[Station at St. Mary Major.]
St. Mary Major is always the station church in Rome whenever the scrutinies of the candidates for Holy Orders are to take place.
The Mass today bears a festival character; at one time the Ember fast was postponed for a few weeks. Pope St. Gregory VII re-established the Ember Days in their proper place, but the festal tone of the Office was retained. The contrast between today’s fast and the Gospel lesson in which Jesus offers Himself as the bread of eternal life is very opportune. Man does not live by bread alone, but has an absolute need of the Word of God, without Whom this earthly existence is as a day without light, an empty pretense of life, a gloomy image of death.
The Epistle refers to Solomon’s porch, from which the Gentiles were permitted to enter the temple. In order to open their eyes, God wrought great miracles through the apostles: St. Peter was especially distinguished, because even his shadow healed diseases, and he was the first to receive the Gentiles into the Church. Thus, in the apostles were verified Christ’s words: He that believeth in me, the works that I do, he also shall do, and greater than these shall he do.
The Gift of Fortitude
The gift of Knowledge has taught us what we must do and what we must avoid in order that we may be what Jesus, our divine Master, wishes us to be. We now need another gift of the Holy Ghost, from which to draw the energy necessary for our persevering in the way he has pointed out to us. Difficulties often arise, and we can see by our failures that we are in need of support. The Holy Ghost grants us this support by the gift of Foritude, which, if we faithfully use it, will enable us to master every difficulty—even make it easy for us to overcome the obstacles which would otherwise impede our march forward.
When difficulties and trials of life come upon him, man is tempted, sometimes to cowardice and discouragement, sometimes to an impetuosity, which arises either from his natural temperament or from pride. These are poor aids to the soul in her spiritual combat. The Holy Ghost, therefore, brings her a new element of strength—supernatural Foritude, which is so peculiarly his gift, that when our Savior instituted the seven Sacraments, he would have one of them be for the special object of giving us the Holy Ghost as a principle of energy. It is obvious that, having to fight our whole lives against the devil, the world, and ourselves, we need some better power of resistance than either pusillanimity or daring. We need some gift which will control both our fear and the confidence we are at times inclined to have in ourselves. Thus gifted by the Holy Ghost, man’s victory is assured; grace will supply the deficiencies and correct the impetuosities of nature.
There are two things we need in the Christian life: the power of resistance, and the power of endurance. How could we fight the temptations of Satan if the Fortitude of the Holy Spirit doesn’t clad us with heavenly armor and give us the courage to do battle? The Holy Spirit gives us the Gift of Fortitude so that all we must do is correspond to the Gift and not stifle it either by cowardice or indiscretion, and we will be strong enough to resist even our domestic enemies. This blessed Gift of Fortitude teaches us to govern our passions and treat them as blind guides. It also teaches us nver to follow their instincts, except when they are in harmony with the law of God.
There are times when the Holy Spirit requires from a Christian something beyond interior resistance to the enemies of his soul: he must make an outward protest against error and evil, as often as position or duty demands it. On such occasions, one must bear to become unpopular, and console oneself with the words of the Apostle: If I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ. But the Holy Ghost will be on his side, and finding him resolute in using his Gift of Foritude, not only will he give him a final triumph, but he generally blesses that soul with a sweet and courageous peace, which is the result and recompense of a duty fulfilled.
Of course there are certain fears which dampen our courage and expose us to defeat. But the gift of Foritude dispels them, and braces us with such a peaceful confidence that we ourselves are surprised at the change. Look at the Martyrs—not just people like St. Mauritius, the leader of the Theban Legion, who was accustomed to face danger on the battlefield, but at Felicitas, a mother of seven children. Or Perpetua, a high-born lady with everything this world could give her. Or Agnes, a girl of thirteen, or a thousand others like them. Do you still think the gift of Fortitude doesn’t give way to heroism? Where is the fear of death?
It is the same Divine Spirit who also gives the Christian courage to rise above those worldly considerations which would make him disloyal to duty. It is He that leads man to prefer, to every honor this world could bestow, the happiness of never violating the law of his God. It is the Spirit of Fortitude that makes him look upon reversals of fortune as the merciful design of Providence; that consoles him when death bereaves him of those who are dear to him; that cheers him under physical sufferings, which would be so hard to bear if he didn’t believe them to be visits from his heavenly Father.
[Station at St. Anastasia.]
