The transition from 2019 to 2020 has captured my thinking. The beginning of a new decade seems to offer wider possibility and a new hope to me. For whatever reason, the number 2020 seems positive! Sometimes, however, the crossing of the threshold into a new year can cause unease.
I was in Rome in 1999. It was my sixth year as the Econome General of the Congregation. It was the year of Y2K, remember? Lots of wild suggestions caused people to be frightened about what might happen to our electronics-dependent world at this momentous turn of the calendar. Some feared the arrival of a pre-digital era as all our electronics became useless. Survival groups formed and gathered supplies (and weapons). People made special efforts to call loved ones in the fear that communications would shut down for some unknown time. No TV. How would our sophisticated defense systems be affected? Some of the things that individuals were saying and doing was unnerving, and more frightening as the time got closer. I recall that there were those who even suggested that aircraft would not be able to fly since they relied so much on electronics! I never believed that line of thinking, but living in Europe at the time did cause a very small shadow on my heart. Yet, nothing happened. The turning of the page from 2019 to 2020 does not carry that kind of weight. As I say, I feel it as hope-filled.
When I hear the word “decade,” the ten-year period on the calendar does not usually enter my mind first. Like many of you, I often think of the word in relation to the rosary. We pray the mysteries appropriate for each day, and each decade invites us to reflect upon a particular event in the life of Jesus and/or Mary. Lots of ideas may play through our heads as we enter this most Christian of prayers. We consider the joyful, the sorrowful, the glorious, and the luminous events that colored the experiences of Jesus and Mary, and we reflect upon the meaning that these stories can play in our lives of faith.
As 2020 draws our attention to the beginning of another decade, I have mused on what mystery of the rosary might attract my contemplation and devotion in a particular way during this time. I concede that the mystery that I would particularly like to pray about and reflect upon at this juncture is the third glorious mystery: the descent of the Holy Spirit. One might argue (justly) that we need the gift of the Holy Spirit always, and I agree. Yet, I am reserving a special place for that Spirit who will bring peace and unity, who will allow people to speak and understand each other, and who will help us to grasp more fully the true message of Jesus. Those gifts of the Spirit have particular meaning for me right now.
As we think of the considerable Vincentian service that will be demanded of us in the coming years, we can ask the Spirit’s guidance on where and when we should expend our efforts. Vincent teaches:
The Holy Spirit personally is poured out on the righteous and dwells personally in them. When we say that the Holy Spirit is at work in someone, it means that this Spirit, residing in that person, gives him or her the same inclinations and dispositions Jesus Christ had on earth, and they cause the person to act in the same way — I am not saying with equal perfection, but according to the measure of the gifts of that Divine Spirit (CCD:XII:93).