Sunday after the Ascension, May 28, 2017

Dominica post Ascensionem, May 28, 2017

The Church stands at this moment poised as on a fulcrum, between Easter and Pentecost. Not in the order of numerical days, but as far as liturgical time is concerned—which is far surpasses in power and importance the purely natural cycle of the year.

As one contemporary theologian puts it, “For not in vain did God send his Word into the world, but rather, in order to soak the earth like rain and snow so that it gives bread to the hungry.”[1] But now Christ is ascended: the Paschal Candle is extinguished. What now?

Of course the hunger expressed here is spiritual. Each of us hunger, by way of our sins, faults, and weaknesses; by way of our disappointments, by way of everything that wounds and hampers us, or causes us to fear.  

As remedy for these, Christ has soaked the earth with his grace by establishing his Church, by placing so many altars where his members, his children, may come to pray and sacrifice and be fed. The Holy Spirit fits us to receive his benefits; he is the saint-maker, the Sanctifier, the Counselor, the Advocate.      

No Catholic can afford to approach Pentecost lightly. The great feast, traditionally, is prepared for by a novena and honored with an octave. The point of this homily is simply an appeal to prepare. We ought to keep these days of Ascensiontide with great attention and zeal.

When the Prussians were threatening France with invasion, a sister asked St Bernadette whether she was afraid of this. “I only fear bad Catholics,” was her reply. Ours is not to say who is and who is not a bad Catholic; all this is a merciful gift. But all that is to say that the grace of Pentecost comes with a purifying fire, not simply for Christians identifying themselves as charismatic, but for the whole Church.

[1] von Balthasar, Threefold Garland, p 115.

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