Recently, I was at a prayer devotion to Our Lady of Fatima, meditating, praying the rosary, and singing praise and worship. We were in a small room at a church; at least 15 of us young men and women, all praying and praising and calling for a revival. And I had a thought: this must be how it was on Pentecost Sunday — when the Holy Spirit first appeared to the Disciples together in a small room; filling them, transforming them, and sending them forth with “tongues as of fire.”
A small upper room full of sinners, believers, world-changers. Sent forth, as Ignatius of Loyola says, to set the world on fire.
This morning while reading, I stumbled upon this quote from the closing speech of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council (known as Vatican II), on Pentecost Sunday. (Of course, the Spirit always has a knack for pointing out things, right as you need them.)
As you know, the Church is proud to have glorified and liberated woman… to have brought into relief her basic equality with man. But the hour is coming, in fact it has come, when the vocation of woman is being achieved in its fullness, the hour in which woman acquires in the world an influence, an effect, and a power never hitherto achieved. That is why, at this moment when the human race is undergoing so deep a transformation, women impregnate with the spirit of the Gospel can do so much to aid mankind in not failing…
Women, you do know how to make truth sweet, tender and accessible; make it your task to bring the spirit… into institutions, schools, homes and daily life. Women of the entire universe, whether Christian or non-believing, you to whom life is entrusted at this grave moment in history, it is for you to save the peace of the world.”
– Pope Paul VI, Closing of Vatican II, December 1965
At this moment. This grave moment in history. We women are being called to save, to behold, to bring peace to the world.
Um… no pressure, right?
I read this and my mind goes to the Apostles, speaking with tongues of fire in the upper room. They were immediately filled with the Holy Spirit and completely renewed. All of the fear, pressure, worries and sins were completely off the table. They didn’t care if they had obligations or They were sent forth with just one mission to fulfill: to transform the world with the message of love and Jesus Christ.
Thousands of years from that day, we celebrate Pentecost Sunday with the hope of our own renewal. We remember the way the Apostles felt and reacted when the Holy Spirit entered their hearts and transformed their minds. We recall the many languages they began to speak, all at once (it must’ve sounded like an international airport in there!). We pray for the Spirit to also enter into our minds and hearts, to transform us.
As women, with the many hats we wear and responsibilities we face, we definitely feel the pressure to live up to. But as Pope Paul VI reminds us, we already have an “influence, an effect, and a power…” we see and know truth, and we make it “sweet, tender, and accessible.” We have been “impregnated with the spirit of the Gospel” (yes, impregnated! How’s that for a visual?!) and the hour is here and now. What are we waiting for?
Maybe we’re over-worked students, cramming for the last of finals and the pressure is on. Maybe we’re mothers, juggling the responsibilities of kids and a husband, and feel like we should be multiple places at once. Maybe we’re undergoing deep financial stress, and it’s taking a serious toll. Maybe we’re discerning our vocation, and the future seems hazy. Maybe we’re in the midst of major change, about to take the biggest leap of our lives.
The thing is, the timing may never be perfect or completely comfortable for us, but God always calls us to mission anyway. And it’s up to us, in the midst of our busy and frantic lives, to look outside of ourselves in order to give Him our full yes.
We already have something within each of us, a superpower if you will, and it is our feminine genius. It is the unique thing that makes us come alive and feel free; freer than anything this world can buy. It’s the spirit within that sets our souls on fire — so that, like the Disciples with a mission, we too can go out and be gifts of ourselves, and transform the world.
So what stirs your soul and sets you ablaze?