By Barb Arland-Fye
We will listen to a reading from Acts of the Apostles (2: 1-11) during Mass on Pentecost Sunday that describes the dramatic entrance of the Holy Spirit in the lives of the apostles. This Scripture inspires me each time I hear or read it.
“Tongues as of fire” came to rest on each one of them and “they were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues, as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim.” Equally amazing, each of the devout Jews staying in Jerusalem from every nation under heaven heard the apostles speaking in the faithful’s own tongue. Now that’s communication!
This Scripture is an inversion of the Tower of Babel story from the Old Testament and underscores the call to evangelization. “From the upper room, where they had previously huddled in fear, the Holy Spirit moves them (the apostles) to the outside world. They are to reach out to all…. Luke is demonstrating that the infant Church has the mission to take the Good News beyond the confines of Jerusalem” (“Workbook for Lectors, Gospel Readers, and Proclaimers of the Word, 2022”).
I can’t help but think of my mentor and friend, the late Sister Marcia Costello, CHM, who died seven years ago this month. We met when she served as director of communications for the Congregation of the Humility of Mary in Davenport and I was a reporter/assistant editor for The Quad-City Times. Sister Marcia reminded me time and again of the value of clear, precise communication. Her pet peeve was misuse of antecedents, which Google defines as “a word, phrase, clause or sentence to which another word, especially a following relative pronoun, refers.” Her reminder about antecedents echoes as I write and edit articles.
The antecedent issue carries over to Bible study via Zoom with my Uncle Joe. More than once, including last weekend, I complained about grammatical construction in Scripture. The writers, editors and translators over the millennia would have benefited from lessons with Sister Marcia!
At some point in our deepening relationship, Sister Marcia shared a prayer with me, which I committed to memory and refer to constantly throughout my day: “Dear Holy Spirit, let everything begin with your inspiration, continue with your help, and reach perfection under your guidance.” She may have adapted this prayer from “Actiones Nostras” (“Lord, May Everything We Do”) but her version resonates with me because of its reference to the Holy Spirit.
I lean into the Holy Spirit often for inspiration in journalism and the decisions I make. One of the two options for proclamation of the Gospel on Pentecost Sunday reaffirms my closeness to the Holy Spirit within the Holy Trinity. “The Advocate, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you” (John 14:15-16, 23b-26). Stephen S. Wilbricht, CSC, notes, “The Holy Spirit preserves the word in the hearts of all believers, so that divine life will dwell within them” (“Workbook for Lectors”).
At this place and time in our pilgrim journey, with communication so scrambled on multimedia platforms that we can’t seem to understand each other, let’s lean into the Holy Spirit! We vet, or examine, our understanding of what the Spirit is saying within a community of faith.
Sister Marcia’s obituary includes this eloquent line, “During her life, Sr. Costello was involved in some aspect of communication and considered her life ministry as a form of communication.” Her life in the Spirit inspires mine.
(Contact Editor Barb Arland-Fye at firstname.lastname@example.org)