One of the great mysteries of the gift of Faith is that it is only God Who can lead us to know, to love, and to serve Him as He has revealed Himself to man exclusively through the Catholic Church. God leads us to Himself. He gives us the graces to prompt us to move closer to Him by growing in holiness with each beat of hearts, consecrated as they must be to the Immaculate Heart of Mary and to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. We must, therefore, cooperate with the graces won for us by the shedding of every single drop of Our Lord's Most Precious Blood on the wood of the Holy Cross--and administered to us by the working of the Holy Ghost in the sacraments and by means of actual graces--to despise even the thought of sin and to do penance for our past sins as we aspire to have the highest place in Heaven next to that of the Blessed Mother, who was conceived without any stain of Original or Actual Sin, herself.
Today, the Vigil of Pentecost and the last day of the Novena to God the Holy Ghost gives us an opportunity to reflect on the The Third Person of the Blessed Trinity, the Vivifier, Who gave spiritual rebirth to our souls in the Baptismal font when He, working through the hands and the words of an alter Christus, washed away Original Sin and flooded into our sins the very inner life of the Blessed Trinity by means of Sanctifying Grace. Our Lady and the Apostles spent nine days in prayer in preparation for the Holy Ghost's descending upon them in tongues of flame in the same Upper Room in Jerusalem where her Divine Son had instituted the priesthood and the Eucharist at the Last Supper on Holy Thursday. We can prepare for our annual celebration of the Feast of Whit Sunday, Pentecost, by spending time before Our Lord's Real Presence, meditating perhaps upon these powerful words found in Pope Leo XIII's Divinum Illud Munus, May 9, 1897:
Human nature is by necessity the servant of God: "The creature is a servant; we are the servants of God by nature" (St. Cyr. Alex., Thesaur. 1. v., c. 5). On account, however, of original sin, our whole nature had fallen into such guilt and dishonour that we had become enemies to God. "We were by nature the children of wrath" (Eph. ii., 3). There was no power which could raise us and deliver us from this ruin and eternal destruction. But God, the Creator of mankind and infinitely merciful, did this through His only begotten Son, by whose benefit it was brought about that man was restored so that rank and dignity whence he had fallen, and was adorned with still more abundant graces. No one can express the greatness of this work of divine grace in the souls of men. Wherefore, both in Holy Scripture and in the writings of the fathers, men are styled regenerated, new creatures, partakers of the Divine Nature, children of God, god-like, and similar epithets. Now these great blessings are justly attributed as especially belonging to the Holy Ghost. He is "the Spirit of adoption of sons, whereby we cry: Abba, Father." He fills our hearts with the sweetness of paternal love: "The Spirit Himself giveth testimony to our spirit that we are the sons of God" (Rom. viii., 15-16). This truth accords with the similitude observed by the Angelic Doctor between both operations of the Holy Ghost; for through Him "Christ was conceived in holiness to be by nature the Son of God," and "others are sanctified to be the sons of God by adoption" (St. Th. 3a, q. xx ii., a. 1). This spiritual generation proceeds from love in a much more noble manner than the natural: namely, from the uncreated Love.
