Easter, Ascension & Pentecost: May 2009 Archives

Each of the three Divine Persons is holy, and each is a spirit, and we give the name "Holy Spirit" to the Third Person precisely because He is all that the Father and the Son have 

Holy Trinity Hungarian.jpg

common -their divinity, their charity, their blessedness, their delight in each other, their holiness and their spiritual nature. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of the Father and the Son, proceeding from both, and He is the unity and charity of them both. The Holy Spirit is so completely, so truly, God's gift that unless someone has the Holy Spirit, he has none of God's gift, and whoever has any of them, has them only in the Holy Spirit. Many things are given to us through the Holy Spirit, but they are valueless if the chief gift of charity is lacking. And the reason why the Holy Spirit is called "Gift of God" is because "the charity of God is poured forth in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who is given to us."

Nothing is more excellent than this gift, which ultimately differentiates between the children of the kingdom and the children of darkness. Even if all the other gifts are lacking, charity will take us to the kingdom of God. Although faith can exist without charity, only the faith that works through love can have any value. The Holy Spirit is the charity of the Father and the Son, by means of which they love each other. He is the unity in virtue of which they are one. When he is given to us, he enkindles in our hearts the love of God and of one another. This same love, living in our hearts, is the love by which God is love.

This is "the Spirit of the Lord which fills the whole world" with his all-powerful goodness, appointing a perfect harmony among all creatures, and filling them all with the vast riches of his grace, according to the capacity of each. It is he who teaches us to pray as we ought, making us cleave to God, rendering us pleasing to God and not unworthy to have our prayers answered. He enlightens our minds and forms love in our hearts. All this is the work of the Holy Spirit. We may even call it his own special work, if we remember that he is sufficient for this task only because he can never be separated from the Father and the Son.

William of Saint Thierry

Pantheon Rose

| | Comments (0)
Pantheon roses.jpgEvery year on the Solemnity of Pentecost there's a shower of red roses during the singing of the   Veni Sanctae Spiritus at the Pantheon, the Basilica of Saint Mary of the Martrys.

See the video clip of this famous Roman tradition.

Come, Holy Ghost

| | Comments (0)

Come, Holy Ghost, send down those beams,

which sweetly flow in silent streams

from Thy bright throne above.


Thumbnail image for Icon of the Paraclete.jpg

O come, Thou Father of the poor;

O come, Thou source of all our store,

come, fill our hearts with love.


O Thou, of comforters the best,

O Thou, the soul's delightful guest,

the pilgrim's sweet relief.


Rest art Thou in our toil, most sweet

refreshment in the noonday heat;

and solace in our grief.


O blessed Light of life Thou art;

fill with Thy light the inmost heart

of those who hope in Thee.


Without Thy Godhead nothing can,

have any price or worth in man,

nothing can harmless be.


Lord, wash our sinful stains away,

refresh from heaven our barren clay,

our wounds and bruises heal.


To Thy sweet yoke our stiff necks bow,

warm with Thy fire our hearts of snow,

our wandering feet recall.


Grant to Thy faithful, dearest Lord,

whose only hope is Thy sure word,

the sevenfold gifts of grace.


Grant us in life Thy grace that we,

in peace may die and ever be,

in joy before Thy face. Amen. Alleluia.



This hymn, Veni, Sancte Spiritus, also known as the Golden Sequence, is the poetic text (a sequence) for the Mass for Pentecost. It is sung after the Epistle and before the Alleluia antiphon. It is regarded as one of the greatest masterpieces of sacred Latin poetry. The hymn has been attributed to three different authors, King Robert II-the Pious of France (970-1031), Pope Innocent III (1161-1216), and Stephen Langton (d. 1228), Archbishop of Canterbury. Archbishop Stephen is most likely the author. The inclusion of this hymn in the sacred Liturgy is noted in the mid-12th century or so and sung from Pentecost through the Octave. When the renewal of the Liturgy happened following the Second Vatican Council the Octave of Pentecost was suspended and the sequence limited to Pentecost Sunday.

holy spirit1.jpg

The Holy Spirit makes the Christian experience truly Catholic and universal, open to all human experience. To be Catholic is to be universal and open to the world. Not only to Canada, North America Europe or Asia, or a certain familiar part of the world or segment of society, but it must be open to all, to every single person. The mind of Christ is not intended to be a selective mentality for a few but the perspective from which the whole world will be renewed and redeemed. An insight like this, the universal scope of salvation did not however come easily and without much pain and confusion.

