In the Upper Room

Posted By: Daniella Zsupan-Jerome Catholic Media Blog,

Whether Advent, Lent, Easter, Ordinary Time, or Christmas, each season presents an orientation for our spirit, an intentional way to be present to God’s call to relationship. We also observe seasons in our secular and professional lives. There are high volume times in each profession: beginnings and ends of semesters in the academy, tax season for accountants, cold and flu season for those in health care, and more.

Do communication professionals have a season? 

Working in media and communication certainly has its high volume times, whether it is because the bishop is headed to the plenary assembly or the diocesan publication is going to press. But if the vocation of those in media and communication is not only a professional but also a ministerial commitment, I wonder what inspiration the seasons of the Church year might hold for this work. Of course, communication of the faith is something that is integral to Catholicism and spirituality year-round. But if there is a season of the year when spirituality around communication comes in high-volume, it is certainly at Pentecost. the Word.

In their time of waiting in the upper room, it was a time not necessarily for more Pentecost is a solemnity of the Holy Spirit, and often, an important moment for recognizing the beginning of the Church. It is also a day that speaks deeply about the call to communication. It is by no accident that since its inception in 1967, the Church has celebrated World Communications Day on the Sunday before Pentecost.

Our Call to Share

This time of year, at the tail end of the Easter season, the liturgical year moves us to think about not only abiding with God’s Word, but allowing ourselves to be moved by God’s Spirit to share the good news of our faith with others. words, but for the courage and clarity about how to step into the role of communicating the Word they have received. The Spirit comes specifically with the gift to enable them to speak. (Acts 2:4) Whether it was with a difficult story, a complex public relations situation, or just plain writer’s block, we’ve all been in that same upper room, waiting for the Spirit to enable our words. 

At Pentecost, it is communication season in the Church. As communication professionals, the readings of Pentecost may resonate especially deeply as you think about your work. Like the disciples at Pentecost, you may, at times, find yourself in upper rooms, waiting: waiting for inspiration, waiting for courage, waiting for a spark, waiting for the Spirit to guide your ability to speak, write, create, design. When I imagine the experience of those waiting in that first upper room on Pentecost day, it always strikes me that these were people who have had concrete experience of walking with the Lord. In one way or another, they received God’s Word in Jesus’ teaching, preaching, witness, or accompaniment. They were people present to these original upper room disciples were also people who were grieving. 

Some of them were likely traumatized from witnessing the crucifixion. Their waiting is also a taking stock, a discernment time, a time of retreat, hungering for hope and direction after a shocking turn of events. The Risen Lord tells them: with the power of the Holy Spirit, you will be my witnesses. (Acts 1:8) Here they are then, waiting and praying, not knowing what exactly is coming to move them from their grief, shock, and lack of clarity to the vision that the Risen Lord presents.

The Upper Room 

We too have been in those spaces. We too have hungered for that Spirit, especially when feeling the weight of having to be spokespeople of the most painful or difficult stories in our Church of recent times. The upper room is also on fire! The Spirit comes with a loud blowing sound and with tongues of fire. Loud sound and tongues of fire, here heralding the presence of God, but also evocative in and of themselves of communication. A tongue of fire brings to mind a sliver of a flame, but also the tongue, the muscle for speech. The word is repeated again in the next line, “speaking in different tongues”, as connected to the miraculous, multilingual proclamation taking place that day. The Spirit of God is here, in a can’t miss it sort of way, pouring power and grace into the charge that the disciples received from the Risen Lord: you will be my witnesses. I imagine the joy and energy in the place, the conviction and clarity, the deep resonance between their calling and the opportunity before them. These too are upper room moments, when we feel the fire of the Spirit in the context of our work, when there is a joyful sense of purpose, self-gift, communion. The upper room offers us a space to praise God for this and to recognize when we walk in step with God’s Spirit. For communication professionals and people of faith at large, here is a Pentecost truth: whenever we succeed in communicating the faith, it is thanks to the power of God’s Spirit. As it was at Pentecost, it is still the same Spirit enabling us with tongues of fire for this work. Staying close to the Spirit is a special gift of the vocation of faith communication. 

This article is adapted from the May 2024 version of The Catholic Journalist.