Today is Whit Sunday – the great Day of Pentecost and the birth of the Church! As in the case with Easter Week, all of the days during this Pentecost Octave are first class feasts. This week also includes the Ember Days of Pentecost (see below) and the First Friday and First Saturday devotions of June. Today, May 31st, is ordinarily the feast of the Queenship of Mary, however, since it falls on the Solemnity of Pentecost this year, Our Lady’s feast day is transferred to Monday, June 8th. The Holy Mass schedule for this week is as follows:
(To be posted on above calendar by SSPX-MC)
Whit Sunday – The Day of Pentecost
|Veni, sancte Spiritus, reple tuorum corda fidelium, et tui amoris in eis ignem accende.
||Come, O Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of thy faithful, and enkindle within them the fire of thy love.
The great day, which consummates the work that God had undertaken for the human race has, at last, shone upon the world. The days of Pentecost, as St. Luke says, are accomplished. We have had seven weeks since the Pasch; and now comes the day that opens the mysterious number of Fifty. This day is the Sunday, already made holy by the Creation of the Light, and by the Resurrection of Jesus; it is about to receive its final consecration and bring us to the fullness of God.
In the Old and figurative Law, God foreshadowed the glory that was to belong, at a future period, to the Fiftieth Day. Israel had passed the waters of the Red Sea, thanks to the protecting power of his Paschal Lamb! Seven weeks were spent in the Desert, which was to lead to the Promised Land; and the very morrow of those seven weeks was the day whereon was made the alliance between God and his people. The Pentecost (the Fiftieth Day) was honored by the promulgation of the ten commandments of the Divine Law; and every following year, the Israelites celebrated the great event by a solemn Festival. But their Pentecost was figurative, like their Pasch: there was to be a second Pentecost for all people, as there was to be a second Pasch for the Redemption of the whole world. The Pasch, with all its triumphant joys, belongs to the Son of God, the Conqueror of death: Pentecost belongs to the Holy Ghost, for it is the day whereon he began his mission into this world, which, henceforward, was to be under his Law.
But how different are the two Pentecosts? The one on the rugged rocks of Arabia, amidst thunder and lightning, promulgates a Law that is written on tablets of stone; the second is in Jerusalem, on which God’s anger has not as yet been manifested, because it still contains within its walls the first-fruits of that new people, over whom the Spirit of love is to reign. In this second Pentecost, the heavens are not overcast, nor is the roar of thunder heard; the hearts of men are not stricken with fear, as when God spake on Sinai; repentance and gratitude—these are the sentiments which are now uppermost. A divine fire burns within their souls, and will spread throughout the whole world. Our Lord Jesus had said: I am come to cast fire on the earth; and what will I, but that it be kindled? The hour for the fulfillment of this world is come: the Spirit of Love, the Holy Ghost, the eternal uncreated Flame, is about to descend from heaven, and realize the merciful design of our Redeemer.
Jerusalem is filled with pilgrims who have flocked thither from every country of the Gentile world: they feel a strange mysterious expectation working in their souls. They are Jews, and are come from every foreign land where Israel has founded a Synagogue; they are come to keep the feasts of Pasch and Pentecost. Asia, Africa, and even Rome, have here their representatives. Amidst these Jews properly so called, are to be seen many Gentiles, who, from a desire to serve God more faithfully, have embraced the Mosaic law and observances; they are called Proselytes. This influx of strangers, who have come to Jerusalem out of a desire to observe the Law, gives the City a Babel-like appearance, for each nation has its own language. They are not, however, under the influence of pride and prejudice, as are the inhabitants of Judea; neither have they, like these latter, known and rejected the Messias, nor blasphemed his works whereby he gave testimony of his divine character. It may be that they took part with the other Jews in clamoring for Jesus’ death, but they were led to it by the Chief Priests and Magistrates of the Jerusalem which they reverenced as the holy City of God, and to which nothing but religious motives have brought them.
It is the hour of Tierce—the third hour of the day (our nine o’clock)—fixed from all eternity for the accomplishment of a divine decree. It was at the hour of midnight that the Father sent into this world, that he might take flesh in Mary’s womb, the Son eternally begotten of himself: so now, at this hour of Tierce, the Father and Son send upon the earth the Holy Spirit who proceeds from them both. He is sent to form the Church, the Spouse and Kingdom of Christ; he is to assist and maintain her; he is to save and sanctify the souls of men; and this his Mission is to continue to the end of time.
Suddenly is heard, coming from heaven, the sound of a violent wind: it startles the people in the City, it fills the Cenacle with its mighty breath. A crowd is soon round the house that stands on Mount Sion; the hundred and twenty Disciples that are within the building feel that mysterious emotion within them, of which their Master once said: The Spirit breatheth where he will, and thou hearest his voice. Like that strange invisible creature which probes the very depth of the sea and makes the waves heave mountains high, this Breath from heaven will traverse the world from end to end, breaking down every barrier that would stay its course.
The holy assembly have been days in fervent expectation; the Divine Spirit gives them this warning of his coming, and they, in the passiveness of ecstatic longing, await his will. As to them that are outside the Cenacle, and have responded to the appeal thus given, let us, for the moment, forget them. A silent shower falls in the House; it is a shower of Fire, which, as holy Church says (in the Responsory for the Thursday within the Octave), “burns not, but enlightens—consumes not, but shines.” Flakes of fire, in the shape of tongues, rest on the heads of the hundred and twenty Disciples: it is the Holy Ghost taking possession of all and each. The Church is not not only in Mary, but also in these hundred and twenty Disciples. All belong now to the spirit that has descended upon them; his kingdom is begun, it is manifested, its conquests will be speedy and glorious.
But let us consider the symbol chosen to designate this divine change. He who showed himself under the endearing form of a Dove on the occasion of Jesus’ Baptism in the Jordan, now appears under that of Fire. He is the Spirit of Love; and love is not only gentle and tender, it is also ardent as fire. Now, therefore, that the world is under the influence of the Holy Ghost, it must needs be on fire, and the fire shall not be checked. And why this form of Tongues? To show that the heavenly fire is to be spread by the word, by speech. These hundred and twenty Disciples need but to speak of the Son of God made Man, and our Redeemer; of the Holy Ghost, who renews our souls; of the heavenly Father, who loves and adopts us as his children;—their word will find thousands to believe and welcome it. Those that receive it shall all be united in one faith; they shall be called the Catholic Church, that is, universal, existing in all places and times. Jesus had said: Go, teach all nations!—the Holy Ghost brings from heaven both the tongue that is to teach, and the fire (the love of God and mankind), which is to give warmth and efficacy to the teaching. This Tongue and Fire are now given to these first Disciples, who, by the assistance of the Holy Spirit, will transmit them to others: so will it be to the end of time.
An obstacle, however, opposes the mission at the very onset. Since the confusion at Babel, there have been as many languages as countries; communication by word has been interrupted. How, then, is the word to become the instrument of the world’s conquest, and make one family out of all these nations that cannot understand each other? Fear not: the Holy Spirit is all-powerful, and has provided for this difficulty. With the other gifts, wherewith he has enriched the hundred and twenty Disciples, he has given them that of understanding all languages, and of making themselves understood in every language. In a transport of holy enthusiasm, they attempt to speak the languages of all nations—their tongue and their ear take in, not only without effort, but even with charm and joy, this plenitude of word and speech which is to reunite mankind together. The spirit of love has annulled the separation of Babel; men are once more made Brethren by the unity of language.
How beautiful art thou, dear Church of our God! Heretofore, the workings of the Holy Ghost have been limited; but now, he breatheth freely where he willeth; he brings thee forth to the eyes of men by this stupendous prodigy. Thou art the image of what this earth was, when all its inhabitants spoke the same language. The prodigy is not to cease with the day of Pentecost, nor with the Disciples who are its first receivers. When the Apostles have terminated their lives and preaching, the gift of tongues, at least in its miraculous form, will cease, because no longer needed: but thou, O Church of Christ! wilt continue to speak all languages, even to the end of time, for thou art to dwell in every clime. The one same Faith is to be expressed in the language of every country; and thus transformed, the miracle of Pentecost is to be kept up forever within thee, as one of thy characteristic marks.