In fact, the whole of the New Testament can be understood precisely as the emergence of the Catholic, the universal, in Christian life. Christianity, had it not moved from where it was particular and small would have just been a small modification of the Jewish experience, a subset of Jewish piety that was still focused in and around Jerusalem and the restoration of a literal kingdom of Israel. The first two generations of Christians discovered that Christianity could not be just that. Because they had received the Holy Spirit, which is the universal principle, the Holy Spirit opened peoples' eyes to the universal import of the Christian truth and through the encounter with non-Jews who received the Holy Spirit.

The artists of the Middle Ages often contrasted the Tower of Babel with the "Tower" of the Upper Room. Babel symbolizes the divisions of people caused by sin. Pentecost stands for a hope that such separations are not a tragic necessity. The babbling mob of Babel compares poorly with the heartfelt unity of the Pentecost crowd. Babel was a mob. Pentecost was a community. A people without God lost the ability to communicate. A people suffused with the Spirit spoke heart to heart.

At Pentecost the full meaning of Jesus' life and message is poured into our hearts by the Spirit alive in the community. The New Testament seems to say that - for a fleeting moment - the nations of the earth paused from their customary strife and experienced a community caused by God. The brief and shining hour of Pentecost remains to charm and encourage us to this day.

These paragraphs come from Basilian Father Thomas Rosica's essay on the Pentecost scriptures published on Zenit.org for May 28, 2009. Father Rosica is the executive director of Salt and Light TV. A video on Pentecost can be seen here.

Father, Son, H Spirit.jpgThat we are in the days prior to the great feast of Pentecost our prayer ought to be more intensely centered on the third Person of the Blessed Trinity, God the Holy Spirit. My friend Dom Mark calls to mind the seven mysteries of the Holy Spirit found in the Rosary dealing with the action of the Holy Spirit in salvation history, especially attentive to the fact that these mysteries personally, deeply touch our own lives. His blog entry is helpful --read for yourself.

What gifts ought we to pray for? What about a fuller appreciation of and living out of the Gifts of the Holy Spirit. They are: Wisdom, Understanding, Counsel, Courage (fortitude), Knowledge, Piety (reverence), and Fear of the Lord (Awe of God).

Veni Sanctae Spiritus. Veni per Mariam.

Pope Benedict, as noted before, celebrated the Mass for the diocese of Montecassino on May 24th. As previous popes had done so Benedict XVI made a pilgrimage to the place of Saints Benedict and Scholastica. His homily follows: 


"You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth" (Acts 1:8). With these words Jesus bids farewell to the Apostles, as we heard in the first reading. Immediately afterward the sacred author adds that "as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him from their sight" (Acts 1:9). Today we are solemnly celebrating the mystery of the Ascension. But what does the Bible and the liturgy intend to communicate to us in saying that Jesus "was lifted up"? We will not understand the meaning of this expression from a single text, nor from one book of the New Testament, but in carefully listening to the whole of Sacred Scripture. The use of the verb "to lift" is in effect Old Testament in origin and it referred to an installation in royalty. Christ's ascension thus means, in the first place, the installation of the crucified and risen Son of Man in God's royal dominion over the world.

Ascension Giotto.jpg

There is a deeper meaning, however, that is not immediately graspable. The passage from the Acts of the Apostles says first that Jesus was "lifted up" (1:9), and afterward it adds that "he was assumed" (1:11). The event is not described as a voyage up above, but rather as an action of God's power, which introduces Jesus into the space of nearness to the divine. The presence in the clouds that "took him from their sight" (1:9) recalls a very ancient image of Old Testament theology and inserts the Ascension into the history of God with Israel, from the clouds of Sinai and above the tent of the covenant, to the luminous clouds on the mountain of the Transfiguration. Presenting the Lord wreathed in clouds definitively evokes the same mystery expressed in the symbolism of "sitting at the right hand of God." In Christ ascended into heaven, man has entered in a new and unheard of way into the intimacy of God; man now finds space in God forever. "Heaven" does not indicate a place beyond the stars but something more bold and sublime: it indicates Christ himself, the divine Person that completely and forever takes on humanity, he in whom God and man are united forever. And we draw near to heaven, indeed, we enter into heaven, to the extent that we draw near to Jesus and enter into communion with him. For this reason, today's Solemnity of the Ascension invites us to a profound communion with Jesus dead and risen, invisibly present in the life of each of us.

