“Lord, send out your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth.”
I’ll be honest. At the time of writing, I feel like I have nothing insightful or remotely intelligent to say. I’ve learned by now that these thoughts are based on a lie aimed at making me quit. They’re an attempt to make me belittle my God-given gifts. When I feel stuck, when I feel like there’s so much to tell but none of the words to appropriately express them—I’ve learned that’s often the moment preparing me for some great change, or transition, or breakthrough. I am a writer, so Satan attacks my ability to write. I tell stories of healing. Satan doesn’t want us to be healed.
And sometimes the easiest way to begin is by bringing the lie to light and exposing it for what it is.
It is God who gave me these gifts. It’s God who builds them up in me so that I can be renewed in them, and then in turn use those gifts to help others in their work of renewal and restoration.
As I write this, I’m nearly finished celebrating the anniversary of my Baptism and haven’t fully come down from the spiritual highs of the Paschal season. Pentecost has come and gone.
Easter was full of incredible, exultant joys on the one hand and on the other, possibly the most intense and extended spiritual attack I’ve yet faced. I feel as though I spent more than half the season distracted from the present moment, worrying about what I might have missed, overly anticipating the next thing on my list.
I spent an at-home retreat attempting to recover from this feeling of perpetual distractedness. In some ways, it worked very well, helping remind me to prioritize prayer first, then family (including parish family), then outside work. On the other hand, while spending more time in God’s presence, I still struggled to be fully present to Him who is always fully present to me.
And despite my failings, God has called me right where I am, exactly as I am. He intends to use me, precisely where I am, whether that’s in my home, among my friends, or at my current stage of spiritual development. After a period of rest from worldly things, He has sent me out as one of His disciples, to preach the Gospel to the ends of the earth. To be guided by His Spirit, to Whom we pray every Pentecost, “Lord, send out your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth.”
And how beautiful, that before He sends us out in His Spirit, He first renews and refreshes us with the fifty-day banquet of Easter. It’s a foretaste of the eternal joys to come. A reminder of the wedding feast we are calling the whole world to, which we will continue returning to until the day when (by God’s grace) we live with the Bridegroom forever.
He prepares us. He prepares us well. And yet when he calls, when we’re at that point of transitioning between one season (in life, in the liturgical year, in our work) to another, we don’t always feel prepared.
Proclaiming the Gospel to all nations sounds like it will take a lot of work. And it is a lot of work. So far, it’s been nearly two thousand years of work preaching, celebrating, praying, witnessing in the home, in the streets, by the shedding of one’s blood. The work of Christians beyond number, restored in the love of Christ, going out to proclaim that love to others.
It’s important to remember that this work is God’s, not our own. The work He’s called us to, even the most ordinary work of our daily life, is important. Because every little act to which He calls us is an act in which we can live out our faith, witnessing that same love.
At Mass on the Feast of the Visitation, I was joking with God that this, the week after Pentecost, should be considered the proper place for the Feast of the Visitation. Because it’s in this feast that Mary, having conceived Our Lord by the power of the Holy Spirit “goes in haste” to her cousin Elizabeth. Our Lady teaches us how to live, and continue to live, what we receive at Pentecost. The Father gives her the gift of His Son. And the Holy Spirit moves her, compels her to go, propels her forward into action.
The purpose of that forward action is to glorify God by the Gift she has received.
The same is true of us. My pastor often reminds the assembly that God never calls us without giving us the gifts we need to accept the call. He fills us with good things, and then He calls us out, to use these gifts in proclaiming His goodness, His truth, His beauty. We, like Mary, should go in haste in response to this call. Not standing around staring up at the sky waiting for yet another sign—as the apostles before they received the Holy Spirit.
Transformed in love, filled with joy, we can run out to tell others as Mary did in her Magnificat, “the Almighty has done great things for me, and holy is His name.” (Luke 1:49)
I was talking to my Confirmation sponsor recently about the different giftings of the saints, and how those gifts respond to their different calls. No saint is quite like any other. God’s call for my life isn’t the same as His call for you. Every single call us totally unique, specifically tailored to the gifts He has given you.
He isn’t calling me to be another Catherine of Alexandria. He isn’t calling you to be another John of the Cross. He doesn’t need another Zelie, another Peter, another Joan of Arc. God doesn’t do repeat saints. They received their gifts. They responded to their calls with a resounding “Yes!”
How do we respond?
“Here I am, Lord! Send me.”Isaiah 6:8
“Speak, Lord, your servant is listening.”1 Samuel 3:10
“My heart is ready, O God. My heart is ready.”Psalm 57:7
“I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.”Luke 1:38
So much of our lives is spent waiting. We tell God we’re ready (often for things we’re not actually ready but desperately want to be ready for). And so much of the liturgical year reflects that We spent Advent preparing, Christmas receiving with joy, Ordinary Time learning, Lent repenting in preparation for the long Easter celebration of triumphant celebration, the beginning of our reception of eternal life. Now is not the time for waiting. It’s time to go. To run. To sing. To tell the story of God’s redemption.
Let us spend our gifts in love, for the sake of the Love which makes us new. We must go with haste. We are sent.