“Jesus came and stood in their midst . . . he breathed on them and said to them ‘Receive the Holy Spirit’ ” (John 20: 19 – 23).
Today is the great Feast of Pentecost celebrating the gift of the Holy Spirit present in our lives and in our world. We may wonder where the Holy Spirit is sometimes when we look at the state of the world or the struggles of those close to us. However, this day provides the pause we may need to stop and notice the breath of God. Rushing wind or flames of fire or obvious signs it may not be, however, like our breathing, which we can take for granted, the Spirit is with us.
The Sisters of the Holy Redeemer recall when Jesus has stood in our midst this past week and breathed his Holy Spirit among us.
The Sisters, Redeemer Ministry Corps volunteers, Redeemer Associates, and others gathered for evening Mass and faith sharing on Monday. During this time we listened to one another share their inspirations from scripture and the integration with daily life. One in particular shared how a line from that day’s Gospel, “take courage, I have conquered the world” (John 16:33) transformed her attitude and compelled her to share this good news with so many people she met that day. The work of the Spirit for sure!
On Tuesday evening all gathered again for a Blessing service for the new location of the Sisters’ frame shop and Province Center. Here we celebrated the presence of the Holy Spirit with us in the midst of some very significant transitions. Now settling in, we paused to give thanks and to seek the ongoing guidance of the Spirit.
On Wednesday, the Sisters gathered with the General Superior of the Congregation who was visiting from Germany. She called all to be open and listening to the Holy Spirit as we seek to be attentive to and respond to the signs of the times with the Charism with which our Congregation has been entrusted.
That same afternoon we piled into three cars to travel to Northern New Jersey for a Blessing of a newly renovated home care ministry site. The presence of the Holy Spirit was tangible as we met the many staff who daily carry out the works of mercy in a struggling urban community. Their care and compassion is so evident. At the end of the prayer service and blessing a participant commented “This was a different type of meeting – the focus wasn’t on money!” Sometimes we can take for granted we are in the ministry of loving care when the society around us is about business for a profit. It is good to be reminded that we are doing something different and wonderful. It is only by the work of the Holy Spirit!
Thursday evening – another gathering and celebration – the Spirit knows how to party . . . and bring people together in unity! We gathered to thank and say farewell to our General Superior before she returned to Germany the next day. Her joyful laughter was a clear sign of the presence of the Spirit for “Joy is the infalliable sign of the presence of God” (Pierre Teilhard de Chardin).
Friday saw sweet potatoes and tilling of the field for the community garden. By the grace of the Holy Spirit and the work of many hands and hearts the garden is moving along despite so little rain for a month!
By the end of the day on Friday the formation Community gathered in the prayer Chapel to sit in silence to listen to the Holy Spirit reminding and revealing the presence of Christ in our joys, struggles and celebrations of the week. Here we could feel a little more surely the breath of God.
You may wish to set aside some time just to be still. Notice your breathing – flowing in and out. Breathe in freshness and life, breathe out the stale air of whatever keeps you from noticing the Holy Spirit. Now allow God’s breath to fill you.
Happy Feast of Pentecost!