Sunday, May 24, 2015

Fr. Perrone on Pentecost, the interior work of the Spirit, and Archbishop Vigneron's prayer request

Fr. Eduard Perrone, "A Pastor's Descant" [temporary link] (Assumption Grotto News, May 24, 2015): 
The ‘fiftieth day’ is the meaning of Pentecost, the countdown for which began at Easter. This feast bears a relation to the day of Christ’s resurrection somewhat in the way that Epiphany bears to Christmas. The light that shone from the risen Savior’s body on Easter falls today upon Christ’s mystical body, that is, upon His Church. Easter was the day for catechumens to receive the sacrament of Baptism; today is the day that marked the coming of the Holy Spirit given in Confirmation. 

It is commonly said that Pentecost is the birthday of the Church. Our Lord promised that we would not be orphaned after His ascension because He would send the Holy Spirit to carry on His work in the Church. He would be the ‘soul’ of that body in the sense that He would give it life, both in its corporate totality as well as in the individuality of each member of the Church. Without the coming of the Holy Spirit sanctity cannot be possible, nor would the actions of the Church have any effectiveness. This means that sins would not be forgiven in confession and absolution without the Holy Spirit since our Lord breathed Him upon the apostles that they might have the power to forgive men’s sins. It means that the grace of preaching God’s word would not have its penetrating power to touch men’s souls for their conversion (an actual grace) unless the Holy Spirit would speak through the words of those preaching the truth of Christ. It also means that the Mass would be a powerless ceremony unless the Spirit would effect the change from bread and wine into the Lord’s body and blood in the sacrificial act of the Mass. 

The prayer of the Church on this day is that the Holy Spirit fill the hearts of the faithful. The idea here is a plenitude of grace, a perfecting of divine life. The Holy Ghost stirs up grace and activates His gifts in us to move us on towards the fullness of sanctity. (Note that His gifts are given to every Christian and are not the exclusive reserve of certain frantic enthusiasts who claim to have received specialized powers from Him.) 

I also call your attention to the presence of the Blessed Virgin Mary on Pentecost day since it was not by chance that She was in the company of the apostles. The first descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Virgin Mary resulted in the incarnation of Christ, that is, in the Son of God taking on human flesh through Her. In this second descent of Pentecost She is there again, this time as the Mother of the Church, Her Son’s mystical body. It is a new fertility of the Holy Spirit which gives this birth to the Church; notice how it, like the incarnation, also involves Holy Mary. 

We need to be discerning of the interior manner of the Holy Spirit’s working in our souls, and not be caught up, let alone confused, by the hype that’s often attributed to the Holy Spirit whose very name–Spirit, Ghost–indicates His invisibility. The outward signs of His coming on Pentecost–the wind, the tongues of flame, the gift of languages–are only indicators of His invisible presence. His operation in us, though divinely potent, is aptly expressed in peacefulness and quiet, mildness, humility, chastity and in charity. This, again, is quite other than the hoopla often attributed to Him nowadays. The infused gifts of the Holy Spirit received at baptism and confirmation will lead us to the height of sanctity unless we should impede their operation (which, alas, we may do all too often on account of our sins). 

Archbishop Vigneron has asked us to pray with him for the work of evangelization in the archdiocese. We need to pray that there will be souls converted to the faith of Christ in all its fullness. This is not the mere work of men’s talking, but of God. It’s not really a “new Pentecost” that is needed but the original one extended in our day. Let us ask Holy Mary to join us in prayer for this work of growth to the body of Christ’s Church of which She is the Mother.

Fr. Perrone

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