The great St. Augustine alluded to this when he spoke the following admirable words: “The whole body of Christ—the Church—now speaks in all tongues. Nay, I myself speak all tongues, for I am in the body of Christ, I am in the Church of Christ. If the body of Christ now speaks all languages, then am I in all languages. Greek is mine, Syriac is mine, Hebrew is mine, and all are mine, for I am one with all the several nations that speak them.” During the Ages of Faith, the Church (which is the only source of all true progress) succeeded in giving one common language to all the nations that were in union with her. For centuries, the Latin language was the bond of union between civilized countries. However distant these might be from one another, there was this link of connection between them; it was the medium of communication for political negotiations, for the spread of science, or for friendly epistolary correspondence. No one was a stranger in any part of the West, or even beyond it, who could speak this language. The great heresy of the 16th century robbed us of this as of so many other blessings; it dismembered that Europe which the Church had united, not only by her Faith, but by her language. But let us return to the Cenacle, and continue our contemplation of the wondrous workings of the Holy Spirit within this still closed sanctuary.
First of all, we look for Mary; for Her who now, more than ever, is full of grace. After those measureless gifts lavished upon her in her Immaculate Conception; after the treasures of holiness infused into her by the Incarnate Word during the nine months she bore him in her womb; after the special graces granted her for acting and suffering in union with her Son, in the work of the world’s Redemption; after the favors wherewith this same Jesus loaded her when in the glory of his Resurrection;—after all this, we should have thought that heaven had given all it could give to a mere creature, however sublime the destiny of that creature might be. But no. Here is a new mission opened for Mary. The Church is born; she is born of Mary. Mary has given birth to the Spouse of her Son; new duties fall upon the Mother of the Church. Jesus has ascended into heaven, leaving Mary upon the earth, that she may nurse the infant-Church. Oh! how lovely, and yet how dignified, is this infancy of our dear Church, cherished as she is, fed, and strengthened by Mary! But this second Eve, this true Mother of the living, must receive a fresh infusion of grace to fit her for this her new office: therefore it is that She has the first claim to, and the richest portion of, the gifts of the Holy Ghost. Heretofore, he overshadowed her and made her the Mother of the Son of God; now he makes her the Mother of the Christian people. It is the verification of those words of the Royal Prophet: The stream (literally, the impetuosity) of the river maketh the City of God joyful: the Most High hath sanctified his own Tabernacle. The Spirit of Love here fulfills the intention expressed by our Redeemer when dying on the Cross. Woman! said Jesus to her, behold thy Son! St. John was his son, and he represented all mankind. The Holy Ghost now infuses into Mary the plenitude of the grace needful for her maternal mission. From this day forward, she acts as Mother of the infant Church: and when, at length, the Church no longer needs her visible presence, this Mother quits the earth for heaven, where she is crowned Queen; but there too, she exercises her glorious title and office of Mother of men.
Let us contemplate this masterpiece of Pentecost, and admire the new loveliness that beams in Mary from this second Maternity. She is inflamed by the fire of divine love, and this in a way not felt before. She is all devoted to the office put upon her, and for which she has been left on earth. The grace of the Apostolate is granted to her. She has received the tongue of fire; and although her voice is not to make itself heard in public preaching, yet will she speak to the Apostles, directing and consoling them in their labors. She will speak, too, to the Faithful, but with a force, sweetness, and persuasiveness, becoming one whom God has made the most exalted of his creatures. The primitive Christians, with such a training as this, will have a vigor and an energy enough to resist all the attacks of hell, and like Stephen, who had often listened to her inspiring words, die Martyrs for the Faith.
Let us next look at the Apostolic College. The frequent instructions they have been receiving from their Lord, during the forty days after his Resurrection, have changed them into quite other men; but now that they have received the Holy Ghost, the change and conversion is complete. They are filled with the enthusiasm of faith; their souls are on fire with divine love; the conquest of the whole world—this is their ambition, and they know it is their mission. What their Master had told them is fulfilled: they are endued with Power from on high, and are ready for the battle. Who would suppose that these are the men who crouched with fear when their Jesus was in the hands of his enemies? Who would take these to be the men that doubted of his Resurrection? All that this beloved Master has taught them is now so clear to them! They see it all, they understand it all. The Holy Ghost has infused into them, and in a sublime degree, the gift of Faith; they are impatient to spread this Faith throughout the whole earth. Far from fearing, they even long to suffer persecution in the discharge of the office entrusted to them by Jesus—that of preaching his name and his glory unto all nations.
Look at Peter. You easily recognize him by that majestic bearing, which, though sweetly tempered by deep humility, bespeaks his pre-eminent dignity. A few hours ago, it was the tranquil gravity of the Head of the Apostolic College; now his whole face gleams with the flash of enthusiasm, for the Holy Ghost is now sovereign possessor of this Vicar of Christ, this Prince of the word, this master-teacher of truth. Near him are seated the other Apostles: Andrew, his elder brother, who now conceives that ardent passion for the Cross, which is to be his grand characteristic; John, whose meek and gentle eye now glistens with the fire of inspiration, betokening the Prophet of Patmos; James, the brother of John, and called, like him, the son of thunder, bears in his whole attitude the appearance of the future chivalrous conqueror of Iberia. The other James, known and loved under the name of Brother of Jesus, feels a fresh and deeper transport of joyousness as the power of the Spirit thrills through his being. Matthew is encircled with a glowing light, which points him out to us as the first writer of the New Testament. Thomas, whose faith was the fruit he took from Jesus’ Wounds, feels that faith now made perfect; it is generous, free, unreserved, worthy of the brave Apostle of the far East. In a word, all Twelve are a living hymn to the glory of the almighty Spirit, whose power is thus magnificently evinced even at the onset of his reign.
The Disciples, too, are sharers, though in a less degree than the Apostles, of the divine gifts; they receive the same Spirit, the same sacred Fire, for they too are to go forth, conquer the world, and found Churches. The holy Women also, who form part of the assembly of the Cenacle, have received the graces of this wondrous Descent of the Holy Ghost. It was a love that emboldened them to stand near the Cross of Jesus, and be the first to visit his Sepulcher on Easter morning; this love is now redoubled. A tongue of fire has stood over each of them, and the time will come when they will speak, with fervid eloquence, of Jesus, to both Jews and Gentiles. The Synagogue will banish Magdalene and her Companions: the Gentiles of our western Europe will receive them, and the world of these holy exiles will produce a hundredfold of fruit.
Meanwhile, a large crowd of Jews has collected round the mysterious Cenacle. Not only has the mighty wind excited their curiosity, but moreover, that same divine spirit, who is working such wonders upon the whole assembly within, is impelling them to visit the House, wherein is the new-born Church of Christ. They clamor for the Apostles, and these are burning with zeal to work; so too are all. At once, then, the crowd sees these men standing in its midst, and relating the prodigy that has been wrought by the God of Israel.
What is the surprise of this multitude, composed as it is of people of so many different nations, when these poor uneducated Galileans address them, each in the language of his own country? They have heard them speak before this, and they expected a repetition of the jargon now—when lo! there is the correct accent and diction of every country, and with such eloquence! The symbol of unity is here shown in all its magnificence. Here is the Christian Church, and it is One—One though consisting of such varied elements: the walls of division, which divine justice had set up between nation and nation, are now removed. Here also are the heralds of the Faith of Christ: they are ready for their grand mission; they long to traverse the earth, and save it by the word of their preaching.
But in the crowd, there are some who are shocked at witnessing this heavenly enthusiasm of the Apostles. These men, say they, are full of new wine! It is the language of rationalism, explaining away mystery by reason. These Galileans, these drunken men are, however, to conquer the whole world to Christ, and give the Holy Ghost, with his inebriating unction, to all mankind. The holy Apostles feel that it is time to proclaim the new Pentecost; yes, this anniversary of the Old is a fitting day for the New to be declared. But in this proclamation of the law of mercy and love, which is to supersede the law of justice and fear—who is to be the Moses? Our Emmanuel, before ascending into heaven, had selected one of the Twelve for the glorious office: it is Peter, the Rock on whom is built the Church. It is time for the Shepherd to show himself and speak, for the Flock is now to be formed. Let us hearken to the Holy Ghost, who is about to speak, by his chief organ, to this wonderful and attentive multitude. The Apostle, though he speaks in one tongue, is understood by each of his audience, no matter what his country and language may be. The discourse is, of its own self, a guarantee of the truth and divine origin of the new law.