The beginnings of this regeneration and renovation of man are by Baptism. In this sacrament, when the unclean spirit has been expelled from the soul, the Holy Ghost enters in and makes it like to Himself. "That which is born of the Spirit, is spirit" john iii., 6). The same Spirit gives Himself more abundantly in Confirmation, strengthening and confirming Christian life; from which proceeded the victory of the martyrs and the triumph of the virgins over temptations and corruptions. We have said that the Holy Ghost gives Himself: "the charity of God is poured out into our hearts by the Holy Ghost who is given to us" (Rom. v., 5). For He not only brings to us His divine gifts, but is the Author of them and is Himself the supreme Gift, who, proceeding from the mutual love of the Father and the Son, is justly believed to be and is called "Gift of God most High." To show the nature and efficacy of this gift it is well to recall the explanation given by the doctors of the Church of the words of Holy Scripture. They say that God is present and exists in all things, "by His power, in so far as all things are subject to His power; by His presence, inasmuch as all things are naked and open to His eyes; by His essence, inasmuch as he is present to all as the cause of their being." (St. Th. Ia, q. viii., a. 3). But God is in man, not only as in inanimate things, but because he is more fully known and loved by him, since even by nature we spontaneously love, desire, and seek after the good. Moreover, God by grace resides in the just soul as in a temple, in a most intimate and peculiar manner. From this proceeds that union of affection by which the soul adheres most closely to God, more so than the friend is united to his most loving and beloved friend, and enjoys God in all fullness and sweetness. Now this wonderful union, which is properly called "indwelling," differing only in degree or state from that with which God beatifies the saints in heaven, although it is most certainly produced by the presence of the whole Blessed Trinity - "We will come to Him and make our abode with Him," John xiv. 23.) - nevertheless is attributed in a peculiar manner to the Holy Ghost. For, whilst traces of divine power and wisdom appear even in the wicked man, charity, which, as it were, is the special mark of the Holy Ghost, is shared in only by the just. In harmony with this, the same Spirit is called Holy, for He, the first and supreme Love, moves souls and leads them to sanctity, which ultimately consists in the love of God. Wherefore the apostle when calling us to the temple of God, does not expressly mention the Father or the Son, or the Holy Ghost: "Know ye not that your members are the temple of the Holy Ghost, who is in you, whom you have from God?" (1 Cor. vi. 19). The fullness of divine gifts is in many ways a consequence of the indwelling of the Holy Ghost in the souls of the just. For, as St. Thomas teaches, "when the Holy Ghost proceedeth as love, He proceedeth in the character of the first gift; whence Augustine saith that, through the gift which is the Holy Ghost, many other special gifts are distributed among the members of Christ." (Summ. Th., la. q. xxxviii., a. 2. St. Aug. De Trin., xv., c. 19). Among these gifts are those secret warnings and invitations, which from time to time are excited in our minds and hearts by the inspiration of the Holy Ghost. Without these there is no beginning of a good life, no progress, no arriving at eternal salvation. And since these words and admonitions are uttered in the soul in an exceedingly secret manner, they are sometimes aptly compared in Holy Writ to the breathing of a coming breeze, and the Angelic Doctor likens them to the movements of the heart which are wholly hidden in the living body. "Thy heart has a certain hidden power, and therefore the Holy Ghost, who invisibly vivifies and unites the Church, is compared to the heart."(Summ. Th. 3a, q. vii., a. 1, ad 3). More than this, the just man, that is to say he who lives the life of divine grace, and acts by the fitting virtues as by means of faculties, has need of those seven gifts which are properly attributed to the Holy Ghost. By means of them the soul is furnished and strengthened so as to obey more easily and promptly His voice and impulse. Wherefore these gifts are of such efficacy that they lead the just man to the highest degree of sanctity; and of such excellence that they continue to exist even in heaven, though in a more perfect way. By means of these gifts the soul is excited and encouraged to seek after and attain the evangelical beatitudes, which, like the flowers that come forth in the spring time, are the signs and harbingers of eternal beatitude. Lastly there are those blessed fruits, enumerated by the Apostle (Gal. v., 22), which the Spirit, even in this mortal life, produces and shows forth in the just; fruits filled with all sweetness and joy, inasmuch as they proceed from the Spirit, "who is in the Trinity the sweetness of both Father and Son, filling all creatures with infinite fullness and profusion." (St. Aug. De Trin. 1. vi., c. 9). The Divine Spirit, proceeding from the Father and the Word in the eternal light of sanctity, Himself both Love and Gift, after having manifested Himself through the veils of figures in the Old Testament, poured forth all his fullness upon Christ and upon His mystic Body, the Church; and called back by his presence and grace men who were going away in wickedness and corruption with such salutary effect that, being no longer of the earth earthy, they relished and desired quite other things, becoming of heaven heavenly.
