INSTRUCTION FOR THE GREAT FESTIVAL OF PENTECOST
by Leonard Goffine, 1871
What festival is this?
It is the day on which the Holy Ghost descended visibly, in the form of fiery tongues, upon the apostles and disciples, who with Mary, the Mother of Jesus, were assembled together in prayer in a house at Jerusalem. (Acts ii.)
Why is this day called Pentecost?
The word "Pentecost" is taken from the Greek, and signifies fifty, and, as St. Jerome explains it, this day was the last of the fifty days, commencing with Easter, which the early Christians celebrated as days of rejoicing in the resurrection of the Lord.
Why is this day observed so solemnly?
Because on this day, the Holy Ghost having descended upon the apostles, the law of grace, of purification from sin, and the sanctification of mankind, was for the first time announced to the world; because on this day the apostles, being filled with the Holy Ghost, commenced the work of purifying and sanctifying mankind, by the baptism of three thousand persons who were converted by the sermon of St. Peter; and because on this day the Church of Jesus stepped visibly as a community into this world, and publicly professed her faith in her crucified Saviour.
Why did the Holy Ghost come upon the Jews' Pentecost?
Because on their Pentecost the Jews celebrated the anniversary of the giving of the law on Mount Sinai, and God would show by sending the Holy Ghost on this day, that the Old Law had ceased and the New Law commenced. God also chose this time, that the Jews who on this day gathered from all countries at Jerusalem to celebrate the Pentecost, might be witnesses of the miracle, and hear the New Law announced by the apostles.
Why on the vigil of Pentecost is the baptismal font blessed, as on Holy Saturday?
Because the Holy Ghost is the Author of all sanctity and the Fountain of baptismal grace, and because in the Acts (i. 5.) the descent of the Holy Ghost is itself called a baptism.
In the Introit of Mass the Church sings in joy at the descent of the Holy Ghost: The Spirit of the Lord hath filled the whole earth, Allel.: and the whole universe hath heard his voice, Allel. Allel. (Wisd. i. 7.) Let God arise, and His enemies be dispersed: let them who hate Him, fly before His face. (Ps. 67.) Glory, &c.
PRAYER OF THE CHURCH. O God, who, by the light of the Holy Ghost, didst this day instruct the hearts of the faithful: grant, by the direction of the same Holy Spirit, that we may relish what is right, and always enjoy His consolation. Through--in the unity of the same, &c.
LESSON. (Acts ii. 1 - 11.)When the days of Pentecost were accomplished, they were all together in one place: and suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a mighty wind coming, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them parted tongues as it were of fire, and it sat upon every one of them: and they were all filled with the Holy Chost, and they began to speak with divers tongues according as the Holy Ghost gave them to speak. Now there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men out of every nation under heaven. And when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded in mind, because that every man heard them speak in his own tongue. And they were all amazed and wondered, saying: Behold, 'are not all these, that speak, Galileans, and how have we heard, every man our own tongue wherein we were born? Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and inhabitants of Mesopotamia, Judea, and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia, and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Lybia about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews also and Proselytes, Cretes and Arabians: we have heard them speak in our own tongues the wonderful works of God.
Why did the Holy Ghost come upon the apostles in the form of fiery tongues?
To show that the Holy Ghost governs the tongues of the apostles and preachers when announcing the word of God; to inflame their hearts and the hearts of the faithful with the love of God and of their neighbor.
Why did the Holy Ghost appear amid the rushing as of a mighty wind?
To direct the attention of the people to the coming descent of the Holy Ghost, and to call them together to hear the sermon of the Apostle Peter.
What special effects did the Holy Ghost produce in the apostles?
He freed them from all doubt and fear; gave them His light for the perfect knowledge of truth; inflamed their hearts with the most ardent love, and incited in them the fiery zeal for the propagation of the kingdom of God, strengthened them to bear all sufferings and persecutions (Acts v. 41.), and gave them the gift of speaking in various languages, and of discerning spirits.
GOSPEL. (John xiv. 23 - 31.) At That Time: Jesus said to his disciples: If any one love me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him, and will make our abode with him: he that loveth me not, keepeth not my words. And the word which you have heard, is not mine: but the Father's who sent me. These things have I spoken to you, abiding with you. But the Paraclete, the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring all things to your mind, whatsoever I shall have said to you. Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you: not as the world giveth, do I give unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, nor let it be afraid. You have heard that I have said to you: I go away and I come again to you. If you loved me, you would indeed be glad, because I go to the Father: for the Father is greater than I. And now I have told you before it come to pass: that when it shall come to pass, you may believe. I will not now speak many things with you. For the prince of this world cometh, and in me he hath not any thing. But that the world may know that I love the Father: and as the Father hath given me commandment, so do I.
Why is the Holy Ghost expressly called "Holy", since this attribute is due to each of the divine persons?
Because He is the Author of inward sanctity and of all supernatural gifts and graces, and therefore to Him is specially ascribed the work of man's sanctification.
What does the Holy Ghost effect in men?
He so sanctifies them that they learn the truths of faith and salvation, and the beauty of virtue; He moves them to the desire of the good, and strengthens them in its performance, and finally, He gives them His fruits and gifts.
What are the gifts of the Holy Ghost?
According to the Prophet Isaias they are seven: 1. The gift of wisdom, which enables us to know God rightly, to esteem heavenly beyond temporal advantages, and to have taste and joy only for divine things. 2. The gift of understanding, by which we know and understand that which is proposed to us to believe; children and adults should pray fervently for this gift, especially before sermons, and instructions in the catechism. 3. The gift of counsel, which gives us the knowledge necessary to direct ourselves and others in uncertain matters, a gift especially necessary for superiors, for those about choosing their state of life, and for married people who live unhappily, and do not know how to help themselves. 4. The gift of fortitude, which strengthens us to endure and courageously overcome all adversities and persecutions for virtue's sake. 5. The gift of know ledge, by which we know ourselves, our duties, and how to fulfil them in a manner pleasing to God. 6. The gift of piety, which induces us to have God in view in all our actions, and our hearts inclined hy love to His service. 7. The gift of the fear of the Lord, by which we not only fear the just punishment, but even His displeasure at every sin, more than all other things in the world. What are the fruits of the Holy Ghost?
As St. Paul (Gal. v. 22-23.) enumerates them, they are twelve: 1. Charity. 2. Joy. 3. Peace. 4. Patience. 5. Benignity. 6. Goodness. 7. Longanimity. 8. Mildness. 9. Faith. 10. Modesty. 11. Continency. 12. Chastity. To obtain these fruits as well as the gifts of the Holy Ghost, we should daily say the prayer: "Come, O Holy Ghost, &c."
Why does Christ say: The Father is greater than I?
As Christ was at the same time God-and Man, the Father was certainly greater than the Man Christ, but Christ as God is in all things equal to His Father.
Why does Christ say: I will not now speak many things with you?
Christ spoke these words shortly before His passion, and He wished by them to say, that the time was near at hand when Satan, by his instruments, the wicked Jews, would put Him to death, not because Satan had this power over Him, but because He Himself wished to die in obedience to His Father.