The titular church of St. Anastasia, once the Court church during the Byzantine period, is chosen for today’s station instead of the Basilica of St. Paul, as the latter is too far out for a procession at this season of the year when the weather is too warm. During the Octave of Pentecost the Church celebrates more especially the glories of the grace of the Holy Ghost and His secret work of sanctification in the Mystical Body of Christ. Thus today she repeats in the verse for the Communion the words of Our Lord: “The Spirit Who proceedeth from the Father, He shall glorify Me,” and this glorification consists chiefly in our sanctification and in the growth of the Kingdom of God in our souls.
Yesterday, we were admiring the work of the Holy Ghost, whereby he drew mankind to the faith and the name of Jesus, to whom all power was given in heaven and in earth. Today, we see the further workings of the Holy Spirit for the glory of the Son of God, who had sent him into the world. The Introit, taken from the 4th Book of Esdras (which, although not received by the Church as part of the Sacred Scriptures, was frequently read by the early Christians on account of the admirable instructions it contains), is addressed to the Neophytes, inviting them to appreciate the glory they have received, and to give thanks to the God who has called them to a heavenly kingdom.
The Epistle regards the inhabitants of Samaria, who had received the word of God through the preaching of Philip the Deacon. They had received, at his hands, the Sacrament of Baptism, which made them Christians. It reminds us of the dialogue between Jesus and the woman at Jacob’s well, and of the three days that he spent in the city.
Alleluia, alleluia. ℣. Spiritus Sanctus docebit vos quæcumque dixere vobis. Alleluia. (Hic genuflectitur). Veni, Sancte Spiritus, reple tuorum corda fidelium, et tui amoris in eis ignem accende.
Alleluia, alleluia. ℣. The Holy Ghost will teach you all things whatsoever I have said to you. (All kneel). Come, O Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of thy faithful and kindle within them the fire of thy love.
The Church’s reason for putting today’s Gospel before the Neophytes of Pentecost was to put them on their guard against a danger which might probably occur in later years. At present, they are the favored Sheep of the Good Shepherd Jesus, represented by men to whom he himself has given the charge to feed his Lambs. These men have received their mission from Peter, and he who is with Peter is with Jesus. But history has shown that false Shepherds have managed to get into the fold; our Savior calls them thieves and robbers. The Holy Ghost has poured forth his divine gifts upon these new Christians, but the virtues that are in them cannot be meritorious of eternal life unless they continue to be members of the true Church.
The Gift of Knowledge
Detached from evil by the fear of the Lord, and ennobled with holy love by the gift of Godliness, the soul feels the want of knowing how she is to avoid what she is to fear, and how to find what she must love. The Holy Ghost comes to her assistance, and brings her what she needs, by infusing into her the Gift of Knowledge. By means of this precious gift, truth is made evident to her; she knows what God asks of her and what he condemns, she knows what to seek and what to shun. Without this holy Knowledge, we are in danger of going astray, because of the frequent darkeness which, more or less, clouds our understanding. This darkness arises, in the first place, from our own nature, that bears upon itself the all too visible proofs of the Fall. The false maxims and judgments of the World, which warp even those whose upright minds might otherwise make them safe.—and the action of Satan, who is the Prince of darkness, uses this fact to obscure our mind, or to mislead it by false lights.
The Light of our soul is Faith, which was infused into us at our Baptism. By the Gift of Knowledge, the Holy Ghost empowers our Faith to elicit rays of light strong enough to dispel all darkness. Doubts are then cleared up, error is exposed and put to flight, truth beams upon us in all its beauty. Everything is viewed in its true light, the light of Faith. We see how false the principles are which sway the world, which ruin so many souls, and which we ourselves were once, perhaps, victims.
The gift of Knowledge reveals to us the end which God had in creation, and out of which creatures can never find either happiness or rest. It teaches us how to make use of creatures, which were not given to us as a hindrance, but rather a help to reach our God. Once we possess this secret of life, we walk on in safety, resolved to shun every path which would not lead us to our end.
The Apostle had this Gift in view when, speaking to the converts at Ephesus, he said: Ye were heretofore darkness, but now light in the Lord: walk then as Children of the Light. This is where the unhesitatingness, the confidence, of the Christian Life comes from. It also explains why some, for want of experience, nevertheless manages almost inscrutably to escape every danger: he has the experience of God, as Sacred Scripture tells us: She conducted the just through the right ways, and gave him the Knowledge of holy things.
