May 23, 2012
Pentecost Sunday marks the Church’s birthday, and, as members of this Body of Christ, we too celebrate our ecclesial natal day. On that first Pentecost, the Spirit came to brood over the disciples with the power of wind and the light and warmth of fiery tongues. On that day the Holy Spirit changed the direction of the disciples’ lives. Their folly gave way to wisdom, their fear, to fortitude.
These graced gifts have been handed down through the centuries to every person according to the individual’s particular needs, abilities, and station in life. Every person has also been commissioned to transmit those graces to others through the goodness of their lives.
The Church has lived through many internal problems and scandals. From its beginnings however, the Spirit has continued to work for unity and not divisiveness. Love embraces unity, not uniformity, reason within the assent of faith, also known as faith seeking understanding. The entire Church is animated by the Holy Spirit. This means that the “sense of the faithful” (sensus fidelium) includes clergy, consecrated religious, and laity. But the “sense of the faithful” should not be confused with polls or public opinion. “To think with the Church” (sentire cum Ecclesia) is to be receptive and not allergic to the guidance of its pastors. The Church is a mystery and sacrament, a communion, a herald, and a servant, the Body of Christ and the People of God, united in the formal, juridical structures of church governance (Avery Dulles, Models of the Church, 32). But it is not a democracy.
The Advocate (Latin: ad-vocatus; Greek: parakletos)