The fisherman of Genesareth thus pours forth his wondrous eloquence: “Ye men of Judea, and all you that dwell in Jerusalem, be this known to you, and with your ears receive my words. For these are not drunk, as you suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day: But this is that which was spoken of by the prophet Joel: ‘And it shall come to pass, in the last days, saith the Lord, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams. And upon my servants indeed, and upon my handmaids will I pour out in those days of my spirit, and they shall prophesy.’ Ye men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you, by miracles, and wonders, and signs, which God did by him, in the midst of you, as you also know: This same being delivered up, by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, you by the hands of wicked men have crucified and slain. Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the sorrows of hell (the tomb), as it was impossible that he should be holden by it. For David saith concerning him: ‘My flesh shall rest in hope, because thou wilt not leave my soul in the tomb, nor suffer thy Holy One to see corruption.’ Ye men, brethren, let me freely speak to you of the patriarch David; that he died, and was buried; and his sepulcher is with us to this present day. Whereas therefore he was a Prophet, he spoke of the Resurrection of Christ; for neither was he ‘left in the Tomb,’ neither did his ‘flesh see corruption.’ This Jesus hath God raised again, whereof all we are witnesses. Being exalted therefore by the right hand of God, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath poured forth this which you see and hear. Therefore let all the house of Israel know most certainly, that God hath made both Lord and Christ, this same Jesus, whom you have crucified.”
Thus did the second Moses promulgate the New Law. How must not his hearers have welcomed the stupendous gift of this new Pentecost, which put them in possession of the divine realities foreshadowed by that figurative one of old! Here again, it was God revealing himself to his creatures and, as usual, by miracles. Peter alludes to the wonders wrought by Jesus, who thus bore testimony of his being the Messias. He tells his audience that the Holy Ghost has been sent from heaven, according to the promise made to this Jesus by his Father: they have proof enough of the great fact, in the gift of tongues of which themselves are witnesses.
The Holy Spirit makes his presence and influence to be felt in the hearts of these favored listeners. A few moments previous, and they were disciples of Sinaï, who had come from distant lands to celebrate the bygone Pasch and Pentecost; now they have faith, simple and full faith, in Christ. They repent the awful crime of his Death, of which they have been accomplices; they confess his Resurrection and Ascension; they beseech Peter and the rest of the Apostles to put them in the way of salvation: Men and Brethren! say they, what shall we do? Better disposition could not be: they desire to know their duty, and are determined to do it. Peter resumes his discourse, saying: “Do penance, and be baptized, every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is to you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, whomsoever the Lord our God shall call.”
The Jewish Pentecost pales at each word of the new Moses; the Christian Pentecost manifests itself with clearer light. The reign of the Holy Ghost is inaugurated in Jerusalem, and under the very shadow of that Temple which is doomed to destruction. Peter continued his instructions; but the sacred volume has left us only these few words wherewith, probably, the Apostle made his final appeal to his hearers: “Save yourselves from this perverse generation!”
Yes, these children of Israel had to make this sacrifice, or they never could have shared in the graces of the new Pentecost;—they had to cut themselves off from their own people; they had to leave the Synagogue for the Church. There was a struggle in many a heart at that moment; but the Holy Spirit triumphed; three thousand declared themselves disciples of Christ, and received the mark of adoption in holy Baptism. Church of the living God! how lovely art thou in thy first reception of the divine Spirit! how admirable is thy early progress! Thy first abode was in the Immaculate Mary, the Virgin full of grace, the Mother of God; thy second victory gave thee the hundred and twenty Disciples of the Cenacle; and now, three thousand elect proclaim thee as their Mother and, leaving the unhappy Jerusalem, will carry thy name and kingdom to their own countries. Tomorrow, Peter is to preach in the Temple, and five thousand men will enroll themselves as Disciples of Jesus of Nazareth. Hail! then, dear creation of the Holy Ghost! Militant on earth; triumphant in heaven; beautiful, noble, immortal Church! all hail!—And thou, bright Pentecost! day of our truest birth! how fair, how glorious, thou makest these first hours of Jesus’ Spouse on earth! The Divine Spirit thou givest us has written, not upon stone but upon our hearts, the Law that is to govern us. In thee, O Pentecost! we find realized the hopes foreshadowed in the mystery of the Epiphany; for though thyself art promulgated in Jerusalem, yet thy graces are to be extended to all that are afar off, that is, to us Gentiles. The Magi came from the East; we watched them as they visited the Crib of the Divine Babe, for we knew that we too were to have our season of grace. It was thou, O Holy Spirit! that didst attract them to Bethlehem: and now, in this Pentecost of thy power, thou callest all men; the Star is changed into Tongues of Fire, and the face of the earth is to be renewed. Oh! grant that we may be ever faithful to the graces thou offerest us, and carefully treasure the Gifts sent us, with thee and through thee, by the Father and the Son!
The mystery of Pentecost holds so important a place in the Christian dispensation that we cannot be surprised at the Church’s ranking it, in her Liturgy, on an equality with her Paschal Solemnity. The Pasch is the redemption of man by the victory of Christ; Pentecost is the Holy Ghost taking possession of man redeemed. The Ascension is the intermediate mystery; it consummates the Pasch by placing the Man-God, the Conqueror of death, and our Head, at the right hand of the Father; it prepares the mission of the Holy Ghost to our earth. This mission could not take place until Jesus had been glorified, as St. John tells us; and there are several reasons assigned for it by the Holy Fathers. It was necessary that the Son of God—who, together with the Father, is the principle of the procession of the Holy Ghost in the divine essence—should also personally send this Divine spirit upon the earth. The exterior mission of one of the Three Persons is but the sequel and manifestation of the mysterious and eternal production which is ever going on within the Divinity. Thus the Father is not sent, either by the Son or by the Holy Ghost, because he does not proceed from them. The Son is sent to men by the Father, of whom it eternally begotten. The Holy Ghost is sent by the Father and the Son, because he proceeds from both. But in order that the mission of the Holy Ghost might give greater glory to the Son, there was a congruity in its not taking place until such time as the Incarnate Word should be enthroned at the right hand of the Father. How immense the glory of Human Nature, that it was hypostatically united to the Person of the Son of God when this mission of the Holy Ghost was achieved! and that we can say, in strict truth—the Holy Ghost was sent by the Man-God!
This divine Mission was not to be given to the Third Person until men were deprived of the visible presence of Jesus. As we have already said, the hearts of the Faithful were henceforward to follow their absent Redeemer by a purer and wholly spiritual love. Now, who was to bring us this new love, if not He who is the link of the eternal love of the Father and the Son? This Holy Spirit of love and union is called, in the Sacred Scriptures, the “Gift of God;” and it is on the day of Pentecost that the Father and Son send us this ineffable Gift. Let us call to mind the words spoken by our Emmanuel to the Samaritan Woman at the Well of Sichar: If thou didst know the Gift of God! He had not yet been given he had not yet been manifested, otherwise than in a partial way. From this day forward, he inundates the whole earth with his Fire, he gives spiritual life to all, he makes his influence felt in every place. We know the Gift of God; so that we have but to open our hearts to receive him, as did the three thousand who listened to St. Peter’s sermon.
Observe, too, the Season of the Year, in which the Holy Ghost comes to take possession of his earthly kingdom. Our Jesus, the Sun of Justice, arose in Bethlehem in the very depth of winter; humble and gradual was his ascent to the zenith of his glory. But the Spirit of the Father and the Son came in the Season that harmonizes with his own divine characteristic. He is a consuming Fire; he comes into the world when summer is in his pride, and sunshine decks our earth with loveliest flowers. Let us welcome the life-giving heat of the Holy Ghost, and earnestly beseech him that it may ever abide within us. The Liturgical Year has brought us to the full possession of Truth by the Incarnate Word; let us carefully cherish the Love which the Holy Ghost has now enkindled within our hearts.
