Friday, May 17, 2013

Preparing for Pentecost

“So this heavenly spouse when he thought good to begin the promulgation of his law, cast down upon the assembly of those disciples whom he had deputed for this work a shower of fiery tongues, sufficiently intimating thereby that the preaching of the gospel was wholly designed for the inflaming of hearts.” (Treatise on the Love of God - Enhanced Version (St. Francis de Sales) - Highlight Loc. 1096-98 – Kindle Edition)

This is the quote which will carry me now to Pentecost this year. It may just become a sort of watchword for me as well. We'll just see.

Not so much by confession or admission as by observation, I'd have to say that the first five months of this year (despite all of the excitement: HABEMUS PAPAM!) has been an experience of a post-pentecost community rather ponderous in every aspect, not much inflaming of hearts being perceived in the order of our day as Church (as much anyway as I can see or sense). It would be neither fair nor altogether right to say that I felt myself confronted and challenged by a Bride weighted down by sin, but the sluggishness or ineffectiveness with which I sensed myself confronted was or is indeed oppressive. I know that Christ, this heavenly spouse, cannot or does not ever feel this way, but as far as my share in the spousing (as His priest) goes, such a feeling comes as no surprise. Were I all afire like Him that would not be the case.

The remedy, of course, is for me here and now to embrace that burning bush, that fire, and enter into Him, to set my heart unfailingly and again on the life of the world to come, never turning back:

“Thus, Jesus tells us that it is only by conforming our own will to the divine one that human beings attain their true height, that they become “divine”; only by coming out of ourselves, only in the “yes” to God, is Adam’s desire—and the desire of us all—to be completely free. It is what Jesus brings about at Gethsemane: in transferring the human will into the divine will the true man is born and we are redeemed.” (A School of Prayer (Pope Benedict XVI) - Highlight Loc. 1659-62 – Kindle Edition)

The tough part in all this is that it is not simply a question of beauty being in the eye of the beholder: I can be an enthusiastic bridegroom like St. Francis of Assisi, whose love is sufficient for the Bride and draws the best out of her. Even so, I wish something of the Bride herself, something which in turn could sustain me as that every man, in search of that community which is to lead me to everlasting life and love.

The Church (with me) is to be about the business of its mission bestowed in the upper room on the day of Pentecost: "sufficiently intimating thereby that the preaching of the gospel was wholly designed for the inflaming of hearts.”

My hope then and prayer for Pentecost this year would be for me certainly, that I might be that more effective instrument, but also that the Church, the Bride of Christ, might indeed better reveal herself as that woman clothed with the sun. May the spotless Bride of the Lamb better inflame hearts and bring them to Christ!


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