The liturgy today recalls the Descent of the Holy Ghost on the Apostles; and the Church extends the commemoration of it over eight days. Originally, the feast of Pentecost brought to an end in Rome the fifty days of the Easter celebrations and introduced the fast of the Ember Days of the summer quarter. Afterwards, it became customary to continue the festivity for two more days, the Monday and the Tuesday, and, finally—after the time of Pope St. Leo the Great—it was extended, like the Octave of Easter, through the entire week. The station was at St. Peter in Chains to avoid having two successive stations at the Vatican, and to remind the faithful of the fortitude wherewith the Apostles were endowed by the Holy Ghost on the day of Pentecost. Also, Peter, who once trembled at being questioned about Jesus by a woman, now that he has received the gift of the Holy Ghost, rejoices at being bound with chains for Jesus’ sake.
In the Epistle, several gentiles are touched with grace on hearing Peter’s preaching, and they profess themselves believers in Jesus, the Son of God. The moment is thus come for the Apostle to throw the Church open to the Gentile world. Today’s Gospel shows the immense contrast between God and man. God so loves the world that, in order to save it, He sacrifices His only-begotten Son, while mankind repays this supreme love with utter ingratitude and obstinately chooses darkness rather than light.
The Gift of Piety, or Godliness
The gift of the Fear of God is intended as a cure for our pride; the gift of Godliness (or Piety) is infused into our souls by the Holy Ghost, in order that we may resist self-love, which is one of the passions of our fallen nature, and the second hindrance to our union with God. The heart of a Christian is not made to be either cold or indifferent; it must be affectionate and devoted, otherwise it can never attain the perfection for which God, who is Love, has graciously created it.
The Holy Ghost, therefore, puts the Gift of Godliness into the soul, by inspiring it with a filian affection for her Creator. You have received, says the Apostle, the Spirit of adoption of Sons, whereby we cry to our God, Abba! Father! This disposition enables man to nourish within him a sorrow for his sins, in consideration of the divine mercy which has borne with and forgiven him, and of the Sufferings and Death of his Redeemer. It makes him thirst for God’s glory to spread, and eventually his greatest joy is to see others grow in their love and devotedness in the service of the sovereign Good. He is filled with filial submission to his Heavenly Father, whose every will he is most ready to do.
This devotion to God, which results from the gift of Godliness, and unites the soul to her Creator by filial love, makes her love all God’s creatures, inasmuch as they are the work of his hands and belong to him. His love is not limited to the citizens of heaven; it is extended also to his fellow creatures here on earth, for the gift of Godliness makes him find Jesus in them. He is kind to everyone, without exception. He forgives injuries, bears with the imperfections of others, and where an excuse is possible for his neighbor, he makes it. He has compassion on the poor, and is attentive to the sick. He weeps with those who weep, and rejoices with those who rejoice.
All this is found in those who use the gift of Godliness.
Bernardino (or Bernadine, or Bernardin) was an Italian priest, Franciscan missionary, and is a Catholic saint. He is known in the Roman Catholic Church as “the Apostle of Italy” for his efforts to revive the country’s Catholic faith during the 15th century. His preaching was frequently directed against gambling, witchcraft, sodomy (with an emphasis on homosexuality) and usury—particularly as practised by Jews.
Bernardino was born in 1380 to the noble Albizeschi family in Massa Marittima, Tuscany, a Sienese town of which his father, Tollo, was then governor. Left orphaned at six, he was raised by a pious aunt. In 1397 after a course of civil and canon law, he joined the Confraternity of Our Lady attached to the hospital of Santa Maria della Scala. Three years later, when the plague visited Siena, he ministered to the plague-stricken, and, assisted by ten companions, took upon himself for four months entire charge of this hospital. He escaped the plague but was so exhausted that a fever confined him for several months. In 1403 he joined the Observant branch of the Order of Friars Minor, with a strict observance of Francis’ Rule. He was ordained a priest in 1404 and was commissioned as a preacher in 1405. About 1406 Vincent Ferrer, while preaching at Alexandria in Piedmont, allegedly foretold that his mantle should descend upon one who was then listening to him, and said that he would return to France and Spain leaving to Bernardino the task of evangelizing the remaining peoples of Italy.
The period of Bernardino’s public engagement coincided with a time when the Catholic Church was responding actively (through civil and armed means) to pressures that it regarded as heretical, and which were gaining popularity in southern France and northern Italy, as well as some reformed monastic orders. Instead of remaining cloistered and preaching only during the liturgy, Bernardino preached directly to the public.
For more than 30 years, Bernardino preached all over Italy, and played a great part in the religious revival of the early fifteenth century. Although he had a weak and hoarse voice, he is said to have been one of the greatest preachers of his time. His style was simple, familiar, and abounding in imagery. Cynthia Polecritti notes that the texts of Bernardine’s sermons “are acknowledged masterpieces of colloquial Italian.” He was an elegant and captivating preacher. His use of popular imagery and creative language drew large crowds to hear his reflections. And, as Polecritti also notes, the subject matter of his sermons reveals much about the contemporary context of 15th-century Italy.
