Attributing inspiration to the Holy Spirit is most secure when it occurs in relationships of those who love truth, goodness, and a beautiful hope of more life to come in common. Private and personal inspiration must be tested through a network of community choirs that resonate together to hear and sing whatever “the Spirit is saying.”
Synodal consciousness of a regional church community is more beautiful when it harmonizes with all the other regions, but we should accept the salutary dissonance in dialogue that disrupts an unsatisfactory, once seemingly universal theme, gone stale. At critical moments as the world turns, it’s best to hear out the younger men and women seeing visions than propping up a generation’s old dreams dissolving while the world burns and floods. Visions and dreams are being born and dying, always in fluid testing for what only God knows.
The Pope and the community of his theologians and political advisors retain their prominent roles in sorting out and giving place to the volume of the varying voices in the whole church. No good inspiration should be left unrehearsed or left an untried orphan. Performance and adoption are processes realized when every conductor dreams the right moment and administrations envision a right home for ideas in the flow of circumstances.
There will always be a place in the church for the voices of old dreamers whose acts of faith in their world’s circumstances remain vibrant mentors for new prophecies. One such voice is Thomas Merton’s. This reflection ends its celebration of Pentecost with an important, extensive quotation from his journals of 22 December 1964. Hear what the poet is saying!
“Here in my hermitage, returning necessarily to beginnings, I know where my beginning was: having the Name and Godhead of Christ preached in Corpus Christi Church. I heard and believed. I believe that He has called me freely, out of pure mercy, to His love and salvation and that at the end (to which all is directed by Him) I shall see Him after I have put off my body in death and have risen together with Him. That at the last day ‘all flesh shall truly see the salvation of God.’ What this means is that my faith is an eschatological faith, not merely a means of penetrating the mystery of the divine presence and resting in Him now.
“Yet because my faith is eschatological, it is also contemplative, for I am even now in the Kingdom and I can even now ‘see’ something of the glory of the Kingdom and praise Him who is King. […] Thus, contemplation and eschatology are one in Christian faith and in surrender to Christ. They complete and intensify each other. By contemplation and love I can best prepare myself for the eschatological vision and best help the Church and all people to journey toward it.
“The union of contemplation and eschatology is clear in the gift of the Holy Spirit. In Him we are awakened to know the Father, because in Him we are refashioned in the likeness of the Son. It is in this likeness that the Spirit will bring us at last to the clear vision of the invisible Father in the Son’s glory, which will also be our glory. Meanwhile, it is the Spirit who awakens in our hearts the faith and hope through which we cry for the eschatological fulfillment and vision. In this hope there is already a beginning, a ‘promise’ of fulfillment. This is our contemplation: the realization and ‘experience’ of the life-giving Spirit in Whom the Father is present to us through the Son, our way, truth, and life. The realization that we are on our way, that because we are on our way we are in that Truth, which is the end and by which we are already fully and eternally alive. Contemplation is the loving sense of this life and this presence and this eternity” (The Intimate Merton: His Life from His Journals, pp. 231-232).
By Jonathan Montaldo