Readings and homily from Mass celebrated by Fr Richard this evening for the optional memorial of Saint Pius V, pope from 1566-1572
Homily: The Spirit's guidance
The action of the Holy Spirit in the life of a disciple is very evident in today’s reading. A eunach from Ethiopia is in his chariot on his way home from making a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. Philip, already instructed by the angel of the Lord to be on the same road, is then asked very clearly by the Spirit: “God up and meet that chariot.” That day, it was very definitely God’s will that Philip should explain the Book of the Prophet Isaiah to the man and then to baptise him. Then, as soon as the man comes up out of the water, the Spirit takes Philip away to continue his preaching of the Gospel in another place. By the power of the Holy Spirit, Philip is made aware exactly when it’s time to move on to the next task, the next mission. There’s evidently no time to lose when bringing the saving message of Christ to peoples and lands.
So too Saint Pius V relied on the guidance of the Holy Spirit during his busy six-year papacy. In being attentive to the promptings of the Spirit, he knew what actions he needed to take to reform and protect the Church – and also when to move on to the next duty. Whether it be the decision to excommunicate Queen Elizabeth I for heresy and persecution of English Catholics, or the work of implementing the Council of Trent, Pius V would always have been open to the Holy Spirit guiding his work. He published a new Catechism, a new missal, a new breviary (Divine Office of the Church), he opened hospitals to care for the sick and gave money to the poor - all of which he did with the promptings of the Holy Spirit.
In our living and proclaiming of the Gospel, we too need to follow the example of Philip and Pius V and be open to the Spirit’s guidance. Praying specifically and consciously to the Third Person of the Holy Trinity is a truly powerful prayer. Attentively listening to the Spirit, we’ll be shown the way of truth, helped in the making of difficult decisions, given courage to evangelise and be kept safe in all of our journeys.