Today, a day after my 41st birthday, and on my wife’s birthday, I celebrate the seventh anniversary of ordination to the priesthood in the Catholic Church, at the hands of the Bishop of Calgary for service in the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St Peter. In England the Solemnity of Ss Peter and Paul - my natal patrons, and a holy day of obligation - is moved to today, which means that this year I have the rare opportunity to keep my anniversary on this day of great significance for the Church’s apostolic ministry and mission.
‘[I]n our day, perhaps more than ever, the Popes have a wider and nobler conception of the duty they have undertaken; they will give the world positive guidance, they will initiate, they will spur us into action. They will not be content to criticise (no difficult matter) the false standards they see prevailing in an exhausted and disillusioned world. They will set before it, instead, the pattern of a Christian world-order, of a civilisation penetrated with, and expressing, the mind of Christ. And if we are to be worthy, you and I, of those great pontificates under which the divine mercy has privileged us to live, we must not be content, either, with a merely negative Catholicism which forbids us to do this, discourages us from doing that, shuts us up in ourselves and reduces the Christian life to a treadmill routine of avoiding sin. We must react generously, and if need be heroically, to the conditions of our age, of a world which enjoys a precarious, and, if will fail in our duty, ignoble peace. That is the lesson which the feast of St Peter and St Paul should have for times like ours; they bear the sword, as well as the keys, they were princes of the Church because they sealed their witness by martyrdom. They beckon us to glorious thrones, but through a hard apostolate. If they disagreed once, it was long ago; they have but one voice now, and it bids us go forward’.
from a sermon preached at the Church of Our Most Holy Redeemer & St Thomas More, Chelsea
on the Feast of Ss Peter & Paul, 29 June 1947, by Mgr Ronald Knox, 1888-1957
O God, who hast hallowed this day by the martyrdom of thine Apostles Peter and Paul: grant unto thy Church, in all things, to follow the precepts of those through whom she received the beginning of religion; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen. - Divine Worship: The Missal.
Holy the womb that bare Him,
Holy the breasts that fed,
But holier still the royal heart
That in His passion bled.
written to be placed under a picture of the Immaculate Heart of Mary
Blessed John Henry Newman, 1801-1890
Almighty and everlasting God, who in the heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary didst prepare an habitation meet for the Holy Ghost: mercifully grant that we, celebrating with devout mind the festival of the same Immaculate Heart, may be enabled to live after thine own Heart; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen. - Divine Worship: The Missal.
Today marks the seventh anniversary of my ordination to the diaconate in the Catholic Church, and I am very happy indeed that it coincides with the solemn feast of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus (not least because Friday abstinence is today dispensed!) My joy is echoed in the words of the Introit for the Mass for the feast, as found in Divine Worship: The Missal: ‘Rejoice in the Lord, O ye righteous, for it becometh well the just to be thankful’.
‘The Sacred Heart is a faithful heart. Probably we have all been faithful to some people and unfaithful to others. We have “let them down”, as we say. The Heart of Jesus has never let any one down. Our hope for the world, for the Church, for the great body of Christian people outside the Church, for our own solitary soul, is in His faithfulness. The apostles had their differences, St Paul sometimes withstood St Peter to the face, but their union was in the Heart of Jesus. It is the same with us today. There are many divisions amongst Christian people, but when we are troubled about the divisions in the Church, we can remember that there is one Heart which is always faithful, and if we are tempted to despair of union amongst ourselves we may none the less have hope of union in Him’.
Father Andrew SDC, 1869-1946
O God, who hast suffered the Heart of thy Son to be wounded by our sins, and in that very Heart hast bestowed on us the abundant riches of thy love: grant, we beseech thee; that the devout homage of our hearts which we render unto him, may of thy mercy be deemed a recompense acceptable in thy sight; through the same Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen. - Divine Worship: The Missal.
