Ascension Year B
Veni Sancte Spiritus! Come, Holy Spirit! Hear the cry of the Church as she once again mystically enters the upper room with Mary, the Mother of Jesus, to await the promised coming of the Holy Spirit who will renew her in the fire of His love! The faithful living of the Sacred Liturgy is much more than a simple remembering of past events. It rather enables us to re-live in our own day all the events of salvation history, giving us the power to actually participate in them through the timeless gift of divine grace.
Before Jesus ascended into heaven, He promised that authenticating signs would accompany those who had been clothed with the power of the Holy Spirit. Among these signs was the ability to speak foreign languages. We know that on the day of Pentecost, the Apostles were able to be understood by all their listeners who had come from many foreign lands. In our own day, our brothers and sisters in the Charismatic Renewal Movement often receive the “gift of tongues” by which they sing the praises of the Lord. Throughout history, some of the Saints have been able to communicate in languages they have never studied. Our own St. Colette of Corbie, a French Poor Clare abbess of the 15th century, once was traveling through a dangerous mountain pass near the German border of her country on her way to found a new monastery. Suddenly, her little party of sisters with their chaplain was accosted by a band of highway brigands. In his most eloquent French, the good friar priest pleaded for the sisters’ safety. But the German robbers understood not a word, nor did they seem to care. Then
Colette descended from her covered wagon, approached the men and addressed them
calmly in fluent German. They were so
impressed that not only did they do no harm, but they made themselves into a
protective escort for the sisters throughout the rest of their journey.
It is not usual for a Poor Clare to have this extraordinary gift of tongues, but we do rely on the Holy Spirit to teach us the personal language of every sister. For in the cloister, one discovers that each person really does have her own unique language which must be learned through the inspirations of God’s Spirit and the observations of love. We all use English words, but each word passes through the prism of each one’s past experience, family situation, ethnic background and personal temperament. Then, we who are bound by a rule of silence communicate also by body language and facial expression. Only a sympathetic eye guided by a charitable heart can accurately read these media. Next Sunday we will be privileged to welcome a new one into our midst and all of us will be eager to learn her language while at the same time teaching her to understand ours. We pray that the Holy Spirit will guide us here and every one in the world, that all the peoples of the earth may become one in heart and mind in the common language of love.
I may not be able to post next week as I will be very busy taking care of a newborn aspirant. But once she has learned her first monastic steps I will be back. Pray for my intentions!