Tag Archives: Easter

Happy Pentecost

Pentecost arab icon.jpg

On May 9, 1897, Pope Leo XIII issued the first Encyclical Letter on the Holy Spirit. Of course from the days of the Acts of the Apostles the role of the Holy Spirit has been clearly taught.

Pope Leo XIII actually reminded the modern world of the question Saint Paul brought up in Acts 19:2 when he asked some disciples at Ephesus, “did you receive the Holy Spirit when you became believers?” They replied “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” Pope Leo XIII went on to remind pastors and those with care of souls that they “should remember that it is their duty to instruct their people more diligently and more fully about the Holy Spirit.”

Saint Benedict also clearly saw the importance of the Holy Spirit in his Rule for Monasteries. At the end of Chapter 7 on Humility, Saint Benedict wrote:

Having, therefore, ascended all these degrees of humility, the monk will presently arrive at that love of God, which being perfect, casts out fear (1 Jn 4:18). In virtue of this love all things which at first he observed not without fear, he will now begin to keep without any effort, and as it were, naturally by force of habit, no longer from the fear of hell, but from the love of Christ, from the very habit of good and the pleasure in virtue. May the Lord be pleased to manifest all this by His Holy Spirit in His laborer now cleansed from vice and sin.

In his Chapter 49 on Lent, Saint Benedict bids us: “During these days, therefore, let us add something to the usual amount of our service, special prayers, abstinence from food and drink, that each one offer to God “with the joy of the Holy Spirit” (1 Thes 1:6).

In his Encyclical on the Holy Spirit, Pope John Paul II referred to Saint Thomas Aquinas’ Summa Theologica when he said:

Man’s intimate relationship with God in the Holy Spirit also enables him to understand himself, his own humanity, in a new way. Thus that image and likeness of God which man is from his very beginning is fully realized.

Knowing Christ not according to flesh alone, but in spirit

This is the day which the Lord has made, let us exult and rejoice in it. Let us exult in the hope it brings, that we may see and rejoice in its light. Abraham exults that he might see the day of Christ and by this token he saw and rejoiced.

You too, if you keep watch daily at the doors of wisdom, steadfast at its threshold, if you stay awake through the night with Magdalen at the entrance of his tomb, if I am not mistaken you will experience with Mary how true are the words we read of the Wisdom which is Christ:

She is easily seen by those who love her and she is found by those who seek her. She anticipates those who desire her and shows herself to them first. He who, as soon as it is light keeps watch for her will not have to toil, for he will find her seated at his doors. (Wis. 6:13ff)

So did Christ, Wisdom himself, promise in the words: I love those who love me, and they who from early morning keep watch for me will find me. (Prov. 8:17) Mary found Jesus in the flesh. For this she was keeping watch. Over his tomb she had come to mount guard while it was still dark.

You, who no longer ought to know Jesus according to the flesh but according to the spirit, will be able to find him spiritually if you seek him with a like desire, if he finds you likewise vigilant in prayer.

Guerric of Igny
Liturgical Sermons
Third sermon for Easter

Low Sunday or Quasimodo Sunday or Dominica in albis depositis

The Second Sunday of Easter has many names, as noted
in the title of this post. In some places the theme of mercy is recognized drawing us into the Lord’s bountiful mercy: John Paul II recommended the title of Divine Mercy Sunday for this day, too. The most accurate title, however, for today, is “Quasimodo
Sunday” taken from the first two words of the entrance Antiphon at Mass
that speak especially to those baptized at the Easter Vigil: Quasi modo geniti infantes, rationabile, sine dolo lac concupiscite ut in eo
crescatis in salutem si gustastis quoniam dulcis Dominus
. (As newborn babes,
alleluia, desire the rational milk without guile, alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.
Rejoice to God our helper. Sing aloud to the God of Jacob (1 Peter 2:2).)


Sts Andrew & Thomas GLBernini.jpg

This
second Sunday following Easter is the day on which the newly baptized
officially put away their white robes, it is therefore known liturgically as
“Dominica in albis depositis” or the “Sunday of putting away the
albs.”

Today we also hear John 20: 19-31 proclaimed which focuses our
attention on the doubts of Saint Thomas at hearing the news of the risen
Christ.


In his book, The Liturgical Year, Dom Prosper Gueranger writes, “Our
risen Jesus gave an additional proof that he wished the Sunday to be,
henceforth, the privileged day. He reserved the second visit he intended to pay
to all his disciples for this the eighth day since his Resurrection. During the
previous days, he has left Thomas a prey to doubt; but to-day he shows himself
to this Apostle, as well as to the others, and obliges him, by irresistible
evidence, to lay aside his incredulity. Thus does our Saviour again honour the
Sunday. The Holy Ghost will come down from heaven upon this same day of the
week, making it the commencement of the Christian Church: Pentecost will
complete the glory of this favoured day.”

Christ’s resurrection changes everything


Christ's appearance RWeyden.jpg


After your descent into Hades, O Christ, and your
Resurrection from the dead, the disciples grieved over your departure. They returned to their occupations and attended to their nets and their boats; but
their fishing was in vain. You appeared to them since you are the Lord of all; you
commanded them to cast their nets on the right side. Immediately your word
became deed. They caught a great number of fish, and they found an unexpected
meal prepared for them on the shore; which they immediately ate. Now, make us
worthy to enjoy this meal with them in a spiritual manner, O Lord and Lover of
us all!

The poetic text above draws our attention to the fact that for the believer, that is, the person who is aware of his or her humanity and spiritual need, Christ is the answer …

Christ’s glorified body heals us of disbelief

Incredulity of Thomas.jpgLooking at Luke 24:38ff Christ says, “Why are you troubled, and doubts arise in your heart? Look at my hands and my feet, touch and see.”

Commenting on appearance of Christ in His glorified body, Saint Augustine of Hippo in Sermon 246 tells us that Christ wanted to offer evidence of His resurrection from the dead as a reality!  “Was He perhaps already ascended to the Father when He said: ‘Touch me and see’? He let His disciples touch Him, indeed, not only touch but feel, to provide a foundation for faith in the reality of His flesh, in reality of His body [ut fides fiat verae carnis veri corporis]. The well-foundedness of the reality had to be made obvious also through human touch [ut exhibibeatur etiam tactibus humanis solidatus veritatis]. Thus He let Himself be touched by the disciples.”

Later on Augustine asks about the women who were asked by the Lord not to touch Him because He had yet made the ascension, “What is this inconsistency? The men could not tocuh Him if not here on earth, while the women would be able to touch Him once He ascended to heaven? But what does touching mean if not believing? By faith we touch Christ. And it is better not to touch Him with faith than feel with the hand and not touch Him with faith.”

Augustine points us to the proof Christ offers: faith. “The scar of the wound on His flesh served to heal the wound of disbelief.” The Lord wanted to cure those who disbelieved.

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.
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