Saturday, June 10, 2006

Mortification Of the Flesh

Check out this excellent article on corporal mortification from Wikipedia.

Saturday In the Whitsun Embertide

The Seven Penitential Psalms

King David Doing Penance For His Sin With Bathsheba
Remember not, O Lord, my offenses, nor the offenses of my fathers, nor takest Thou vengeance upon them.

Psalm 6
O Lord, rebuke me not in thy indignation, nor chastise me in thy wrath.

Have mercy on me, O Lord, for I am weak: heal me, O Lord, for my bones are troubled.

And my soul is troubled exceedingly: but thou, O Lord, how long?

Turn to me, O Lord, and deliver my soul: O save me for thy mercy's sake.

For there is no one in death, that is mindful of thee: and who shall confess to thee in hell?

I have laboured in my groanings, every night I wash my bed with tears: I water my couch with sorrow.

My eye is troubled through Your indignation: I have grown old amongst all my enemies.

Depart from me, all ye evildoers: for the Lord hath heard the voice of my weeping.

The Lord hath heard my supplication: the Lord hath received my prayer.

Let all my enemies be ashamed, and be very much troubled: let them be turned back, and be ashamed very speedily.

Remember not, O Lord, my offenses, nor the offenses of my fathers, nor takest Thou vengeance upon them.

Job On His Dungheap Being Tormented By His "Friends"
Remember not, O Lord, my offenses, nor the offenses of my fathers, nor takest Thou vengeance upon them.

Psalm 31/32

Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered.

Blessed is the man to whom the Lord hath not imputed sin, and in whose spirit there is no guile.

Because I was silent my bones grew old; whilst I cried out all the day long.

For day and night thy hand was heavy upon me: I am turned in my anguish, whilst the thorn is fastened.

I have acknowledged my sin to thee, and my injustice I have not concealed. I said I will confess against my self my injustice to the Lord: and thou hast forgiven the wickedness of my sin.

For this shall every one that is holy pray to thee in a seasonable time. And yet in a flood of many waters, they shall not come nigh unto him.

Thou art my refuge from the trouble which hath encompassed me: my joy, deliver me from them that surround me.

I will give thee understanding, and I will instruct thee in this way, in which thou shalt go: I will fix my eyes upon thee.

Do not become like the horse and the mule, who have no understanding. With bit and bridle bind fast their jaws, who come not near unto thee.

Many are the scourges of the sinner, but mercy shall encompass him that hopeth in the Lord.

Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, ye just, and glory, all ye right of heart.

Remember not, O Lord, my offenses, nor the offenses of my fathers, nor takest Thou vengeance upon them.

St. Peter, Repentant After Denying Our Lord
Remember not, O Lord, my offenses, nor the offenses of my fathers, nor takest Thou vengeance upon them.

Psalm 37/38

Rebuke me not, O Lord, in Thy indignation; nor chastise me in Thy wrath.

For Thy arrows are fastened in me: and Thy hand hath been heavy upon me.

There is no health in my flesh, because of Thy wrath: there is no peace for my bones, because of my sins.

For my iniquities are gone over my head: and as a heavy burden are become heavy upon me.

My sores are putrified and corrupted, because of my foolishness.

I am become miserable, and am bowed down even to the end: I walked sorrowful all the day long.

For my loins are filled with burning pain; and there is no health in my flesh.

I am afflicted and humbled exceedingly: I roared with the groaning of my heart.

Lord, all my desire is before Thee, and my groaning is not hidden from Thee.

My heart is troubled, my strength hath left me, and the light of my eyes itself is not with me.

My friends and my neighbours have drawn near, and stood against me. And they that were near me stood afar off.

And they that sought my soul used violence. And they that sought evils to me spoke vain things, and studied deceits all the day long.

But I, as a deaf man, heard not: and as a dumb man, not opening his mouth.

And I became as a man that heareth not: and that hath no reproofs in his mouth.

For in Thee, O Lord, have I hoped: Thou wilt hear me, O Lord my God.

For I said: Lest at any time my enemies rejoice over me: and whilst my feet are moved, they speak great things against me.

For I am ready for scourges: and my sorrow is continually before me.

For I will declare my iniquity: and I will think of my sin.

But my enemies live, and are stronger than I: and they that hate me wrongfully are multiplied.

They that render evil for good, have detracted me, because I followed goodness.

Forsake me not, O Lord my God: do not Thou depart from me.

Attend unto my help, O Lord, the God of my salvation.

Remember not, O Lord, my offenses, nor the offenses of my fathers, nor takest Thou vengeance upon them.

Penance Of Saint Mary Magdelene
Remember not, O Lord, my offenses, nor the offenses of my fathers, nor takest Thou vengeance upon them.

Psalm 50/51 (The Miserere)

Have mercy on me, O God, in Thy goodness.

In the plentitude of Thy compassion wash out my offense, and completely cleanse me from my guilt.

For I know my iniquity, and my sin is always before me.

Against Thee only have I sinned, and I have done evil in thy sight.

This I confess that Thou mayst be known to be just in Thy sentence, right in Thy judgment.

For behold I was born in guilt; and in sins my mother did conceive me.

Thou art pleased with a sincere heart: Thou teachest me wisdom in the dpeths of my soul.

Sprinkle me with hyssop, that I may be cleansed. Wash me, that I may be made whiter than snow.

Let me hear the sounds of joy and gladness: let bones which Thou hast crushed rejoice.

Avert Thy face from my sins, and blot out all my guilt.

Create a clean heart in me, O God: and a steadfast spirit renew within my soul.

Cast me not out from Thy presence; and take not Thy Holy Spirit from me.

Restore unto me the joy of Thy salvation, and a willing spirit sustain within me.

I will teach the transgressors Thy ways, and sinners shall be converted unto Thee.

Deliver me from blood guilt, O God, my God: and my lips shall delight in Thy justice.

Open Thou my mouth, O Lord, and my tongue shall declare Thy praise.

Thou art not satisfied with burnt offerings: shouldst I offer a holocaust, thou wouldst not accept it.

My sacrifice, O God, is a contrite spirit.

A contrite and humbled heart, O Lord, Thou wilt not despise.

Be bountiful, O Lord, to Zion; and rebuild the walls of Jerusalem.

