Given at the Thy Kingdom Come Beacon Event in Trafalgar Square on Pentecost Sunday, 9th June 2019.
Many years ago I used to enjoy walking in the Peak District, in Derbyshire. It is limestone country, so there is little surface water. Yet the countryside is marked by flowers, clumps of trees and considerable vegetation. One day, as I recall, after a long walk across that limestone pavement, rounding a hilltop, there before my eyes was a most glorious sight: a river, breaking out from its underground course, spilling majestically down the hillside, radiant in sunlight and freedom, only to disappear again further down the valley! Then I realised that all the flowers, trees and vegetation that I had seen, had been drawing on this unseen water. It was the hidden source of their growth.
So too with the Holy Spirit. Largely unseen, mostly unacknowledged, the Holy Spirit of God is the source of so much beauty, generosity and fruitfulness in our landscape, which can sometimes appear to us as barren and parched. But when the Holy Spirit breaks into sight, as we can sense today, it is wonderful to behold and so encouraging.
Then again, as a youngster I took great delight in watching the tall ships come in and out of the River Mersey, in Liverpool. Elegant ships, with their crews manning the rigging, three tall masts carrying the great billowing sails which moved the ships through the seas calmly, firmly and without fuss.
We think of the Holy Spirit not only as refreshing, life-giving water but also as wind and power. The Holy Spirit is the wind of God blowing into the sails of the Church, moving her forward, on course towards the Kingdom where our fulfilment lies, announcing hope, calmness, purpose, service, as her witness on this pilgrimage in our world.
Today we pray: 'Thy Kingdom come'. We pray especially for the gifts of the Holy Spirit. We pray for refreshing water for our parched world, which, drawing on that hidden source, still manages to be so fruitful in compassion, charity and service. We pray for the great wind of the Holy Spirit to fill our sails and urge us forward not only to the Eternal Kingdom which is our destiny but also in the witness we give to the reality of that Kingdom, here and now: a kingdom of truth and life, a kingdom of holiness and grace, a kingdom of justice, love and peace.
Today we pray for the gifts of the Holy Spirit so that together we may serve that Kingdom with integrity and love. May the Lord bless us today and always, that we may be servants of his Kingdom and heralds of his Gospel in both word and deed. Amen.
Cardinal Vincent Nichols