Pentecost’s Quiet Whisper

peace dove sculpture

During this Easter season, I attended a conference of Mission Formation Officers in the Jesuit Schools Network; I was on the organizing committee. As I watched the year-long work of the committee finally come together, enhanced by the energy and passion of the participants, I felt such future promise and paschal joy. Even now, weeks later, I am savoring the graces. But I am also working through the letdown feeling that inevitably happens when a Spirit-filled week has come to an end. I wonder if this is how the disciples felt after they got that “retreat high” of seeing Jesus up close on the road to Emmaus and then watched him leave them once again.

Years ago, in my second post on this site, I wrote about a wise Jesuit priest who had been an example for me of what deep contemplation and intimate relationship with God looked like in practice. While at the conference, surrounded by both lay and Jesuit ministers passionate about continuing the mission of both the Catholic Church and the Society of Jesus, I felt once again the presence of Johnny Edwards, SJ, as well as the presence of several others who had gone before me. I realized quite quickly that there were many participants also calling to mind the wisdom and lessons that both Jesuits and lay persons steeped in the Spiritual Exercises had imparted on them. It seemed like every conversation I had about the mission incorporated a reflection on something each of us had learned from someone else who had gone before.

As we head into the closing days of the Easter season, I am still trying my best to keep up my commitment to lean intentionally into my friendship with God. And in a real, tangible way, I have felt God leaning back through both the people journeying with me in life and those who have gone before me in death. Though I can no longer ask several of my mentors for guidance and advice, I feel steeped in their wisdom and fortified with their support, and that is connecting me more than ever to the Risen Jesus.

Sometimes I wish that I could experience what the Apostles experienced on Pentecost. Despite how fearful it sounds, I wish I could feel the violent rush of wind fill the place where I sit and see the tongues of fire rest upon my head and the heads of those around me. I wish I could feel as if the words that came out of my mouth were not my own but the words of the Spirit proclaimed in a way that enabled all to hear the Good News.

Then I remember that sometimes the Spirit comes through great winds and fire, and sometimes the Spirit comes in a quiet whisper that permeates hearts from the inside out. The experience of being among my colleagues in Ignatian education, alongside the tangible presence of those we have loved and lost along the way, was the quiet whisper we all needed to continue the work in earnest.


  1. As a life-long Catholic, I continue to be amazed at how little we speak of the Holy Spirit. Fortunately, we do hear more about the Spirit during the season of Pentacost…reminding us that the Spirit is our Advocate, our Guide and most importantly, God Himself. Thank you for reminding us that the Spirit often speaks to us in Whispers…and we need to be attentive and rejoice in His presence.

  2. Gretchen, thank you for such a beautiful meditation on the Quiet Whisper. I,too, have wanted to be on the road to Emmaus and really all the places in the Acts. There is such a real presence of the Holy Spirit in each of the stories. One just longs to be there. The quiet that you spoke about makes me think/meditate on the importance of being meaningful and intentional in our conversations with the Spirit. The peace draws me in and the love of the Spirit keeps me intelentional in my prayer.To notice the needs of others while being in that quiet state helps me to fulfill what the other needs more exactly. The transformation of our communities happens in this way. Thanks for getting us to the intentional space.

  3. Father John Edwards also graced my life in myriad of ways, as well as my husband’s right here
    In New Orleans. He was our wonderful counselor, parish priest and dear friend. We miss him to this day. Surely one of the best human beings who has ever graced our lives. Extraordinary memories abound! 🙏🫶🏻✝️

  4. This resonates with me completely. I went after the Lent season to another level. My spirituality has taken a beating. I was to do an Esther Fast – 40 days but obstacles were just popping up . I feel bad about it . But thank you for the post

  5. Wonderful to be reminded of referring to the wisdom of those who have gone before us, since everything we know now has been handed down to us! I thought we could continue to get advice and mentoring through the Communion of Saints as the care of those who helped us in the past continues, and we invoke the help of saints every day, and some of those who mentored us are almost certainly unknown saints!


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