‘Mary, Mother of God, we salute you. Precious vessel, worthy of the whole world’s reverence, you are an ever-shining light, the crown of virginity, the symbol of orthodoxy, an indestructible temple, the place that held him whom no place can contain, mother and virgin. Because of you the holy gospels could say: Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
We salute you, for in your holy womb was confined him who is beyond all limitation. Because of you the holy Trinity is glorified and adored; the cross is called precious and is venerated throughout the world; the heavens exult; the angels and archangels make merry; demons are put to flight; the devil, that tempter, is thrust down from heaven; the fallen race of man is taken up on high; all creatures possessed by the madness of idolatry have attained knowledge of the truth; believers receive holy baptism; the oil of gladness is poured out; the Church is established throughout the world; pagans are brought to repentance.
What more is there to say? Because of you the light of the only-begotten Son of God has shone upon those who sat in darkness and in the shadow of death; prophets pronounced the word of God; the apostles preached salvation to the Gentiles; the dead are raised to life, and kings rule by the power of the holy Trinity.
Who can put Mary’s high honour into words? She is both mother and virgin. I am overwhelmed by the wonder of this miracle. Of course no one could be prevented from living in the house he had built for himself, yet who would invite mockery by asking his own servant to become his mother?
Behold then the joy of the whole universe. Let the union of God and man in the Son of the Virgin Mary fill us with awe and adoration. Let us fear and worship the undivided Trinity as we sing the praise of the ever-virgin Mary, the holy temple of God, and of God himself, her Son and spotless Bridegroom. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen’.
from a homily, delivered at the Council of Ephesus, 431, by St Cyril of Alexandria, c.376-444
O God, who didst strengthen thy blessed Confessor and Bishop Saint Cyril, invincibly to maintain the divine motherhood of the Blessed Virgin Mary: vouchsafe that at his intercession we, believing her to be indeed the Mother of God, may as her children rejoice in her protection; through the same Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen. - Divine Worship: The Missal.
‘The Eucharist is the very heart of Christian worship because it is so rich and far-reaching in its significance; because it eludes thought, eludes emotion, relies on simple contact, humble and childlike receptiveness, sense quenching soul. It mixes together the extremes of mystery and homeliness; takes our common earthly experience of suffering, love, abandonment, death; and makes them inexpressibly holy and fruitful; takes the food of our natural life and transforms that into a channel of Divine Life’.
Evelyn Underhill, 1875-1941
Visit, we beseech thee, O Lord, thy family, and guard with watchful tenderness the hearts which have been hallowed by these sacred mysteries; that as by thy mercy they receive the healing grace of thy salvation, so by thy power and protection they may evermore retain them; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. - Leonine Sacramentary.
The gleaming river glides between
Broad meadows glad with gold and green;
Radiant with light and rapturous with song
June’s shining hours pass along;
And, plucking flowers, moves her following throng.
A thrush sits singing on a willow bough,
Which bends to meet the murmurous water’s flow
That makes a soft accompaniment while he sings,
And every trembling lead with his glad rapture rings.
Ah, is Time’s pageant, passing day by day,
This change from grey to green, from gold to grey,
This sighing, singing circle of the year,
A rather long procession ending here
And never really leading anywhere?
Ah, no! Life’s river seeks the sea of God;
Life’s sin may find the cleansing of His blood.
Not only wisdom made the world so fair,
But Love, Who, sparing others, did not spare
Himself the cruel Cross, if He might lead
To living waters and green pastures there.
Father Andrew SDC, 1869-1946
‘Today, 24 June, we are celebrating the Solemnity of St John the Baptist. He is the only saint — with the exception of the Virgin Mary — whose birth the liturgy celebrates and it does so because it is closely connected with the mystery of the Incarnation of the Son of God. In fact, from the time when he was in his mother’s womb John was the precursor of Jesus: the Angel announced to Mary his miraculous conception as a sign that “nothing is impossible to God”, six months before the great miracle that brings us salvation, God’s union with man brought about by the Holy Spirit. The four Gospels place great emphasis on the figure of John the Baptist, the prophet who concludes the Old Testament and inaugurates the New, by identifying Jesus of Nazareth as the Messiah, the Anointed One of the Lord. In fact, Jesus himself was to speak of John in these terms: “This is he of whom it is written ‘Behold I send my messenger before your face, who shall prepare your way before you. Truly I say to you, among those born of women there has risen no one greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he!”.