Then shalt Thou accept due offerings, then shall they lay calves upon Thy altar again.

Remember not, O Lord, my offenses, nor the offenses of my fathers, nor takest Thou vengeance upon them.

Saint Jerome Doing Penance
Remember not, O Lord, my offenses, nor the offenses of my fathers, nor takest Thou vengeance upon them.

Psalm 101/102

Hear, O Lord, my prayer: and let my cry come to Thee.

Turn not away Thy face from me: in the day when I am in trouble, incline Thy ear to me. In what day soever I shall call upon Thee, hear me speedily.

For my days are vanished like smoke, and my bones are grown dry like fuel for the fire.

I am smitten as grass, and my heart is withered: because I forget to eat my bread.

Through the voice of my groaning, my bone hath cleaved to my flesh.

I am become like to a pelican of the wilderness: I am like a night raven in the house.

I have watched, and am become as a sparrow all alone on the housetop.

All the day long my enemies reproached me: and they that praised me did swear against me.

For I did eat ashes like bread, and mingled my tears with my drink .

Because of Thy anger and indignation: for having lifted me up Thou hast thrown me down.

My days have declined like a shadow, and I am withered like grass.

But Thou, O Lord, endurest for ever: and Thy memorial to all generations.

Thou shalt arise and have mercy on Sion: for it is time to have mercy on it, for the time is come.

For the stones thereof have pleased thy servants: and they shall have pity on the dust thereof.

All the Gentiles shall fear Thy name, O Lord, and all the kings of the earth Thy glory.

For the Lord hath built up Sion: and He shall be seen in His glory.

He hath had regard to the prayer of the humble: and He hath not despised their petition.

Let these things be written unto another generation: and the people that shall be created shall praise the Lord:

Because He hath looked forth from His high sanctuary: from heaven the Lord hath looked upon the earth.

That He might hear the groans of them that are in fetters: that He might release the children of the slain:

That they may declare the name of the Lord in Sion: and His praise in Jerusalem;

When the people assemble together, and kings, to serve the Lord.

He answered him in the way of his strength: Declare unto me the fewness of my days.

Call me not away in the midst of my days: Thy years are unto generation and generation.

In the beginning, O Lord, Thou foundedst the earth: and the heavens are the works of Thy hands.

They shall perish but thou remainest: and all of them shall grow old like a garment: And as a vesture Thou shalt change them, and they shall be changed.

But Thou art always the selfsame, and Thy years shall not fail.

The children of Thy servants shall continue and their seed shall be directed for ever.

Remember not, O Lord, my offenses, nor the offenses of my fathers, nor takest Thou vengeance upon them.

Saint Francis of Assisi In Penitential Prayer
Remember not, O Lord, my offenses, nor the offenses of my fathers, nor takest Thou vengeance upon them.

Psalm 129/130 (The De Profundis)

Out of the depths, I cry to Thee, O Lord:

Lord, hear my voice!

Let Thy ears be attentive to the voice of my supplication.

If Thou, O Lord, wilt mark iniquities, Lord, who shall stand it?

For with Thy mercy there is forgiveness: that Thou mayest be revered.

I trust in the Lord. My soul hath relied on His word:

My soul waiteth for the Lord more than sentinels wait for the dawn.

More than sentinels wait for the dawn, let Israel wait for the Lord.

For with the Lord there is mercy: and with Him, plenteous redemption.

And He shall redeem Israel from all her iniquities.

Remember not, O Lord, my offenses, nor the offenses of my fathers, nor takest Thou vengeance upon them.

Modern Filipino Flagellants On Good Friday
Remember not, O Lord, my offenses, nor the offenses of my fathers, nor takest Thou vengeance upon them.

Psalm 142/143

I cried to the Lord with my voice: with my voice I made supplication to the Lord.

In His sight I pour out my prayer, and before Him I declare my trouble:

When my spirit failed me, then Thou knewest my paths. In this way wherein I walked, they have hidden a snare for me.

I looked on my right hand, and beheld, and there was no one that would know me. Flight hath failed me: and there is no one that hath regard to my soul.

I cried to Thee, O Lord: I said: Thou art my hope, my portion in the land of the living.

Attend to my supplication: for I am brought very low. Deliver me from my persecutors; for they are stronger than I.

Bring my soul out of prison, that I may praise Thy name: the just wait for me, until Thou reward me.

Remember not, O Lord, my offenses, nor the offenses of my fathers, nor takest Thou vengeance upon them.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Friday In the Whitsun Embertide

The Seven Prayers of Saint Gregory

Lord Jesus, I adore Thee hanging on the Cross, wearing a crown of thorns upon Thy head. I beg Thee that Thy Cross may free me from the deceiving Angel.
Pater. Ave.


O Lord Jesus, I adore Thee hanging wounded on the Cross, given vinegar and gall to drink. I beg Thee that Thy wounds may be the remedy of my soul.
Pater. Ave.


O Lord Jesus, I ask by the bitterness of Thy Passion, which Thou didst undergo in the hour of Thy death, so much so when Thy most holy soul left Thy blessed body. Have mercy upon my soul when it leaves my body, and lead it to eternal life.
Pater. Ave.


O Lord Jesus, I adore Thee placed in Thy tomb, anointed with myrrh and aromatic spices. I beg Thee that Thy death may be my life.
Pater. Ave.


O Lord Jesus, I adore Thee descending into hell and freeing the captives from there. I beg Thee, that Thou mayest never permit me to enter there.
Pater. Ave.


O Lord Jesus, I adore Thee rising from the dead, ascending into heaven, and sitting at the right hand of the Father. I beg Thee that I may be worthy to follow Thee and be with Thee.
Pater. Ave.


O Lord Jesus, O good Shepherd, preserver of the just, justifier of sinners, have mercy upon all the faithful and be gracious to me, a wretched and unworthy sinner.
Pater. Ave.


I beseech Thee, Lord Jesus Christ, that Thy Passion may be strength to me by which I may be strengthened, protected, and defended. May Thy wounds be to me food and drink by which I may be nourished, inebriated, and delighted. May the sprinkling of Thy Blood be to me an ablution for all my sins. May Thy death be eternal glory to me. In these may be my refreshment, joy, health, zeal, delight, and desire of my body and soul, now and forever.

