'Throw Open the Windows of the Church'
by Mary Pellegrino, CSJ -- LCWR President-Elect
“Throw open the windows of the church and let the fresh air of the spirit blow through.” -- Pope Saint John XXIII announcing the Second Vatican Council
I never quite appreciated that image until our recent visit to Rome for LCWR’s annual meetings with various officials and dicasteries, where we encountered welcome equal in warmth to the unseasonable weather, but very few open windows!
On or about the third day of sunny skies and temps in the mid-70s (F), the heat and accompanying closed windows nearly everywhere we went became a running joke among our group. Entering the stifling air of centuries old Vatican buildings from the mostly sun-soaked streets, we would wonder aloud about the status of the windows in our meeting rooms. The status was ordinarily closed. For some in our group that was just fine; for me, wearing lined jackets and prone to hot flashes, not so much.
In one notable tease, as we entered the room where we would meet with the staff of CICLSAL, I was thrilled to see that the high windows were not only open, but there was a gentle breeze wafting through the room. It was a like an answer to prayer, short-lived though it was. After the greetings and warm welcome, one of our hosts turned to pull the windows closed. Because, well, you know, the draft.
I learned from Sharon that Italians are suspect of drafts or “correndi d’aria”, literally “currents of air.” I should have remembered that from the way my immigrant grandparents kept their home hermetically sealed even during hot Pittsburgh summers.
So for John XXIII to use an image of intentionally throwing windows open and likening the Holy Spirit to suspicious movements of air seems to me to be either a genius challenge or an unfortunate invitation. Read the entire reflection by downloading the newsletter below.