These sublime truths, which so clearly show forth the infinite goodness of the Holy Ghost towards us, certainly demand that we should direct towards Him the highest homage of our love and devotion. Christians may do this most effectually if they will daily strive to know Him, to love Him, and to implore Him more earnestly; for which reason may this Our exhortation, flowing spontaneously from a paternal heart, reach their ears. Perchance there are still to be found among them, even nowadays, some, who if asked, as were those of old by St. Paul the Apostle, whether they have received the Holy Ghost, might answer in like manner: "We have not so much as heard whether there be a Holy Ghost" (Acts xix., 2). At least there are certainly many who are very deficient in their religious practices, but their faith is involved in much darkness. Wherefore all preachers and those having care of souls should remember that it is their duty to instruct their people more diligently and more fully about the Holy Ghost - avoiding, however, difficult and subtle controversies, and eschewing the dangerous folly of those who rashly endeavour to pry into divine mysteries. What should be chiefly dwelt upon and clearly explained is the multitude and greatness of the benefits which have been bestowed, and are constantly bestowed, upon us by this Divine Giver, so that errors and ignorance concerning matters of such moment may be entirely dispelled, as unworthy of "the children of light." We urge this, not only because it affects a mystery by which we are directly guided to eternal life, and which must therefore be firmly believed; but also because the more clearly and fully the good is known the more earnestly it is loved. Now we owe to the Holy Ghost, as we mentioned in the second place, love, because He is God: "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart, and with thy whole soul, and with thy whole strength" (Deut. vi., 5). He is also to be loved because He is the substantial, eternal, primal Love, and nothing is more lovable than love. And this all the more because He has overwhelmed us with the greatest benefits, which both testify to the benevolence of the Giver and claim the gratitude of the receiver. This love has a twofold and most conspicuous utility. In the first place it will excite us to acquire daily a clearer knowledge about the Holy Ghost; for, as the Angelic Doctor says, "the lover is not content with the superficial knowledge of the beloved, but striveth to inquire intimately into all that appertains to the beloved, and thus to penetrate into the interior; as is said of the Holy Ghost, Who is the Love of God, that He searcheth even the profound things of God" (1 Cor. ii., 10; Summ. Theol., la. 2ae., q. 28, a. 2). In the second place it will obtain for us a still more abundant supply of heavenly gifts; for whilst a narrow heart contracteth the hand of the giver, a grateful and mindful heart causeth it to expand. Yet we must strive that this love should be of such a nature as not to consist merely in dry speculations or external observances, but rather to run forward towards action, and especially to fly from sin, which is in a more special manner offensive to the Holy Ghost. For whatever we are, that we are by the divine goodness; and this goodness is specially attributed to the Holy Ghost. The sinner offends this his Benefactor, abusing His gifts; and taking advantage of His goodness becomes more hardened in sin day by day. Again, since He is the Spirit of Truth, whosoever faileth by weakness or ignorance may perhaps have some excuse before Almighty God; but he who resists the truth through malice and turns away from it, sins most grievously against the Holy Ghost. In our days this sin has become so frequent that those dark times seem to have come which were foretold by St. Paul, in which men, blinded by the just judgment of God, should take falsehood for truth, and should believe in "the prince of this world," who is a liar and the father thereof, as a teacher of truth: "God shall send them the operation of error, to believe Iying (2 Thess. ii., 10). In the last times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to spirits of error and the doctrines of devils" (1 Tim. iv., 1). But since the Holy Ghost, as We have said, dwells in us as in His temple, We must repeat the warning of the Apostle: "Grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby you are sealed" (Eph. iv., 30). Nor is it enough to fly from sin; every Christian ought to shine with the splendour of virtue so as to be pleasing to so great and so beneficent a guest; and first of all with chastity and holiness, for chaste and holy things befit the temple. Hence the words of the Apostle: "Know you not that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? But if any man violate the temple of God, him shall God destroy. For the temple of God is holy, which you are" (1 Cor. iii., 16-17): a terrible, in deed, but a just warning.
Lastly, we ought to pray to and invoke the Holy Ghost, for each one of us greatly needs His protection and His help. The more a man is deficient in wisdom, weak in strength, borne down with trouble, prone to sin, so ought he the more to fly to Him who is the never-ceasing fount of light, strength, consolation, and holiness. And chiefly that first requisite of man, the forgiveness of sins, must be sought for from Him: "It is the special character of the Holy Ghost that He is the Gift of the Father and the Son. Now the remission of all sins is given by the Holy Ghost as by the Gift of God" (Summ. Th. 3a, q. iii., a. 8, ad 3m). Concerning this Spirit the words of the Liturgy are very explicit: "For He is the remission of all sins" (Roman Missal, Tuesday after Pentecost). How He should be invoked is clearly taught by the Church, who addresses Him in humble supplication, calling upon Him by the sweetest of names: "Come, Father of the poor! Come, Giver of gifts! Come, Light of our hearts! O. best of Consolers, sweet Guest of the soul, our refreshment!" (Hymn, Veni Sancte Spiritus). She earnestly implores Him to wash, heal, water our minds and hearts, and to give to us who trust in Him "the merit of virtue, the acquirement of salvation, and joy everlasting." Nor can it be in any way doubted that He will listen to such prayer, since we read the words written by His own inspiration: "The Spirit Himself asketh for us with unspeakable groanings" (Rom. viii., 26). Lastly, we ought confidently and continually to beg of Him to illuminate us daily more and more with His light and inflame us with His charity: for, thus inspired with faith and love, we may press onward earnestly towards our eternal reward, since He "is the pledge of our inheritance" (Eph. i. 14). (Pope Leo XIII, Divinum Illud Munus, May 9, 1897.)