Another Prayer

O Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, place Thy Passion, Cross, and Death between Thy judgment and my soul, now and in the hour of my death.

Deign to grant me grace and mercy, pardon to the living, eternal rest to the dead, peace to Thy Church, and life and eternal glory to all sinners. Thou who livest and reignest forever and ever.


O Domine Iesu, adoro te in Cruce pendentem, coronam spineam in capite portantem. Deprecor te, ut tua Crux liberet me ab Angelo percutiente. Amen. O
Pater. Ave.


O Domine Iesu, adoro te in Cruce vulneratum, felle et aceto potatum. Deprecor te, ut vulnera tua sint remedium animae meae.
Pater. Ave.

O Domine Iesu, rogo per illam amaritudinem Passionis tuae, quam in hora mortis sustinuisti, maxime tunc, quando anima sanctissima de benedicto corpore est egressa. Miserere animae meae in egressu suo de corpore meo, et perduc eam in vitam aeternam.
Pater. Ave.

O Domine Iesu, adoro te in sepulcro positum, myrrha et aromatibus conditum. Deprecor te, ut tua mors sit vita mea.
Pater. Ave.

O Domine Iesu, adoro te descendentem ad inferos et tuos inde liberantem captivos. Deprecor te, ut illuc nunquam me patiaris introire.
Pater. Ave.

O Domine Iesu, adoro te a morte resurgentem et in caelum ascendentem, sedentemque ad dexteram Patris. Deprecor te, ut illuc te sequi et tibi praesentari merear.
Pater. Ave.

O Domine Iesu, Pastor bone, iustos conserva, peccatores iustifica, omnibus fidelibus miserere, et propitius esto mihi misero et indigno peccatori. Amen.
Pater. Ave.

Obsecro te Domine Iesu Christe, ut passio tua sit virtus mea, qua muniar, protegar, et defendar. Vulnera tua sint mihi cibus et potus, quibus pascar, inebrier atque delecter. Aspersio Sanguinis tui sit omnium peccatorum meorum ablutio. Mors tua sit mihi gloria sempiterna. In his sit mihi refectio, exsultatio, sanitas, studium, gaudium, desiderium corporis et animae, nunc et in perpetuum.

Alia Precatio
Domine Iesu Christe, Fili Dei vivi, pone Passionem, Crucem, et Mortem tuam inter iudicium tuum et animam meam, nunc et in hora mortis meae.
Largire mihi digneris gratiam et misericordiam, vivis veniam, defunctis requiem, Ecclesiae tuae pacem, cunctisque peccatoribus vitam et gloriam sempiternam. Qui vivis et regnas in saecula saeculorum.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Best News From Iraq In Almost 3 Years

The leader of al Qaeda in Iraq was killed in a US airstrike.

I think the phrase, "It's about time," comes to most peoples' minds.

This won't mean an overnight end to the insurgency. In fact, there might be a flurry of bombings and killings as factions within the insurgency strive to prove they are the new leaders, the powers to be reckoned with.

But what this means is that the mastermind who has been directing much of the anti-US effort is gone. While "experts" say they don't see anyone able to fill his shoes, I think you can confidently predict that some will try. But they probably will not be as effective.

On the whole this is excellent news for those interested in seeing Iraq stabilize. I only regret it did not happen more than 2 years ago.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Wednesday In the Whitsun Embertide

The Whitsun Embertide begins today.
A good prayer that can be the basis for an Embertide holy hour is St. Augustine's Threnus Prayer, sometimes called The Prayer In Tribulation. It typically is used as a conclusion to the Psalter of St. Jerome. This translation is based on Michael W. Martin's, but I have changed the verse structure and changed the first person plural to singular throughout.

If I place before Thine eyes, O Lord, my misdeeds and the wounds I have received,
The less I suffer, and the greater I merit.

I feel the punishment for sin,
Yet I do not shun my obstinacy in sinning.

My fragile nature is shattered by Thy scourges,
Yet my evil ways remain unchanged.

My sick mind is wrenched,
But my stiff neck is not bent.

My life sighs in pain.
And yet it does not amend itself.

If Thou waiteth, I do not reform,
If Thou punisheth, I do not last.

When accused, I admit what I have done,
Yet when punished, I forget.

If Thou punisheth, I make promises;
If Thou holdeth back the sword, I do not carry out my promises.

If Thou striketh me, I cry out that Thou might spare me;
If Thou sparest me, I again provoke Thee to strike me.

If difficulties come, I ask for a time for repentance.
If mercy comes to my aid, I abuse the patience which has spared me.

Even when my wounds are scarcely healed,
My ungrateful mind forgets.

If Thou hearest me quickly, I become haughty from Thy mercy.
If Thou art slow, I complain out of impatience.

I want Thee, O Lord, to keep what Thou wouldst have done,
But I do not fear to neglect what Thou wouldst have me do.

Thou hast, O Lord, this wretched sinner in Thy grasp;
Be merciful, for Thou art faithful.

For with Thee is much pity
and abundant forgiveness.

Grant, without any merit on my part, what I ask,
O Thou who hast made from nothing him who asks Thee.

Have mercy on me a I cry out to Thee, O Lord.
May my faithful and tearful voice stir Thy mercy.

May that forgiveness consider not that I sin,
But reflect on the fact I seek Thee.

Since it is a great misery that I am accused,
May the fact that I am miserable make Thy mercy be the greater.

I beg Thine help,
And before Thee I place the evils and sorrows of my crimes.

By my prayers I look for Thy mercy,
The very mercy which I have spurned by sinning.

Raise me up in Thy mercy, O Lord my God,
So that in the fellowship of salvation and the joy of charity,
while I long to be saved,
I may rejoice in the faith and peace of all the nations.

Through Jesus Christ our Lord,
Who livest and reignest in unity with the Father and the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end.

Wow, did St. Augustine capture human nature in this prayer, or what? He certainly captured my nature.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Starting Our Fifth Year At Recta Ratio

Hard to believe, but yesterday was my fourth anniversary blogging here at Recta Ratio. According to the counter on the dashboard, I have posted some 7823 entries since June 4th, 2002. A lot of blogs have come and gone since then. But I have noticed that folks blogging before me (Amy Welborn, Mark Shea, Dom Bettinelli, Kathy Lively, Eve Tushnet) are pretty much still around.

