May Scripture for Reflection & Intentions for Prayer resource

April 10, 2024

A representation in stained glass of the Holy Spirit as a dove diving earth-wards, surrounded by a fire-like orange.
The Holy Spirit, depicted in St Cuthbert's Church, Egham.

Writing in the new Pastoral Plan for the Diocese "The Word Who is Life: The Call to Mission" (7.4), Bishop Richard asks that every parish provides times of Adoration before the Blessed Sacrament, leading to monthly Holy Hours. To support this, the diocesan Formation Team is providing regular resources - including suggested scripture readings and intentions. The resources for May can be found below:

Liturgical Calendar – Easter Time, The Ascension of the Lord, Pentecost,
Ordinary Time, The Most Holy Trinity, Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

The Resurrection of Christ is the foundation of our faith and hope.

The abundance of Paschal joy overflows so that the fifty days from Easter Sunday of the Lord’s Resurrection to Pentecost Sunday are celebrated in exultation as one feast day, as one ‘great Sunday’. These are the days above all others in which the Alleluia is sung.

The Paschal candle remains in place either by the ambo or by the altar, and is lit for all liturgical celebrations of the season until Pentecost Sunday.

In Easter Time, the first reading at Mass is taken from the Acts of the Apostles, rather than from the Old Testament.

On Sundays, instead of the customary Penitential Act, the blessing and sprinkling of water may take place as a reminder of Baptism.

For adults who have received Christian initiation during the Easter Vigil, the Easter season is a period of mystagogical catechesis, helping them to unpack and explore the spiritual treasures of the Sacraments by reflecting on their meaning and significance in their personal lives of faith.

Throughout the Easter season the newly baptised should be assigned their own special place among the faithful, participating at Mass along with their godparents; and they are mentioned in the Prayer of the Faithful as we continue to support them on their journey of faith.

Having renewed our baptismal promises at the Easter Vigil and been sprinkled with blessed water, we are reminded that, through the Paschal Mystery, we have been buried with Christ in Baptism so that we may walk with him in newness of life.

Recalling the baptism we have received, through these words and gestures, is more than just remembering a particular date in the past; we are baptised, and each day we are called to love and serve God, to share the Good News of Jesus Christ as his disciples and witnesses, and to carry out the mission for which we were anointed by water and the Holy Spirit, who has gifted us for this purpose.

The ministry of Jesus starts with the descent of the Holy Spirit at his Baptism; and the ministry of the Church – our ministry as disciples and witnesses to Jesus’s message and to building the kingdom of God on earth – begins with the coming of the Spirit at Pentecost. The task and life of the Church – our task and our life – are the same as those of Jesus himself: to bring God’s kingship to its fulfilment by bringing healing, forgiveness, love, joy, justice and peace through the message of the Risen Christ.


Jesus said to his disciples:

‘I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser.
Every branch in me that bears no fruit he cuts away,
and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes to make it bear even more.
You are pruned already, by means of the word that I have spoken to you.
Make your home in me, as I make mine in you.
As a branch cannot bear fruit all by itself, but must remain part of the vine,
neither can you unless you remain in me.
I am the vine, you are the branches.
Whoever remains in me, with me in them, bears fruit in plenty;
for cut off from me you can do nothing.
Anyone who does not remain in me
is like a branch that has been thrown away – they wither;
these branches are collected and thrown on the fire, and they are burnt.
If you remain in me and my words remain in you,
you may ask what you will and you shall get it.
It is to the glory of my Father that you should bear much fruit,
and then you will be my disciples.’ [John 15:1-8]

(Peter came to the house of Cornelius in in Caesaria, where Cornelius had called together his relatives and close friends.)

Peter addressed Cornelius and his household: ‘The truth I have now come to realise’ he said ‘is that God does not have favourites, but that anybody of any nationality who fears God and does what is right is acceptable to him.’

While Peter was still speaking the Holy Spirit came down on all the listeners. Jewish believers who had accompanied Peter were all astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit should be poured out on the pagans too, since they could hear them speaking strange languages and proclaiming the greatness of God. Peter himself then said, ‘Could anyone refuse the water of baptism to these people, now they have received the Holy Spirit just as much as we have?’ He then gave orders for them to be baptised in the name of Jesus Christ. Afterwards they begged him to stay on for some days. [Acts 10:34-35.44-48]

My dear people, let us love one another since love comes from God and everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God.

Anyone who fails to love can never have known God, because God is love.