In this perspective we understand why the evangelist Luke says that, after the Ascension, the disciples returned to Jerusalem "full of joy" (24:52). They are joyful because what happened was not a separation: in fact now they had the certainty that the crucified and risen Christ was alive, and in him the gates of eternal life were opened forever. In other words, the Ascension did not begin Christ's temporary absence from the world but inaugurated instead the new, definitive and insuppressible form of his presence, by virtue of his participation in the royal power of God. It will belong to them, to the disciples, emboldened by the power of the Holy Spirit, to make his presence felt with their witness, preaching and missionary commitment. The Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord should fill us also with serenity and enthusiasm like the Apostles, who returned from the Mount of Olives "full of joy." Like them, we too, accepting the invitation of the two men "dressed in white garments," must not stay looking up at the sky, but, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we must go everywhere and proclaim the salvific message of the death and resurrection of Christ. His own words -- with which the Gospel according Matthew concludes: "And behold I am with you all days until the end of the world" (Matthew 28:19) -- accompany and comfort us.

Ascension Theophanes.jpg

Dear brothers and sisters, the historical character of the mystery of the resurrection and ascension of Christ helps us to recognize and to understand the transcendent and eschatological condition of the Church, which was not born and does not live to take the place of the Lord who has "disappeared" but which finds its reason for being in his mission and in the invisible presence of Jesus working with the power of his Spirit. In other words, we could say that the Church does not carry out the function of preparing for the return of an "absent" Jesus, but, on the contrary, lives and works to proclaim his "glorious presence" in an historical and existential manner. Since the day of the Ascension, every Christian community advances in its earthly journey toward the fulfillment of the messianic promises, fed by the Word of God and nourished by Body and Blood of its Lord. This is the condition of the Church -- the Second Vatican Council says -- as she "presses forward amid the persecutions of the world and the consolations of God, announcing the cross and death of the Lord until he comes" (Lumen Gentium, 8).

Brothers and sisters of this dear diocesan community, today's solemnity calls on us to reinvigorate our faith in the real presence of Jesus; without him we cannot do anything of value in our life or apostolate. It is he, as the Apostle Paul recalls in the second reading, who "made some apostles, others as prophets, others as evangelists, others as pastors and teachers, to equip the holy ones for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ," that is, the Church. And he does this so that "we all attain to the unity of faith and knowledge of the Son of God, to mature to manhood, to the extent of the full stature of Christ" (Ephesians 4:11-13, 14). My visit today is situated in this context. As your pastor noted, the purpose of this visit is to encourage you constantly to "build, found and rebuild" your diocesan community on Christ. How? St. Benedict himself points the way, recommending in his Rule to put nothing before Christ: "Christo nihil omnino praeponere" (LXII, 11).

Montecassino civil.jpg

This is why I thank God for the good that your community is accomplishing under the leadership of your pastor, Father Abbot Dom Pietro Vittorelli, whom I greet with affection and thank for the kind words that he spoke to me on behalf of everyone. Together with him, I greet the monastic community, the bishops, the priests and the men and women religious who are present. I greet the civil and military authorities, in the first place the mayor, to whom I am grateful for the speech with which he welcomed me in here in Piazza Miranda, which will afterwards bear my name. I greet the catechists, the pastoral workers, the young people and those who in various ways are overseeing the spreading of the Gospel in this land rich with history, which experienced moments of great suffering during the Second World War. The many cemeteries that surround your resort city are a silent witness of this. Among these, I think particularly of the Polish, German and Commonwealth cemeteries. Finally I extend my greeting to all the citizens of Cassino and the nearby towns: to each, especially to the sick and suffering, I assure my affection and my prayer.