He traveled from place to place, remaining nowhere above a few weeks. These journeys were all made on foot. In the towns, the crowds assembled to hear him were at times so great, that it became necessary to erect a pulpit on the market-place. Like Vincent Ferrer, he usually preached at dawn. His hearers, so as to ensure themselves standing room, would arrive beforehand, many coming from far distant villages. The sermons often lasted three or four hours. He was invited to Ferrara in 1424, where he preached against the excess of luxury and immodest apparel. In Bologna, he spoke out against gambling, much to the dissatisfaction ot the card manufacturers and sellers. Returning to Siena in April 1425, he preached there for fifty consecutive days. His success was claimed to be remarkable. “Bonfires of vanities” were held at his sermon sites, where people threw mirrors, high-heeled shoes, perfumes, locks of false hair, cards, dice, chessmen, and other frivolities to be burned. Bernardino enjoined his listeners to abstain from blasphemy, indecent conversation, and games of hazard, and to observe feast days.
In January 1427 he was in Orvieto where his main topic seems to have been the practice of usury, urging the executive to take stringent steps against all such as were addicted to this business, of whom the majority were Jews. (In Milan, he was often visited by a merchant who urge him to inveigh strenuously against usury, only to find that his visitor was himself the greatest usurer of the place, whose activities were prompted by a wish to lessen competition).
Both while he was alive and after his death (the first edition of his works, for the most part elaborate sermons, was printed at Lyon in 1501), Bernardino’s sermons were unapologetic: of severe moralizing temperament, he inveighed against various classes of people he believed were particularly responsible for the moral corruption of Christendom. He spoke out against witchcraft, and called for sodomites, i.e., homosexuals, to be either isolated from society or eliminated from the human community. He thus became the moral major domo of what historian Robert Moore has called “the persecuting society” of late medieval Christian Europe.
Bernardino is particularly resented today as being a “major protagonist of Christian anti-semitism”. He called for Jews to be isolated from the wider communities in which they lived; blaming the poverty of local Christians on Jewish usury. His audiences often used his words to reinforce actions against Jews. His preaching left a legacy of resentment on the part of Jews.
On sodomy, he keenly pointed out the reputation of the Italians beyond their own borders. He particularly decried Florentine lenience—in Verona, he told his hearers, a man was quartered and his limbs hung from the city gates; in Genoa, men were regularly burned; and in Venice a sodomite had been tied to a column along with a barrel of pitch and brushwood and set to fire. He advised the people of Siena to do the same. In 1424, in the course of a Lenten sermon preached in Santa Croce, he admonished his hearers:
Whenever you hear sodomy mentioned, each and every one of you spit on the ground and clean your mouth out as well. If they don’t want to change their ways by any other means, maybe they will change when they’re made fools of. Spit hard! Maybe the water of your spit will extinguish their fire.
Especially known for his devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus, Bernardine devised a symbol—IHS, the first three letters of the name of Jesus in Greek, in Gothic letters on a blazing sun. This was to displace the insignia of factions (for example, Guelphs and Ghibellines). The devotion spread, and the symbol began to appear in churches, homes and public buildings. Opposition arose from those who thought it a dangerous innovation. It was said that he calmed strife-torn cities, that feuds and factionalism were reconciled by his counsel and that miracles took place.
In 1427 he was summoned to Rome to stand trial on charges of heresy himself for his promotion of the devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus. Theologians including Paulus Venetus were present to give their opinions. Bernardino was found innocent of heresy, and he impressed Pope Martin V sufficiently that Martin requested he preach in Rome. He was acquitted and thereupon preached every day for 80 days. Bernardino’s zeal was such that he would prepare up to four drafts of a sermon before starting to speak. That same year, he was offered the bishopric of Siena, but declined in order to maintain his monastic and evangelical activities. In 1431, he toured Tuscany, Lombardy, Romagna, and Ancona before returning to Siena to prevent a war against Florence. Also in 1431, he declined the bishopric of Ferrara, and in 1435 he declined the bishopric of Urbino.
John Capistrano was his friend, and James of the Marches was his disciple during these years. Both Pope Martin V and Pope Eugene IV were urged by their cardinals to condemn Bernardino, but both almost instantly acquitted him. A trial at the Council of Basel ended with an acquittal too. The Holy Roman Emperor Sigismund sought Bernardino’s counsel and intercession and Benardino accompanied him to Rome in 1433 for his coronation.
