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Monday, May 12, 2008

Historical Note for Pentecost

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INTRODUCTION TO THE EPISTLE AND GOSPEL - PENTECOST SUNDAY
From the St. Andrew Daily Missal, 1937

Before His ascension into heaven, our Lord charges His apostles "that
they should not depart from Jerusalem, but should wait for the promise of
the Father", the out pouring of the Holy Ghost. On their return from the
mount of Olives, the disciples, numbering about one hundred and twenty, went
back to the Cenacle, where they all "were persevering in one mind in prayer
with the women, and Mary the Mother of Jesus".

After this novena, the most solemn ever made, occurred the miraculous
descent of the Holy Spirit, which by divine Providence, coincided with the
Jewish feast of Pentecost among the Israelites. This "most solemn and most
holy day" was the anniversary of the promulgation of the Law on mount Sinai.
Consequently a considerable number of foreigners who had flocked to
Jerusalem from all parts, were witnesses of the coming of the Holy Ghost.

"It was nine o'clock in the morning, when 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 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."

Thus, "endued with power from on high," the Church began at Jerusalem
the work of the Apostolate entrusted to her by her divine Lord. Peter, the
chief of the apostles, first addressed the assembly, and become already
"fisher of men", brought by the first cast of his net, about three thousand
converts into the infant Church. On the following days the twelve met in the
Temple under Solomon's porch, and like their divine Master, preached the
Gospel and healed the sick. Thus, "the multitude of men and women who
believed in the Lord, was more increased".

Subsequently, spreading in all directions outside Judea, the apostles
went forth to proclaim Christ and to give the Holy Ghost to the Samaritans
and then to the Gentiles everywhere.

ON THE EPISTLE
"You have heard," says St. Gregory, "how the Holy Ghost came down on the
Apostles in the form of tongues of fire, for, as St. Paul says, 'Our God is
a consuming fire'. By this he means an incorporeal and invisible fire which
burns up the rust of sin and drives away the mist caused by the coldness of
our hearts, at the same time kindling there the desire of eternal things.

The Holy Ghost was manifested in the form of tongues of fire because He
has made those whom He has filled, aflame with zeal and speaking the
language of heaven. Besides, while they were preaching the God whom men
ought to love, they enkindled the hearts of their hearers; for the discourse
of him, who instructs is of little use if it does not succeed in lighting a
fire of love in the heart. (Homily at Matins for to-day).

ON THE GOSPEL
"This is the day," says St. Gregory, "on which the Holy Ghost descended
upon the apostles, and changing the hearts of those carnally minded men, led
them to the love of Himself. While the tongues of fire appeared externally,
the hearts of the disciples were enkindled within, and as they beheld God
under the appearance of fire, they became aflame with love together with
unspeakable sweetness of soul. For the Holy Ghost is love, and therefore St.
John says again: "Whosoever says: I love God, and does not keep his
commandments, is a liar." Our love for God is genuine if we resist the
attractions of pleasure in order to obey Him, and anyone who goes on
devoting himself to pleasure does not truly love God, since he acts contrary
to His will. Do not think, then, that you love Him unless you prove it by
good works. Let your speech, your mind, your whole life be consecrated to
the quest for God's love, for in that love inertia has no place" (Homily at
Matins).

Christ was the model of this love, since He always did what His Father
commanded.

VENI SANCTE SPIRITUS
Come, Holy Ghost,
send down those beams,
Which sweetly flow in silent streams
From Thy bright throne above.

O, come, Thou Father of the poor,
O, come, Thou source of all our store,
Come fill our hearts with love.

O Thou of comforters the best,
O Thou the soul's delightful guest,
The pilgrim's sweet relief.

Rest art Thou in our toil, most sweet
Refreshment in the noon-day heat,
And solace in our grief.

O blessed Light of Life Thou art,
Fill with Thy Light the inmost hearts
O those that hope in Thee.

Without Thy Godhead nothing can
Have any price or worth in man,
Nothing can harmless be.

Lord, wash our sinful stains away,
Water from heaven our barren clay,
Our wounds and bruises heal.

To Thy sweet yoke our stiff necks bow,
Warm with Thy love our hearts of snow,
Our wandering feet recall.

Grant to Thy faithful, dearest Lord,
Whose only hope is in Thy Word,
Thy sevenfold gift of grace.

Grant us in life Thy grace, that we
In peace may die and ever be
In joy before Thy face.
Amen. Alleluia.