The Christian Pentecost, prefigured by the ancient one of the Jews, is of the number of the Feasts that were instituted by the Apostles. As we have already remarked, it formerly shared with Easter the honor of the solemn administration of Baptism. Its Octave, like that of Easter, and for the same reason, ended with the Saturday following the Feast. The Catechumens received Baptism on the night between Saturday and Sunday. So that the Pentecost Solemnity began on the Vigil, for the Neophytes at once put on their white garments: on the eighth day, the Saturday, they laid them aside.
In the Middle Ages, the Feast of Pentecost was called by the beautiful name of The Pasch of Roses, just as the Sunday within the Octave of the Ascension was termed the Sunday of Roses. The color and fragrance of this lovely flower were considered by our Catholic Forefathers as emblems of the Tongues of Fire, which rested on the heads of the hundred and twenty Disciples, and poured forth the sweet gifts of love and grace on the infant Church. The same idea suggested the red-colored Vestments for the Liturgical Services during the whole Octave. In his Rational (a work which abounds in the most interesting information regarding the Mediæval Liturgical usages), Durandus tells us that in the 13th Century, a Dove was allowed to fly about in the Church, and flowers and lighted tow were thrown down from the roof during the Mass on Whit Sunday; these were allusions to the two mysteries of Jesus’ Baptism and of the Descent of the Holy Ghost on the Day of Pentecost.
At Rome, the Station is in the Basilica of Saint Peter. It was but just that special honor should be paid to the Prince of the Apostles, for it was on this day that his preaching won three thousand converts to the Church. Though the Station, and the Indulgences attached to it, are at Saint Peter’s, yet the Sovereign Pontiff and the sacred College of Cardinals solemnize today’s Service in the Lateran Basilica, which is the Mother Church of the city and World.
Today Holy Church celebrated the Hour of Tierce with unusual solemnity, and this in order to honor more markedly the mystery of Pentecost. During the whole year, indeed, she chooses this Hour as the most propitious for the celebration of the Holy Sacrifice, wherein the Third Person of the Trinity manifests his almighty power. The Hour of Tierce, which corresponds to our nine o’clock in the morning, begins with a Hymn to the Holy Ghost, composed by St. Ambrose; but today, she uses in its stead the sublime and mystic Veni Creator, which was written in the 9th Century, and as tradition says, by Charlemagne.
It was St. Hugh, Abbot of Cluny, in the 11th Century, who conceived the happy thought of introducing it into the Tierce of Whitsuntide; and the Roman Church showed her approbation of the practice by adopting it in her Liturgy. Thence has come the custom of singing the Veni Creator before the Mass of Whitsunday, in Churches where Tierce is not sung.
At this solemn Hour, then, and during the chant of this soul-stirring Hymn, the Faithful should fervently adore the Holy Spirit, and invite him to enter into their hearts. At this very hour, he is filling our Churches with his invisible presence and, if there be no obstacle on our parts, he will take possession of our souls. Let us acknowledge to him the need we have of his visit; let us importune him to take up his new abode within us, now and forever. Showing him how our souls are sealed with himself, by the indelible characters of Baptism and Confirmation, let us beseech him to defend his own work. We are his own possession; may he bestow upon us the graces we are now going to pray for! Let us be sincere in our petitions; let us remember that in order to receive the Holy Ghost and keep him within us, we must renounce the spirit of the world, for our Savior has said: No man can serve two masters.
After the Pater noster and Ave have been said in secret, the Celebrant intones the usual invocation, as follows:
|℣. Deus, in adjutorium meum intende.
||℣. Incline unto my aid, O God.
|℟. Domine, ad adjuvandum me festina.
||℟. O Lord, make haste to help me.
|Gloria Patri, et Filio, et Spiritui Sancto;
||Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost.
|Sicut erat in principio, et nunc, et semper, et in sæcula sæculorum. Amen. Alleluia.
||As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen. Alleluia.
Then follows the Veni Creator. The first stanza is always sung kneeling; after which the Clergy and people rise, and continue the rest of the Hymn standing.
|Veni, creator Spiritus,
Mentes tuorum visita,
Imple superna gratia
Gratiæ tu creasti pectora.
|O come, Creator Spirit, visit our souls; and with thy heavenly grace fill the hearts that were made by thee.
|Qui diceris Paraclitus,
Altissimi donum Dei,
Fons vivus, ignis, caritas,
Et spiritalis unctio.
|Thou art called the Paraclete, the Gift of the Most High God, the Living Fountain, Fire, Love, and Spiritual Unction.
|Tu septiformis munere,
Digitus Paternæ dexteræ,
Tu rite promissum Patris,
Sermone ditans guttura.
|Thou art sevenfold in thy gifts; the Finger of the Father’s hand; the Father’s solemn Promise, that enrichest men with the gift of tongues.
|Accende lumen sensibus,
Infunde amorem cordibus,
Infirma nostri corporis
Virtute firmans perpeti.
|Enkindle thy light in our minds; infuse thy love into our hearts; and strengthen the weakness of our flesh by thine unfailing power.
|Hostem repellas longius,
Pacemque dones protinus:
Ductore sic te prævio
Vitemus omne noxium.
|Repel the enemy far from us, and delay not to give us peace; be thou our guide, that we may shun all that could bring us harm.
|Per te sciamus da Patrem,
Noscamus atque Filium,
Teque utriusque Spiritum
Credamus omni tempore.
|Grant that, through thee, we may know the Father and the Son; and that we may evermore confess thee the Spirit of them both.
|Deo Patri sit gloria,
Et Filio, qui a mortuis
Surrexit, ac Paraclito
In sæculorum sæcula.
|Glory be to God the Father, and to the Son who rose from the dead, and to the Paraclete, for everlasting ages! Amen.
|Ant. Spiritus Domini.
||Ant. The Spirit of the Lord.
|Division of Psalm 118
|Legem pone mihi, Domine, viam justificationum tuarum: * et exquiram eam semper.
||Set before me for a law the way of thy justifications, O Lord: and I will always seek after it.
|Da mihi intellectum, et scrutabor legem tuam: * et custodiam illam in toto corde meo.
||Give me understanding, and I will search thy law: and I will keep it with my whole heart.
|Deduc me in semitam mandatorum tuorum: * quia ipsam volui.
||Lead me into the path of thy commandments: for this same I have desired.
|Inclina cor meum in testimonia tua: * et non in avaritiam.
||Incline my heart into thy testimonies and not to covetousness.
|Averte oculos meos, ne videant vanitatem: * in via tua vivifica me.
||Turn away my eyes that they may not behold vanity: quicken me in thy way.
|Statue servo tuo eloquium tuum: * in timore tuo.
||Establish thy word to thy servant, in thy fear.
|Amputa opprobrium meum quod suspicatus sum: * quia judicia tua jucunda.
||Turn away my reproach, which I have apprehended: for thy judgments are delightful.
|Ecce concupivi mandata tua: * in aequitate tua vivifica me.
||Behold I have longed after thy precepts: quicken me in thy justice.
|Et veniat super me misericordia tua, Domine: * salutare tuum secundum eloquium tuum.
||Let thy mercy also come upon me, O Lord: thy salvation according to thy word.
|Et respondebo exprobrantibus mihi verbum: * quia speravi in sermonibus tuis.
||And I will answer the enemies of my soul who reproach me in any thing, that I have trusted in thy words.
|Et ne auferas de ore meo verbum veritatis usquequaque: * quia in judiciis tuis supersperavi.
||And take not thou the word of truth utterly out of my mouth: for in thy words have I hoped exceedingly.
|Et custodiam legem tuam semper, in saeculum et in sæculum sæculi:
||So shall I always keep thy law, for ever and ever.
|Et ambulabam in latitudine: * quia mandata tua exquisivi.
||And I walked at large, and joyously,, because I have sought after thy commandments.
|Et loquebar in testimoniis tuis in conspectu regum: * et non confundebar.
||And I spoke of thy testimonies before kings: and I was not ashamed.
|Et meditabar in mandatis tuis: * quæ dilexi.
||I meditated also on thy commandments, which I loved.
|Et levavi manus meas ad mandata tua, quae dilexi: * et exercebar in justificationibus tuis.
||And I lifted up my hands to thy commandments, which I loved: and I was exercised in thy justifications.
|Gloria Patri, &c.
||Glory be to the Father, &c.
|Memor esto verbi tui servo tuo: * in quo mihi spem dedisti.
