Category Archives: Easter, Ascension & Pentecost


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“The Antiphons of the Psalms … [remind]  us of the experience of the disciples in the Upper Room: ‘On the day of Pentecost they were all together in one place’ (Antiphon 1). ‘There appeared to the Apostles what seemed like tongues of fire, and the Holy Spirit came upon each of them’ (Antiphon 2).

I hope that the spirituality of Pentecost will spread in the Church as a renewed incentive to prayer, holiness, communion and proclamation.”

Blessed John Paul II
29 May 2004

Praying with the Pentecost sequence

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In the days that lead up to the great solemnity of Pentecost meditating on the sequence for Pentecost, “Veni Sancte Spiritus” (Come Holy Spirit), is appropriate. Take the text of the “Veni Sancte Spiritus” use it for your Lectio Divina up to Pentecost, and perhaps in days following.


For many people in the pew,  the Church’s use of the sequence 4 times a year jumps out of no where and it sinks into oblivion because it is infrequently spoken of in bulletins or in homilies. With rare exception priests sadly ignore the sequences. Today, the priest actually made the suggestion to pray with the Pentecost sequence, “Veni Sancte Spirtus”.


The sequence, as you know, is a poem of the Middle Ages that was composed for specific feasts of the Paschal Mystery, holy days and feasts of saints to draw our attention to the truth of the faith. It is the lex orandi tradition at its best. While not taken from the Bible, the sequence relates to us the major themes of sacred Scripture to which we need to give some attention. The sequence is sung after the second reading and right before the Alleluia verse (Gospel acclamation).

Here are but a few lines from “Veni Sancte Spiritus” to bring to prayer:

O most blessed Light fill the inmost heart of thy faithful.

Without your spirit, nothing is in man, nothing that is harmless.

Wash that which is sordid water that which is dry, heal that which is wounded.

Make flexible that which is rigid, warm that which is cold, rule that which is deviant.

The full text of the Pentecost sequence is noted here.


Ascension Sequence: Postquam hostem et inferna

Ascension LMonaco Antiphonary.jpgOne of my missions in life is to help restore the use of liturgical sequences and the observance of octaves. The Liturgy of the Church is not only and primarily the worship of the Triune God but it also passes down to us what we believe and teaches us how to live. Well, I am not unique in wanting the restoration of sequences and octaves as others have similar ambitions. Care to join the “restore the sequence” effort? My friend Friar Charles at A Minor Friar reminded me of this work and he gives needed encouragement

Many of the sequences were excised, really abolished, from the Missal in the years following the Council of Trent and they were further reduced in number with the Missal of Paul VI. The 16th century redaction of the sequences seems to be based on Protestant criticism of medieval exegesis of Scripture and poetry in the Liturgy (sound familiar?). The Missal of Pope Paul made too many things optional and gave too many options; as you know, when human beings make things optional they become proscribed. Sadly, sequences are not in the liturgical framework of priests, liturgists or liturgical musicians; they’re barely on the agenda of seminary courses in sacred Liturgy. Even the patrimony of the religious orders have no interest in liturgical poems of their venerable founders.

The Solemnity of the Ascension had a sequence –a liturgical poem set to music– but it was jettisoned in the revision of the missal written by Adam of St Victor in the 12th century (d. c. 1177). Some have said that Adam of St Victor was the greatest poet of the Middle Ages (Gueranger) and the greatest Latin poet ever (John M. Neale). This is quite a claim  of Digby S. Wrangham to make, but I’ll leave it to others to parse the distinctions. Wrangham’s collection of Adam’s texts is noteworthy.

Adam of St Victor’s text was translated into English by Digby S. Wrangham (which follows):

Postquam hostem et inferna                    Satan and the realms

Spoliavit, ad superna                               Having spoiled, to joys supernal
Christus redit
gaudia;                              Christ returneth back once more:
Angelorum ascendenti                            As His upward way
he wendeth,
Sicut olim descendenti                            As before, when he descendeth,
obsequia.                                  Angels set them to adore.

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Ascension of the Lord

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“He in fact came
to the world to bring men back to God, not on the level of ideas – like a
philosopher or master of wisdom – but really, as a shepherd who wants to lead
his sheep back to the fold . . . It is for us that he came down from Heaven,
and it is for us that he ascended there after making himself like men in all
things, humiliated to the point of death on the cross, and after touching the
abyss of the greatest separation from God”. 

“And what does man need more in
every age if not this: a solid anchoring for his existence? After the Ascension
the first disciples remained gathered together in the Cenacle around the Mother
of Jesus, in fervent expectation of the gift of the Holy Spirit, promised by
Jesus (cf. Acts 1:14)…. [this divine invitation is offered to us] “to remain
united together in prayer, to invoke the gift of the Holy Spirit. In fact, only
to those who ‘are born again from above,'”, that is, of the born of the Holy

Pope Benedict XVI, Ascension, 2008

Our hearts are burning within us

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“I saw the Lord ever before me, with him at my right hand I shall not be disturbed. Therefore my heart has been glad and my tongue has exulted; my flesh, too, will dwell in hope…”

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]
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