God’s love for us was revealed when God sent into the world his only Son so that we could have life through him; this is the love I mean: not our love for God, but God’s love for us when he sent his Son to be the sacrifice that takes our sins away. [1 John 4:7-10]

In my earlier work, I dealt with everything Jesus had done and taught from the beginning until the day he gave his instructions to the apostles he had chosen through the Holy Spirit, and was taken up to heaven. He had shown himself alive to them after his Passion by many demonstrations: for forty days he had continued to appear to them and tell them about the kingdom of God. When he had been at table with them, he had told them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait there for what the Father had promised. ‘It is’ he had said ‘what you have heard me speak about: John baptised with water but you, not many days from now, will be baptised with the Holy Spirit.’

Now having met together, they asked him, ‘Lord, has the time come? Are you going to restore the kingdom to Israel?’ He replied, ‘It is not for you to know times or dates that the Father has decided by his own authority, but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you, and then you will be my witnesses not only in Jerusalem but throughout Judaea and Samaria, and indeed to the ends of the earth.’

As he said this he was lifted up while they looked on, and a cloud took him from their sight. They were still staring into the sky when suddenly two men in white were standing near them and they said, ‘Why are you men from Galilee standing here looking into the sky? Jesus who has been taken up from you into heaven, this same Jesus will come back in the same way as you have seen him go there.’ [Acts 1:1-11]

I, the prisoner in the Lord, implore you to lead a life worthy of your vocation. Bear with one another charitably, in complete selflessness, gentleness and patience. Do all you can to preserve the unity of the Spirit by the peace that binds you together. There is one Body, one Spirit, just as you were all called into one and the same hope when you were called. There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God who is Father of all, over all, through all and within all.

Each one of us, however, has been given our own share of grace, given as Christ allotted it. To some, his gift was that they should be apostles; to some, prophets; to some, evangelists; to some, pastors and teachers; so that the saints together make a unity in the work of service, building up the body of Christ. In this way we are all to come to unity in our faith and in our knowledge of the Son of God, until we become perfect, fully mature with the fullness of Christ himself. [Ephesians 4:1-7.11-13]

Jesus showed himself to the Eleven and said to them:

‘Go out to the whole world; proclaim the Good News to all creation. Those who believe and are baptised will be saved; those who do not believe will be condemned. These are the signs that will be associated with believers: in my name they will cast out devils; they will have the gift of tongues; they will pick up snakes in their hands, and be unharmed should they drink deadly poison; they will lay their hands on the sick, who will recover.’

And so the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven: there at the right hand of God he took his place, while they, going out, preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word by the signs that accompanied it. [Mark 16:15-20]

My dear people, since God has loved us so much, we too should love one another. No one has ever seen God; but as long as we love one another God will live in us and his love will be complete in us. We can know that we are living in him and he is living in us because he lets us share his Spirit. We ourselves saw and we testify that the Father sent his Son as saviour of the world. If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them, and they in God. We ourselves have known and put our faith in God’s love towards ourselves. God is love and anyone who lives in love lives in God, and God lives in them. [1 John 4:11-16]

When Pentecost day came round, they had all met in one room, when suddenly they heard what sounded like a powerful wind from heaven, the noise of which filled the entire house in which they were sitting; and something appeared to them that seemed like tongues of fire; these separated and came to rest on the head of each of them. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak foreign languages as the Spirit gave them the gift of speech.

Now there were devout people living in Jerusalem from every nation under heaven, and at this sound they all assembled, each one bewildered to hear these men speaking their own language. They were amazed and astonished. ‘Surely’ they said ‘all these men speaking are Galileans? How does it happen that each of us hears them in our own native language? Parthians, Medes and Elamites; people from Mesopotamia, Judaea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya round Cyrene; as well as visitors from Rome – Jews and proselytes alike – Cretans and Arabs; we hear them preaching in our own language about the marvels of God.’ [Acts 2:1-11]

On the day of Pentecost, Peter spoke to the Jews:

‘The whole House of Israel can be certain that God has made this Jesus whom you crucified both Lord and Christ.’ Hearing this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the apostles, ‘What must we do, brothers?’ ‘You must repent,’ Peter answered ‘and every one of you must be baptised in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise that was made is for you and your children, and for all those who are far away, for all those whom the Lord our God will call to himself.’ He spoke to them for a long time using many arguments, and he urged them, ‘Save yourselves from this perverse generation.’ They were convinced by his arguments, and they accepted what he said and were baptised. That very day about three thousand were added to their number. [Acts 2:36-41]

No one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord’ unless they are under the influence of the Holy Spirit.

There is a variety of gifts but always the same Spirit; there are all sorts of service to be done, but always to the same Lord; working in all sorts of different ways in different people, it is the same God who is working in all of them. The particular way in which the Spirit is given to each person is for a good purpose.