John’s father, Zechariah — Elizabeth’s husband and a relative of Mary — was a priest of Old Testament worship, he did not immediately believe in the announcement of such an unexpected fatherhood. This is why he was left mute until the day of the circumcision of the child to whom he and his wife gave the name God had indicated to them, that is, John, which means “graced by God”. Inspired by the Holy Spirit, Zechariah spoke thus of his son’s mission: “And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, to give knowledge of salvation to his people in the forgiveness of their sins”.
All this came to pass 30 years later when John began baptising people in the River Jordan, calling them to prepare themselves with this act of penance for the imminent coming of the Messiah, which God had revealed to them during their wanderings in the desert of Judaea. This is why he was called the “Baptist”, the “Baptiser”. When one day Jesus himself came from Nazareth to be baptised, John at first refused but then consented; he saw the Holy Spirit settle on Jesus and heard the voice of the heavenly Father proclaiming him his Son. However, the Baptist’s mission was not yet complete. Shortly afterwards he was also asked to precede Jesus in a violent death: John was beheaded in King Herod’s prison and thus bore a full witness to the Lamb of God who had recognised him and publicly pointed him out beforehand.
Dear friends, the Virgin Mary helped her elderly kinswoman Elizabeth when she was expecting John to bring her pregnancy to completion. May she help all people to follow Jesus, the Christ, the Son of God, whom the Baptist proclaimed with deep humility and prophetic fervour’.
from his Angelus, 24 June 2012, by Pope Benedict XVI
Almighty God, by whose providence thy servant Saint John the Baptist was wonderfully born, and sent to prepare the way of thy Son our Saviour, by preaching of repentance: make us so to follow his doctrine and holy life, that we may truly repent according to his preaching; and after his example constantly speak the truth, boldly rebuke vice, and patiently suffer for the truth’s sake; through the same Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen. - Divine Worship: The Missal.
‘[T]he Eucharist is the perpetual sacramental presentation in the Church’s midst of the one full, perfect and sufficient sacrifice of Christ, as the means by which sin is atoned for, the Church is made, and the world is brought under the mercy of God… [T]he Eucharist is the means by which human lives are made acceptable to God by their union with the perfect life of his Son and are transformed by his acceptance… [T]he Eucharist is the means by which the material creation is presented to God by the perfect Man, in whose immaculate body matter itself has been united to Godhead, and so, in the Eucharist, not only man but the sub-human realm as well is transformed by the divine acceptance. Bread and wine becomes his formation and glorification of the created world is eschatologically anticipated. The Father’s creation is offered to him by and in his Incarnate Son, in whom he is well pleased; and, being accepted by him in the beloved, it is transformed into an eternal sacrifice by which he is for ever adored’.
from ‘Corpus Christi: Essays on the Church and the Eucharist’, 1953
by Eric Mascall OGS, 1905-1993
O God, who in a wonderful Sacrament hast left unto us a memorial of thy Passion: grant us, we beseech thee, so to venerate the sacred mysteries of thy Body and Blood; that we may ever know within ourselves the fruit of thy redemption; who livest and reignest with the Father, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen. - Divine Worship: The Missal.
The Westminster Hymnal no.152
Mgr Ronald Knox, 1888-1957
‘The Church herself… relate[s] the other details of [St Aloysius’] sweet life in which, as is ever the case with souls fully docile to the Holy Ghost, heavenly piety never marred what was of duty in earthly things. It is just because he really was a model for all youth engaged in study that Aloysius has been proclaimed Protector thereof. Of a singularly quick intelligence, as faithful to work as to prayer in the midst of the gay turmoil of city life, he mastered all the sciences then exacted of one of his rank. Very intricate and ticklish negotiations of worldly interest were more than once confided to his management: and thus was opportunity afforded of realising to what a high degree he might have excelled in government affairs. Here again, he comes forward as an example to such as have friends and relatives who would fain hold them back when on the threshold of the religious state under pretence of the “great good they may do in the world, and how much evil they may prevent.” Just as though the Most High must be contented with useless non-entities in that select portion of men He reserves to Himself amid nations. Or, as though the aptitudes of the richest and most gifted natures may not be turned all the better, and all the more completely to God their very principle, precisely because they are the most perfect. On the other hand, neither State nor Church ever really loses anything by this fleeing to God, this apparent throwing away of the best subjects! If, in the old Law, Jehovah showed Himself jealous in having the very best of all kinds of goods offered at His altar, His intention was not to impoverish His people. Whether admitted or not, it is a certain fact that the chief strength of society, the fountain-head of benediction and protection to the world, is always to be found in holocausts well pleasing to the Lord’.
