Monday, May 20, 2013

Pentecosts of the Present Moment

“If you are what you should be,
you will set the whole world on fire.”
+St. Catherine of Siena

Do you know someone who is able to be really present to others?  Can you picture someone who is able to give his or her full attention to the task at hand?  It seems to me that this is part of the task and the challenge of living Pentecost: simply being where we are, and doing what God wants us to do.  Now.  In this place and time. 

It also seems that much of the Christian life mirrors the experience of the Apostles in the days after Pentecost.  Like the earliest Christians, we know that Christ is really risen.  We have experienced his living Presence, and we also know that we have received the gift of the Holy Spirit.  We understand the Lord Jesus' promise to never leave us alone.

But, as with the Apostles and first disciples, we recognize that the mission from the Lord Jesus is as undefined as it is daunting: "Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature" (Mk 16:15).  There is no road map.  There is no five year strategic plan, no specific strategies.  So, like the earliest Christians, we wake up each day and turn to prayer, to listen and wait for the prompting of the Spirit. 

Thankfully, the Holy Spirit arrives anew each day.  If we are disposed to receive his gifts, they offer all the answers we need: Courage to drive out fear; wisdom to wipe away foolishness; knowledge to dispel our ignorance; understanding to eliminate confusion; counsel for our helplessness, reverence in place of the darkness of our idolatry, and wonder and awe instead of the sense of being trapped in our addictions.

Post-Pentecost living is a matter of letting the Spirit arrive to transform our weaknesses into our greatest strengths.  Today.  This moment.  Pentecost not just a "one and done" event, since the whole idea of "ordinary time" points to the promised presence of the Spirit breaking into our lives each day. In his masterpiece of Christian spirituality, Abandonment to Divine Providence, Fr. Jean-Pierre de Caussade calls this the "sacrament of the moment." 

Wherever we are, what ever we are doing, the Lord is pouring out his Spirit to help us be who we need to be in that moment.  Caussade writes, "All I want for you is to carry on as you are doing and endure what your have to do--but change your attitude to all these things.  And this change is simply to say 'I will" to all that God asks...By this obedience we shall become one with God."  Happiness, holiness and authentic human fulfillment can be found only by doing God's will. 

Like the earliest Christians, we need to venture out--day by day, moment by moment.  We need to build the kingdom by following the promptings of the Spirit.  This is the mission of saying "I will" to the sacrament of the moment.  And this is what will set the world on fire!