“With great power the apostles gave their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus [Acts 4: 33].”
This power that the apostles had was the gift of the Holy Spirit. Just before the Ascension, our Lord instructed them, “You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be my witnesses…to the end of the earth [Acts 1: 8].”
Notice that this is the power of speech and that the purpose of speech is testimony. In other words, this is not precisely political power, in the sense of holding sway over another person. It is the power to speak to the experience of others and thereby liberates others to affirm their (truest) experiences. In the words of Verlyn Klinkenborg (that’s his real name), “Writing doesn’t prove anything,/And it only rarely persuades./It does something much better./It attests./It witnesses.” But apostolic witness, which is the Church’s testimony, is possessed of a Spiritual power. This power is a gift, The Gift, that our good Father will give to anyone who asks [Luke 11: 13; cf. Matthew 7: 11].
A personal note: changes in the monastery required me to resume responsibility for our finances about two years ago. In order to attend to this task, I set aside writing for a time. This calendar year, I’ve received a surprising number of invitations to speak, coaxing out of my relative silence. I hope to share with you some more extended thoughts on three topics, to begin with: 1) The continually increasing polarization of our country, what it means, what we might do about it as Christians; 2) The need for beauty in our lives, especially in the liturgy; and, 3) The intriguing rise of Professor Jordan Peterson, whose YouTube videos on the Bible receive hundreds of thousands of views.
This last topic is especially striking. There is a hunger for the Word of God, but who is proclaiming it with the Holy Spirit and power? Are we experiencing a “famine…of hearing the words of the Lord [Amos 8: 11]”?
This consideration also moved me to reconsider whether it’s time to get back to the keyboard.
There is also the matter of my stalled memoir. Perhaps you could offer a prayer that I can find a way to finish that. In the meantime, I may also use this forum to offer my reflections on music and how music brought me back to the Church and into the monastery.
The three topics I highlighted above are all related. They all evidence the Church’s loss of confidence. Polarization in politics is one consequence of the defeat of beauty, the loss of poetry, and the reduction of words to utility. The vaunting of the utile over the poetic is a gambit for enslaving, diabolic power, not the liberating power of the Holy Spirit.
Veni, Sancte Spiritus!