Dear brothers and sisters, we hear St. Benedict's call echo in this celebration of ours, to keep our hearts fixed on Christ and put nothing before him. This does not distract us but on the contrary moves us even more to commit ourselves to the building up of a society where solidarity is expressed in concrete signs. But how? Benedictine spirituality, which you know well, proposes an evangelical program synthesized in the motto: "ora et labora et lege" -- "prayer, work, culture." First of all prayer, which is the most beautiful legacy that St. Benedict left the monks, but also to your local Church: to your clergy -- most of whom were formed in the diocesan seminary, for centuries housed in the Abbey of Monte Cassino itself -- to the seminarians, to the many who were educated in the Benedictine schools and recreation programs and in your parishes, to all of you who live in this land. Looking up from every village and district of the diocese, you can all admire that constant reminder of heaven that is the monastery of Monte Cassino, to which you climb every year in the procession on the eve of Pentecost. Prayer -- to which grave peals of the bell of St. Benedict calls the monks every morning -- is the silent path that leads us directly to the heart of God; it is the breath of the soul that gives us peace again in the storms of life. Furthermore, in the school of St. Benedict, the monks always cultivated a special love for the Word of God in the "lectio divina," which has become the common patrimony of many today. I know that your diocesan Church, following the instructions of the Italian Bishops' conference, takes great care in studying the Bible, and indeed has begun a course of study of the Sacred Scriptures, dedicating this year to the evangelist Mark and continuing over the next four years will conclude, please God, with a diocesan pilgrimage to the Holy Land. May attentive listening to the divine Word nourish your prayer and make you prophets of truth and love in a joint commitment to evangelization and human promotion.

Thumbnail image for Benedict.jpg

The other hinge of Benedictine spirituality is work. Humanizing the world of work is typical of the soul of monasticism, and this is also the effort of your community that seeks to be at the side of the many workers in the great industry present in Cassino and the enterprises linked to it. I know how critical the situation of many workers is. I express my solidarity with those who live in a troubling precariousness, with those workers who on unemployment assistance and those who have been laid off. May the wound of unemployment that afflicts this area lead those who are responsible for the "res publica," the entrepreneurs and those who are able, to seek, with everyone's help, valid solutions to the employment crisis, creating new places of work to safeguard families. In this respect, how can we not recall that today the family has an urgent need to be better protected, since it is gravely threatened in its very institutional roots? I think also of the young people who have difficulty finding a dignified job that allows them to build a family. To them I would like to say: Do not be discouraged, dear friends, the Church will not abandon you! I know that more than 25 young people from your diocese participated in last year's World Youth Day in Sydney: treasuring that extraordinary spiritual experience, may you be evangelical leaven among your friends and peers; with the power of the Holy Spirit, be the new missionaries in this land of St. Benedict!

Attention to the world of culture and education also belongs to your tradition. The celebrated archive and library of Monte Cassino contain innumerable testimonies of the commitment of men and women who meditated on and researched ways of improving the spiritual and material life of man. In your abbey one can touch with one's hands the "quaerere Deum," the fact that European culture has been constituted by the search for God and availability to listen to him. And this is important for our time as well. I know that you are working with this very spirit at the university and in the schools, so that you become workers of knowledge, research, passion for the future of new generations. I also know that in preparation for my visit you recently held a conference on the theme of education to solicit in everyone the lively determination to transmit to the young people the values of our human and Christian patrimony that we cannot renounce. In today's cultural effort aimed at creating a new humanism, faithful to the Benedictine tradition you rightly intend to stress attention to the fragility, weakness of man, to disabled persons and immigrants. And I am grateful that you have given me the possibility today of inaugurating the "House of Charity," where a culture attentive to life will be built with deeds.

Dear brothers and sisters! It is not hard to see in your community, this portion of the Church that lives around Monte Cassino, is heir and repository of the mission, impregnated by the spirit of St. Benedict, to proclaim that in your life no one and nothing must take Jesus away from the first place; the mission to build, in Christ's name, a humanity to teach hospitality and help of the weakest. May your patriarch help and accompany you, with St. Scholastica his sister; may your holy patrons, and above all Mary, Mother of the Church and Star of our hope, protect you. Amen!

