martes, 29 de mayo de 2007

THE “HUBBUB” OF THE SPIRIT

Sunday, May 27, 2007
By Harold Segura

Fifty days after Easter, as the Christian calendar indicates, the feast of Pentecost is celebrated. This is why the Eucharist this Sunday was even more solemn and lasted longer (one hour and forty-five minutes). All the bishops wore their miters and their vestments were more splendorous. Even the basilica looked better without any empty seats and with many pilgrims who came from different parts of Brazil. Many of them stayed there all night, from 11:00 p.m. yesterday to 6:00 a.m. today, participating in the Vigil that was held for this special occasion. They sang all throughout the night (I could hear them from my room), and sometimes they cheered the Virgin and used fireworks, despite how cold the place must have been (around 4º or 6º C, i.e. 39º or 42º F).

The liturgy was led by three cardinals—Eusebio Óscar Scheid (Brazil), Pedro Rubiano Sáenz (Colombia) and Juan Sandoval Íñiguez (México)—and was celebrated in Portuguese. The scripture passage of Acts was read by a Brazilian religious sister. She captured my attention when she read verse 2 (“Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting”), because the word standing for “sound” was the Portuguese term barulho, akin to the Spanish barullo. In Colombia and other countries we use barullo to designate a hubbub, noise or disorder. Once in the hotel I looked in the dictionary, and both the Portuguese barulho and the Spanish barullo had the same meaning. I then reflected on that word, “hubbub”, as applied to the Holy Spirit. I would have never used myself, mainly because in some places this is such a colloquial term that you wouldn’t use it when talking about God.

God causing a hubbub? In fact I liked it. Especially when I contrasted it to the impeccable order in which the liturgy was taking place. The Catholic Church, like many historic Protestant churches, is a model of order and control. They lack the hubbub which we criticize in effusive Pentecostalism (where, in fact, the hubbub is too much).

Several speeches by the Bishops who intervened in the first few days said they hoped this Conference to be a new Pentecost. For example, the Bishops’ Conference of Costa Rica titled its short five-minute report, “Aparecida, a Pentecost for the Church.” I have repeatedly heard expressions like “we want new people for new structures”; “we want the Spirit to tell us what are the new directions for us to follow”; or “we require a pastoral conversion in an evangelizing keynote.” All of these expressions are loaded with desire for change, for going further, for “putting out into the deep”, as the representative of the Argentinean Bishops’ Conference said.

For the time being, it seems to me, everything will remain in an orderly shape. I think that, while Aparecida will in fact usher in some important novelties, it will not be able to cause the stronger winds that would make the whole house tremble (Acts 2:2). Lay ministries will not advance to a point that would cause noise; women will not be granted the official right to participate the way they desire; the preferential option for the poor will remain as a decoration in the Final Document; the dream for a cultural re-conquest will become more important than the need to adapt to the new plural and diverse reality; as far as celibacy, nothing will be said (even though in Brazil, for instance, there’s a growing number of “married priests”); in sum, the house will be kept in order and the winds will not make it tremble.

For now, then, everything will remain under control. Let the barulho go somewhere else.

Harold