In the last year especially, I have tried to make much more use of images. This is in part because I am a very visual person. As I get older, I find that long blog entries bore me. About 4-5 years ago, I remember spending most of a Saturday morning reading an incredibly in-depth article on line (I think by Camille Paglia) on the influence of Eastern spiritualism on Western religion. It was comprehensive. She covered everything from Emerson to the Beatles and beyond. But I don't have the patience to read stuff like that on line any more. Now, if a blog entry goes longer than 6 short paragraphs, MEGO (my eyes glaze over). I know, I used to write very long essays, myself. But now I try to capture the attention with a few short paragraphs and an image.

And the blog has seen some changes in emphasis. In the beginning, it was a very political blog. My coverage of the 2002 elections (of very happy memory for us Republicans) was so good, someone (not me) archived it for the Library of Congress.

Then when the Iraq campaign started, this blog went to war. I was up late and early to bring the latest news from the imbedded journalists covering the war firsthand, and add my own commentary. Someone, I don't remember who, described it as a "very effecient war blog." I brought 30 years of studying strategy, tactics, and military history to bear on the Iraq Campaign of the War on Moslem Terror, with good results. I foresaw many of the problems going in with a small force would create.

But as the Administration has lost focus on the overall war and become increasingly bogged down over Iraq, so have I lost interest in Iraq. Since April or May, 2003, it really has been a police action with little to teach students of military history (except, once you take over a place, have the UN step in to police it and let them take the casualties).

But first and foremost,Recta Ratio was always a Catholic blog. This blog was born amidst the pervert priest crisis. What was going on here in the Church in Boston grabbed my attention and seemed to demand my commentary and reporting. It energized me and almost forced me to become a voice to be heard. And the links between the causes for that crisis, and the various other crises afflicting the Church remains an important consideration.

A more recent theme, stemming from a conversion to a more traditional form of Catholic spirituality a few years ago, has been the regaining of a lost Catholic cultural way of life. The appreciation of the beauty of traditional Catholic art, architecture, practice, prayer, liturgy, monastic ways, and Catholic lifestyle is a theme that will continue to be played here.

More recently, a showering of unbelievable graces from the Sacred Heart of our Lord, through the Immaculate Heart of our Blessed Lady and the Holy Ghost has given birth to a deeper appreciation for the theology and spirituality of the Sacred and Immaculate Hearts. A sister blog exploring this theme will be rolled out in the next two weeks. If I have seemed a little quieter than usual these last two months, it is a consequence of the outstanding graces I have been blessed with through those Two Hearts, and because I have been spending some time creating a storehouse of information, links, and images for that blog.

But Recta Ratio will go on, trying to bring you my insights and views, and sharing our rich Catholic cultural heritage as I myself discover it. This is a learning experience for me, too, and I am happy to share what I learn with you, my readers.

There are so many people to thank for suggestions, comments, and advice over the years that I dare not enumerate more than my closest collegues: Ginny, Mark, Dom, RC, Chris (wherever you are), John, Alicia, Tom, W., The Inquisitor, the rest of the guys (and gal) from the League of Evil Traditionalists, the folks from the Bread of Life Catholic Webring, and from the Blessed Virgin Mary Catholic Webring, at Friends of Terri, Blogs for Life, and so on.

There is so much more to do here and at the new sister blog. And I will strive to spend a couple of hours a day doing just that.

Thank you all so much for 4 great years of blogging. Let's make it 10!

Sunday, June 04, 2006


At least for now, St. Colman's Cathedral in Cobh, Ireland, has been saved, as an historical landmark, from reckless wreck-ovation by the bishop "in the Spirit of Vatican II."

The Golden Sequence

Veni, Sancte Spiritus,
Et emitte coelitus
Lucis tuae rádium:

Veni, Pater páuperum,
Veni, Dator múnerum,
Veni, Lumen córdium.

Consolátor óptime,
Dulcis hospes ánimae,
Dulce refrigérium.

In labóre réquies,
In aestu tempéries,
In fletu solátium.

O lux beatissima,
Reple cordis intima
Tuótum fidélium.

Sine tuo númine,
Nihil est in hómine,
Nihil est innóxium.

Lava quod est sórdium:
Riga quod est áridum.
Sana quod est sáucium.

Flecte quod est rigidum:
Fove quod est frigidum:
Rege quod est dévium.

Da tuis fidélibus
In te confidéntibus
Sacrum septenárium.

Da virtútis méritum:
Da salútis éxitum:
Da perénne gáudium.

Come, thou Holy Spirit, come,
and from thy celestial home
shed a ray of light divine!
Come, thou Father of the poor!
Come, thou Source of all our store!
Come, within our bosoms shine!

Thou, of comforters the best;
thou, the soul's most welcome guest;
sweet refreshment here below;
in our labor, rest most sweet;
grateful coolness in the heat;
solace in the midst of woe.

O most blessèd Light divine,
shine within these hearts of thine,
and our inmost being fill!
Where thou art not, man hath naught,
nothing good in deed or thought,
nothing free from taint of ill.

Heal our wounds, our strength renew;
on our dryness pour thy dew;
wash the stains of guilt away;
bend the stubborn heart and will;
melt the frozen, warm the chill;
guide the steps that go astray.

On the faithful, who adore
and confess thee, evermore
in thy sevenfold gift descend;
give them virtue's sure reward
give them thy salvation, Lord;
give them joys that never end.

Veni Creator Spiritus

There is a plenary indulgence for reciting this hymn, written probably by Rabanus Maurus in the 9th century today, on the Feast of Pentecost (or Whitsunday).

Veni, Creator Spiritus,
mentes tuorum visita,
imple superna gratia
quae tu creasti pectora.

Qui diceris Paraclitus,
altissimi donum Dei,
fons vivus, ignis, caritas,
et spiritalis unctio.

Tu, septiformis munere,
digitus paternae dexterae,
Tu rite promissum Patris,
sermone ditans guttura.

Accende lumen sensibus:
infunde amorem cordibus:
infirma nostri corporis
virtute firmans perpeti.