We are firmly living the days of the Paschal Mystery. What God has given us and what the Church faithfully teaches is that nothing is done without the action of the Holy Spirit. Our encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ, our prayer to the Blessed Trinity, is firmly rooted in the Pauline belief that it is the Holy Spirit who first places within our hearts the desire for communion with God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. That same Spirit breathes within us the grace of eternal life and places on our lips the words we pray. Thinking about this dogma of our Catholic faith, I found an encyclical of Pope Leo XIII which guides our spiritual life to depend more deeply on the Holy Spirit today.

Pentecost with apostles.jpg

That divine office which Jesus Christ received from His Father for the welfare of mankind, and most perfectly fulfilled, had for its final object to put men in possession of the eternal life of glory, and proximately during the course of ages to secure to them the life of divine grace, which is destined eventually to blossom into the life of heaven. Wherefore, our Savior never ceases to invite, with infinite affection, all men, of every race and tongue, into the bosom of His Church: "Come ye all to Me," "I am the Life," "I am the Good Shepherd." Nevertheless, according to His inscrutable counsels, He did not will to entirely complete and finish this office Himself on earth, but as He had received it from the Father, so He transmitted it for its completion to the Holy Ghost. It is consoling to recall those assurances which Christ gave to the body of His disciples a little before He left the earth: "It is expedient to you that I go: for if I go not, the Paraclete will not come to you: but if I go, I will send Him to you" (1 John xvi., 7). In these words He gave as the chief reason of His departure and His return to the Father, the advantage which would most certainly accrue to His followers from the coming of the Holy Ghost, and, at the same time, He made it clear that the Holy Ghost is equally sent by-and therefore proceeds from - Himself and the Father; that He would complete, in His office of Intercessor, Consoler, and Teacher, the work which Christ Himself had begun in His mortal life. For, in the redemption of the world, the completion of the work was by Divine Providence reserved to the manifold power of that Spirit, who, in the creation, "adorned the heavens" (Job xxvi., 13), and "filled the whole world" (Wisdom i., 7).

... we ought to pray to and invoke the Holy Spirit, for each one of us greatly needs His protection and His help. The more a man is deficient in wisdom, weak in strength, borne down with trouble, prone to sin, so ought he the more to fly to Him who is the never-ceasing fount of light, strength, consolation, and holiness. And chiefly that first requisite of man, the forgiveness of sins, must be sought for from Him: "It is the special character of the Holy Ghost that He is the Gift of the Father and the Son. Now the remission of all sins is given by the Holy Ghost as by the Gift of God" (Summa Theologica 3a, q. iii., a. 8, ad 3m).

Pentecost Greco.jpg

Concerning this Spirit the words of the Liturgy are very explicit: "For He is the remission of all sins" (Roman Missal, Tuesday after Pentecost). How He should be invoked is clearly taught by the Church, who addresses Him in humble supplication, calling upon Him by the sweetest of names: "Come, Father of the poor! Come, Giver of gifts! Come, Light of our hearts! O best of Consolers, sweet Guest of the soul, our refreshment!" (Hymn, Veni Sancte Spiritus). She earnestly implores Him to wash, heal, water our minds and hearts, and to give to us who trust in Him "the merit of virtue, the acquirement of salvation, and joy everlasting." Nor can it be in any way doubted that He will listen to such prayer, since we read the words written by His own inspiration: "The Spirit Himself asketh for us with unspeakable groanings" (Romans viii., 26). Lastly, we ought confidently and continually to beg of Him to illuminate us daily more and more with His light and inflame us with His charity: for, thus inspired with faith and love, we may press onward earnestly towards our eternal reward, since He "is the pledge of our inheritance" (Ephesians i. 14).

