Like the dewfall
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.
~Epiclesis of the Mass, New Roman Missal
This particular prayer caught my attention at Sunday’s Mass, sometime between my daughter throwing down a hymnal, and my son declaring publicly that he needed a diaper change.
“By sending down your Spirit upon them like the dewfall.” Can any literary image provide a gentler illustration of the non-imposing, non-offensive love from God our father to his children? God does not force us to love him. His gifts are not forced on us like baby food in the mouth of an obstinate toddler. His Spirit we receive openly, but without fanfare, and often times without notice until it manifests itself in our lives as an outward sign of God’s love to others.
Similarly, the word dewfall, I suspect, was chosen to illustrate that the Holy Spirit descends ever so gently from heaven above. In the same way, God sent manna to the Israelites in the form of dew falling down from heaven.
In the morning there was a layer of dew all about the camp, and when the layer of dew evaporated, fine flakes were on the surface of the wilderness, fine flakes like hoarfrost on the ground. On seeing it, the Israelites asked one another, “What is this?” for they did not know what it was. But Moses told them, “It is the bread which the LORD has given you to eat.” (Exodus 16:13-15)
The word dewfall not only indicates moisture on the ground, but gives specific direction, that it began in one place and ended in another, specifically from heaven down to earth as if the dewfall was intended to reach a certain recipient. It is not inconsequential dew which just appears on the grass and leaves, but is dewfall which is directed by God the Father in heaven to his children here on earth, just as the Holy Spirit.