A white dove, blazing tongues of fire and strong winds are among the symbols of the Spirit of the Holy, yet for those living in the center of the country a more accurate symbol would be a tornado! Powerful twisters appearing out of nowhere uproot trees, level buildings and destroy everything in their path best visualize how the Spirit uproots lives and topples the antiquated. A more accurate invitation to the Spirit could be:
“Come, Holy Twister, shaker-upper blest.
Strip away comforts, leave us holy unrest.
O Divine Wind, destroy the decaying old.
Create again your House, youthful and bold.”
Such a destructive-quaking Pentecost is what is needed for today’s churches—and it was just such a crucial trembling-awakening that was called for by Alfred Delp, a Jesuit priest arrested and imprisoned by the Gestapo. Before he was hanged in 1945 he wrote, “There is nothing we modern people need more than to be genuinely shaken up. Rather than live in an utterly false and counterfeit security, we need to allow our inmost spirit to be moved by God so that we might begin to live in that movement and disquiet of heart that results when we are faced by God.”
The Spirit gifted him with a message for us about the urgent need in our religious lives to be to shaken up! Atheism is not the most dangerous enemy of religion. It is the Soft-Trinity of comfort, complacency and “counterfeit security” that saintly Alfred Delp denounced. We are comfortably cocooned from life’s harsh realities by multiple public and private security systems.
So the next time you’re shaken up by some minor disaster, consider it the blessing of a visitation of the Spirit shaking you up to examine what truly is your security. As for praying “Come, Holy Spirit,” certainly do so. And should you hear a roaring sound like an approaching freight train—run for the basement and pray for a miracle.