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Since 1732, the Redemptorists — a congregation of missionary priests and brothers — have followed in Jesus’ footsteps, preaching the Word and serving the poor and most abandoned.
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The Spirit of Lent: The dewfall of the Spirit

By Rev. Joseph Krastel, C.Ss.R.
The Spirit of Lent: Seven Lenten Meditations on the Work of the Holy Spirit

Maybe, like many English-speaking Catholics, you have struggled with the tongue-twisters and complications of the new translation of the Mass. Yet, among the subordinate clauses and inverted sentences, some spiritual nuggets of gold have appeared. One of these gems points to the Holy Spirit and to the almost imperceptible activity of God in our world.

“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.” (Eucharistic Prayer II)

When God started the Church on Pentecost, the Holy Spirit appeared as a hurricane-force wind, sweeping into the upper room where the disciples had gathered. People, especially tourists for the Jewish feast day, rushed to the place, expecting the building to be flattened. Instead, they heard Peter speaking, in words all could understand, about the saving deeds of Jesus. (Acts 2:1-11)

That earth-shaking appearance of the Spirit was an exception. Usually, the Holy Spirit acts quietly, gently, like the dewfall.

In Old Testament thought, the same word means both “wind” and “spirit.” And so, Genesis pictures “pre-creation” as formless, chaotic waters. To begin creation, God breathes his ruah, his spirit, on the chaos to begin the ordering of creation. (Gn 1:1-3; and excellent footnotes in the New American Bible) Also, the Bible pictures the punishment for attempting to build the Tower of Babel as the confusion of many languages among the workers. (Gn 11:9) This confusion of many languages is corrected by the Spirit on Pentecost, as all the tourists — Medes, Parthians, Elamites, etc. — can understand Peter’s sermon given in a Galilean dialect. (Acts 2:7-11)

In our own spiritual life, we see the gentle “ordering” of the Spirit in the development of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, which we receive at Baptism and Confirmation. Starting with wisdom, which always serves as a light to guide us to God amid the complications and dead ends of our lives, the Holy Spirit sticks with us, and helps us to develop these quiet, internal strengths to offset the chaos and confusion that often attack our souls. When our spirits are parched by the cares, envies and turmoil of life, the Spirit comes “like dewfall” to refresh us.

At times, people go to Lourdes or Medjugorje or to a healing service with some curiosity in their hopes: “Will I see some dramatic cure?” Lent teaches us to notice quiet and obscure signs of God’s activity. As we join Christ praying in the wilderness, we can count on the Spirit to refresh us with his “dewfall.”

Fr. Krastel professed vows as a Redemptorist in 1959 and was ordained to the priesthood in 1964. He is an associate pastor of St. Mary’s Church in Annapolis, MD.

Previous reflections:
40 Days with Christ in the desert