Paschaltide 2008: May 2008 Archives


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A Pentecost Meditation

Today the Spirit of the Lord has invaded the cosmos and filled it!
Life spills out of the Cenacle
and, like a torrent of wine,
courses through the streets of Jerusalem.
God arises and His enemies are scattered;
those that hate Him flee before his face,
and those that love Him sing: Alleluia!

Today He who came down to see Babel’s tower
and confused the speech of the proud
visits the Upper Room.
He unties the tongues of the humble
and unites into one holy people those long divided by sin.
Amazed at what she sees and hears,
the Church intones her birthday song: Alleluia!

Today He who on Sinai descended in fire,
causing rocks to quake and peaks to pale,
descends upon Jerusalem;
tongues of fire dance over the heads of those
who, cloistered in the Cenacle, waited to meet their God
and at His coming, they cry out: Alleluia.

Today the valley of dry bones
begins to stir, to rattle, and to reverberate.
Behold, I will cause the Spirit to enter you,
and you shall live:
and they lived and stood upon their feet,
an exceeding great host
singing: Alleluia!

Today the Cenacle sealed like tomb
opens, a joyful Mother’s fruitful womb.
None was ever born of the Spirit
who did not take his birth from her,
and each, claiming from her the springs of his life,
calls her forever glorious, repeating: Alleluia!

Today the Spirit is poured out in superabundance;
today sons and daughters prophesy;
today old men dream dreams and young men see visions;
today menservants and maidservants
join the choir to chant with one many-tongued voice: Alleluia!

Today the Virgin whom the Spirit covered with His shadow
is wrapped in Love and crowned in flame.
Today the Woman who interceded at Cana
tastes New Wine, for the Hour has come.
Today the Mother who stood watching by the Tree
remembers the stream of water and of blood
and filled with sweetness, cries: Alleluia!
Today the Spirit helps us in our weakness
and we who do not know to pray as we ought,
pray in a way that is wonderful and new;
for now the Spirit Himself intercedes for us
with sighs too deep for words.
In the valley of the shadow of death
there rises the canticle of life: Alleluia!

Quaesivi Vultum Tuum

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Seventh Sunday of Paschaltide
Sunday of the Holy Face of Christ

The Most Holy Face of Christ is celebrated on various days of the liturgical year. In the tradition of Carmel, especially in France, the feast of the Transfiguration, August 6th, is marked by loving attention to the Face of Christ. Mother Maria-Pierina De Micheli and the Servant of God Abbot Ildebrando Gregori, O.S.B. promoted the feast of the Holy Face on Shrove Tuesday.

The Congregation of the Benedictines of Jesus Crucified, founded by Mother Marie des Douleurs in 1930, has the custom of turning to the Holy Face in a special way on the Sunday after the Ascension of the Lord. The choice was motivated by the Introit of the Mass:

“Listen to my voice, Lord, when I cry to Thee, alleluia.
True to my heart’s promise I have eyes only for Thy Face;
I seek Thy Face, O Lord!
Turn not Thy Face away from me, alleluia, alleluia” (Ps 26: 7-9).

One of the unfortunate consequences of the lamentable transfer (in some places) of Ascension Thursday to the following Sunday is the loss of the magnificent Proper texts of the Sunday after the Ascension, both for the Mass and the Divine Office . . . and the loss of a Sunday that leaves us with the gaze of our souls riveted to the Face of the Beloved.

A Longing to See Him Again

The soon to be beatified Cardinal Newman wrote somewhere that the Ascension of the Lord is “at once a source of sorrow, because it involves His absence; and of joy, because it involves His presence.” For Our Blessed Lady and the Apostles, standing on the Mount of Olives with their eyes riveted to the heavens, the Ascension was the last glimpse of the Face of Christ on earth. The disappearance of the beloved Face of Christ leaves in the heart of the Church a longing to see Him again, a burning desire for His return.