||Be thou mindful of thy word to thy servant, in which thou hast given me hope.
|Hæc me consolata est in humilitate mea: * quia eloquium tuum vivificavit me.
||This hath comforted me in my humiliation: because thy word hath enlivened me.
|Superbi inique agebant usquequaque: * a lege autem tua non declinavi.
||The proud did iniquitously altogether: but I declined not from thy law.
|Memor fui judiciorum tuorum a sæculo, Domine: * et consolatus sum.
||I remembered, O Lord, thy judgments of old: and I was comforted.
|Defectio tenuit me: * pro peccatoribus derelinquentibus legem tuam.
||A fainting hath taken hold of me, because of the wicked that forsake thy law.
|Cantabiles mihi erant justificationes tuæ: * in loco peregrinationis meæ.
||Thy justifications were the subject of my song, in the place of my pilgrimage.
|Memor fui nocte nominis tui, Domine: * et custodivi legem tuam.
||In the night I have remembered thy name, O Lord: and have kept thy law.
|Hæc facta est mihi: * quia justificationes tuas exquisivi.
||This happened to me: because I sought after thy justifications.
|Portio mea, Domine: * dixi custodire legem tuam.
||O Lord, my portion, I have said, I would keep the law.
|Deprecatus sum faciem tuam in toto corde meo: * miserere mei secundum eloquium tuum.
||I entreated thy face with all my heart: have mercy on me according to thy word.
|Cogitavi vias meas: * et converti pedes meos in testimonia tua.
||I have thought on my ways: and turned my feet unto thy testimonies.
|Paratus sum, et non sum turbatus: * ut custodiam mandata tua.
||I am ready, and am not troubled: that I may keep thy commandments.
|Funes peccatorum circumplexi sunt me: * et legem tuam non sum oblitus.
||The cords of the wicked have encompassed me: but I have not forgotten thy law.
|Media nocte surgebam, ad confitendum tibi: * super judicia justificationis tuæ.
||I rose at midnight to give praise to thee; for the judgments of thy justification.
|Particeps ego sum omnium timentium te: * et custodientium mandata tua.
||I am a partaker with all them that fear thee, and that keep thy commandments.
|Misericordia tua, Domine, plena est terra: * justificationes tuas doce me.
||The earth, O Lord, is full of thy mercy: teach me thy justifications.
|Bonitatem fecisti cum servo tuo, Domine: * secundum verbum tuum.
||Thou hast done well with thy servant, O Lord, according to thy word.
|Bonitatem, et disciplinam, et scientiam doce me: * quia mandatis tuis credidi.
||Teach me goodness and discipline and knowledge; for I have believed thy commandments.
|Priusquam humiliarer ego deliqui: * propterea eloquium tuum custodivi.
||Before I was humbled, I offended: therefore, now that I am enlightened, have I kept thy word.
|Bonus es tu: * et in bonitate tua doce me justificationes tuas.
||Thou art good; and in thy goodness teach me thy justifications.
|Multiplicata est super me iniquitas superborum: * ego autem in toto corde meo scrutabor mandata tua.
||The iniquity of the proud hath been multiplied over me: but I will seek thy commandments with my whole heart.
|Coagulatum est sicut lac cor eorum: * ego vero legem tuam meditatus sum.
||Their heart is curdled like milk: but I have meditated on thy law.
|Bonum mihi quia humiliasti me: * ut discam justificationes tuas.
||It is good for me that thou hast humbled me, that I may learn thy justifications.
|Bonum mihi lex oris tui: * super millia auri et argenti.
||Thy word, which is the law of thy mouth, O heavenly Father, is good to me above thousands of gold and silver.
|Manus tuæ fecerunt me, et plasmaverunt me: * da mihi intellectum, et discam mandata tua.
||Thy hands have made me and formed me: give me understanding, and I will learn thy commandments.
|Qui timent te videbunt me, et lætabuntur: * quia in verba tua supersperavi.
||They that fear thee shall see me, and shall be glad: because I have greatly hoped in thy words.
|Cognovi, Domine, quia æquitas judicia tua, * et in veritate tua humiliasti me.
||I know, O Lord, that thy judgments are equity: and in thy truth thou hast humbled me.
|Fiat misericordia tua ut consoletur me: * secundum eloquium tuum servo tuo.
||O! let thy mercy be for my comfort, according to thy word unto thy servant.
|Veniant mihi miserationes tuæ, et vivam: * quia lex tua meditatio mea est.
||Let thy tender mercies come unto me, and I shall live: for thy law is my meditation.
|Confundantur superbi, quia injuste iniquitatem fecerunt in me: * ego autem exercebor in mandatis tuis.
||Let the proud be ashamed, because they have done unjustly towards me: but I will be employed in thy commandments.
|Convertantur mihi timentes te: * et qui noverunt testimonia tua.
||Let them that fear thee turn to me and they that know thy testimonies.
|Fiat cor meum immaculatum in justificationibus tuis: * ut non confundar.
||Let my heart be undefiled in thy justifications, that I may not be confounded, on the day when thou comest to judge me.
|Ant. Spiritus Domini replevit orbem terrarum, alleluia.
||Ant. The Spirit of the Lord hath filled the whole world, alleluia.
|Quum complerentur dies Pentecostes, erant omnes discipuli pariter in eodem loco: et factus est repente de cœlo sonus tamquam advenientis spiritus vehementis, et replevit totam domum ubi erant sedentes.
||When the days of Pentecost were accomplished, they were all together in one place: and suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a mighty wind coming, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting.
|℟. breve. spiritus Domini replevit orbem terrarum, * Alleluia, alleluia. Spiritus.
||℟. breve. The Spirit of the Lord hath filled the whole world, * Alleluia, alleluia. The Spirit.
|℣. Et hoc quod continet omnia scientiam habet vocis, * Alleluia, alleluia. Gloria. Spiritus Domini.
||℣. And that which containeth all things, hath knowledge of voice. * Alleluia, alleluia. Glory, &c. The Spirit, &c.
|℟. Spiritus Paraclitus, alleluia.
||℟. The Holy Ghost, the Paraclete, alleluia.
|℣. Docebit vos omnia, alleluia.
||℣. Will teach you all things, alleluia.
The Holy Sacrifice is now to be celebrated. Filled with the Holy Ghost, the Church is about to pay the solemn tribute of her gratitude by offering the divine Victim who, by his immolation, merited for us the great Gift—the Spirit. The Introit has been begun by the Choir, and with an unusual joy and enthusiasm. The Gregorian Chant has few finer pieces than this. As to the words, they give us a prophecy, which receives its fulfillment today:—it is taken from the Book of Wisdom. The holy Spirit fills the whole earth with his presence; and as a pledge of his being with us, he gives to the Apostles the gift of tongues.
|Spiritus Domini replevit orbem terrarum, alleluia: et hoc quod continet omnia, scientiam habet vocis. Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.
||The Spirit of the Lord hath filled the whole world, alleluia: and that which contained all things hath knowledge of the voice. Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.
|Ps. Exsurgat Deus, et dissipentur inimici ejus: et fugiant qui oderunt eum a facie ejus. ℣. Gloria Patri. Spiritus Domini.
||Ps. Let God arise, and his enemies be dispersed: and let them that hate him fly before his face. ℣. Glory, &c. The Spirit, &c.
