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Pentecost Message of fr. Paulus Budi Kleden, Superior General

May 28, 2020

To all Members of the Society of the Divine Word

Subject: The unfolding of the Pentecost

Dear Confreres,

We are now in the last days of the Novena to the Holy Spirit preparing ourselves for Pentecost Sunday. We are grateful for the promptings of the Spirit who manifests God’s power even in moments of trial and distress. I want to share with you the following thoughts.

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First, the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of communion. On the day of Pentecost people in Jerusalem felt united, understanding the same message despite the diversity of language. And with this, the Church was called into being.

Many of us still remember what Pope Francis said during that rainy night of March 27, when he addressed the Christian world, from an empty Saint Peter's Square. One of the meaningful phrases he said was, "We are in this together." The Pope made it clear that we are one community and one family. We all journey together as we face the challenges and difficulties of this Pandemic. The lockdown, the social distancing, the quarantine, the economic loss, and most significantly, the loss of loved ones, did not stop us from being together and support one another as members of one family.

Our motto reminds us: we are faithful to the Word, one with the people. This difficult time requires from us a renewed commitment to be rooted in the Word and in communion with people. Our collective experience of hardships leads us to new opportunities for growth, renewal, and transformation. Personally, and as a community, we have been provided with new occasions and experiences amid this Pandemic, which we can rightly describe as the dawn of a new Pentecost—a movement of the Holy Spirit which makes us more intently aware that "we are all in the same boat rowing together", that we are one with the people.

Second, the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Courage. In fear the disciples were hiding themselves, suspecting others as enemies who were scheming to destroy them. Fear leads to suspicion, and suspicion to division.

How often have we allayed the fear and the helplessness of others who come to us, searching for answers? We also need to acknowledge that very often we see ourselves engulfed in fear that paralyzes any creative response to this situation of pandemic. The Holy Spirit helps us to overcome fear, as it is said: “fear is not a good counselor”. Yes, we need to be cautious in protecting others and ourselves, but we shall not be paralyzed by fear.

In many places, inspired by lay people or other confreres, we are able to overcome fear. Many of us are face to face with the poor who are struggling to live. We also try to find ways that our collaborators, who work with us in our houses and institutions, do not lose their job. We have experienced the Spirit of fortitude shown in the endurance to stand with them no matter what happens.

Third, the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of discernment. The Holy Spirit accompanied the young Christian community in responding to the challenges of their time.

Ours is a time of crisis, a time during which difficult decisions have to be taken: what measures have to be introduced, which plans need to be cancelled, what activities should continue, etc. Although the future is a big question, we can already imagine that radical decisions on how to organize our life and to do our mission will occupy us. For all this, we implore the Holy Spirit to continue guiding us in the process of our discernment. Yes, we all need a new Pentecost, so that we can truly discern the meaning of the signs of the times and where the Spirit is leading us in our world today. We need a new Pentecost that shakes our sense of indifference, so that we may be able to see Jesus more clearly in our brothers and sisters who are crying out for help. In the document of our last General Chapter we read: “In any discernment and renewal process we might need to keep in mind that our spirituality and prayer life need to be always challenged by the world and life that is there outside our walls and frontiers. This is a call to grow ever closer to the Triune God and at the same time closer to the people and the world.”

Dear confreres, let us continue to pray for one another. We remember in a special way our two confreres who have lost their lives because of Covid-19. We pray for strength and speedy recovery for five others who are still recuperating in hospitals. Our thoughts are with their communities and families.

We know our Founder Saint Arnold had a special devotion to the Holy Spirit. With him we pray these days for the gifts of the Holy Spirit for all of us, in a special way for our two Sisters Congregations: The SSpS Missionary Sisters and the SSpS Perpetual Adoration Sisters. We pray that the Holy Spirit keeps on guiding and inspiring them, particularly in this time of pandemic that they continue to be the sowers of hope.

And we wish all of you who are at the forefront of service to the sick and the poor, the fruits of the Holy Spirit who alone gives peace and serenity to the human soul.

A Happy Feast of Pentecost!

Paulus Budi Kleden, SVD
and the Leadership Team