from The Liturgical Year by Dom Prosper Guéranger OSB, 1805-1875
O God, the giver of all spiritual gifts, who in the angelic youth of thy blessed Saint Aloysius didst unite a wondrous penitence to a wondrous innocence of life: grant, by his merits and intercession; that although we have not followed the pattern of his innocence, yet we may imitate the example of his penitence; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen. - Divine Worship: The Missal.
‘When peace came again to the Christians, a church was built on the site of Alban’s martyrdom, and when St Bede wrote, four hundred years later, he speaks of it as a place of wonderful workmanship where sick persons were even then going for healing and where there was frequent working of wonders. This church was destroyed by the pagan Saxons, but rebuilt and refounded with a monastery of some sort by Offa, King of the Mercians, in 793. This was the seed of that glorious abbey church which blesses the city today: the only one of our cathedrals to have Roman tiles in its walls. The monastery, reformed and revived about 970, came to take first place among the numerous great Benedictine abbeys of England. This pre-eminence was due to many causes: to the succession of great abbots who directed it, to many distinguished recruits, to the good name of its school, to its charitable works (such as a leper-hospital), to the particular sanctity of some holy men and women who, in the twelfth century, centred their devotion on the abbey, to the fact that one of its members became Pope: the only Englishman ever to be so, and he a Herefordshire man – one Nicholas Brakespeare. For the splendour of its learning and art, for the wisdom of its government, for the perfection of its liturgical observance, the abbey deserved both its wide influence in the Middle Ages and to be the progenitor of the vigorous, devoted church life which today pulses round the tomb of Britain’s first martyr: St Alban is the initial cause of it all. His worth and glory were soon recognised: two notable bishops came from France in 429 to confirm the Britons in the true Christian faith and also, in the end, to help them in the warfare with marauding Picts and Saxons, and they went to Verulamium to venerate the martyr’s tomb. One of them – Germanus – though it good to take back with him some dust from the place of the beheading, and to ask the saint’s intercession for their safe journeying. A century later Alban’s praise was lauded by a famous Italian poet, Venantius Fortunatus (whose hymns are still in our books). And pilgrims rejoice today to walk that same way, from Verulamium to new St Alban’s on the hill, trodden by the martyr on that lovely June afternoon in the dim bygones of our history: for round his shrine in the cathedral time is touch by eternity’.
Sibyl Harton, 1898-1993
O eternal Father, who, when the Gospel of Christ first came to England, didst gloriously confirm the faith of Alban by making him the first to win the martyr’s crown: grant that, assisted by his prayers and following his example in the fellowship of the Saints, we may worship thee, the living God, and faithfully witness to Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord; who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of th eHoly Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen. - Divine Worship: The Missal.
‘Romuald’s was one of the strictest orders for men in the West (a branch of the Benedictine Order). Members live isolated in small huts, observing strict silence and perpetual fasting, constantly praying or engaged in manual labour. Our saint enjoyed the grace of bringing sinners, particularly those of rank and power, back to God. When he died, he was a little over seventy years; he had never used a bed, had always sought out ways of practicing severe penances. 15 years later his pupil, the holy doctor of the Church, St Peter Damian, wrote his biography.
“His greatness lies in the rigorous and austere character of his interpretation of monastic life-an approach that was quite singular and unique. In the deepest recesses of his being, Romuald was an ascetic, a monk; not perhaps, a monk of that serene peace and self-possession exemplified by St Benedict in his life and described by him in his Rule. Nor was Romuald an organiser who through prudent legislation enabled his spirit to flourish and affect great numbers. He reminds us of the stolid figures inhabiting the Eastern deserts, men who by most rigorous mortification and severest self-inflicted penances gave a wanton world a living example of recollection and contemplation. Their very lives constituted the most powerful sermon. It is in company with men like these that St Romuald continues to live”.
