While some Catholics would like to undo the reforms of the Second Vatican Council, others basically are trying to build a monument to it rather than fully live its teachings, Pope Francis said.
In his homily April 16 at an early morning Mass in the chapel of his residence, the Domus Sanctae Marthae, Pope Francis said Christians must struggle with the temptation to tame the Holy Spirit.
“To speak plainly: The Holy Spirit annoys us,” he said. The Spirit “moves us, makes us walk, pushes the church to move forward.”
But, too often, he said, Catholics are like the Apostle Peter on the mountaintop when Jesus is transfigured. They, like Peter, say, “Oh, how nice it is to be here all together,” but “don’t bother us.”
“We want the Holy Spirit to sleep,” he said. “We want to domesticate the Holy Spirit, and that just won’t do because he is God and he is that breeze that comes and goes, and you don’t know from where.”
The Holy Spirit is God’s strength, the pope said. The Holy Spirit “gives us consolation and the strength to move forward,” and the moving forward part is what can be a bother.
People think it’s better to be comfortable, but that is not what the fire of the Holy Spirit brings, Pope Francis said.
While Catholics today may be more comfortable speaking about the Holy Spirit than they were 50 years ago, it doesn’t mean the temptation to tame the Spirit has diminished, he said.
Pope Francis said reactions to the Second Vatican Council are a prime example.
“The council was a beautiful work of the Holy Spirit,” he said. “But after 50 years, have we done everything the Holy Spirit in the council told us to do?”
The pope asked if Catholics have opened themselves to “that continuity of the church’s growth” that the council signified. The answer, he said, is “no.”
Catholics seemed willing to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the council’s opening in 1962, he said, but they want to do so by “building a monument” rather than by changing anything.
At the same time, Pope Francis said, “there are voices saying we should go back. This is called being hard-headed, this is called wanting to domesticate the Holy Spirit, this is called becoming ‘foolish and slow of heart,'” like the disappointed disciples on the road to Emmaus.
The same phenomenon can be at work in Christians’ personal lives, he said. “The Holy Spirit pushes us” to live the Gospel more seriously, but resistance is often one’s reply.
Pope Francis ended his homily encouraging everyone to pray for docility to the Holy Spirit, “to that Spirit who comes to us and urges us forward on the path to holiness.”