One of the joys of my recent participation in the International Union of Superiors General’s (UISG) meeting in Rome, was the deep sense of the Spirit moving in and among us.
On a number of occasions, we were asked to pray the Our Father in our own language. This profound experience drew me into the reality of the first Pentecost where Luke records in the Acts of the Apostles – each one understood in their own language: ‘We heard them telling the wonders of God in our own languages.’ (Acts 2:11) At this moment in the Assembly, there was a deep sense of communion among us. As the days progressed, the call to work in collaboration with one another grew stronger – an indicator of the Spirit’s presence with us.
As we gathered, we were very present to the places in our world where war and violence are a daily reality – Ukraine, Myanmar, Afghanistan, Nigeria, the Congo, Syria, Sri Lanka and South Sudan with the question arising, what is ours to do amidst such realities. The courage, tenacity and witness of women Religious serving in such realities echoes again the message of Pentecost: ‘You shall be my witnesses unto the ends of the earth’ (Acts 1:8) as one leader shared why her community chose to remain steadfast amidst the war torn reality of Syria.
Other voices echoed this same experience in small group sharing and in feedback to the assembled group. How am I/we responding to this challenge to be a witness to the gospel for these times within the my/our current reality?
Pentecost is also celebrated as the birth of the church – the Christian community. The whole UISG conference was centred around the call to be a synodal church – walking together in the spirit of communion honouring the richness of our diversity. Listening with deep intent to the call of the Spirit is the work of the people of God for these times.
Let us hold in prayerful support the work of the Plenary Council to be held in Australia from 3-9 July 2022 as the members discern the future directions for the life of the church here. May it be a time of ‘listening with the ears of our hearts’ to what the Spirit is saying in this gathered Assembly. May the gifts of the Spirit – wisdom, understanding, right judgement, courage, knowledge, reverence, wonder and awe, be abundant among the members of the Plenary Council so that the birth of a new Pentecost will flourish across our Australian church and community.
In words of Dr Jessie Rogers, may this Pentecost be a time when:
May the Spirit fill your days with peace, joy and love this Pentecost day.
Sr Monica Cavanagh