The Collect tells us what favors we should petition for from our Heavenly Father on such a day as this. It also tells us that the Holy Ghost brings us two principal graces:—a relish for the things of God and consolation of heart. Let us pray that we may receive both the one and the other, that we may thus become perfect Christians.
|Deus, qui hodierna die corda fidelium sancti Spiritus illustratione docuisti: da nobis in eodem Spiritu recta sapere, et de ejus semper consolatione gaudere. Per Dominum.
||O God, who, by the light of the Holy Ghost, didst this day instruct the hearts of the faithful: grant that, by the same Spirit, we may relish what is right, and ever rejoice in his consolation. Through, &c.
|Lectio Actuum Apostolorum.
||Lesson from the Acts of the Apostles.
|Cum complerentur dies Pentecostes, erant omnes pariter in eodem loco: et factus est repente de cælo sonus, tamquam advenientis spiritus vehementis, et replevit totam domum ubi erant sedentes. Et apparuerunt illis dispertitæ linguæ tamquam ignis, seditque supra singulos eorum: et repleti sunt omnes Spiritu Sancto, et cœperunt loqui variis linguis, prout Spiritus Sanctus dabat eloqui illis. Erant autem in Jerusalem habitantes Judæi, viri religiosi ex omni natione, quæ sub cælo est. Facta autem hac voce, convenit multitudo, et mente confusa est, quoniam audiebat unusquisque lingua sua illos loquentes. Stupebant autem omnes, et mirabantur, dicentes: Nonne ecce omnes isti, qui loquuntur, Galilæi sunt, et quomodo nos audivimus unusquisque linguam nostram, in qua nati sumus? Parthi, et Medi, et Ælamitæ, et qui habitant Mespotamiam, Judæam, et Cappadociam, Pontum, et Asiam, Phrygiam, et Pamphyliam, Ægyptum, et partes Libyæ, quæ est circa Cyrenen, et advenæ Romani, Judæi quoque, et Proselyti, Cretes, et Arabes: audivimus eos loquentes nostris linguis magnalia Dei.
||When the days of the Pentecost were accomplished, they were all together in one place: And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a mighty wind coming, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them parted tongues as it were of fire, and it sat upon every one of them: and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they began to speak with divers tongues, according as the Holy Ghost gave them to speak. Now there were dwelling at Jerusalem, Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. And when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded in mind, because that every man heard them speak in his own tongue. And they were all amazed, and wondered, saying: Behold, are not all these, that speak, Galileans? And how have we heard, every man our own tongue wherein we were born? Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and inhabitants of Mesopotamia, Judea, and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia, and Pamphylia, Egypt, and the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews also, and proselytes, Cretes, and Arabians: we have heard them speak in our own tongues the wonderful works of God.
Four great events mark the sojourn of man on earth; and each of them is a proof of God’s infinite goodness towards us. The first is the Creation of man and his Vocation to a supernatural state, which gives him, as his last end, the eternal vision and possession of God. The second is the Incarnation of the Divine Word, who, by uniting the Human to the Divine Nature, raises a created being to a participation of the Divinity, and at the same time, provides the Victim needed for redeeming Adam and his race from the state of perdition into which they fell by sin. The third event is that which we celebrate today—the Descent of the Holy Ghost. The fourth is the Second Coming of the Son of God, when he will free his spouse, the Church, from the shackles of mortality, and lead her to heaven, there to celebrate his eternal nuptials with her. In these four divine acts, the last of which has not yet been accomplished, is included the whole history of mankind; all other events bear, more or less, upon them. Of course, the animal man perceiveth not these things; he never gives them a thought. The light shineth in darkness, and darkness doth not comprehend it.
Blessed, then, be the God of mercy, who hath called us out of darkness, into his marvellous light,—the light of Faith! He has made us children of that generation, which is not of flesh, nor of blood, nor of the will of man, but of God. It is by this grace, that we are now all attention to the third of God’s great works—the Descent of the Holy Ghost. We have been listening to the thrilling account given us of his coming. That mysterious storm, that fire, those tongues, that sacred enthusiasm of the Disciples—have told us so much of God’s plans upon this our world! We could not but say within ourselves: “Has God loved the world so much as this?” When our Redeemer was living with us on this earth, he said to one of his disciples: God hath so loved the world, as to give it his Only Begotten Son. The mystery achieved today forces us to complete these words and say: “The Father and the Son have so loved the world, as to give it their own Divine Spirit!” Let us gratefully accept the Gift, and learn what Man is. Rationalism and Naturalism will have it that man’s true happiness consists in his following their principles, which are principles of pride and sensuality:—Faith, on the contrary, teaches us humility and mortification, and these bring us to union with our Infinite Good.
The first Alleluia-Versicle is formed from the words of one of the Psalms, where David shows us the Holy Ghost as the Author of a new creation; as the renewer of the earth. The second is the fervent prayer whereby the Church invokes the Spirit of Love upon her Children: it is always said kneeling.
|℣. Emitte Spiritum tuum, et creabuntur: et renovabis faciem terræ.
||℣. Send forth thy Spirit, and they shall be created: and thou wilt renew the face of the earth.
|Here all kneel.
|℣. Veni, Sancte Spiritus, reple tuorum corda fidelium: et tui amoris in eis ignem accende.
||℣. Come, O Holy Spirit! fill the hearts of thy faithful, and kindle within them the fire of thy love.
Then is immediately added the Sequence. It was composed about the end of the 12th Century; its authorship has been ascribed, and not without reasonable probability, to the great Pope Innocent the Third. It is a hymn of exquisite beauty, and is replete with tenderest love for Him who is co-equal God with the Father and the Son, and is now about to establish his empire in our hearts.
|Veni, Sancte Spiritus,
Et emitte cœlitus
Lucis tuæ radium.
|Come, O Holy Spirit! and send from heaven a ray of thy Light.
|Veni pater pauperum,
Veni dator munerum,
Veni lumen cordium.
|Come, Father of the poor! Come, Giver of gifts! Come, thou Light of our hearts!
Dulcis hospes animæ,
|Thou best of Comforters! The soul’s sweet Guest and Refreshment!
|In labore requies,
In æstu temperies,
In fletu solatium.
|Her rest in toil; her shelter in heat; her solace in her woe!
|O lux beatissima,
Reple cordis intima
|O most blessed Light! fill the inmost soul of thy faithful.
|Sine tuo numine,
Nihil est in homine,
Nihil est innoxium.
|Without thy divine assistance, there is nought in man, there is nought but evil.
|Lava quod est sordidum,
Riga quod est aridum,
Sana quod est sancium.
|Cleanse our defilements; water our dryness; heal our wounds.
|Flecte quod est rigidum,
Fove quod est frigidum,
Rege quod est devium.
|Bend our stubborn will; warm up our cold hearts; guide our straying steps.
|Da tuis fidelibus,
In te confidentibus,
|Give to thy faithful, who hope in thee, thy holy Seven of Gifts.
|Da virtutis meritum,
Da salutis exitum,
Da perenne gaudium.
|Give them the merit of virtue; give them the happy issue of salvation; give them endless joy. Amen. Alleluia.
|Sequentia sancti Evangelii secundum Joannem.
||Sequel of the holy Gospel according to John.
|In illo tempore: dixit Jesus discipulis suis: Si quis diligit me, sermonem meum servabit, et Pater meus diliget eum, et ad eum veniemus, et mansionem apud eum faciemus; qui non diligit me, sermones meos non servat. Et sermonem, quem audistis, non est meus: sed ejus qui misit me, Patris. Hæc locutus sum vobis apud vos manens. Paraclitus autem Spiritus Sanctus, quem mittet Pater in nomine meo, ille vos docebit omnia, et suggeret vobis omnia quæcumque dixero vobis. Pacem relinquo vobis, pacem meam do vobis: non quomodo mundus dat, ego do vobis. Non turbetur cor vestrum, neque formidet. Audistis quia ego dixi vobis: Vado, et venio ad vos. Si diligeretis me, gauderetis utique, quia vado ad Patrem: quia Pater major me est. Et nunc dixi vobis priusquam fiat: ut cum factum fuerit, credatis. Jam non multa loquar vobiscum: venit enim princeps mundi hujus, et in me non habet quidquam. Sed ut cognoscat mundus quia diligo Patrem, et sicut mandatum dedit mihi Pater, sic facio. Surgite, eamus hinc.
||At that time: Jesus said to his disciples: If any one love me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him, and will make our abode with him. He that loveth me not, keepeth not my words. And the word which you have heard, is not mine; but the Father’s who sent me. These things have I spoken to you, abiding with you. But the Paraclete, the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring all things to your mind, whatsoever I shall have said to you. Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, do I give unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, nor let it be afraid. You have heard that I said to you: I go away, and I come unto you. If you loved me, you would indeed be glad, because I go to the Father: for the Father is greater than I. And now I have told you before it comes to pass: that when it shall come to pass, you may believe. I will not now speak many things with you. For the prince of this world cometh, and in me he hath not any thing. But that the world may know, that I love the Father: and as the Father hath given me commandment, so do I: Arise, let us go hence.