Soon thereafter, he withdrew again to Capriola to compose a further series of sermons. He resumed his missionary labours in 1436, but was forced to abandon them when he became vicar-general of the Observant branch of the Franciscans in Italy in 1438.
Bernardino had worked to grow the Observants from the outset of his religious life: although he was not in fact its founder (the origins of the Observants, or Zelanti, can be traced back to the middle of the fourteenth century.) Nevertheless, Bernardino became to the Observants what St. Bernard had been to the Cistercians, their principal support and indefatigable propagator. Instead of one hundred and thirty Friars constituting the Observance in Italy at Bernardino’s reception into the order, it counted over four thousand shortly before his death. Bernardino also founded, or reformed, at least three hundred convents of Friars. He also sent missionaries into Asia, and he is credited with helping ensure that many ambassadors from different schismatic nations attended the Council of Florence.
Being Vicar General inevitably cut back his opportunities to preach, but he continued to speak to the public when he could. Having in 1442 persuaded the pope to finally accept his resignation as vicar-general so that he might give himself more undividedly to preaching, Bernardino again resumed his missionary work. Despite a Papal Bull issued by Pope Eugene IV in 1443 which charged Bernardino to preach the indulgence for the Crusade against the Turks, there is no record of his having done so. In 1444, notwithstanding his increasing infirmities, Bernardino, desirous that there should be no part of Italy which had not heard his voice, set out to the Kingdom of Naples.
Reports of miracles attributed to Bernardino multiplied rapidly after his death, and Bernardino was canonized as a saint in 1450, only six years after his death, by Pope Nicholas V.
Bernardino lived into the early days of the print and was the subject of portraits in his lifetime, as well as a death-mask, which were copied to make prints, so that he is one of the earliest saints to have a fairly consistent appearance in art; though many Baroque images, such as that by El Greco, are idealized compared to the realistic ones made in the decades after his death.
After his death, the Franciscans promoted an iconographical program of diffusion of images of Bernardino, which was second only to that of the founder of the order. As such, he is one of the earliest saints whose appearance was given a distinct and readily recognisable iconography. Artists of the late medieval and Renaissance periods often represented him as small and emaciated, with three mitres at his feet (representing the three bishoprics which he had rejected) and holding in his hand the IHS monogram with rays emanating from it (representing his devotion to the “Holy Name of Jesus”), which was his main attribute. He appears to have been a favourite in the works Luca della Robbia, and one of the finest examples of Renaissance art includes relief carvings of the saint, which can be seen on the oratory of Perugia Cathedral.
A portrait is known to have circulated in Siena just after Bernardino’s death which, on the basis of physiognomic similarities with his death mask at L’Aquila, is believed to have been a good likeness. It is thought probable that many subsequent depictions of the saint derive from this portrait.The most famous depictions of Bernardino are found in the cycle of frescoes of his life, which were executed towards the end of the fifteenth century by Pinturicchio in the Bufalini Chapel of Santa Maria in Aracoeli, Rome. There is also an altar panel at the Alte Pinakothek in Berlin, done by Pietro Perugino, known as The Virgin appearing to St. Bernard. This shows the saint experiencing a vision of the Virgin Mary.
Saint Bernardino is the Roman Catholic patron saint of advertising, communications, compulsive gambling, respiratory problems, as well as any problems involving the chest area. He is the patron saint of Carpi, Italy; the Philippine barangay Kay-Anlog; the barangay Tuna in Cardona, Rizal; and the diocese of San Bernardino, California. Siena College, a Franciscan Catholic liberal arts college in New York state, was named after him and placed under his spiritual patronage.
His cult also spread to England at an early period, and was particularly promulgated by the Observant Friars, who first established themselves in the country in Greenwich, in 1482, not forty years after his death, but who were later suppressed.
[Station at St. Peter.]
Whit, or White Sunday, is so called from those who were newly baptized, in the 4th and 5th centuries, putting on white garments as types of the spiritual purity received in baptism. Just as the truths and realities of the Gospel were slipping out of men’s hearts, the outward symbols of it were multiplied on their persons. In the best antiquity, there were few symbols and much of the inward truth and life of religion. The after-developments of the Church were outward and symbolic almost in proportion as the thing signified by the symbols were vanishing away; as if the growing consciousness of spiritual nakedness sought a covering in a new and enlarged religious wardrobe, rather than in that faith working by love which purified the heart and the life of the first Christians.
Today, the days of Pentecost as St. Luke says in the Epistle, 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 fulness 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 next day was the day when the alliance was made between God and his people. The Pentecost (the Fiftieth Day) was honored 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.
