Saturday morning, Marty went through his usual routine. He took his old broom and dustpan out of the closet and began to sweep his carpets. Feeling sorry for her dad, Marty’s daughter bought him one of those “new-fangled” machines called a vacuum cleaner. She showed him how to work it: just plug it into the power supply and push the “on” button.
Next Saturday guess what happened? Marty opened the closet door, pushed the vacuum cleaner out of the way, reached for his old broom and dustpan, then went about his business cleaning carpets.
Oh sure, he thanked his daughter for being so thoughtful, and even took it out of the closet now and then and showed it to visitors. He never used it. Sadly Marty continued to rely more on his muscle power than on the magic power that we call “electricity.”
Who remembers what happened Oct. 11, 1962? That’s when St. John XXIII opened the Second Vatican Council. Do you remember his prayer? He asked God to renew the Church in our time with signs and wonders “as by a new Pentecost.”
This aging pope knew that something was radically wrong with the church. He realized that the “broom-dustpan” approach was no longer working. So he prayed for a “new Pentecost.” Knowing the power that exploded in the Upper Room among a handful of disciples and what happened as a result, John XXIII was bold enough to ask God to do a repeat performance. Nothing short of a brand new Pentecost could bail the church out of its troubles.
God honored this prayer and soon afterward showed up at the front door of the church with a “new-fangled” tool in his hand — known as the Holy Spirit. In February, 1967, a new Pentecost burst out among a small group of Catholic young adults in Pittsburgh. They had an “Upper Room” experience, began to tell their friends in other parts of the country and soon over “30,000” people who had been touched in a new way by the Holy Spirit, assembled at Notre Dame’s stadium to celebrate the arrival of this “new-fangled” gift of God. From the United States it began to spread throughout the world.
In May, 1975, a group of over 10,000 people from 73 countries met in Rome with Blessed Pope Paul VI to receive his encouragement and blessing on this Holy Spirit movement in the church. St. John Paul II and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI bumped up church approval to a new level. In fact when Benedict visited the United States, he said that his mission was to bring a “new Pentecost” to our country. It is told that in Brazil nearly 100 percent of the Catholics have had this “Upper Room” experience.
The Holy Spirit, of course, is not “new-fangled.” It is the power source that brought the church to an amazing birth 2,000 years ago, and has sustained the church through the centuries.
In spite of this new “current of grace,” as Pope Francis calls it, much of the Church today continues to plod along with what it is used to — brooms and dustpans.
As we enter into a new season of Pentecost, let’s ask God to make this a “new Pentecost” for those in our archdiocese and the church throughout the world. It is happening. Let’s allow ourselves to get caught up in the current. Now is the time to open our closets, pull out the Holy Spirit, and allow ourselves to be renewed by the saving power of God.
“Come Holy Spirit fill the hearts of the faithful and renew among us the signs and wonders of a new Pentecost!”
Bob Garvey is a member of St. Bartholomew Church and Catholic Charismatic Renewal.