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The feast of the Ascension of our Lord is a forgotten feast. “Catholic” Union members will walk off the job for money because their Union bosses want a raise for themselves, but they will not walk off the job to keep their relationship with God. Catholics scandalously will call in sick to indulge their vices, but they won’t announce they will not be at work because they must attend Mass. Mohammedans put Catholics to shame, because, for a diabolical deception, they will demand to be able to stop work and obtain the right, while lukewarm Catholics are known to just say Lord, Lord—but their hearts are far from God. Yes, the Conciliar Church has told their members here in the United States, where everyone is either a theoretical atheist or practical atheist (no such thing as a true atheist), that they now celebrate the Solemnity of the Ascension on Sunday and then talk about wanting to establish heaven on earth with their social gospel; but it doesn’t apply to the Roman Catholics being that the Ascension is one of the great mysteries of faith and sets the mind to why one was created: Heaven. Only faithful Catholics still hold the feast of the Ascension and observe it as a high Holy Day. Catholics celebrate the victorious entry of Christ into heaven. Catholics celebrate that heaven is now open and all the Saints who died before entry as the spoils of Christ victory over sin and death. Catholics celebrate because now they can look forward with confidence that they will enter heaven if they remain faithful to Christ as they promised in their baptismal vows. Good Friday saw man freed from sin as Christ paid the price (of course man still had to obtain forgiveness of sin from Christ—now through baptism and penance). Easter Sunday saw Christ conquer death and showed His promise that His followers would rise on the last day was true. But heaven was the destiny man was created for and being freed from sin, living immortal could not satisfy a man made only for heaven. To stifle the mind and heart created only to rest with God in heaven can only cause one to despair and in desperation seek some immediate gratification here on earth. The ancient serpent, the deceiver, knows this and, removing this feast from the eyes of mankind, they are left to only consider the pleasures of this world as their final end. May faithful Catholics not fall into the same trap and, ignoring the work of redemption, ignoring the Heart of Christ that triumphs in ascending to heaven, rejecting the call of Holy Mother Church to her children to raise our eyes to that which, in her solicitude, she wants us to obtain: Heaven. For Catholics who do not have the blessing of Holy Mass because there is no priest to celebrate, it is still a holy day and time must be given to reflect upon this mystery of our faith—and you will be remembered at Mass here in Las Vegas.
As always, enjoy the readings and commentaries provided for your benefit. —The Editor
WHAT IS THE SACRAMENT OF CONFIRMATION?
by Rev. Courtney Edward Krier
The Coming of the Holy Ghost on Pentecost
With the Ascension of Christ, the Acts of the Apostles describe the Apostles waiting for the promise, but not alone:
Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount that is called Olivet, which is nigh Jerusalem, within a sabbath day’s journey. And when they were come in, they went up into an upper room, where abode Peter and John, James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James of Alpheus, and Simon Zelotes, and Jude the brother of James. All these were persevering with one mind in prayer with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren. . . . now the number of persons together was about an hundred and twenty. (Acts 1:12-14, 15)
This first Novena, that is, the nine days of prayer waiting for the promise of the Holy Ghost, was concluded on the Feast of Pentecost. The Feast of Pentecost, given the Greek name from that of the Jewish feast of weeks as one reads in the Septuagint already in the book of Tobias: Now when I was come home again, and my wife Anna was restored unto me, with my son Tobias, in the feast of Pentecost, which is the holy feast of the seven weeks (ἐν τῇ πεντηκοστῇ ἑορτῇ, ἥ ἐστιν ἁγία ἑπτὰ ἑβδομάδων), there was a good dinner prepared me, in the which I sat down to eat. (Tob. 2:1, from Septuagint) It is used again in the Second book of Macchabees: And after Pentecost they marched against Gorgias the governor of Idumea. (2 Mach.12:32) It was the feast of harvest of the firstfruits (cf. Exod. 23:16; Num. 28:26), also known by the Hebrews as the feast of weeks: Thou shalt keep the feast of weeks with the firstfruits of the corn of thy wheat harvest, and the feast when the time of the year returneth that all things are laid in. (Exodus 34:22) Moses describes the Feast in Deuteronomy as follows:
And thou shalt celebrate the festival of weeks to the Lord thy God, a voluntary oblation of thy hand, which thou shalt offer according to the blessing of the Lord thy God. And thou shalt feast before the Lord thy God, thou, and thy son, and thy daughter, and thy manservant, and thy maidservant, and the Levite that is within thy gates, and the stranger and the fatherless, and the widow, who abide with you: in the place which the Lord thy God shall choose, that his name may dwell there: And thou shalt remember that thou wast a servant in Egypt: and thou shalt keep and do the things that are commanded. (Deut. 16:10-12)
Again, in Leviticus:
Speak to the children of Israel, and thou shalt say to them: When you shall have entered into the land which I will give you, and shall reap your corn, you shall bring sheaves of ears, the firstfruits of your harvest to the priest: Who shall lift up the sheaf before the Lord, the next day after the sabbath, that it may be acceptable for you, and shall sanctify it. And on the same day that the sheaf is consecrated, a lamb without blemish of the first year shall be killed for a holocaust of the Lord. And the libations shall be offered with it, two tenths of flour tempered with oil for a burnt offering of the Lord, and a most sweet odour: libations also of wine, the fourth part of a hin. You shall not eat either bread, or parched corn, or frumenty of the harvest, until the day that you shall offer thereof to your God. It is a precept for ever throughout your generations, and all your dwellings. You shall count therefore from the morrow after the sabbath, wherein you offered the sheaf of the firstfruits, seven full weeks. Even unto the morrow after the seventh week be expired, that is to say, fifty days, and so you shall offer a new sacrifice to the Lord. (Leviticus 23:11-16).