The Sequence for today, “Veni, Sancte Spiritus” (listen to the Chant), attributed to Innocent III, replaced under St. Pius V an older one of great beauty. This Sequence is repeated daily throughout the Octave:
Veni, Sancte Spiritus,
Veni, pater pauperum,
In labore requies,
O lux beatissima,
Sine tuo numine,
Lava quod est sordidum,
Flecte quod est rigidum,
Da tuis fidelibus,
Da virtutis meritum,
Come, Thou Holy Spirit, come,
Come, Thou Father of the poor,
Thou of Comforters the best
In our labor rest most sweet
O most blessed Light divine.
Where Thou art not, man hath nought.
Heal our wounds, our strength renew,
Bend the stubborn heart and will,
On Thy faithful who adore,
Give them virtue’s sure reward,
Peter is the leader around whom gathers the little flock of Sion on this first Christian Pentecost, and he inaugurates today his pontifical primacy when he announces for the first time the Gospel message to the representatives of the various nations, without distinction of race or nationality, of country or State. On this day, our Lord Jesus Christ, being seated on the right hand of God, sent, as He had promised, the Holy Ghost upon the Apostles, who, after His Ascension, continued in prayer at Jerusalem, in company with the Blessed Virgin, awaiting the performance of His promise.
Let us pray in like manner with the Church: “Come, O Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of Thy faithful and kindle in them the fire of Thy love.”
The Holy Ghost descends in power to vindicate the innocence of Jesus by filling the Church with such surpassing sanctity that it becomes, as it were, a fire prefiguring the final judgment on the enemies of God. The faithful kneel at the Invocation of the Holy Spirit, Who at the last day requires the restoration of the Christian soul to the body which has been His mystical temple.
This week, we will discuss the workings of the Holy Ghost, both in the Church, and in the faithful Soul. These seven days are given to us that we may know and appreciate the great Gift sent us by the Father and the Son. Moreover, the Spirit who proceeds from the Father and the Son has seven different ways whereby he manifests his presence in our souls.
The Seven Gifts of the Holy Ghost are seven energies, which he graciously puts into the soul when he enters there by sanctifying grace. Actual graces put these divinely infused powers into motion, either all at once or separately; acts that are supernatural and meritorious of life everlating are produced by the free consent of our will.
The Gift of Fear of the Lord
The sacred Humanity of the Incarnate Son of God is the supernatural type of our own, and what the Holy Ghost operated in the former, for its sanctification, that same, in proportion, he wills to do in the latter. He infused into the Son of Mary the seven energies mentioned by the Propet; the same seven Gifts are prepared for regenerated man. But notice the order in which they come. Isaias begins with the Spirit of Wisdom and ends with the Spirit of the Fear of the Lord. Wisdom, as we will see further on, is the noblest prerogative of which man is capable; whereas the Fear of the Lord is just the beginning of Wisdom, as the Psalmist assures us. The Soul of Jesus was created for a personal union with the divine Word, and was therefore treated with exception honor; the first and foremost Gift infused into it was Wisdom, and the Gift of the Fear of the Lord followed, but as a completion. With us, on the other hand, frail and inconstant as we are, the Fear of God is the foundation of our whole spiritual building, and by it we raise ourselves gradually to that Wisdom which brings union with God. It is by means of the Gifts of the Holy Ghost that man attains to perfection, but they are bestowed upon him in reverse order which Isaias names them, when speaking of the Son of God. We receive them at the time of our Baptism, and when we have the misfortune to lose them (as we do when we lose sanctifying grace—that is, commit a mortal sin), they are restored to us by the Sacrament of Penance.
Consider how the whole work of our salvation and sanctification is marked with the mysterious number of Seven. There are seven principal Virtues which render us dear to our Maker; it is by seven Gifts that the Holy Ghost leads us to our last end; the seven Sacraments apply to us the merits of the Incarnation and Redemption; and it is after seven Weeks from the Pasch that the Holy Spirit is sent upon the earth to establish and maintain the kingdom of God. Is it any wonder, then, that Satan would sacrilegiously mimic the work of God by the seven deadly sins in an effort to destroy the creatures whom God would save?
Pride is the obstacle to man’s virtue and well-being. It is pride that leads us to resist God, to make ourselves our last end, to work our own ruin. Humility alone can save us from this terrible danger. And what gives us humility? The Holy Ghost, by infusing into us the Gift of the Fear of God.
