Come, Spirit of Elijah, in Jesus’ Name!

The promontory and convent of Mount Carmel, 1883, Public domain.

By Chris Sparks

In the Old Covenant I sent prophets wielding thunderbolts to My people. Today I am sending you with My mercy to the people of the whole world. I do not want to punish aching mankind, but I desire to heal it, pressing it to My Merciful Heart. I use punishment when they themselves force Me to do so; My hand is reluctant to take hold of the sword of justice. Before the Day of Justice I am sending the Day of Mercy (Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska, 1588).

I have been to the cave of Elijah.

It sounds impossible as I say it, especially given the extraordinary manifestation of God to the prophet recorded in 1 Kings 19. The wrath of the king and queen, leading to deadly danger for Elijah the prophet; the flight in such despair that he leaves his servant behind and goes to sleep under a tree praying for death.

Then the angel comes and brings him bread and a jug, not once, but twice, followed by a 40-day journey to the cave at Haifa that can be visited to this day, that I have touched, that I prayed at, where I was blessed by one of the priests having custody of the sight.

Still silent sound
Elijah there was visited by God — a mighty wind preceded God, and an earthquake, and a fire. But God’s presence was indicated to the prophet by a “still silent sound,” by an impossibility, by the sort of thing that only makes sense if you’ve ever had a habit of prayer.

That cave, that place, from which Elijah was sent strengthened and renewed to find his successor, Elisha — that cave I have visited. It’s not in the middle of the desert, as you might expect. It’s atop Mount Carmel, according to Christian tradition, and overlooks the water of the Mediterranean Sea near Haifa.

Elijah went on retreat, essentially, strengthened by the bread and the drink of angels, by a foreshadowing of the Eucharist. From that retreat, that mountaintop experience, he emerged renewed.

Spiritual sons and daughters
That is an image of the Eucharistic revival, of every revival and mission, of every retreat. We are all meant to be spiritual sons and daughters of Elijah, obedient to his spirit. That spirit spoke through St. John the Baptist and foretold the coming of Jesus (see Lk 1:15-17); we are told by many of the Fathers of the early Church that at the end of time, Elijah himself will return to the streets of Jerusalem, and with the patriarch Enoch, will preach and prophesy against Anti-Christ for a time, till they are slain, and rise, and are drawn up in glory into Heaven shortly before the Second Coming of Christ (see Rev 11:1-13).

I have seen the cave of Elijah. Its value is in what happened there, and who visited — the prophet, yes, but more importantly, God. Here God came to speak with His servant in about as direct and approachable a way as ever happened before the Incarnation of Jesus Christ.

But that cave has been built on, as the New Testament always builds on the Old, and Stella Maris Monastery stands over the cave. A tabernacle is nearby, and the Lord is there, still, awaiting the arrival of the children of Elijah, all of us who have been baptized, confirmed, made priests, prophets, and kings.

The Lord waits, not in the mighty wind, or the earthquake, or the fire, but in stillness, silence, smallness. Under the appearance of bread, Jesus waits, the Son of God, the Word made flesh.

At Elijah’s cave, you may still meet God.

Come, Holy Spirit
Pray in the name of Jesus and welcome the spirit of Elijah, which is the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth (see Jn 14:15-18); pray for Him to abide in your mind and heart, to let you see through falsehood to Christ, the Truth.

Pray for Him to come and set you on fire with divine life and love, as the fire fell from Heaven to set alight Elijah’s sacrifice (see 1 Kgs 18:30-39).

Pray for the Holy Spirit as we approach Pentecost, begging God to cast fire on the earth, and renew it.

Pray for the gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit (see Catechism, 1831-1832) to come into your life, to change you, to equip you for holiness here on earth and in Heaven forevermore.

Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful
and enkindle in them the fire of your love.

V. Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created.
R. And you shall renew the face of the earth.

Let us pray.
O God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit,
did instruct the hearts of the faithful,
grant us in the same Spirit to be truly wise
and ever to rejoice in His consolation.
Through Christ our Lord.

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