The Feast of Pentecost was one of the three feasts that every Hebrew male was to go to Jerusalem and celebrate: Passover, Pentecost and Tabernacles: That every day an offering might be made on it according to the ordinance of Moses, in the sabbaths, and on the new moons, and on the festival days three times a year, that is to say, in the feast of unleavened bread, and in the feast of weeks, and in the feast of tabernacles. (2 Para. 8:13) The requirement to make the pilgrimage was why there was a great multitude gathered in Jerusalem of devout Jews from all parts of the world. (Cf. Acts 2:5)
Saints Augustine, Jerome and Leo also point out that it was also the day when Moses received the Law from God on Mount Sinai, as is found in Exodus:
In the third month of the departure of Israel out of the land of Egypt, on this day they came into the wilderness of Sinai: For departing out of Raphidim, and coming to the desert of Sinai, they camped in the same place, and there Israel pitched their tents over against the mountain. And Moses went up to God: and the Lord called unto him from the mountain, and said: Thus shalt thou say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel: You have seen what I have done to the Egyptians, how I have carried you upon the wings of eagles, and have taken you to myself. If therefore you will hear my voice, and keep my covenant, you shall be my peculiar possession above all people: for all the earth is mine. (Exod. 19:1-5)
Even more so, they point out that the scene described by Moses of God descending on Mount Sinai in Exodus is the same as that described by the descent of the Holy Ghost upon Mount Sion:
And now the third day was come, and the morning appeared: and behold thunders began to be heard, and lightning to flash, and a very thick cloud to cover the mount, and the noise of the trumpet sounded exceeding loud, and the people that was in the camp, feared. And when Moses had brought them forth to meet God from the place of the camp, they stood at the bottom of the mount. And all mount Sinai was on a smoke: because the Lord was come down upon it in fire, and the smoke arose from it as out of a furnace: and all the mount was terrible. And the sound of the trumpet grew by degrees louder and louder, and was drawn out to a greater length: Moses spoke, and God answered him. And the Lord came down upon mount Sinai, in the very top of the mount, and he called Moses unto the top thereof. (Ibid. 19:16-20)
In the Acts of the Apostles, the descent of the Holy Ghost is described: 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. . . (Acts 2:2-3)
On Mount Sinai God gave the Law over the flesh to the Israelites, on Mount Sion God gave the Law of the Spirit to the whole world. Saint Jerome writes:
On the third day the Lord descended upon the mount: in which was lightning, thunder, clouds, noise, and trumpets terrifying the hearts of mortals. Moses was speaking and the Lord was responding to him. Let us compute the numbers, and we find fifty days from the departure of Israel from Egypt to when the Law was given atop Mount Sinai. Whence also is celebrated the solemnity of Pentecost [by the Hebrews], and later [the Christians] with the . . . descent of the Holy Ghost. (St. Jerome, Epist., lxxviii, 12, P.L., XLII, 707)
Jerome goes on to say that everything was explained on how the Hebrews were to worship God, the fabric of the tabernacle, what are the various sacrifices, which diversity of vases, the vestments of the high priest, the priesthood, the ceremonies of the Levites. (ibid.) As Moses received then such details, so also the Apostles received the same knowledge concerning the constitution of the Church and the Sacraments with the descent of the Holy Ghost. Saint Augustine instructs Faustus about Pentecost in these words:
The Pentecost, too, we observe, that is, the fiftieth day from the passion and resurrection of the Lord, for on that day He sent to us the Holy Paraclete whom He had promised; as was prefigured in the Jewish passover, for on the fiftieth day after the slaying of the lamb, Moses on the mount received the law written with the finger of God. Exodus xix.-xxxi If you read the Gospel, you will see that the Spirit is there called the finger of God. Luke 11:8 Remarkable events which happened on certain days are annually commemorated in the Church, that the recurrence of this festival may preserve the recollection of things so important and salutary. If you ask, then, why we keep the passover, it is because Christ was then sacrificed for us. If you ask why we do not retain the Jewish ceremonies, it is because they prefigured future realities which we commemorate as past; and the difference between the future and the past is seen in the different words we use for them. (St. Augustine, Reply to Faustus XXXII.12)
And Pope Saint Leo takes up the same understanding:
