I don't like change. There, I said it. And the older I get, the less I like it. That having been said, I have to admit that "change" seems to be the only constant in our world. Look in the mirror sometime. When I do, I often say to myself "where did you come from?" When did I start losing the hair on the back of my head? Where did those jowls come from? I never had that belly before!
We change. What makes us think that everything around us will stay the same? What was once "the future" quickly enough becomes "the past." And there's nothing we can do about it. Time doesn't stand still as much as we wish it would. We can't stop it ... until we die --- which, by the way, we all will one day.
So, what do we do? We adapt. We go with it. We make it work, like it or not. The ship is leaving the dock. We either get on board or we're left behind ... all alone. And no one really, deep down, wants to be alone.
Those of us in the "baby boomer" generation or before, have witnessed incredible, rapid, radical changes in the world, in culture, in society, in our country and neighborhoods, in the workplace, in family life, in relationships, in science, in technology, in medicine and, yes, even in our Church. Sometimes we convince ourselves that all these changes are something new or unique to our times. But they're not. Everything has always changed. The new becomes old, the old becomes new.
In the Book of Revelation, "the One seated on the Throne said, 'Behold, I make all things new ... I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life (Revelation 21: 5-6)'." God doesn't change. His love and mercy do not change. His truth does not change. We do. We grow and deepen in our ability and willingness to receive him and his love and his truth ... or we turn away.
As Pentecost comes once again, the Church prays "Lord, send out your Spirit and renew the face of the earth (Psalm 104: 30)." Pentecost is a great feast in the Church. But it is not a single day. It is an experience that is ongoing, a life-long process of renewal, of conversion, of change that continually invites us to open our minds and hearts to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. A closed mind and a hardened heart are left to themselves, alone.
"Behold, I stand at the door. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I shall come in (Revelation 3: 20)." The Holy Spirit knocks and calls out, but we can choose not to open the door, not to listen or hear. But he keeps knocking and calling out. And he's not going away.
In the months ahead, the Diocese of Trenton will pray for the Holy Spirit to renew our four counties of Catholics as we look not to the past but, through the eyes of the past and the present, toward the future. The situation that has confronted virtually all other dioceses in our country is now at our doorsteps. It is time for a new Pentecost in our Diocese, a new outpouring of the Holy Spirit so that we can continue to hear his voice; to experience his presence, love and grace; to honor our past but to embrace the future and the changes it will require and bring; to be a vibrant, dynamic community of faith where God's truth and our Catholic faith will not change, but the way it touches our lives will.
The Holy Spirit is knocking on the door once more, as he always has, in every generation. He makes all things new. Will we have the faith, the courage, the wisdom, the desire to let him in?
Most Rev. David M. O’Connell, C.M.
Bishop of Trenton