Hostem repellas longius,
pacemque dones protinus:
ductore sic te praevio
vitemus omne noxium.

Per te sciamus da Patrem,
noscamus atque Filium;
Teque utriusque Spiritum
credamus omni tempore.

Deo Patri sit gloria,
et Filio, qui a mortuis
surrexit, ac Paraclito,
in saeculorum saecula.

Come, Holy Spirit, Creator blest,
and in our souls take up Thy rest;
come with Thy grace and heavenly aid
to fill the hearts which Thou hast made.

O comforter, to Thee we cry,
O heavenly gift of God Most High,
O fount of life and fire of love,
and sweet anointing from above.

Thou in Thy sevenfold gifts are known;
Thou, finger of God's hand we own;
Thou, promise of the Father,
ThouWho dost the tongue with power imbue.

Kindle our sense from above,
and make our hearts o'erflow with love;
with patience firm and virtue high
the weakness of our flesh supply.

Far from us drive the foe we dread,
and grant us Thy peace instead;
so shall we not, with Thee for guide,
turn from the path of life aside.

Oh, may Thy grace on us bestow
the Father and the Son to know;
and Thee, through endless times confessed,
of both the eternal Spirit blest.

Now to the Father and the Son,
Who rose from death, be glory given,
with Thou, O Holy Comforter,
henceforth by all in earth and heaven.


From The Liturgical Year, by Abbot Prosper Gueranger, OSB

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 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 honoured 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 are the sentiments 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 fulfilment of this word has 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 have come from every foreign land where Israel has founded a syna­gogue; they have 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 clamouring 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, 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 the Son send upon the earth the holy Spirit who proceeds from Them both. He is sent to form the Church, the bride and the 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 those who are outside the cenacle, and who 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 '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 now 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 of mankind), which is to give warmth and efficacy to the teaching. The tongue and the 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 outset. 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 to 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 for ever 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 connexion 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 six­teenth 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 favours wherewith this same Jesus loaded her when in the glory of His Resurrection: we should have thought that heaven had given all it could to a mere creature, however sublime the destiny of that creature might he. 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 bride 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 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 fulfils the intention expressed by our Redeemer when dying on the cross. 'Woman!' said Jesus to her, 'behold thy son!' St. John was this 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 master-piece of Pentecost, and admire the new loveliness that beams in Mary from this new 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 labours. She will speak, too, to the faithful, but with a force, a sweetness, and a persuasiveness, be­coming one whom God has made the most exalted of His creatures. The primitive Christians, with such a training as this, will have vigour and energy enough to resist all the attacks of hell, and, like Stephen who had often listened to her inspiring words, to 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 the 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 outset of His reign.

The disciples, too, are sharers, though in a less degree than the apostles, of the divine gift; 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 love that emboldened them to stand near the cross of Jesus, and be the first to visit His sepulchre 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 word 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 holy assembly within, is impelling them to visit the house, whereto is the new-born Church of Christ. They clamour for the apostles, and these are burning with zeal to begin their 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; it is 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 to 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 to give the Holy Ghost, with His enebriating 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 wondering 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 itself, 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 sepulchre is with us to this 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 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 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 to 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 they themselves are witnesses.

The holy Spirit makes His presence and influence to be felt in the hearts of these favoured listeners. & few moments previously they were disciples of Sinai, who had come from distant lands to celebrate the by-gone Pasch and Pentecost; now they have faith, simple and full faith, in Christ. They repent of 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 dispositions 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!

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. To-morrow, 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' bride 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 thou 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 several reasons are assigned for this fact 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 He is 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 its 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 honour 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 colour 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-coloured vestments for the liturgi­cal services during the whole octave. In his Rational (a work which abounds in most interesting informa­tion regarding the mediæval liturgical usages), Durandus tells us that, in the thirteenth 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 St. Peter. It was but just that special honour 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 St. Peter's, yet the sovereign Pontiff and the sacred college of Cardinals solemnize to-day's service in the Lateran basilica, which is the mother-church of the city and of the world.

From The Handbook of Christian Feasts And Customs, by Father Francis X. Weiser, SJ



"And when the days of Pentecost were drawing to a close, they

were all together in one place. And suddenly there came a sound

from heaven, as of a violent wind coming, and it filled the whole

house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them parted

tongues as of fire, which settled upon each of them. And they

were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in

foreign tongues, even as the Holy Spirit prompted them to speak"

(Acts 2, 1-4).

Whitsunday (Pentecost), with Christmas and Easter, ranks among

the great feasts of Christianity. It commemorates not only the

descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles and Disciples, but

also the fruits and effects of that event: the completion of the

work of redemption, the fullness of grace for the Church and its

children, and the gift of faith for all nations.[1]

NAMES--The official name of the feast is "Pentecost." This word

was used in the Old Testament. It comes from the Greek

"pentekoste" (the fiftieth), meaning the fiftieth day after

Easter. On this day the Jews celebrated a great religious

festival of thanksgiving for the year's harvest, the Feast of

First-fruits (Exodus 23, 16). It was also called the "Feast of

Weeks" because the day was reckoned by counting seven weeks after

the Pasch (Leviticus 23, 15-21). Being the second in importance

of the festivals of the Old Testament, it annually drew large

crowds of Jewish pilgrims from the Diaspora (dispersion) into

Jerusalem. This fact is mentioned in the report of Saint Luke:

"There were staying at Jerusalem devout Jews from every nation

under heaven..." (Acts 2, 5-11).

