Wednesday is the day for the Glorious mysteries, the third of which is the Descent of the Holy Spirit on the apostles.
When the Holy Spirit descends, He’s described as shaking the earth and making the noise of a loud wind, and tongues of flame settled over everyone in the room. While doing the rosary, I settled on the image of the tongues of flame and tried to hold onto that.
I tend to pray in pictures, and this time I imagined this flame and then imagined myself reaching upward for it, stretching until my hands were just beneath it. Kind of like a candle, I realized.
I thought about who would see this candle, and if it could make light for other people or just for me. And that I could reach for this flame but wasn’t being consumed by it the way a candle would be. The flame was its own, and I was just something to settle over.
Then it came to me that when the Lord appeared to Moses, He did it in the burning bush.
Moses didn’t go over to the bush, I realized, because he thought God was there. He went there because he was curious about how the bush was burning without the fire consuming it. The bush itself wasn’t all that important in the process.
Fulton Sheen said repeatedly in his autobiography that God makes the converts, and I think that’s the way we should look at things. If we’re reaching for the light, we’ll be stretched to the maximum trying to grasp the ungraspable, always working harder to become the fully-realized people we should become.
Maybe that’s what it means to be “a light to the nations.” It means work on yourself first. That if we find joy in that striving, then others are going to notice that. It’s not that we flaunt our joy in front of others, but they’ll notice it anyhow and become curious.
If the Holy Spirit settles in our hearts, then we become peaceful people. We love mercy and we want more than anything else to express generosity and kindness to others. In truly holy people, it seems reflexive. They don’t get involved in those daily skirmishes that devour our energy because they’re stretching hard to reach that eternal fire, candles that are never consumed.
And we see that and become fascinated, and we walk toward the fire, and when we get closer, we realize we’re beholding God. We want to be that way too, and we find that this is the way how. We pray for those tongues of flame, and when they get closer, we reach — never quite able to grasp, but almost something we can touch.