Dear Pope Francis,
Pentecost is hands down one of my favourite feasts in the Liturgical year. I can’t say exactly why, perhaps because I feel so strongly about the gifts of the Spirit that we celebrate in this feast. As someone who didn’t always appreciate her gifts growing up, I now love the fact that the Holy Spirit equips each person uniquely for whatever it is that God has called them to.
I can’t find a date for this quote, but I love it anyway and I think it ties into Pentecost very well. Sometime in the last year or so, in one of your homilies, Pope Francis, you said: “Today we can ask the Holy Spirit to give us all this Apostolic fervor and to give us the grace to be annoying when things are too quiet in the Church, the grace to go out to the outskirts
of life. The Church has so much need of this!…So let us ask the Holy Spirit for this grace of Apostolic zeal, let’s be Christians with apostolic zeal. And if we annoy people, blessed be the Lord.” In some ways I think this is what Pentecost is about, maybe not annoying people, but at the very least getting outside our comfort zone and going to the margins of the Church, and society in general, and making God known there. That’s certainly what the Apostle’s did after that the tongues of fire touched them in the locked room (Acts)
There’s just one thing with this seemingly simple logic of going to the margins, it’s scary to go there. It’s also scary to raise your voice and run the risk of being annoying. I for one don’t necessarily want to be known as ‘Lauren the annoying Catholic girl who only wants to talk about God’, or ‘Lauren the girl who doesn’t know what she’s talking about’. When I think about going to the margins or raising my voice, these fears raise their ugly heads. That’s not to say that I won’t do things even though I’m scared. Starting this blog with Meredith terrified me, actually blogging regularly terrified me, because it forced me to put my thoughts out into the world for others to read.
Just as much as Pentecost is about receiving the Holy Spirit, it’s also about overcoming fear (after all, courage is a gift of the Holy Spirit). If my writing is a gift of the Holy Spirit, which I believe it is, then I will write. The words will flow because this is what I’m meant to do: write. Sure, there are dry spells, for instance most of the month of May, but that’s okay. When I’m in the writing-rut, especially when it’s a month long rut, it’s easy to give in to the fear and wonder: maybe this isn’t what I’m meant to be doing, or maybe writing isn’t actually a gift from the Holy Spirit. If I have learned anything in the last two years, it’s that fear does not mean that I should give up. This is precisely the time when I need to push more. In some ways, I need to annoy myself; my optimistic-inner-Lauren needs to dance around and celebrate God’s love, to the annoyance of the pessimistic-inner-Lauren, who wants nothing more to give up, pull the blankets over her head and watch another episode of Once Upon a Time.
The power of the Holy Spirit is exactly what enflames the optimism, to keep working even when things seem dark and pointless. It is the Holy Spirit that helps me to have the courage to keep working at the margins of my life, whether that’s not losing hope in the job search, or when I’m being called to do something terrifies me. There will always be a twinge of fear, but as Ambrose Redmoon said: “Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgement that something else is more important than fear.” Living my faith is definitely more important that fear.
Finding my Apostolic zeal,