…When the holy man felt his end was near, he retired to the monastery at Val di Castro. After so many journeys he was eager to begin his final pilgrimage to an eternal resting place. Before the reform of the Calendar in 1969 his feast was celebrated on February 7, the anniversary of the translation of his relics in 1481. His feast is now June 19, the day he died in 1027. In the Calendar reform the Church has tried to move the feasts of the saints to their “birthday” — referring to the day on which the saint died and celebrated his/her birth into heaven’.
from The Church’s Year of Grace, 1953, by Pius Parsch, 1884-1954
O God, who through Saint Romuald didst renew the manner of life of hermits in thy Church: grant, we beseech thee; that, denying ourselves and following Christ, we may merit to reach the heavenly realms on high; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen. - Divine Worship: The Missal.
‘The first half of the ecclesiastical year is devoted to setting forth the great doctrines of the Christian religion, the second half to setting forth its practical duties. Neither would be complete without the other. Religion consists of credenda, things to be believed; agenda, things to be done; but belief is unreal unless it is made the basis of action; and action cannot commence without the stimulus supplied by belief. The Collects for this season [of Trinitytide] are prayers for the Divine help and guidance to enable us to bring forth the fruits of Christianity. The [Prayer Book] Gospels bring before us the teaching and example of our Blessed Lord; the [Prayer Book] Epistles exhort us to the practice of Christian virtues. The latter are all, with the exception of those for the first three, fifth, and twenty-fifth Sundays, taken from St Paul’s writings, and generally follow the order in which they stand in the New Testament. The Roman Missal counts the Sundays after Pentecost, not after Trinity. We follow the Sarum Missal in counting them after Trinity’.
from ‘The Prayer Book: Its History, Language, and Contents’, by Evan Daniel, 1837-1904
O God, who hast made thyself known to us as Trinity in Unity and Unity in Trinity, in order that we may be informed of thy love and thy majesty: Mercifully grant that we may not be terrified by what thou hast revealed of thy majesty, nor tempted to trespass upon thy mercy by what we know of thy love for us; but that by the power of thy Spirit we may be forever drawn to thee in true adoration and worship; who livest and reignest, one God, world without end. Amen. - Euchologium Anglicanum.
‘The activity of the Holy Spirit is a ceaseless energy affecting the individual members of the body of the Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church, even as He made that company the principal medium of His energy at the Day of Pentecost, and has been with the Church in abiding love ever since. The world is not left without the Holy Spirit, but in the world the Church is the sphere in which we have the right to expect the working of the Holy Spirit, and in the Church are groups, Religious Orders, congregations, and in such are individuals, and of such are we ourselves.
If we have a religious vocation, it means that the Holy Spirit has especially separated us from the world that we may be taught and given power to yield ourselves to the reception of and the propagation of the life of the Spirit. A religious will love silence and solitude, and will gladly accept humiliation and suffering, for he is continually learning how such things make him a more loyal disciple of the Holy Spirit. It is a travesty of the religious state to think of it as an asylum of repose to which disillusioned people may retire. It is a condition of intense spiritual development, wherein the subject becomes the client of God the Holy Ghost, separated by Him from the world to become a centre of spiritual life.
Again and again in the history of the Church the Holy Spirit has made religious vocations the weapons with which He warred against the enemies of the Church. St Benedict and St Francis are eminent examples of this. What is true of the religious is true of every soul in its own degree. Every soul that God has created has some part, however humble, to bear in the great scheme of the eternal purpose of God, and to fit and enable each soul for its own particular vocation is the work of the ceaseless activity of God the Blessed Spirit’.
Father Andrew SDC, 1869-1946
We beseech thee, O Lord, graciously pour the Holy Ghost into our hearts: by whose wisdom we were created, and by whose providence we are governed; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the same Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen. - Divine Worship: The Missal.
‘There is in the Divine Nature a Fatherhood and a Sonship, and we may certainly think of the Holy Spirit under the figure of Motherhood. It was through the power of the Holy Spirit that our Lord was born of Mary, through His overshadowing that our Lady conceived and that of her and in her was created the Sacred Humanity.