We have no uncertainty as to the reverence due to this day, made sacred by the Holy Spirit in the surpassing miracle of the gift of Himself For this is the tenth day that has shone upon us from that on which the Lord mounted above the heaven of heavens (Ps. lxvii. 34), to sit at the right hand of God the Father, and the fiftieth from His Resurrection in Whom the day begins. And it holds within it great mysteries which relate both to the Old and the New Dispensations, wherein it is most clearly revealed to us, that grace was foretold by the law, and that the law is made perfect through grace. For as of old on the fiftieth day after the Sacrifice of the Lamb, the Law was given on Mount Sinai to the Hebrew people, now delivered from the Egyptians, so, after the Passion of Christ, in which the True Lamb of God was slain, on the fiftieth day after His Resurrection, the Holy Spirit descended upon the Apostles and upon the people who believed (Acts ii. 3); so that an earnest Christian might know beyond any uncertainty, that the sacred rites of the Old Testament had served as foundations for the Gospel, and that by this same Spirit was the Second Covenant laid down, by Whom the first had been established. (St. Leo, “De Pent. Serm.”, I, P.L., LIV, 400),
It should be mentioned briefly, that Pentecost was called a solemn assembly and a closing festival (cf. Souvay, CE) which is retained both by the solemnity and importance of the Feast and by closing the Paschal Season with Pentecost. Also, in as much as it is a closing festival and a harvest festival, it has also been noted by some to be when Christ returns:
The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood: before the great and dreadful day of the Lord doth come. . . .Put ye in the sickles, for the harvest is ripe: come and go down, for the press is full, the fats run over: for their wickedness is multiplied. Nations, nations in the valley of destruction: for the day of the Lord is near in the valley of destruction. (Joel 2:31, 3:13-14)
Suffer both to grow until the harvest, and in the time of the harvest I will say to the reapers: Gather up first the cockle, and bind it into bundles to burn, but the wheat gather ye into my barn. . . But the harvest is the end of the world. And the reapers are the angels. (Matt. 13:30, 39)
Do you not say, There are yet four months, and then the harvest cometh? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes, and see the countries; for they are white already to harvest. (John 4:35)
And another angel came out from the temple crying with a loud voice to him that sat upon the cloud: Thrust in thy sickle, and reap, because the hour is come to reap: for the harvest of the earth is ripe. (Apoc. 14:15)
(To be continued)
Dr. Pius Parsch
The Church’s Year of Grace (1953)
Seldom during the year does a week occur so rich in liturgy. Five times the faithful gather around the altar of Sacrifice, viz., on Sunday, on the three Rogation days, and on the feast of the Ascension, a holy day of obligation. Two words, rogation and ascension, would serve to synthesize all that is proper to the coming week. And the nexus between these two topics? Originally, no intentional relationship existed between the Rogation days and Christ’s ascension; nevertheless, it is not difficult to discover one. Christ is ready to begin His return journey to heaven. Before He leaves we hasten to give Him our problems and petitions that He may take them along to His everlasting home and place them at the feet of His heavenly Father.
Here we have the reason why this Sunday is not only a day of preparation for the Lord’s journey, but likewise one of petition. The Church takes this opportunity to instill in us deepest trust in the prayer of petition. On the following three Rogation days we will place in Christ’s hands all our needs and desires for the months to come. Most fervently we will pray for our corporal and spiritual wants, for our relatives, our nation, and for all Christendom. Then on Thursday we will joyfully escort our Lord to heaven.
Saturday evening. The spirit of Rogation week finds its first expression in the Magnificat antiphon, “Hitherto you have not asked anything in My Name. Ask, and you shall receive, alleluia.”
FIFTH SUNDAY AFTER EASTER
Ask, and you shall receive
The day’s major antiphons clearly show the thoughts uppermost in the mind of Mother Church. “Hitherto you have not asked anything in My Name. Ask, and you shall receive, alleluia” (Ben. Ant.). “Ask, and you shall receive, that your joy may be full; for the Father Himself loves you because you have loved Me, and have believed, alleluia” (Magn. Ant.).
- Holy Mass (Vocem jucunditatis). The nearer we approach the moment of Christ’s departure, the more resounding our alleluias. (The Church does not occupy herself with sentimental mourning over Christ’s departure.) “Proclaim this with a joyous shout that all may hear: Alleluia! Announce to the ends of the earth: The Lord has delivered His people, alleluia, alleluia”(Intr.). Psalm 65, the Canticum Resurrectionis, follows the Introit antiphon; it is our thanksgiving hymn to God for having “delivered His people.”