The Jews used the word Pentecost to indicate not only the feast

itself, but also the whole season of fifty days preceding it. In

this sense Saint Luke mentions it in his Acts (2, 1): "When the

days of Pentecost were drawing to a close..." The early Christian

Church accepted the Jewish usage and called the whole season from

Easter to Whitsunday "Pentecost." It was a festive time of

religious joy, no fasts were kept, and the faithful prayed

standing in honor of Christ's resurrection.[2]

In most European languages the name of the feast comes from the

ecclesiastical term: "Pentecote" in French, "Pentecostes" in

Spanish, "Pfingsten" in German, "Binkosti" in Slovenian,

"Punkosd" in Hungarian, "Pintse" in Danish, "Pentikosti" among

the Slavs of the Eastern Church, and "Pentiqosti" in Syrian. A

word meaning "Feast of the Holy Ghost" ("Duhovi," "Turice") is

used by some Slavic nations, including the Serbs, Croats, and

Slovaks, and by the Romanians ("Domineca Spiritului Santu"). The

English word Whitsunday (White Sunday) originated because of the

fact that the newly baptized appeared in white garments for the

services of the day. Among the Arab-speaking Christians of the

Near East the festival is called "'id el-'uncure" (Feast of the

Solemn Assembly), the word coming from the Hebrew "'asereth"

(festive meeting).[3]

Some nations have appropriately named the feast after the ancient

custom of decorating homes and churches with flowers and boughs.

This practice goes back to the nature lore of the Indo-European

races. At the time of full spring, when trees stood in their

early foliage and flowers blossomed in abundance, our pre-

Christian ancestors celebrated a gay festival, with maypole, May

Queen, and May dance, during which they adorned their homes with

flowers and branches of pale-green tender leaves. This custom was

retained in Christian times, and some of its features were

transferred to the Feast of Pentecost. Thus the festival is

called the "Green Holyday" ("Zielone Swieta") in Poland and among

the Ukrainians, "Flower Feast" ("Blumenfest") in Germany, "Summer

Feast" ("Slavnost Letnice") among the Czechs. In the Latin

countries a similar term is used: "Pascha Rosatum," in Latin,

meaning "Feast of Roses." The Italian name "Pascua Rossa" (Red

Pasch) was inspired by the color of the liturgical vestments.[4]

ORIGIN--Pentecost was held annually from a very early date. Since

the liturgical celebration of the Lord's feasts started with

Easter in apostolic times, Pentecost must have naturally

suggested itself as a complementary festival commemorating the

fulfillment and fruit of Christ's redemptive task and of His


If and how Pentecost was observed in the first two centuries as a

separate feast is not known.[5] The first mention of it as a great

feast was made in the third century by Origenes and Tertullian.[6]

The latter mentioned it as a well-established Christian feast and

as the second date for the solemn baptism of catechumens (the

first being Easter).[7] Bishop Eusebius of Caesaria (339) called it

"all-blessed and all-holy ["panseptos kai panhagia"], the feast

of feasts."[8] Saint John Chrysostom (407) used similar phrases in

his sermons on Pentecost: "Today we have arrived at the peak of

all blessings, we have reached the capital ["metropolis"] of

feasts, we have obtained the very fruit of our Lord's promise."[9]

During the early centuries, just the day itself was celebrated in

the Western Church. After the seventh century, however, the whole

week came to be considered a time of festive observance. Law

courts did not sit, and servile work was forbidden during the

entire octave.[10] The Council of Constance (1094) limited this

prohibition to three days.[11] Pope Clement XIV, in 1771, abolished

Tuesday as a prescribed holyday. Finally, in 1911, pope Saint

Pius X abolished Monday as a holyday of obligation; but most

European countries, both Catholic and Protestant, still observe

it as a legal holiday.

LITURGICAL OBSERVANCE--There are no special liturgical ceremonies

on Whitsunday apart from the Holy Sacrifice, which is usually

celebrated with festive splendor and solemnity. In the Latin

Church the color of the liturgical vestments is red, symbolizing

the love of the Holy Spirit Who descended upon the Apostles in

tongues of fire.

After the Gradual of the Mass the ancient sequence "Veni Sancte

Spiritus" (Come, Holy Spirit) is recited or sung on each day of

Pentecost week. This hymn appeared first in liturgical books

around the year 1200. It has been variously ascribed to Pope

Innocent III (1216), to King Robert of France (1031), and even to

Saint Gregory the Great (604). Most probably, however, its author

was Cardinal Stephen Langton (1128), Archbishop of Canterbury.

The poem has been known from medieval times as the "Golden

Sequence" because of its richness in thought and expression. Each

one of the short stanzas is a sentence in itself, thus

facilitating meditation.[12]

Another liturgical hymn used in the Divine Office is the prayer

poem "Veni Creator Spiritus" (Come, Creator Spirit). It was

probably written by Rabanus Maurus (856), Archbishop of Mainz,

and has been widely used from the end of the tenth century on.[13]

Perhaps the best known among more than sixty English versions is

the translation that John Dryden (1700) published in his book

"Examen Poeticum" (1693).

In addition to its place in the Pentecost liturgy, the "Veni

Creator" has also been assigned as the official opening prayer

for Church councils and synods. It is recited and sung by the

faithful all over the world at the start of important

undertakings, such as the beginning of a school year, at

conventions, missions, retreats, and on many similar occasions.

It is interesting to note that the Veni Creator is the only

ancient breviary hymn that has been retained in the official

prayer book of the Protestant Episcopal Church (in the service of


In the churches of the Byzantine Rite a moving Vesper service is

held on the evening of Whitsunday. After the joyful and festive

note of the day, this evening service suddenly assumes the

character of a sorrowful, penitential ceremony. In simple

vestments of dark color the priests recite prayers of contrition

and penance accompanied by humble prostrations and genuflections

("gonuklisia"). The purpose of this ancient ritual is to atone,

at the end of the festive season, for all negligences and

excesses that might have been committed during the fifty joyful

days between Easter and Pentecost.[14]

In the Latin Church, a similar motive of atonement is ascribed by

Pope Saint Leo I (461) to the fast of the Ember Days in Pentecost

week. The fasting should be a penance for faults committed during

the feasting and joyful celebrations of the Easter season.[15]

NO OCTAVE DAY--Pentecost is the only one of the high feasts

having an octave ("octava") without an octave day ("dies

octava"). The following Sunday has always been called "First

Sunday after Pentecost." The liturgical notation in the breviary

(after the None of Saturday) also proclaims this fact: "End of

the Easter season" ("explicit Tempus Paschale"). This lack of an

octave day is explained by the liturgical character of Pentecost,

which in itself concludes and terminates the great chain of

commemorative celebrations connected with the Feast of the


For the purpose of Easter Communion, however, the Church has

allowed the extension of "Easter time" to include the Sunday

after Pentecost (Trinity Sunday).[17]