The coming of the Holy Ghost is not only an event, which concerns mankind at large: each individual of the human race is invited to receive this same visit, which today renews the face of the earth. The merciful design of the sovereign Lord of all things is to contract a close alliance with each one of us. Jesus asks but one thing of us:—that we love him and keep his word. If we do this, he promises us that the Father will love us, and will take up his abode in our soul. He tells us that the Holy Ghost is to come; and he is coming that he may, by his presence, complete the habitation of God within us. The sacred Trinity will turn this poor dwelling into a new heaven, until such time as we shall be taken, after this life, to the abode where we shall see our infinitely dear Guest—Father, Son, and Holy Ghost—whose love of us is so incomprehensibly great.
In this same passage of the Gospel, which is taken from his Sermon at the Last Supper, Jesus teaches us, that the Holy Spirit, who this day descends upon us, is sent, indeed, by the Father, but sent in the name of the Son. A little further on, in the same Sermon, Jesus says that it is he himself who sends the Paraclete. These modes of expression show us the relations which exist, in the Trinity, between the first two Persons and the Holy Ghost. This divine Spirit if the Spirit of the Father, but he is also the Spirit of the Son; it is the Father who sends him, but the Son also sends him; for he proceeds from the Two as from one principle. On this great day of Pentecost, our gratitude should therefore be the same to the Son who is Wisdom, as to the Father who is Power; for the Gift that is sent to us from heaven comes from both. From all eternity, the Father has begotten his Son; and when the fullness of time came, he gave him to men, that he might assume our human nature, and be our Mediator and Savior. From all eternity, the Father and Son have produced the Holy Ghost; and when the time marked in the divine decree came, they sent him here upon our earth, that he might be to us—as he is between the Father and the Son—the principle of Love. Jesus teaches us that the mission of the Holy Ghost followed his own, because men required to be initiated into truth by Him who is Wisdom; for could they love what they did not know? But no sooner had Jesus consummated his work, and exalted his Human Nature to the throne of God his Father—than he, together with the Father, sends the Holy Ghost, in order that he may maintain within us that word which is spirit and life, and leads us on to Love.
The Offertory is taken from the 67th Psalm, where David foretells the coming of the Divine Spirit, whose mission it is to confirm what Jesus has wrought. The Cenacle is grander than the Temple of Jerusalem. Henceforth, the Church is to take the place of the Synagogue, and Kings and people will become her submissive children.
|Confirma hoc Deus, quod operatus es in nobis: a templo tuo, quod est in Jerusalem, tibi offerent reges munera, alleluia.
||Confirm, O God, what thou hast wrought in us, from thy temple which is in Jerusalem kings shall offer presents to thee, alleluia.
Having before her, on the Altar, the sacred gifts which have been presented to the Divine Majesty, the Church prays, in the Secret, that the coming of the Holy Ghost may be to the Faithful a Fire which may consume all their dross, and a Light which may give them a more perfect understanding of the teachings of the Son of God.
|Munera, quæsumus Domine, oblata sanctifica: et corda nostra Sancti Spiritus illustratione emunda. Per Dominum.
||Sanctify, we beseech thee, O Lord, these oblations, and purify our hearts by the light of the Holy Ghost. Through, &c.
|Vere dignum et justum est, æquum et salutare, nos tibi semper et ubíque gratias agere: Domine sancte, Pater omnípotens, æterne Deus: per Christum, Dominum nostrum. Qui, ascendens super omnes cœlos sedensque ad dexteram tuam, promíssum Spíritum Sanctum hodierna die in fílios adoptionis effudit. Quapropter profusis gaudiis totus in orbe terrarum mundus exsúltat. Sed et supernæ Virtutes atque angelicæ Potestates hymnum gloriæ tuæ concinunt, sine fine dicentes: Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus.
||It is truly meet and just, right and available to salvation, that we should at all times, and in all places, give thanks to thee, O holy Lord, Father Almighty, eternal God, through Christ our Lord: who ascending above all the heavens, and sitting at thy right hand, sent down the promised Holy Spirit, this day, upon the children of adoption. Wherefore the whole world displays its exceeding great joy. The heavenly Virtues, also, and the angelic Powers, sing in concert a hymn to thy glory, saying unceasingly: Holy, Holy, Holy!
The words of the Communion-Anthem are from the Epistle; they celebrate the solemn moment of the Descent of the Holy Ghost. Jesus has given himself to the Faithful in the Blessed Sacrament: but it was the Holy Spirit who prepared them for such a favor; who changed the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of the Divine Victim; and who will assist the Faithful to cooperate with the grace of this holy Communion, which nourishes and strengthens their souls unto life everlasting.
|Factus est repente de cœlo sonus, tamquam advenientis spiritus vehementis, ubi erant sedentes, alleluia: et repleti sunt omnes Spiritu Sancto, loquentes magnalia Dei, alleluia, alleluia.
||Suddenly there came a noise from heaven, as of a strong rushing wind, where they were sitting, alleluia: and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and published the wonderful works of God, alleluia, alleluia.
Put, by the sacred mysteries, in possession of her Spouse, the Church prays, in the Post-Communion, that the Holy Ghost may abide forever in our souls. She also speaks of that prerogative of the Divine Spirit, whereby he turns our hearts, from being dry and barren of good, into very Edens of fruitfulness. How consoling the thought that our hearts are to be sprinkled with the dew of the Paraclete!
|Sancti Spiritus, Domine, corda nostra mundet infusio: et sui roris intima aspersione fœcundet. Per Dominum.
||May the pouring forth of the Holy Ghost into our hearts cleanse them, O Lord, and render them fruitful by the inward sprinkling of the dew of his grace. Through, &c.
– The Liturgical Year
The Ember Days of Pentecost
By Dom Prosper Guéranger, O.S.B.
The Ember Days of Pentecost differ from the others in that they fall during a joyful Season of the Liturgical Year and during the Octave of the one of the most solemn Feasts of the year. The color of the vestments is red, as during the rest of the Pentecost Octave. The Gloria and Alleluia are heard during the Mass, and there is little of a penitential nature in the liturgy on these days.
Nonetheless, Holy Mother Church prescribes a fast, as She does on the other Ember Days, with the special intention of obtaining from God’s mercy, that the grace given in the Sacrament of Holy Orders may fructify in those who receive it, and bring a blessing upon the faithful. We have already noted that the Ember Saturday of Advent was the preferred day for Ordinations in the early Church. With the passage of time, the Ember Saturday of Pentecost became the preferred day. Falling as it does between spring and summer, it was a most convenient time to bestow Holy Orders on those who had completed their Seminary or University studies. Also, the Sacrament of Holy Orders is one of the principal workings of the Holy Ghost; therefore, the Pentecost Octave is a most fitting time for the bestowal of this Sacrament.
Still, the significance of these Ember Days is overshadowed by that of Pentecost, which is commemorated during the entire Octave. Ember Saturday brings to a close the Pentecost Octave (which began, as it were, on the Vigil) and, with it, the Paschal Season.
One of the principal mysteries of Pentecost is the birth of the Church. We have seen with what fidelity the Holy Ghost has fulfilled, during all these past ages, the mission He received from our Emmanuel, of forming, protecting, and maintaining His Bride the Church. This trust given by God has been executed with all the power of God, and it is the most sublime and wonderful spectacle the world has witnessed during the two millennia of the New Covenant. This continuance of a social Body, the same in all times and places; promulgating a precise Creed of Faith which each of Its members is bound to accept; producing by Its decisions the strictest unity of religious belief throughout the countless individuals who have composed the society: this, and the wonderful propagation of Christianity, are the master facts of history.
These two facts are not, as certain modern writers would have it, results of the ordinary laws of Providence; but miracles of the highest order, worked directly by the Holy Ghost, and intended to serve as the basis of our Faith in the truth of the Christian Religion. The Holy Ghost was not, in the exercise of His mission, to assume a visible form; but He has made His presence visible to the understanding of man, and thereby He has sufficiently proved His own personal action in the work of man’s salvation.
Let us now follow this divine action, not in its carrying out the merciful designs of the Son of God, Who deigned to take to Himself a Bride here below, but in the relations of this Bride to mankind. Our Emmanuel willed that She should be the Mother of men; and that all whom He calls to the honor of becoming His own members, should acknowledge that it is She who gives them this glorious birth. The Holy Ghost, therefore, was to secure to this Bride of Jesus what would make Her evident and known to the world, leaving it, however, in the power of each individual to disown and reject Her.