In the Oration holy Mother Church makes two important requests; with God’s help may we realize more fully the glory of Christianity, and then live accordingly. For it is this that constitutes the mature Christian, viz., genuine faith and daily life that harmonizes with it. Frequently a corresponding division of subject matter may be sensed in the Epistle and Gospel. The latter usually emphasizes dogma and mystery, the former morality and action. Note, for instance, how practical today’s Epistle is, how it stresses virtuous living. As a matter of fact the Epistles have been exceptional from this viewpoint since the third Sunday after Easter. The apostle James, who gave us so many worthwhile and practical points during the past week, instructs us again today. One who had thick and hard callouses on his knees from long hours in prayer is certainly worthy and competent to speak on Rogation Sunday. He offers examples for one of the petitions made in the Collect, viz, to curb the tongue; to practice mercy; to keep oneself unspotted from the world.
The Alleluia chant resembles an echo to the Epistle. For in the measure that we accept its message we become miniature suns, reflecting Christ’s glory as He rises before us on the Easter horizon. The second versicle is particularly beautiful:
I came forth from the Father
and have come into the world.
Again I leave the world
and go to the Father.
In these four brief sentences Christ’s whole life is unfurled before us. They resemble four pillars upon which rest the work of our redemption. As you pray these words, apply them to yourself; it is a prayer that could well be repeated daily. In the Gospel Christ assures us that requests made in His Name will always be heard. This promise constitutes the Sunday’s “glad tidings,” and occasioned the three Rogation days that follow. Continuing His discourse Jesus reveals two great blessings of the Messianic era, viz., God will act as a loving Father to us His children; the Holy Ghost will manifest the truth to souls directly, not by way of proverbs. It is through the Church’s cult that these two blessings come to men.
How beautifully Christ characterizes the liturgy in today’s Gospel! On our part it means speaking to the Father in Jesus’ Name; on God’s part it means bestowing truth and grace. The above four lines from our Savior’s lips ring out like a final summary of His whole life’s work on the eve of His ascension. Before departing He tells us emphatically: This was My Mission.
Psalm 65 serves as the Offertory chant. We neophytes are grateful that “He gave life to my soul” and freed it from the snares of the devil. In the Secret we pray that “the Eucharistic service may enable us to reach heavenly glory”, i.e., help us follow Christ to heaven. There is an exceptionally joyous ring to the Communion chant; it can readily be used as a joyful hymn in praise of redemption, a redemption that now in the Eucharist produces its fruits. The Postcommunion declares that those “who have been nourished at the heavenly banquet table” are best /equipped to pray and plead before God; their prayers have been purified, and purified prayers are always answered.
The day’s leading thoughts find expression in the illustration. Today Mother Church (the “Orante”) exhorts us to place our petitions in the hands of the departing Savior.Kyrie, eleison is her constant plea, with it she begins each Mass; and during the coming Rogation days it will also be repeated in the Litany. The Kyrie is the Church’s exile song on earth; in heaven she will sing Alleluia. The light of the risen Sun (Christ) beams down upon the praying Church (Allel. verse). The flowers, sheaves, and tendrils point to the blessings of God that should come down on field and garden. The four corner vignettes beautifully outline the life of Christ. The triangle and tetragrammaton (Yahweh) represent the Blessed Trinity; the Redeemer proceeded from the Father and was sent into the world by the Blessed Trinity. “And came into this world,” (bottom left); poor and weak the Son of God was born at Bethlehem. “Again I leave the world,” Christ said at the Last Supper; but He was thinking primarily of His death on the Cross (lower right). “And go to the Father”; now He is preparing the return journey to heaven where the crown of triumph is awaiting Him (upper right).
- Divine Office.During this week the Scripture Readings are taken from St. Peter’s two epistles. These encyclicals of the first Pope should be read with greatest reverence. The style may be somewhat difficult, but the author’s enthusiasm and fervor carry one along. Particularly noteworthy is the stress the prince of the apostles lays upon our participation in Christ’s royal priesthood. Today’s first nocturn covers the first chapter of the apostle’s letter.
In the lessons of the second nocturn St. Ambrose discourses on faith in Christ’s resurrection. Arguing as does St. Paul, he proves that our bodies will rise again because Christ rose from the dead (1 Cor. 15): “Christ is the first-born of the dead, the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep. Now there is no essential difference between the first-fruits and the rest of the crop; to obtain divine blessing upon the latter the former are brought as offerings to God. They constitute a sacred gift representing the whole crop, and to a certain extent a kind of sacrificial oblation from redeemed nature.
“Now Christ is the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep; but as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made to live. Therefore, as the first-fruits of death were in Adam, the firstfruits of the resurrection are in Christ.
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