Through His operation the Church came into being. After the Gospels come the Acts of the Apostles: those who had seen the Light were to live as children of the Light: those who had heard the Word were to preach the Word. But to do this they needed light and strength. There were many things our Lord had said they would forget, many they would not understand, many they would fear to act upon. They needed that things should be brought to their remembrance and interpreted, and they needed the courage of love to act upon them. All this the Holy Ghost brought them. He filled the apostles with power for their ministry. As He brought the world out of chaos, brooding over the waters, so He brooded over the sinful world, and brought the Church into being, and will at last bring it to perfection.
It is through the power of the Holy Ghost that the Eucharist is consecrated. Even as by His power the Divine Son became present on earth, so by His power our Lord becomes present on the Altar. We must remember that the Holy Ghost Who accomplishes this mystery is Himself always with us. It is the Holy Spirit Who mothers a soul. He bears with us patiently, checks us quietly and sometimes sternly, but, if we will go wrong, like a patient mother He goes with us where we go’.
Father Andrew SDC, 1869-1946
Most merciful God, we beseech thee: that thy Church, being gathered together in the Holy Ghost, may nevermore be disquieted by the assaults of her enemies; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the same Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen. - Divine Worship: The Missal.
‘God the Holy Trinity has had three great dealings with the world: God the Father in creating it, God the Son in redeeming it, God the Holy Spirit in bringing to fruition the work of redemption.
We are living under the dispensation of God the Holy Ghost. He is the power within us that fights against sin. The yearning after God in prayer, all the soul’s travail as it searches after God, is His secret. Through Him we feel contrition, and triumph over the temptation to despair. Through His grace we make good confessions. It needs a good deal of patience to be a true penitent. We get so tired of falling. It often seems as if we were going back instead of forward, as though it would have been much better if we had never started. But the Holy Spirit gives the strength of true penitence, which will not stay in that state of acquiescence with sin, and helps us to get up again, however many times we fall.
We know how hard it is to witness for Christ. St Peter broke down before that test. It is not strange if we find it very hard. Yet if we do witness to Him how happy we feel, and that happiness is the joy of the Holy Ghost. The supreme witness is that of the martyr. Often in life we are faced with a choice. Shall we spare ourselves and live quietly, keeping ourselves free of troubles and toil, or shall we deliberately choose to do that which we know will in the end wear us out and shorten our life? Since the Holy Ghost came at Pentecost the same power is with us that enabled our Lord to set His face as a flint and go up to Jerusalem’.
Father Andrew SDC, 1869-1946
Almighty God, who as at this time didst open the way of eternal life to every race and nation by the promised gift of thy Holy Ghost: shed abroad this gift throughout the world by the preaching of the Gospel, that it may reach to the ends of the earth; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the same Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen. - Divine Worship: The Missal.
‘Why should one think it necessary to belong to the Church at all, and not content oneself with any group of Christian-minded people whose ways suit one’s temperament? There is, for instance, something very attractive about the methods and manners of the Quakers, with their direct sincerity, their really wonderful history, and their succession of saintly souls.
But when we take up our New Testament, it is altogether impossible to escape the conclusion that our Divine Lord revealed Himself to a society. Christ did not broadcast certain sentences for the crowd to interpret, each in his own way. He did not give to the world disjointed teaching about the Father, and leave the world to form its own conclusions about that teaching. He did quite certainly reveal Himself to a group of people, to a society. He had an inner circle of disciples, and an innermost circle of apostles. He prepared these latter for the catastrophe of the last days, and admitted a chosen three to the innermost sanctuary of His soul, letting them see Him transfigured in His prayer on the mountain and disfigured by the agony of His prayer in the garden. When the catastrophe had accomplished itself, and He had been crucified, and they had forsaken Him and fled, it was back to them that He came in the power of His Resurrection life and continued to teach them in the light of that Resurrection the true significance of the darkness of Calvary. When, with the august ritual of the Ascension, the Sacred Humanity was withdrawn from the sphere of sight and sense and sound, it was upon this group, whom our Lord had trained and to whom alone He had manifested Himself in the great forty days between His Crucifixion and His Ascension, that the Holy Spirit descended at Pentecost’.
