Paul Ashton, Psy.D., D.Min
Consultant to the VIRTUS Programs
One of Fathers of the Church has an expression which I love: 'The Holy Spirit himself is harmony'— Ipse harmonia est.
—Pope Francis, Solemnity of Pentecost, 2013
Music is at its best when different chords, pitches and tones come together to form one, blended sound. When notes are close together dissonance only adds to the complexity and pleasantness of the sound. The world is a complex but beautiful place if only for the harmonies found in music. Harmonies melt the heart, fill the soul and transport your mind to places of beauty and tranquility. Martin Luther said that "Beautiful music is the art of the prophets that can calm the agitations of the soul; it is one of the most magnificent and delightful presents God has given us."
I think that all of us can resonate with this 'delightful present from God’. In our life's journey of joys and sorrows, music has caused our heart to be soothed and has acted as a balm for our soul. For almost every occasion, across every culture, music is the common denominator that unites all. It unites, propels forward, heals and calls us to join together to bring about working harmonies that resolve into beautiful chords.
Pentecost celebrates the great gift of God to His people—the Church. Pentecost unites every corner of the world, every culture and breaks down every barrier. It doesn't charge us to unite and agree in a way in which we lose who we are and what gifts we bring. It unites us in a way that makes all of our differences fit together to form one, powerful good.
Pope Francis stated it eloquently:
He (the Spirit) is indeed harmony. Only the Spirit can awaken diversity, plurality and multiplicity, while at the same time building unity. Here too, when we are the ones who try to create diversity and close ourselves up in what makes us different and other, we bring division. When we are the ones who want to build unity in accordance with our human plans, we end up creating uniformity, standardization. But if instead we let ourselves be guided by the Spirit, richness, variety and diversity never become a source of conflict, because he impels us to experience variety within the communion of the Church. Journeying together in the Church, under the guidance of her pastors who possess a special charism and ministry, is a sign of the working of the Holy Spirit” (Pentecost 2013)
The Holy Father encourages us to be open to the guidance of the Spirit in our lives so that we may experience the richness of the variety of the Church. We, as the Church Universal, are larger than nations, politics, climates, poverty, wealth and ambitions. We are the Children of God, who created us in His image and called us to holiness. Our great Church is the vehicle for our united Love, and the ways in which we share Christ's Love are too countless to number.
Pentecost calls us to this universal language of Love—one that is often sung in ways that cause us to put aside our fears and to embrace the journey wherever it takes us. Pentecost calls us to go beyond our own safe boundaries and to break into the circles of others to invite them to the fuller circle or create a whole new circle of the powerful Love of Christ. Pentecost is not about everyone singing the melody, but an invitation for all to add their own harmonies. Pentecost reminds us of the courage of our great forefathers and mother--the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Disciples to step outside their locked room and to trust that God would protect them and give them the language they needed to communicate His message. Pentecost invites us to celebrate, and no celebration is complete without a song. Won't you join us? Do you have the courage to enter the song with your own harmony?
Langston Hughes wrote: "Life is for the living. Death is for the dead. Let life be like music. And death a note unsaid.” Don't forget to sing your life and to join in the song! Happy Birthday Church!
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