Regína sacratíssimi Rosárii, ora pro nobis!


Ave Maria!
Pentecost—15 May AD 2016

  The Virgin Mary and the Apostles at Pentecost

[Ordinary of the Mass]
[English Mass Text]
[Latin Mass Text]
[Pentecost Holy Water]

    The feast of Pentecost was celebrated even before the time of Christ.  The Jews called it Shavuot, which commemorated that people’s reception of the Mosaic Law, and sanctified the current year’s wheat harvest.  In Greek, the language of the New Testament, it is Πεντηκοστή ἡμέρα, Pentēkostē hēmera, the fiftieth day.  For Jews it was the fiftieth day after Passover, for Christians the fiftieth day after Easter.  Sometimes it is referred to as “the feast of weeks,” with seven weeks of seven days between the two events.  For devout Jews, it was one of those feasts for which every able bodied man in Israel was supposed to make the pilgrimage to offer sacrifice at the Temple in Jerusalem.

    It is for this reason that Jesus and His disciples had returned from Galilee to Jerusalem.  Ten days earlier, at dinner, just before ascending into heaven, Jesus “commanded them, that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but should wait for the promise of the Father, which you have heard by my mouth….”  so they returned to the Upper Room, “persevering with one mind in prayer with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren.”[1]  The “brethren of Jesus” where His extended family—cousins and such—for Jesus had no biological brothers or sisters (as proved by Jesus entrusting His mother to the care of Saint John, for lack of an actual brother.[2])

    Thus the Apostles were all together in the Upper Room when the events of Pentecost we just read about took place.[3]  “…there appeared to them parted tongues as it were of fire…. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost….”  It was the Holy Ghost who set their hearts on fire … it was the Holy Ghost who inspired them to go out on the streets where minutes ago they would have been afraid to set foot “for fear of the Jews” … it was the Holy Ghost who made their backwoods Galilean accents to be understood in the languages of all the men who had traveled from afar to the Feast …it was the Holy Ghost who touched the hearts of their listeners—about 3,000 of them—and brought about their mass Baptism.

    It was the Holy Ghost who made all of these people—the Apostles and their coverts radically holy.  I say radically holy, for what they received was not some creation of God, but rather, they received the uncreated grace that is the substance of God Himself.  They became, as Saint Paul wrote to the Corinthians: “Temples of the Holy Ghost”—“Do you not know that you are temples of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?”[4]

    We must pay close attention to Saint Paul’s words, for in the very next verse he wrote:  “But if any man violate the temple of God, him shall God destroy. For the temple of God is holy, which you are.”[5]  There is a real possibility of sin!  And without repentance and forgiveness, God will destroy those who violate the temple of the Holy Ghost.

    But God has given us the Sacraments so that we may remain holy, continuing to host the Holy Ghost Himself within us.  All of the seven help to preserve us in holiness, but two are of particular importance: Confession and Holy Communion.  The Church considers these two to be so important that She requires us to receive them at regular intervals—at a minimum of once each year.

    Next Sunday, Trinity Sunday, will be the last day to fulfill the requirement to receive Holy Communion each year during the Easter Season.[6]  This is a serious requirement.  In years past failure to “make one’s Easter duty” was almost scandalous;  almost as though the errant Catholic had resigned from the Church.  One could not even just Confess the sin and be done with it, for the requirement remained for the entire year, until the next Easter season.  In the modern Church this is not much of a problem, for many Catholics have been accustomed to receive Communion at every Mass, with little or no conception of the need to be in the state of grace.  They may question the sinlessness of Mary, but they never question their own!

    And that brings me to the point of this sermon:  There is a similar requirement to make a good Confession at a minimum of once a year.[7]  We didn’t hear much about this in the old days, for most people went to Confession on Saturday night or Sunday morning whenever they received Communion on Sunday—so the requirement was satisfied each year in the Confession made before the Easter Communion.

    One who has not committed a serious sin all year would be exempt from the annual Confession—but if we are realistic, we recognize that none of us is quite that holy.  Solomon, in the Proverbs, reminds us that “the just man sins seven times a day.”[8]  And there are 365 days in each year for the just man to sin seven times!  At a minimum, the prudent Catholic man or woman ought to come to Confession even if they have no specific sin to confess:

    Bless me Father, it has been a year since my last Confession.  I am unable to remember committing a specific sin, but I would like to receive the grace of the Sacrament.  In the past I have committed sins of lust, pride, theft, misuse of God’s name, the Lord’s day (or whatever), and I am sorry for and ask forgiveness for all sins I may have committed since my last Confession.

    I have printed copies of an Examination of Conscience for each of us to give some serious thought to what we may have done wrong.  They are on the small table with the Bulletins.  Please take one—there should be enough for everyone.

    If you have not made your yearly Confession, next Sunday would be a good time to do so, before receiving your Easter Communion.  Or let me know in advance if you would like to make your confession during the coming week before Trinity Sunday.  I will do my best to be here early or stay late after the daily Masses.

    If is all very reasonable: if any man violate the temple of God, him shall God destroy. All reasonable people will seek to avoid self destruction!


[6]   Canon 859 (New canon 920).

[7]   Canon 906 (New canon 989).


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