PENTECOST VIGIL--As early as the third century the vigil service

of Whitsunday included the solemn rite of baptism in the Latin

Church. On Saturday afternoon the catechumens gathered in church

for prayers and preparation. The baptismal water was blessed by

the bishop. All these ceremonies followed quite closely the

ritual of the Easter Vigil.[18] In some churches they even blessed

a large candle and sang a hymn of praise ("praeconium") as was

done during the Easter Vigil. These rites are no longer performed


In the Eastern churches Pentecost Vigil is not a fast day as it

is in the Latin Church. They adhere to the ancient tradition of

keeping the full fifty days from Easter to Pentecost as a time of

joy, without penance or fast. A solemn and joyful vigil service

is kept during the evening or night in the Byzantine Rite. The

churches are brightly illuminated, and the congregation takes

part in the hymns, prayers, and lessons of the vigil office

("pannychida": all-night service), since they understand the

language of the liturgy.[19]

Like Saturday before Septuagesima, this Saturday, in the

countries of the Byzantine Rite, is also devoted to special

prayer for the souls of the departed ("psycho-sabbaton": Saturday

of the Souls).[20] Before the vigil service starts (during and

after the Office of the day), a fourfold blessing is bestowed

upon a bowl of cooked wheat cereal mixed with ground nuts,

spices, and honey. Cakes and breads of wheat flour, which the

people bring, are also blessed.[21] These foods, called "Kollyba"

(fine pastry), are a symbol of the resurrection of the body (see

John 12, 24). They are offered by the faithful to friends and

strangers, and are received with the words "May God grant them

[the holy souls] the beatitude of Heaven."[22]

After the blessing of the "Kollyba," a solemn procession is made

to the cemetery, where the graves, decorated with flowers, are

blessed by the priest. A joyful meal in the style of the ancient

Christian agape (love feast) follows the ceremonies.[23]


HOLY GHOST DOVE--From the earliest centuries of the Christian era

preachers and writers have mentioned the dove as a symbol of the

Holy Spirit.[24] This symbolism, of course, was inspired by the

Gospel report of Christ's baptism (Luke 3, 21-22). The dove, as a

symbol of the Holy Spirit, may be seen in churches, on priestly

vestments, on altars, tabernacles, sacred utensils, and in many

religious paintings.

In medieval times the figure of a dove was widely used to enact

in a dramatic way the descent of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost

Sunday. When the priest had arrived at the sequence, he sang the

first words in a loud and solemn voice: "Veni Sancte Spiritus"

(Come, Holy Ghost). Immediately there arose in the church a sound

"as of a violent wind blowing" (Acts 2, 2). This noise was

produced in some countries, like France, by the blowing of

trumpets; in others by the choirboys, who hissed, hummed, pressed

windbags, and rattled the benches. All eyes turned toward the

ceiling of the church where from an opening called the "Holy

Ghost Hole" there appeared a disc the size of a cart wheel, which

slowly descended in horizontal position, swinging in ever-

widening circles. Upon a blue background, broken by bundles of

golden rays, it bore on its underside the figure of a white dove.

Meanwhile, the choir sang the sequence. At its conclusion the

dove came to rest, hanging suspended in the middle of the church.

There followed a "rain" of flowers indicating the gifts of the

Holy Spirit, and of water symbolizing baptism. In some towns of

central Europe people even went so far as to drop pieces of

burning wick or straw from the Holy Ghost Hole, to represent the

flaming tongues of Pentecost. This practice, however, was

eventually stopped because it tended to put the people on fire

externally, instead of internally as the Holy Spirit had done at

Jerusalem. In the thirteenth century in many cathedrals of France

real white pigeons were released during the singing of the

sequence and flew around in the church while roses were dropped

from the Holy Ghost Hole.[25]

Like all such religious pageants this dramatic addition to the

liturgy of Whitsunday was attacked and ridiculed by the Lutheran

reformers. Among other instances there is a report from the town

of Biberach in Germany describing how in 1545 children broke the

Holy Ghost Dove of the local church and carried the pieces in a

mock procession through the streets.[26]

A fairly general custom in medieval times, and one still

practiced in many sections of central and eastern Europe, is the

use of artfully carved and painted wooden doves, representing the

Holy Spirit. Usually this figure is suspended over the dining

table. Often it is encased in a globe of glass, into which it has

been assembled with painstaking effort, a constant reminder for

the members of the family to venerate the Holy Spirit.

OTHER CUSTOMS--Like Easter night, the night of Pentecost is

considered one of the great "blessed nights" of the year. In many

sections of Europe it is still the custom to ascend hilltops and

mountains during the early dawn of Whitsunday to pray. People

call this observance "catching the Holy Ghost." Thus they express

in symbolic language the spiritual fact that only by means of

prayer can the divine dove be "caught" and the graces of the Holy

Spirit obtained.

In rural sections of northern Europe superstitions ascribe a

special power of healing to the dew that falls during Pentecost

night. To obtain these blessings people walk barefoot through the

grass on the early morning of the feast. They also collect the

dew on pieces of bread which afterward are fed to their domestic

animals as a protection against disease and accidents.[27] In many

places, all through Whitsunday night can be heard the noise of

shooting ("Pfingstschiessen") and cracking of whips

("Pfingstschnalzen").[28] In pre-Christian times this observance

was held to frighten harmful powers away from home and harvest;

in Christian times it assumed the character of a salute to the

great feast.

The modern version of the ancient spring festival (maypole and

May Queen) is connected with Pentecost in many sections of

Europe. The queen is called "Pentecost Bride" ("Pfingstbraut").

Other relics of the Indo-European spring festival are the games,

dances, and races held at Whitsuntide.[29] This tradition used to

be most popular everywhere in the Middle Ages, and still is in

central Europe. In England, Pentecost Sunday was a day of horse

races, plays, and feasting (Whitsun ale). In Germany, too, people

would hold banquets ("Pfingstgelage") and drink "Pentecost beer."

Finally, there exists a Christian version of ancient nature lore

in the custom of blessing flowers, fields, and fruit trees on the

Vigil of Pentecost.[30] In German-speaking countries the red peony

("paeonia officinalis") bears the name "Pfingstrose" (Rose of

Pentecost), and the oriole ("oriolus oriolus") is called

"Pfingstvogel" (Pentecost bird).

