From the hermitage
By sister alies therese
The ‘season of the Spirit’ is upon us and have we used the many opportunities to explore the ‘beauty?’ As we ‘turn green’ from the glory of Easter/Pentecost’s golds and reds we are called to practically live out what has been given. We discover in the Scriptures and from contemporary writers, the various ways this Pneuma has been heard and experienced. What sort of life might we live having received such ourselves? How do we set ourselves up to receive? How do we respond to the generosity and kindness of God?
Carlo Carretto, (Selected Writings, 1994, Ellsberg, Ed. page 83) … points us to our reality:
“And then, what do rocks matter? What matters is Christ’s promise, what matters is the cement that binds the rocks into one: the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit alone can build the Church with stones as ill-hewn as we.”
To admit I am ill-hewn is always an ‘ouch’ as I’m pretty sure God meant better for us! But the Spirit shows me a different picture and promises to transform. Pope Francis in the Joy of the Gospel (2013) speaks of:
“Spirit-filled evangelizers, fearlessly open to the working of the Holy Spirit … Jesus wants evangelizers who proclaim the good news not only with words but above all a life transfigured by God’s presence…”
And then the Scriptures showed us:
“A strong heavy wind was rending the mountains and crushing the rocks before the Lord — but the Lord was not in the wind … and after the fire there was a whispering sound. When he heard this Elijah hid his face in his cloak.” (1Kings 9)
“The tiny whisper is imperceptible and tells of the spirituality of God. It was fitting Elijah, whose mission it was to re-establish the covenant and restore the pure faith, would have returned to Horeb where the covenant was revealed to Moses and through him to Israel’s people.” (NAB, notes, page 336)
Have we heard the driving wind or the small voice? God is generous, clearly a hope in us that we don’t miss our call, indeed, that we get the memo!
“From up in the sky there came a noise like a strong, driving wind: the wind and the Holy Spirit are associated in John 3:8: ‘the wind blows where it will. You hear the sound it makes but you do not know where it comes from nor where it goes. So it is with everyone begotten of the Spirit.’” (NAB, notes, page 1172)
I don’t know where I’m going half the time (perhaps not in an ‘ultimate sense’). Is this a blessing of aging? Anyway, this Spirit does not just call on us once … or even twice. Frequently we can hear that whisper, or large boom, when we are at prayer, or trying to pray. Note:
CCC 2623: On the day of Pentecost, the Spirit of the Promise was poured out on the disciples, gathered ‘together in one place. While awaiting the Spirit, ‘all these with one accord devoted themselves to prayer.’ The Spirit who teaches the church and recalls for her everything Jesus said was also to form her in a life of prayer.”
CCC 2655: …Prayer internalizes and assimilates the liturgy during and after celebration. Even when it is lived out ‘in secret’, prayer is always the prayer of the church; it is a communion with the Holy Trinity.’
So, the coming of God’s Spirit is really to form us ill-hewn ones for prayer, for that marvelous encounter with Jesus. If God, as Spirit, has gotten our attention, what next? W. H. Auden in Prayer, the Nature of in a Certain World, 1970, writes:
“To pray is to pay attention to something or someone other than oneself. Whenever one so concentrates attention…that one completely forgets the ego and desires, one is praying.
To forget my ego … ah, that is where I am indeed ill-hewn! You?
In Praying With Icons, Jim Forest, 1997, points out:
“When the Most High came down and confused the tongues, God divided the nations. But when God distributed tongues of fire, God called everyone to unity. Therefore with one accord we glorify the all-Holy Spirit.” — Kontakion for Pentecost
How is this Spirit wending her way through our pandemic ridden world? Are we not, indeed a people in darkness awaiting illumination? Are we not a people called to unity, burned together by this fire? This unity comes in prayer and action, and trust in an unseen God.
Finally, in The Word in the Desert, Douglas Burton-Christie 1993, mentions Abba Cronius, who reminds the brothers/sisters that “vigilance, singlemindedness, and abandonment to God’s will gives birth to the Holy Spirit in one’s soul.” (page 207)
We pray the Spirit will give us just these graces for that birth that we might together glorify God, ill-hewn as we are.
(Sister alies therese is a canonically vowed hermit with days formed around prayer and writing.)