This sentiment is based on the following truths, which are taught us by faith: the sovereign majesty of God, in comparison with whom we are mere nothingness; the infinite sanctity of that God, in whose presence we are but unworthiness and sin; the severe and just judgment we are to go through after death; the danger of falling into sin, which may be our misfortune at any time, if we do not correspond to grace, because even though grace itself is never wanting, we have it in our power to resist it.
Man, as the Apostle tells us, must work out his salvation with fear and trembling; but this Fear, which is a gift of the Holy Ghost, is not merely a dread of eternal punishments. It keeps alive within us an abiding compunction of heart, even thogh we hope that our sins have long ago been forgiven. It prevents our forgetting that we are sinners, that we are wholly dependent upon God’s mercy, and that we are not as yet safe, except in hope.
This Fear of God, therefore, is not a servile fear. Inasmuch as it is a filial dread of offending God by sin, it goes hand in hand with love. Arising as it does from a reverence for God’s infinite majesty and holiness, it puts the creature in his right place and, as St. Paul says, it contributes to the perfecting of sanctification. This is why the great Apostle assures us that he was severe in his treatment of himself, lest he should become a castaway.
The spirit of independence and false liberty is a great enemy to the Fear of God. The result is that there is no progress in virtue, and we fall prey to illusion, and the Sacraments, which previously worked so powerfully in our souls, and now virtually unproductive. This is because Gift of Fear has been superseded by a conceited self-complacency. Humility no longer has sway; a secret and habitual pride has paralyzed the soul.
Of the Fruits of the Holy Ghost, St. Paul enumerates twelve:
[Station at St. John Lateran.]
The Vigil of Pentecost resembles that of Easter. The Mass for Pentecost, formerly celebrated during the night, has, like the Mass of Easter, since been anticipated. There are six prophecies preceding the Mass, interspersed with Prayers and Tracts; formerly the catechumens, who had not been baptized at Easter, received the Sacrament on Whitsunday. As on Holy Saturday, the baptismal font is blessed and the Litany is sung, and formerly a vigil was kept during the night of Pentecost Saturday to prepare for Baptism. The prayers following the prophecies, however, and the composition of the Mass show us that the chief object of this solemnity is to celebrate the Descent of the Holy Ghost on the Apostles gathered together in the cenacle.
After the Vigil, the clergy change their purple or violet-hued vestments for others of red, assigned to Masses of the Holy Ghost, in allusion to the fiery tongues of Pentecost. As on Holy Saturday, the Introit is omitted from the high Mass of Whitsun-Eve and the church bells are rung at the Gloria in excelsis.
Baylon was born at Torrehermosa, in the Kingdom of Aragon, on May 24, 1540, on the Feast of Pentecost, called in Spain “the Pasch (or “Passover”) of the Holy Ghost”, hence the name Paschal. His parents, Martin Baylon and Elizabeth Jubera, were poor peasants. He spent his youth as a shepherd. He would carry a book with him and beg passersby to teach him the alphabet and to read, and as he toiled in the fields he would read religious books.
In around 1564, he joined the Reformed Franciscan Order (Alcantarine Reform) as a lay brother. He chose to live in poor monasteries because, he said, “I was born poor and am resolved to die in poverty and penance.” He lived a life of poverty and prayer, even praying while working, for the rest of his life.
He was a mystic and contemplative, and he had frequent ecstatic visions. He would spend the night before the altar in prayer many nights. At the same time, he sought to downplay any glory that might come from this piety. He died on 17 May, which is his current feast day, in 1592.
His tomb in the Royal Chapel in Villareal in the old province of Valencia, where he died, immediately became an object of pilgrimage. Beatified by Paul V in 1618, he was canonized by Alexander VIII on 16 October 1690. The saint is usually depicted in adoration before a vision of the Eucharist.
Forty years before he was canonized, an indigenous Guatemalan claimed to have had a vision of a sainted Paschal Baylon, appearing as a robed skeleton. This event became the basis of the heterodox tradition of San Pascualito.
Paschal Baylon was enlisted in the Church’s struggle against Modernism, part of which was through increasing devotion towards the Sacrament of the Eucharist; Pope Leo XIII proclaimed Saint Paschal Baylon, the “seraph of the Eucharist”, Patron of eucharistic congresses and all contemporary and future eucharistic associations. Christian art usually depicts him wearing the Franciscan habit and bearing a monstrance, signifying his devotion to the Holy Eucharist.
During the Red Terror at the time of the Spanish Civil War, his grave was desecrated and his relics burned by anticlerical leftists.
Born Ubaldo Baldassini of noble parents at Gubbio, Ubald lost his father while still very young. He was educated by the prior of the cathedral church of his native city, where he also became a canon regular. Saint Sperandia was a relative of Ubald.