It was necessary that this Church should last for all ages, and that She should traverse the earth in such wise that Her name and mission might be known to all nations; in a word, She was to be Catholic, that is, Universal, taking in all times and all places. Accordingly, the Holy Ghost made Her Catholic. He began by showing Her, on the day of Pentecost, to the Jews who had flocked to Jerusalem from the various nations; and when these returned to their respective countries, they took the good tidings with them. He then sent the Apostles and disciples into the whole world; and we learn from the writers of those early times, that a century had scarcely elapsed before there were Christians in every portion of the known earth. After that, the visibility of this Holy Church went on increasing gradually more and more. If the Divine Spirit, in the designs of His justice, permitted Her to lose Her influence in a nation that had made itself unworthy of the grace, He transferred Her to another where She would be obeyed. If, at times, there have been whole countries where She had no footing, it was either because She had previously offered Herself to them and they had rejected Her, or because the time marked by Providence for Her reigning there had not yet come. The history of the Church’s propagation is one long proof of Her perpetuity, and of Her frequent migrations. Times and places, all are Hers; if there be one wherein She is not acknowledged as supreme, She is at least represented by Her members; and this prerogative, which has given Her the name of Catholic, is one of the grandest workings of the Holy Ghost.
But His action does not stop here; the mission given Him by the Emmanuel in reference to His Bride obliges Him to something beyond this; and here we enter into the whole mystery of the Holy Ghost in the Church. We have seen His outward influence, whereby He gives Her perpetuity and increase; now we must attentively consider the inward direction She receives from Him, which gives Her unity, holiness, and apostolicity—prerogatives which, together with Catholicity, designate the true Bride of Christ.
The union of the Holy Ghost with the Humanity of Jesus is one of the fundamental truths of the mystery of the Incarnation. Our Divine Mediator is called Christ because of the anointing which He received (Ps. 44: 8); and His anointing results from the union of His Humanity with the Holy Ghost (Acts 10: 38). This union is indissoluble; the Word will be eternally united to His Humanity; eternally, also, will the Holy Ghost give to this Humanity the anointing which makes Christ. Hence it follows that the Church, being the Body of Christ, shares in the union existing between its Divine Head and the Holy Ghost. The Christian, too, receives in Baptism an anointing by the Holy Ghost, Who, from that time forward, dwells in him as the pledge of his eternal inheritance (Eph. 1: 14): but, whilst the Christian may by sin forfeit this union, which is the principle of his supernatural life, the Church Herself never can lose it. The Holy Ghost is united to the Church forever; it is by Him She exists, acts, and triumphs over all those difficulties, to which by the divine permission She is exposed while militant on earth.
The Church is the Body of Christ, and the Holy Ghost is the principle which gives Her life. He is Her soul, in that Her whole interior and exterior life, and all Her workings, proceed from Him. The Church is undying, because the love, which has led the Holy Ghost to dwell within Her, will last forever: and here we have the reason of that perpetuity of the Church, which is the most wonderful spectacle witnessed by the world.
Let us now pass on, and consider that other marvel, which consists in the preservation of unity in the Church. It is said of Her in the Canticle: “One is my dove; my perfect one is One” (Cant. 6: 8). Jesus would have but one, and not many, to be His Church, His Bride: the Holy Ghost will, therefore, see to the accomplishment of His wish. Let us respectfully follow Him in His workings here also. And firstly, is it possible, viewing the thing humanly, that a society should exist for two thousand years and never change? Nay, could it have continued all that time, even allowing it to have changed as often as you will? And during these long ages, this society has necessarily had to encounter, and from its own members, the tempests of human passions, which are ever showing themselves, and which not infrequently play havoc with the grandest institutions. It has always been composed of nations differing from each other in language, character, and customs; either so far apart as not to know each other, or, when neighbors, estranged one from the other by national jealousies and antipathies. And yet, notwithstanding all this—notwithstanding, too, the political revolutions which have made up the history of the world— the Catholic Church has maintained Her changeless unity: one Faith, one visible head, one worship (at least in the essentials), one mode of deciding every question, namely, by tradition and authority. Sects have risen up in every age, each sect giving itself out as the true Church: they lasted for a while, short or long according to the circumstances, and then were forgotten. Where are now the Arians with their strong political party? Where are the Nestorians, Eutychians, and Monothelites, with their interminable cavillings? Could anything be imagined more powerless and effete than the Greek schism, slave either to Sultan or Czar? What is there left of Jansenism, which wore itself away striving to keep in the Church in spite of the Church? As to Protestantism, the product of the principle of negation, was it not broken up into sections from its very beginning, so as never to be able to form one society? And is it not now reduced to such straits, that it can with difficulty retain dogmas, which, at first, it looked upon as fundamental, such as the inspiration of the Scriptures, or the Divinity of Christ?
Whilst all else is change and ruin, our Mother the Holy Catholic Church, the one Bride of the Emmanuel, stands forth grand and beautiful in Her unity. But how are we to account for it? Is it that Catholics are of one nature, and sectarians of another? Orthodox or heterodox, are we not all members of the same human race, subject to the same passions and errors? Whence do the children of the Catholic Church derive that stability, which is not affected by time, nor influenced by the variety of national character, nor shaken by those revolutions that have changed dynasties and countries? Only one reasonable explanation can be given: there is a Divine element in all this. The Holy Ghost, Who is the Soul of the Church, acts upon all the members; and as He Himself is One, He produces unity in the Body He animates. He cannot contradict Himself: nothing, therefore, subsists by Him, which is not in union with Him.
The Holy Ghost is the source of external union by voluntary submission to one center of unity. Jesus had said: “Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build My Church” (Matt. 16: 18): now Peter was to die; the promise therefore could not refer to his person alone, but to the whole line of his successors, even to the end of the world. How stupendous is the action of the Holy Ghost, Who thus produces a dynasty of spiritual princes. No violence is offered to man’s free will; the Holy Ghost permits him to attempt what opposition he lists; but the work of God must go forward. A Diocletian may succeed in causing a four years’ vacancy in the See of Rome; antipopes may arise, supported by popular favor, or upheld by the policy of emperors; a long schism may render it difficult to know the real Pontiff among the several who claim it: the Holy Ghost will allow the trial to have its course, and, while it lasts, will keep up the faith of His children. The day will come when He will declare the lawful Pastor of the flock, and the whole Church will enthusiastically acknowledge him as such.
In order to understand the whole marvel of this supernatural influence, it is not enough to know the extrinsic results as told us by history; we must study it in its own divine reality. The unity of the Church is not like that which a conqueror forces upon a people that has become tributary to him. The members of the Church are united in oneness of Faith and submission, because they love the yoke She imposes on their freedom and their reason. But who is it, that thus brings human pride to obey? Who is it, that makes joy and contentment be felt in a life-long practice of subordination? Who is it that brings man to put his security and happiness in having no individual views of his own, and in conforming his judgment to one supreme teaching, even in matters where the world chafes at control? It is the Holy Ghost Who works this manifold and permanent miracle, for He it is Who gives soul and harmony to the vast aggregate of the Church, and sweetly infuses into all the faithful a union of heart and mind which forms for Our Lord Jesus Christ His one dear Bride.
During the days of His mortal life, Jesus prayed His Eternal Father to bless us with unity: “May they be one, as We also are” (John 17: 11). He prepares us for it, when He calls us to become His members; but, in order to achieve this union, He sends His Spirit into the world, that Spirit, Who is the eternal link between the Father and the Son, and Who deigns to accept a temporal mission among men, in order to create on the earth a union formed after the type of the union which is in God Himself.
We give Thee thanks, O Blessed Spirit, Who by dwelling thus within the Church of Christ, inspirest us to love and practice unity, and suffer every evil rather than break it. Strengthen it within us, and never permit us to deviate from it by even the slightest want of submission. Thou art the Soul of the Church; oh, grant us to be members ever docile to Thy inspirations, for we could not belong to Jesus Who sent Thee, unless we belong to the Church, His Bride and our Mother, whom He regenerated with His Blood, and gave to Thee to form and guide.