatened. When the sacredness of life before birth is attacked, we will stand up and proclaim that no one ever has the authority to destroy unborn life. When a child is described as a burden or is looked upon only as a means to satisfy an emotional need, we will stand up and insist that every child is a unique and unrepeatable gift of God, with the right to a loving and united family. When the institution of marriage is abandoned to human selfishness or terminated, we will stand up and affirm the indissolubility of the marriage bond. When the value of the family is threatened because of social and economic pressures, we will stand up and reaffirm that the family is necessary not only for the private good of every person, but also for the common good of every society, nation and state. When freedom is used to dominate the weak, to squander natural resources and energy, and to deny basic necessities to people, we will stand up and reaffirm the demands of justice and social love. When the sick, the aged or the dying are abandoned in loneliness, we will stand up and proclaim that they are worthy of love, care and respect" (Mass at the Capitol Mall in Washington; October 7, 1979).
On the day of Pentecost, Mary, the Mother of God, gathered with the Apostles in the Upper Room where "suddenly there came from the sky a noise like a strong wind…" (Acts of the Apostles 2: 2). Let us conclude our reflection, then, with a prayer to Mary written by Pope John Paul II in his encyclical letter Evangelium Vitae.
bright dawn of the new world,
Mother of the living,
to you do we entrust the cause of life.
Look down, O Mother,
upon the vast numbers
of babies not allowed to be born,
of the poor whose lives are made difficult,
of men and women
who are victims of brutal violence,
of the elderly and the sick killed
by indifference or out of misguided mercy.
Grant that all who believe in your Son
may proclaim the Gospel of life
with honesty and love
to the people of our time.
Obtain for them the grace
to accept that Gospel
as a gift ever new,
the joy of celebrating it with gratitude
throughout their lives
and the courage to bear witness to it
resolutely, in order to build,
together with all people of good will,
the civilization of truth and love,
to the praise and glory of God,
the Creator and lover of life.