Just as a human body, though it is made up of many parts, is a single unit because all these parts, though many, make one body, so it is with Christ. In the one Spirit we were all baptised, Jews as well as Greeks, slaves as well as citizens, and one Spirit was given to us all to drink. [1 Corinthians 12:3-7.12-13]

In the evening of the first day of the week, the doors were closed in the room where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews. Jesus came and stood among them. He said to them, ‘Peace be with you’, and showed them his hands and his side. The disciples were filled with joy when they saw the Lord, and he said to them again, ‘Peace be with you.

‘As the Father sent me, so am I sending you.’ After saying this he breathed on them and said: ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. For those whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven; for those whose sins you retain, they are retained.’ [John 20:19-23]

Pentecost Sequence - Veni,sancte Spiritus

Holy Spirit, Lord of Light,
from the clear celestial height
thy pure beaming radiance give.

Come, thou Father of the poor,
come with treasures which endure,
come, thou light of all that live!

Thou, of all consolers best,
thou, the soul’s delightful guest,
dost refreshing peace bestow.

Thou in toil art comfort sweet,
pleasant coolness in the heat,
solace in the midst of woe.

Light immortal, light divine,
visit thou these hearts of thine,
and our inmost being fill:

If thou take thy grace away,
nothing pure in us will stay,
all our good is turned to ill.

Heal our wounds, our strength renew,
on our dryness pour thy dew,
wash the stains of guilt away:

Bend thestubborn heart and will,
melt the frozen, warm the chill,
guide the steps that go astray.

Thou, on us who evermore
thee confess and thee adore,
with thy sevenfold gifts descend:

Give us comfort when we die,
give us life with thee on high,
give us joys that never end

Mary set out and went as quickly as she could to a town in the hill country of Judah. She went into Zechariah’s house and greeted Elizabeth. Now as soon as Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leapt in her womb and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. She gave a loud cry and said, ‘Of all women you are the most blessed, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. Why should I be honoured with a visit from the mother of my Lord? For the moment your greeting reached my ears, the child in my womb leapt for joy. Yes, blessed is she who believed that the promise made her by the Lord would be fulfilled.’

And Mary said:

     ‘My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord and my spirit exults in God my saviour;
     because he has looked upon his lowly handmaid.
     Yes, from this day forward all generations will call me blessed,
     for the Almighty has done great things for me.
     Holy is his name, and his mercy reaches from age to age for those who fear him.
     He has shown the power of his arm, he has routed the proud of heart.
     He has pulled down princes from their thrones and exalted the lowly.
     The hungry he has filled with good things, the rich sent empty away.
     He has come to the help of Israel his servant, mindful of his mercy
     – according to the promise he made to our ancestors –
     of his mercy to Abraham and to his descendants for ever.’ [Luke 1:39-55]

Cycle of Prayer

  • New Members of the Church – those who have received the Sacraments of Initiation (Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist) at Easter.
  • Human work - especially on the Feast of St Joseph the Worker (1 May).
  • The right use of the media – especially on World Communications Day (Sunday 12 May)
  • The Church - especially at Pentecost (Sunday19 May)
  • A deeper understanding between Christiansand Jews.
  • Those who suffer persecution, oppressionand denial of human rights.
  • Pope Francis’ intention for May: For the formation of religious and seminarians.
  • That religious women and men, and seminarians, grow in their own vocations through their human, pastoral, spiritual and community formation, leading them to be credible witnesses to the Gospel.

Prayer for our Diocese

  • Bishop Richard, and all the lay faithful, religious, deacons and priests in our parishes, schools, monasteries, convents and prisons, as we strive to build strong, lively schools of discipleship: communities where the Lord is known and loved; where the liturgy is experienced as an encounter with the wonder of heaven; where daily prayer is a natural part of life and where all are welcomed and their dignity as children of God always recognised. May we look to the future and, with a renewed openness to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, continue the Mission to which we have been called in the circumstances of our time.
  • We pray especially for all in the Lewes & Mayfield and Crawley Deaneries, as they meet, pray and discern the way forward, building a community of communities.
  • For a greater understanding of our Baptism as sharing in Christ’s mission, and for an increased awareness of the charisms gifted to us by the Holy Spirit.
  • For all our young people preparing for the Sacraments of Confirmation and Eucharist.

Lord, the Word who is Life.
May all the people of our Diocese
grow in openness to the power of the Holy Spirit,
so that through a growth in understanding and courage, and truly open to your call,
we may bear powerful witness to all around us,
for you are Lord for ever and ever. Amen.

The Formation team will shortly be providing basic guidelines to help set up lay-led times of Adoration for those communities that would like to join the call to prayerful support of the Diocese. For enquiries about this initiative, please contact our Spirituality Adviser, John Harman; E:

Scripture excerpts from The Jerusalem Bible, © 1966 by Darton Longman & Todd Ltd and Doubleday and Company Ltd.
Prayer (“Lord, the Word who is life”) © 2018 Diocese of Arundel & Brighton