Wherefore, We decree and command that throughout the whole Catholic Church, this year and in every subsequent year, a Novena shall take place before Whit-Sunday, in all parish churches, and also, if the local Ordinaries think fit, in other churches and oratories. To all who take part in this Novena and duly pray for Our intention, We grant for each day an Indulgence of seven years and seven quarantines; moreover, a Plenary Indulgence on any one of the days of the Novena, or on Whit-Sunday itself, or on any day during the Octave; provided they shall have received the Sacraments of Penance and the Holy Eucharist, and devoutly prayed for Our intention. We will that those who are legitimately prevented from attending the Novena, or who are in places where the devotions cannot, in the judgment of the Ordinary, be conveniently carried out in church, shall equally enjoy the same benefits, provided they make the Novena privately and observe the other conditions. Moreover We are pleased to grant, in perpetuity, from the Treasury of the Church, that whosoever, daily during the Octave of Pentecost up to Trinity Sunday inclusive, offer again publicly or privately any prayers, according to their devotion, to the Holy Ghost, and satisfy the above conditions, shall a second time gain each of the same Indulgences. All these Indulgences We also permit to be applied to the suffrage of the souls in Purgatory.

(Divinum Illud Munus, 1, 11, 13)

 Pope Leo XIII, Encyclical on the Holy Spirit May 9, 1897

Following the pastoral leadership of Pope Leo XIII, I recommend that we pray the Novena to the Holy Spirit 

We believe in Jesus whom we have not seen. Those who have seen and touched him with their own hands, who have heard the word from his mouth, are the ones who have borne witness to him. It was to teach these things to the world that they were sent by him. They did not presume to go out on their own initiative. And where did he send them? You heard the answer to that in the gospel reading: "Go, proclaim the Good News to every creature under heaven." The disciples were sent to the ends of the earth, with signs and wonders accompanying them in confirmation of their testimony, because they spoke of what they had actually seen.

Ascension Vanni d'Andrea.jpg

We believe in him though we have not seen him, and we await his return. Whoever waits for him in faith will rejoice when he comes, but those without faith will be put to shame at the appearance of what they cannot at present see. Then let us abide in his words, so that his coming may not put us to shame. In the gospel he himself says to those who have believed in him: "If you persevere in my word, you will truly be my disciples." And to their unspoken question, "What will it profit us?", he adds: "You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."

At present we possess our salvation in hope, not in fact; we do not yet possess what we have been promised, but we hope to do so in the future. The one who promised it is faithful; he will not deceive you, so long as you wait for his promised gift without growing weary. The truth cannot possibly deceive. Make sure then that you yourself are not a liar, professing one thing and doing another; keep faith with him, and he will keep his word to you. If you do not keep faith, it will be you who deceive yourself, not he who made the promise.

"If you know that he is righteous, you can be sure that everyone who acts rightly is born of him." Our righteousness in this life comes through faith. None but the angels are perfectly righteous, and they have only a shadow of righteousness in comparison with God. Nevertheless, if there is any perfect righteousness to be found in the souls and spirits created by God, it is in the holy angels who are good and just, who have not fallen away from God nor been thrust out of heaven by their pride. They abide forever in the contemplation of God's word and find their happiness in nothing apart from him who made them. In these is found the perfection of righteousness, but in us righteousness has its beginning through faith, as the Spirit leads us.

What Christ won

| | Comments (0)

Redemption is offered to us in the sense that we have been given hope, trustworthy hope, by virtue of which we can face our present: the present, even if it is arduous, can be lived and accepted if it leads toward a goal, if we can be sure of this goal, and if this goal is great enough to justify the effort of the journey. The promise of Christ is not only a reality that we await, but a real presence. (Benedict XVI)

resurrection scene.jpg

We speak about how things ought to be or what is not going well and "we do not start from the affirmation that Christ has won the victory." To say that Christ has won, that Christ has risen, signifies that the meaning of my life and of the world is present, already present, and time is the profound and mysterious working of its manifestation. (Luigi Giussani)

Easter springs anew

| | Comments (0)

resurrection icon.jpg

Let Him Easter in us,

Be a dayspring to the dimness of us,

Be a crimson-cresseted east.


Gerard Manley Hopkins, S.J.

The Wreck of the Deutschland

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.



Humanities Blog Directory

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Easter, Ascension & Pentecost category from May 2009.

Easter, Ascension & Pentecost: April 2009 is the previous archive.

Easter, Ascension & Pentecost: April 2010 is the next archive.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.