He felt a vocation to become a monk, and entered to the Monastery of St. Secondo in the same city, where he remained for some years. Recalled by his bishop, he returned to the cathedral monastery, where he was made prior. Having heard that at Vienna Blessed Peter de Honestis some years before had established a very fervent community of canons regular, to whom he had given special statutes which had been approved by Paschal II, Ubald went there, remaining with his brother canons for three months, to learn the details and the practice of their rules, wishing to introduce them among his own canons of Gubbio.
This he did at his return. He earned a reputation for piety, poverty (for all his rich patrimony he had given to the poor and to the restoration of monasteries), humility, mortification, meekness, and fervour, and the fame of his holiness spread in the country, and several bishoprics were offered to him, but he refused them all.
Ubaldo is said to have prevented Frederick Barbarossa from sacking Gubbio as the emperor had sacked Spoleto in 1155.
However, the episcopal See of Gubbio becoming vacant, he was sent, with some clerics, by the population to ask for a new bishop from Honorius II who, having consecrated him, sent him back to Gubbio. To his people he became a perfect pattern of all Christian virtues, and a powerful protector in all their spiritual and temporal needs.
He died after a long and painful illness of two years.
Numerous miracles were attributed to him during his life and after his death. At the solicitation of Bishop Bentivoglio Pope Celestine III canonized him in 1192. His power, as we read in the Office for his feast, is chiefly manifested over the evil spirits, and the faithful are instructed to have recourse to him “contra omnes diabolicas nequitias”.
The life of the saint was written by Blessed Theobaldus (Theobald, Teobaldo), his immediate successor in the episcopal see, and from this source is derived all the information given by his numerous biographers. The body of Ubaldo, which had at first been buried in the cathedral church by the Bishops of Perugia and Cagli, at the time of his canonization was found flexible and incorrupt, and was then placed in a small oratory on the top of the hill overlooking the city, where in 1508, at the wish of the Duke of Urbino, the canons regular built a church, frequented by numerous pilgrims, who come to visit the relics.
The devotion to the saint is very popular throughout Umbria, but especially at Gubbio, where in every family at least one member is called Ubaldo. The feast of their patron saint is celebrated by the inhabitants of the country round with great solemnity, there being religious and civil processions which call to mind the famous festivities of the Middle Ages in Italy.
The Basilica of Sant’Ubaldo, with a nave and four aisles, is a sanctuary outside the city. Noteworthy are the marble altar and the great windows with episodes of the life of Ubaldo. The finely sculpted portals and the fragmentary frescoes give a hint of the magnificent 15th century decoration once boasted by the basilica.
Outside of Italy, a finger relic of Ubald is venerated in the Saint-Theobald collegiate church of Thann, Haut-Rhin, in France.
Generations of schoolboys have been taught by the Christian Brothers, and their founder, St. John Baptist de la Salle, is familiar in their prayers and devotions. “Brothers Boys” are scattered all over the world and all of them have fond memories of their “De la Salle” days.
John Baptist de la Salle was born at Rheims in 1651, became a member of the cathedral chapter at Rheims when he was sixteen, and was ordained a priest in 1678. Soon after ordination he was put in charge of a girls’ school, and in 1679 he met Adrian Nyel, a layman who wanted to open a school for boys. Two schools were started, and Canon de la Salle became interested in the work of education. He took an interest in the teachers, eventually invited them to live in his own house, and tried to train them in the educational system that was forming in his mind. This first group ultimately left, unable to grasp what the saint had in mind; others, however, joined him, and the beginnings of the Brothers of the Christian Schools were begun.
Seeing a unique opportunity for good, Canon de la Salle resigned his canonry, gave his inheritance to the poor, and began to organize his teachers into a religious congregation. Soon, boys from his schools began to ask for admission to the Brothers, and the founder set up a juniorate to prepare them for their life as religious teachers. At the request of many pastors, he also set up a training school for teachers, first at Rheims, then at Paris, and finally at St.-Denis. Realizing that he was breaking entirely new ground in the education of the young, John Baptist de la Salle wrote books on his system of education, opened schools for tradesmen, and even founded a school for the nobility, at the request of King James of England.
The congregation had a tumultuous history, and the setbacks that the founder had to face were many; but the work was begun, and he guided it with rare wisdom. In Lent of 1719, he grew weak, met with a serious accident, and died on Good Friday. He was canonized by Pope Leo XIII in 1900, and Pope Pius XII proclaimed him patron of schoolteachers.