Pentecost Message 2020
A Message from Father Grieves
Ascension Day 2020
As I write to you, the world is anxiously waiting to be released from some of the constraints and limitations of the lockdown brought about by the Covid 19 pandemic, and the Church is waiting and preparing for Pentecost Sunday. Everywhere Christians, perhaps more than ever, are remaining in prayer to receive the Holy Spirit. These are the days of the original novena (nine successive days) when the Church waited in prayer for the gift of the Spirit. At this time of the year we are encouraged by the Church to wait patiently with mind and heart open to God.
Having been in a state of ‘lockdown’ and ‘having stay at home’ for almost eight weeks, we know only too well that neither ‘patience’ nor ‘waiting’ are popular concepts in our modern world today, or at any time. It is rather speed and being active and busy, doing what we want, when we want, which are prized by our society. Before the pandemic our towns and shopping centres were full of fast food establishments where meals can be prepared, served and eaten in minutes. Our kitchen cupboards are probably full of ‘instant meals’. Busy people are an advertiser’s dream, and products are marketed to appeal to those who are busy about all sorts of things.
As waiting is out of fashion so patience is no longer seen as a virtue. Although many people suffer because of the speed and stress of contemporary life, few are prepared to speak out against it, or on the importance of patience. However, the threat of the Covid 19 pandemic and its very grave consequences, have given us all time to pause and reflect, and made us wait and be patient. Within the Christian tradition there is a long history of waiting, of waiting on the Lord and of being patient in all things. It is only through waiting in patience and trust that we will be open to receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit. The first disciples of Jesus waited patiently after his death. Then the risen Christ appeared amongst them and they began to see a new purpose and mission in life. When Jesus left them and returned to his Father they were invited to wait again – this time to wait for the life empowering and life changing gift of the Holy Spirit. The patient witness of the apostles is an example to all who follow Jesus Christ.
There are many ways in which we can patiently wait on Christ and open our hearts and minds to him, while our lives are limited and our churches remain closed to public acts worship. Perhaps the simplest way is through prayer. In our daily prayers of thanksgiving, blessing, praise and supplication we are able to speak to God as a son speaks to a father who he knows loves him; or according to St Ignatius of Loyola, ‘as a friend speaks to a friend’.
It often said that the greatest gift a person can give to another is the gift of their time. This is true not just in our relationship with others, but also in our relationship with God. In these days before Pentecost, and especially in our present crisis, which will never overcome us, we should use this time to wait and listen to the word of God with a spirit of openness and trust. So, seek out that secret place where God himself can speak to you. The message of our anxious world, and this holy season, calls us to slow down, wait patiently and listen, and prepare ourselves to receive a gift that is infinitely greater than any provided by a high-speed, high-tech society.
Please pray for me as I pray for you, and may we all know something of the life changing and healing power of the Holy Spirit.
May God bless you always,
Saint Mary's Barnard Castle, 16/05/2020