Father Andrew SDC, 1869-1946
We beseech thee, O Lord, that the Comforter who proceedeth from thee may enlighten our minds: and lead us, as thy Son hath promised, into all truth; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the same Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen. - Divine Worship: The Missal.
‘It was in the spring-time in Galilee, when the flowers appeared upon the earth, that the Resurrection of our Lord took place, and it is in the spring that, to nations of the Western world, the tidings of the Resurrection always come. Just then, when all nature is chanting songs and shouting messages of life resurgent, in the midst of the young leaves, with a carpet of glad flowers, set in a scene of blossom and beauty, is given to us the vision of the Risen Christ. Later, when the promise has been fulfilled and spring has become summer, and the blue sky already holds the secret of the Ascension, comes the messages of the revelation of Pentecost and the power of the Spirit, to rouse those who believe in Him to think of the Christ of power and prevailing purpose.
It is the gospel of the rise of man that is being preached to us now. Goethe once said to a friend, “Tell me of your faith. I have doubts enough of my own”. To us, weary with the knowledge of our many falls, comes our Lord to tell us of a power to rise that may be ours. His end in coming was not to judge but to save the world, “that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life”.
The Church is not just an ark from a drowning world, or a place of refuge from a merciless conflagration. It is the power-house wherein we have sacramental points of contact with the Life behind our life. The power behind life is not just force, but purposive creative Personality, and our sacramental communion is contact with the Resurrection life of Christ our Lord’.
Father Andrew SDC, 1869-1946
Grant, we beseech thee, merciful God: that thy Church, being gathered together in unity by thy Holy Ghost, may manifest thy power among all peoples to the glory of thy Name; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the same Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen. - Divine Worship: The Missal.
‘The Holy Ghost is the interpreter of the Word of God. Many people saw Jesus, many people touched Him. Many saw Him heal the sick and do beautiful things, and many saw Him die. Only three saw Him transfigured, only some saw Him risen, only a few saw Him ascend into heaven. The power by which the apostles saw Jesus to be the Christ, the Son of the living God, was the power of the Holy Ghost. Only love can see the true beauty of the beloved. So Simeon and Anna, when He was a child, beheld Him. So the shepherds and Wise Men beheld His glory, as did the penitent thief, by the power of the Holy Ghost. Not to all men, or any particular class of men, was this power vouchsafed, but to any who had eyes to see and to whom the vocation was given.
The Holy Spirit illuminates the Church. The Church is composed of very human people, as the Bible is composed of very human people, as the Bible is composed of very human stories. People can read the history of the Church without getting any profit, as they can read passages of the Bible to their hurt. None the less, the Church is the Body of Christ, and the Bible is the Word of God, and it is the Holy Spirit Who enables us to see this. The Church is the one kingdom which has an aristocracy of holiness, and holiness only, and the Bible is the one book that shows in all life the purposes of God and the education of conscience.
The Holy Ghost enables us to see the world as the world for which Christ died. Souls are always lovable, however much they sin. The Holy Spirit, Who pleads with souls, teaches us never to despair of souls’.
Father Andrew SDC, 1869-1946
Send, we beseech thee, Almighty God, thy Holy Spirit into our hearts: that he may direct and rule us according to thy will, comfort us in our afflictions, defend us from all error, and lead us into the truth; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the same Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen. - Divine Worship, The Missal.
Listen sweet Dove unto my song,
And spread thy golden wings in me;
Hatching my tender heart so long,
Till it get wing, and fly away with thee.
Where is that fire which once descended
On thy Apostles? thou didst then
Keep open house, richly attended,
Feasting all comers by twelve chosen men.
Such glorious gifts thou didst bestow,
That th’earth did like a heav’n appear;
The stars were coming down to know
If they might mend their wages, and serve here.
The sun which once did shine alone,
Hung down his head, and wisht for night,
When he beheld twelve suns for one
Going about the world, and giving light.
But since those pipes of gold, which brought
That cordial water to our ground,
Were cut and martyr’d by the fault
Of those, who did themselves through their side wound,
Thou shutt’st the door, and keep’st within;
Scarce a good joy creeps through the chink:
And if the braves of conqu’ring sin
Did not excite thee, we should wholly sink.
Lord, though we change, thou art the same;
The same sweet God of love and light:
Restore this day, for thy great name,
Unto his ancient and miraculous right.
