Pentecost – the Celebration of the Spirit; the Birth day of the Church; the fastest fifty days in the calendar.
The time between the celebrations at the Easter Vigil and Pentecost seems to be caught by the image of the Spirit which blows when and where it will leaving the neophytes, parish RCIA teams and communities in a spin.
In theory the process of the RCIA should still be engaging in the period of Mystagogia of reflecting on the experiences preceding and proceeding the Easter Vigil, but in reality many parish groups have by now stopped gathering. Some may have come together for a few weeks after Easter to share their Vigil stories and perhaps had a party of celebration. Some groups may have continued with a few sessions in order to cover some of the items left out of the schedule and other groups haven’t met again, now that everyone is ‘done’.
The Feast of Pentecost reminds us that in these past 50 days we were meant to gather in upper rooms and other rooms, not out of fear any longer but in anticipation of the coming of the gift of the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, which animates all of us together, sending us out into the world as witnesses to God’s power and Gods’ presence in our lives.
The period of mystagogy is extended well beyond the 50 days, in reality the mystagogy of going deeper and reflecting on our faith experience is a life long activity…we are all still in this period. Reminding our newest members that we are also joining them in this life long journey gives them the assurance that we continue to be with them even after any formal meetings stop.
Now is the time to integrate them more fully into the community at whatever level and pace is best for them. Afterall, it is into the life of the Christian experience that has been the goal, not the meetings. However, even though teams and the neophyetes themselves may be ‘tired’, it is crucial that people are not just left alone and this is where the role of the whole faith community comes into being. It is in this period of mystagogia that the people of the parish, of all ages, become real and tangible for our neophytes. A welcoming, consistent, authentic community will gather the neophytes in as if they had always been there.
As we reflect on the fire of Pentecost which kindles and sparks us into a community which accepts and respect all, we remember that each person has something to offer in spreading the Good News and building up the Kingdom of God. When we are tired or fearful or doubtful we could recall this excerpt from Nelson Mandela’s Inaugural Address, May 1994:
‘Our worst fear is not that we are inadequate, our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask oursleves, “Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous?” Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God; your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory of God within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone. And as we let our own light shine we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. ‘
As we embrace the power of the Spirit, reaffirmed at Pentecost, we look forward to the life long period of mystagogy and the variety of ways in which together we will renew the face of the earth.