1. H. Leclercq, "Pentecote," DACL, 14.1 (1939), 260 ff.
2. Nilles, II, 340.
3. The Arabic "'uncure" actually means origin, but in this case the term is an assimilation from the Hebrew "'asereth," which was a name for solemn celebrations (assemblies) among the Jews. See Nehemias 8, 18 and Joel 1, 14.
4. Nilles, II, 397 f.; Benet, 66 f.
5. Kellner, 111.
6. "Contra Celsum," 8, 22; see P. Koetschau (ed.), "Origenes" ("Die Griechischen christliechen Schriftsteller"), II, Leipzig, 1899, 239.
7. "De Bapt.," 19; PL, 1, 1223.
8. "Vita Constantini," IV, 64; PG, 20, 1220.
9. "In Pentec. hom.," 2; PG, 6, 465. About Pentecost celebration in ancient Jerusalem see SSP, 93 f.
10. "Conc. Mogunt.," 36; Mansi, 14, 73.
11. "Acta Conc. Constantin."; Mansi, 20, 795 B.
12. A. Manser, "Veni Sancte Spiritus," LThK, 10 (1938), 532 f.
13. G. C. Parabene, "Veni Creator Spiritus," EI, 35 (1937), 117.
14. Nilles, II, 405.
15. CICI, "Decr. Gratiani, dist.," 76, c. "Igitur," 4.
16. Kellner, 115.
17. CIC, 859, 2.
18. TE, I, 663 f.
19. Nilles, I, 55.
20. Nilles, II, 381 ff.
21. Nilles, II, 379 f.
22. A. Gaudin, "Colybes," DACL, 3.2 (1948), 2342 ff.; N. Nilles,
"Eulogesis ton Kollybon," ZKTh, 16 (1892), 350 ff.
23. Nilles, II, 380 f.
24. H. Leclercq, "Le Saint Esprit," DACL, 5.1 (1922), 525 ff.
25. Gugitz, I, 287 ("Das Heiligengeistschwingen).
26. Gugitz, I, 290.
27. Koren, 141; Geramb, 98.
28. Geramb, 89 ff. ("Die weltlichen Plfingstbrauche").
29. Gugitz, I, 280 ff.
30. Benet, 69; Koren, 141 f., VL, 155 ff

O Sancte Spiritus, qui sollemni Pentecostes die repente per dispertitas linguas tamquam ignis in Apostolos descendens, intra cenaculum congregatos, ita eorum mentes illuminasti, eorum animos incendisti, eorumque voluntates roborasti, ut inde per universum mundum proficiscerentur et ubicumque animose fidenterque Iesu Christi doctrinam annuntiarent, eamque suo profuso cruore obsignarent, renova, quaesumus, in animas quoque nostras prodigiales gratiae tuae effusiones.

Quanta mentes nostrae ignorantia laborant circa naturam gravitatemque divinarum veritatum, quae obiectum fidei efficiunt, sine qua salutem nemini sperare licet. Quot aberrationes a iusta terrenorum bonorum aestimatione, quae saepius animae ipsimet anteponuntur. Quam saepe corda nostra non, ut debent, Creatoris amore palpitant, sed ignobiliter creaturarum cupidine. Quam saepe falso humani iudicii respectu impellimur, cum debemus Iesu Christi praecepta palam profiteri, eaque sincere et cum rerum etiam iactura in vitae usum deducere. Quanta infirmitas in amplectenda ferendaque sereno libentique animo huius vitae cruce, quae christianum solummodo potest divini Magistri sui discipulum dignum efficere.

O Sancte Spiritus, mentes nostras illumina, corda nostra purifica, voluntatesque nostra redintegra; ita quidem ut infinitum animae nostrae pretium plane cognoscamus, itemque peritura huius mundi bona pro nihilo habeamus; ut Deum supra res omnes adamemus, eiusque amore proximos, quemadmodum nosmetipsos, diligamus; ut fidem nostram non modo palam demonstrare ne timeamus, sed de eadem potius gloriemur; ut denique non tantum res prosperas sed res etiam adversas quasi de manu Domini accipiamus, confisi prorsus omnia Eum in eorum bonum esse conversurum, qui erga Eum amore ferantur. Fac, quaesumus, ut nos, suavibus gratiae tuae impulsionibus constanter respondentes ac perseveranti animo operantes bonum, amplissimam sempiternae gloriae messem aliquando accipere mereamur.

O Holy Ghost, who on the solemn day of Pentecost didst suddenly descend upon the Apostles gathered in the Upper Room in parted tongues as it were of fire and didst so enlighten their minds, inflame their hearts, and strengthen their wills, that henceforth they went through the entire world and courageously and confidently proclaimed everywhere the teaching of Christ and sealed it with the shedding of their blood, renew, we beseech Thee, the wondrous outpouring of Thy grace in our hearts also.

How grievously our minds are afflicted with ignorance concerning the nature and dignity of those divine truths which form the object of faith, without which no man may hope for salvation. How far men go astray from a just estimation of earthly goods, which too often are put before the soul itself. How often our hearts do not beat with love of the Creator as they ought, but rather with an ignoble lust for creatures. How often are we led by a false respect for human judgment, when we ought to profess openly the precepts of Jesus Christ and to reduce them to action with a sincere heart and with, if need be, of our worldly substance. What weakness we manifest in embracing and carrying with a serene and willing heart the crosses of this life, which alone can make the Christian a worthy follower of his divine Master.

O Holy Ghost, enlighten our minds, cleanse our hearts, and give new strength to our wills; to such a degree, at least, that we may clearly recognize the value of our soul, and in a like manner, despise the perishable goods of this world; that we may love God above all things, and, for the love of Him, our neighbor as ourselves; that we may not only be free from fear in professing our faith publicly, but rather may glory in it; finally, that we may accept not only prosperity but also adversity as from the hand of the Lord, with all confidence that He will turn all things into good for those who lovingly tend towards Him. Grant, we beseech Thee, that we, by constantly answering the sweet impulses of Thy grace and doing that which is good with a persevering heart, may deserve one day to receive the rich reward of glory everlasting.

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