I Seek Thy Face

This is the reason for Exaudi, Domine, today’s incomparable Introit: “Listen to my voice, Lord, when I cry to Thee, alleluia. True to my heart’s promise I have eyes only for Thy Face; I seek Thy Face, O Lord! Turn not Thy Face away from me, alleluia, alleluia” (Ps 26: 7-9). The desire to contemplate the Face of Christ becomes a persistent longing; this is the experience of all the saints. The vitality of one’s interior life can be measured by the intensity of one’s desire to see the Face of Christ.

John Paul II

Eight years ago in Novo Millennio Ineunte, the Servant of God Pope John Paul II placed the new millennium under the radiant sign of the Face of Christ. Then again, at the beginning of the Year of the Eucharist, the year of his death, Pope John Paul II again directed our eyes to the Face of Christ concealed and revealed in the Sacrament of the Eucharist. The teaching of Pope John Paul II confirms, in a striking way, the spiritual patrimony left by Mother Marie des Douleurs to the Congregation she founded. “Devotion to the Holy Face,” she wrote, “is the particular aspect by which the Holy Spirit makes us learn again all that we need know to become the saints that Jesus desires. This devotion is of such central importance and so vital for us that we cannot live without it.”

The Holy Spirit

I am touched by the connection Mother Marie des Douleurs makes between the Holy Spirit and the Face of Christ. “Devotion to the Holy Face is the particular aspect by which the Holy Spirit makes us learn again all that we need know to become the saints that Jesus desires.” Recall the promise of Our Lord before His Passion: “He who is to befriend you, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send on my account, will in His turn make everything plain, and recall to your minds everything I have said you” (Jn 14:26). “It will be for Him, the truth-giving Spirit, when He comes, to guide you into all truth” (Jn 16:13).

The Holy Spirit teaches souls by referring them to the adorable Face of Jesus. The Sacred Scriptures themselves are illumined by the Holy Spirit who so opens our eyes that we perceive the Face of the Bridegroom shining through the text. “Now,” says the Bride of the Canticle, “He is looking in through each window in turn, peering through every chink” (Ct 2:9).

The Pentecost Novena

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We began the Solemn Pentecost Novena this morning at the Monastery of the Glorious Cross by singing the Veni, Creator Spiritus at the end of Holy Mass. Today, being the First Friday of the month, was also a day of Eucharistic adoration.

The day was made even more special by eight year old Marcelo's First Confession. After the Gospel Marcelo donned the white garment recalling his Baptism, and received a lighted candle. Marcelo participates in the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, a Montessori inspired preparation for the sacraments, at Saint Mary's Church in New Haven, Connecticut. Marcelo will be receiving his First Holy Communion on Sunday.

Creator Spirit! Pow'r Divine!
Come! visit all the souls of thine;
With Heav'n-descending grace pervade
The breasts which Thou Thyself hast made.

Thou who art named the Paraclete!
Rich gift from God's own mercy seat!
O Fount of Life, and Fire of Love!
Soul cleansing Unction from above!

Thou in thy Sevenfold Glories bright!
Thou Finger of God's Hand of Might!
Who dost o'er lips the timely store
Of speech, the Father's promise pour!

Thy light to every sense impart;
Diffuse thy love through every heart;
The weakness of our mortal flesh
With thy unfailing strength refresh.

Drive far away th'assailing foe,
And all thy holy peace bestow;
So thou be our preventing Guide,
No mischief can our steps betide.

Through Thee may we the Father learn,
And know the Ever-Blessed Son;
Sweet Spirit! so of Both receive,
Thee! as we evermore believe.

Praise to the Father, as is meet,
The Son and Holy Paraclete!
So may the Son to every heart,
The Holy Spirit's grace impart. Amen.

About Dom Mark

Dom Mark Daniel Kirby is Conventual Prior of Silverstream Priory in Stamullen, County Meath, Ireland. The ecclesial mandate of his Benedictine community is the adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar in a spirit of reparation, and in intercession for the sanctification of priests.

Donations for Silverstream Priory