Catholicism can feel like a locked room. As if there is one way to be a disciple, to practice and live the faith.
There was a period in my faith journey where Catholicism felt like a rigid set of prescriptions and judgments.
But the grace of salvation, the meaning of Pentecost, is that God breaks through the locks.
The Book of Wisdom served as a key. A gift of the Spirit, Wisdom “is resplendent and unfading” and “in her is a spirit intelligent, holy, unique… never harmful, loving the good.”
Through Wisdom, I heard a new story of salvation as descriptive, rather than prescriptive. This is how Love moves in the world: Jesus, Wisdom Incarnate, comes to heal and set us free; calling us to missionary discipleship, to preach Good News in a fractured and fragile world.
Our entrance antiphon for Pentecost is Wisdom 1:7: “For the spirit of the Lord fills the world, is all-embracing, and knows whatever is said.” Wisdom speaks directly to today’s fragmentation. Our ability to understand one another breaks under divided attention, driven by algorithms away from the present where flesh and blood relationships might draw us closer to each other.
Here is a sign pointing us back. Though there is not one way to be Catholic, one Spirit fills and embraces the world. This mystical-socio-political-institutional reality is a counter-witness to the forces of discord we face: the Church, spread throughout the world. Human beings still gather to proclaim the same story in different tongues, cultures and contexts. We read from a shared Scripture and profess the same miracle: Christ is Risen.
This Pentecost, one path out from the locked room is revealed in the wisdom of Pope Francis’ Spirit-led endeavor: the Global Synod, For a synodal church: participation, communion and mission.
Go to the synod website and scan entries from around the world: Taiwan, Uganda, Spain, North America, Brazil, Ireland, Australia. In each place, people are opening their hearts to the Spirit and asking the questions: What have been the joys and obstacles in your journeying with the church? What steps does the Holy Spirit invite us to take to grow in our “journeying together?”
Perhaps you haven’t heard this good news of the Synod or had an opportunity to participate. Be not afraid! It is not too late. Pentecost declares: the Spirit is poured out! Alive and pumping from the heart of the Church: renewing structures, turning ecclesial power on its head, enlarging our understanding of our baptism and our belonging as a people, loved by the Creator.
We can still go forth from locked rooms as the Spirit leads us to listen to the dreams of our elders and the prophecies of young people. The Spirit is poured out upon all flesh, and wisdom is given in abundance, helping all to see, hear and understand what is said.
The Spirit of the Lord has filled the whole world / and that which contains all things / understands what is said, alleluia. (Wisdom 1:7)
Casey offered this reflection in U.S. Catholic for the Feast of Pentecost