Fourth Sunday After Easter Saint Kevin’s, Harrington Street 18 May 2014
The Gift Above All Gifts
Already today, the sacred liturgy begins to prepare our souls for the Gift above all gifts: the outpouring of the Holy Ghost at Pentecost. Thus does Saint James tell us in the Epistle that, « Every best gift, and every perfect gift, is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no change, nor shadow of alteration » (James 1:17).
The Holy Ghost Poured out Upon the Church
What are these best and perfect gifts if not the seven gifts of the Holy Ghost: wisdom, understanding, counsel, knowledge, fortitude, piety, and fear of the Lord? And above all these gifts there is the Giver Himself, the Giver who, in an excess of love, makes Himself the Gift. Just as the Father, out of love, sent His only–begotten Son into the world, so too do the Father and the Son send the Holy Ghost upon the Church to make her the joyful mother of many children, the mother of a people of saints
The festival of the Ascension will soon be upon us and, then, after persevering nine days in prayer, together with Our Lady and the Apostles in the Cenacle, we will find ourselves all illumined and set ablaze by the Divine Fire of Love, the Paraclete, the Spirit of Truth.
A Great Yearning for God
Today, even as we gaze upon the Face of the Risen Christ, even as we contemplate His glorious wounds, and listen to the sound of His voice, the Church is inviting us to make ready for the Other Paraclete, the Other Comforter, the Divine Spirit whom He will send to prolong His work and manifest His presence until the end of time. The Church is saying, « Begin now to open your hearts, begin to desire with an immense desire, for your capacity to receive the Gift will be proportionate to your desire. Let everything in you become a great yearning for God. Surrender yourselves to the Giver and to the Gift. »
Ubi Vera Sunt Gaudia
Wherever the Holy Ghost is at work, His gentle and compelling influence in souls produces a unity and a peace that the world can neither produce nor give. The Collect describes the Church as a people of one mind and one heart, loving one thing only, seeking one thing only, cleaving to one thing only — in the midst of the world and all its passing fashions. The Church is the body of those who, united to Christ the Head, « seek the things that are above; where Christ is sitting at the right hand of God » (Colossians 3:1). The Church is the mother of a new family, generated by the Holy Ghost, a people who « mind the things that are above, not the things that are upon the earth ». The more we identify with our mother the Church, and with the sentiments and movements of the heart of her Head and Bridegroom, Jesus Christ, revealed in the sacred liturgy, the more securely will our hearts be anchored, as the Collect says, ubi vera sunt gaudia, « there where true joys are found ».
Invisibly Radiating Joy
If a monastery is anything at all, it is a place ubi vera sunt gaudia, « where true joys are to be found ». These joys are not purchased cheaply, they come to us wrapped in a circle of thorns: the sign of our communion with Christ in His Passion. This makes them all the more precious and all the more worth possessing. The joy of a monastery is not something kept under lock and key; it is not bottled up and distributed begrudgingly to a select few. The joy of a monastery renews the Church from within. It is like the fragrance of a precious ointment filling the whole house. The health of the Church in any nation is directly proportionate to, and can be measured by, the Catholic faithful’s support of the contemplative monastic life which, although hidden, invisibly radiates a joy that the world cannot take away.
It is for this reason that I have come to you today. I will be speaking in the hall immediately after Holy Mass. I will telling you about a place ubi vera sunt gaudia — where true joys are found — and that place is my own fledgling monastery: Silverstream Priory in County Meath. My community are with me to meet you, to speak with you, to answer your questions. I will be asking for your help, and I am confident that you will give it. We have urgent, pressing needs. Please give me a few moments of your Sunday, the Day of the Lord. And we, for our part, will pray that your homes too will become places ubi vera sunt gaudia, where true joys are found.