George Herbert, 1593-1633
The white dove cooeth in her downy nest,
Keeping her young ones warm beneath her breast:
The white moon saileth thro’ the cool clear sky,
Screened by a tender mist in passing by:
The white rose buds, with thorns upon its stem,
All the more precious and more dear for them:
The stream shines silver in the tufted grass,
The white clouds scarcely dim it as they pass:
Deep in the valleys lily cups are white,
They send up incense all the holy night:
Our souls are white, made clean in Blood once shed:
White blessed Angels watch around our bed: —
O spotless Lamb of God, still keep us so,
Thou Who wert born for us in time of snow.
Christina Rossetti, 1830-1894
‘I adore Thee, O my Lord, as is most fitting, for Thou art gone to heaven to take my part there, and defend my interests. I have one to plead for me with the Lord of all. On earth we try to put ourselves under the protection of powerful men when we have any important business on hand; we know the value of their influence, and we make much of any promise they make us. Thou art omnipotent, and Thou dost exert Thy omnipotence for me. There are millions of men in the world: thou didst die for them all; but Thou livest for Thy people, whom Thou hast chosen out of the world. And still more marvellously dost Thou live for Thy predestinate. Thou hast engraven them upon the palms of Thy hands; their names are ever before Thee. Thou countest the full roll of them; Thou knowest them by heart: Thou orderest the crown of the world for them; and, when their number shall be completed, the world shall end.
For me, Thou hast chosen me for present grace – and thus Thou hast put me in the way for future glory. I know perfectly well that, whatever be Thy secret counsels about me, it will be simply, entirely, most really my own fault if I am not written in Thy book. I cannot understand Thee: I can understand myself enough to know and be sure of this. Thou hast put me on such especial vantage ground that the prize is almost in my hand. If I am at present in the society of Angels or Saints, it is hard if I cannot make interest with them that the fellowship begun between them and me should endure. Men of the world know how to turn such opportunities to account in their own matters. If Thou hast given me Mary for my Mother, who, O my God! is Thine, cannot I now establish, as it were, a family interest in her, so that she will not cast me off at the last? If I have the right to pray and the gift of impetration, may I not thereby secure that perseverance to the end, which I cannot merit, and which is the sign and assurance of my predestination? I have in my hands all the means of that which I have not, and may infallibly obtain, even though I cannot certainly secure it’.
Blessed John Henry Newman, 1801-1890
‘St Norbert is usually painted holding a ciborium in his hand. He is distinguished by this symbol on account of his extraordinary devotion to the Blessed Sacrament. He inculcated in all his sermons the frequent use of this divine food, being sensible from daily experience, and from the words of truth itself, that a neglect, and much more a distaste or loathing of the Holy Communion, is a deplorable symptom of a most dangerous state in a spiritual life. A short interval in order to a better preparation is often a wholesome counsel, and sometimes a necessary duty. But “he who seldom approaches, because he is tepid and cold, is like one who should say I never approach the fire, because I am cold: I have not recourse to the physician, because I am sick”, as the devout Gerson writes. This divine sacrament is the most powerful strengthener of our weakness, the sovereign remedy of our spiritual miseries, and the source of heavenly comfort to alleviate the labours and sorrows of our mortal pilgrimage. The deeper sense we have of our spiritual indigence, with so much the greater eagerness ought we continually to cry out: If I shall but touch the hem of his garment, I shall be saved. Can we slight the most tender invitations of our divine Redeemer? Can we disobey his repeated commands, and contemn his threats? Above all, can we be insensible to that excess of infinite love by which he has wrought so many wonders, that he might here abide in us by the strongest alliance?’
from The Lives of the Fathers, Martyrs, and Other Principal Saints by Fr Alban Butler, 1710-1773
O God, who didst make blessed Norbert, thy Confessor and Bishop, an illustrious preacher of thy Word, and through him didst render thy Church fruitful with a new offspring: grant, we beseech thee; that by his intercession and merits, we may be enabled by thy help to practise what he taught, both in word and deed; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen. - Divine Worship: The Missal.
Fr Lee Kenyon
A Treasure to be Shared
The Acolyte’s Toolbox