Over the entrance to our church of St Thomas is a Papal tiara with the crossed keys beneath it. A pair of blue tits have made a nest behind it and as I write they are constantly flying back and forth feeding their young. The symbol of Papal authority has become their home. This is only temporary. Soon their chicks will fly the nest.
It is sad and difficult time for us when our church is closed because of the pandemic. This week I met a parishioner who was sitting on a bench in the garden in front of the church praying the rosary. She had come to be near the Blessed Sacrament. I know we can pray anywhere and that we don’t need a building in order to pray. We are though sentient beings that respond to beauty and symbols. Our building is a wonderful space for prayer. Many people come and light a candle, pray for a loved one or sit in silence before the tabernacle. The church comes into its own when we celebrate the Mass together as a family. The church building is a reminder that we are the living stones built into a spiritual house.
Now we have celebrated the feast of the Ascension we are like the apostles who return to the upper room:
“All joined in continuous prayer together with several women including Mary the mother of Jesus”.
They were preparing to receive the Holy Spirit that transformed their timidity into powerful witness of the Gospel. At Pentecost we celebrate the birthday of the Church. The men and women locked in fear in the upper room came out as the Church, filled with the Spirit and ready to make disciples of all nations. As we are thankful for the church building and its importance we also need to heed the images of the early church given in the first reading; a community gathered together with Mary praying and watching and writing, listening to what God has in store for us. Let us be united this week in prayer although we cannot be physically together, asking the Spirit to fill us with his joy love and wisdom.
Here is Pope John XXIII Prayer to the Holy Spirit.
Renew your wonders in this our day, as by a new Pentecost.
Grant to your Church that, being of one mind and steadfast in prayer with Mary, the Mother of Jesus, and following the lead of Blessed Peter, it may advance the reign of our Divine Saviour, the reign of truth and justice, the reign of love and peace. Amen.
Come Holy Spirit, in your power and might to renew the face of the earth.
Holy Spirit, awaken the whole human race and help us to build bridges of trust that open our hearts to the Good News of Jesus Christ.