The miracle of the working of God the Holy Ghost in our souls is something that we must never take for granted. We can lose grace. We can lose the state of Sanctifying Grace with the commission of one Mortal Sin. We can lose our souls for all eternity if we do not respond to the graces sent to us to have any and all Mortal Sins absolved in the Sacred Tribunal of Penance. Those who sin habitually, perhaps even presumptuously thinking that they can sin and get to Confession thereafter, may find that God withdraws His graces from them, a fearful and terrifying thought that should pray to God the Holy Ghost every day for an increase of grace in our souls so that our intellects will be enlightened by His Fruits and and our souls strengthened by the graces He sends to us to so love God as He has revealed Himself through His true Church that even the thought of sin is repulsive to us. No, we must never take the working of God the Holy Ghost in our souls for granted.
Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ told us that we would be known by our fruits:
By their fruits you shall know them. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit, and the evil tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can an evil tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit, shall be cut down, and shall be cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits you shall know them. (Mt. 7: 16-20)
We can only bear good fruits, however, if we let the Gifts of the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity, God the Holy Ghost, take deep and abiding root in our souls, if our lives of prayer are prompt, assiduous, fervent, attentive, and unceasing, if we are intent on offering up everything that happens to us (all of our joys and sorrows, all of the events of daily living) to the Blessed Trinity through the Holy Ghost's spouse's Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart. We must work very hard to cooperate with the graces administered to us by the working of the Holy Ghost, making sure that we place no obstacles to His efforts to perfect us to love the Father through the Son in Spirit and in Truth as members of the true Church founded by the Son upon the Rock of Peter, the Pope.
Just as water, which gives hydration to living things, produces different effects in each living thing according to its own needs (a plant benefits from water differently than does a dog as each's organism has different ends appointed by their Creator, God Himself), so do the graces won for us by the shedding of every single drop of Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ's Most Precious Blood on the wood of the Holy Cross and that flow into our souls through the loving hands of Our Lady, the Mediatrix of All Graces, produce different effects in each of the souls to which they are administered. Each of our souls is unique, unrepeatable. Although each human being has been created to achieve the same end, the possession of the glory of the Beatific Vision of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost for all eternity, each human being has a distinctive soul and thus has different ways of responding to the graces that are sent to it for its sanctification and salvation.
For example one person might be quite and reflective by nature, prone to deny oneself readily and to give way to others by following, say, the "Little Way" of the Little Flower, Saint Therese of Lisieux. Another person, perhaps one with a more outgoing personality, might need more graces to die to self in order to let Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ live in his soul more fully and more perfectly. In all instances, however, the graces sent to us by God the Holy Ghost help us to fulfill the obligations imposed by our freely chosen state-in-life, helping us to be better husbands and wives and fathers and mothers and teachers and craftsmen and citizens according to our own individual needs. The grace of God, which flows to us through the hands of the spouse of God the Holy Ghost, Our Lady, is meant to help perfect us in the accomplishment of our daily duties, which must be performed in light of our First Cause and our Last End.
The accomplishment of our Last End requires us to pray for an increase in the Gifts and the Fruits of the Holy Ghost in our souls. The Prayer for the Seven Gifts of the Holy Ghost that we have been praying for the past nine days really says it all:
O Lord Jesus Christ / Who, before ascending into heaven / did promise to send the Holy Ghost / to finish Thy work / in the souls of Thine Apostles and Disciples / deign to grant the same Holy Spirit to me / that He may perfect in my soul / the work of Thy grace and Thy love. / Grant me the Spirit of Wisdom / that I may despise the perishable things of this world / and aspire only after the things / that are eternal, / the Spirit of Counsel / that I may ever choose / the surest way of pleasing God / and gaining heaven, / the Spirit of Fortitude / that I may bear my cross with Thee / and that I may overcome with courage all the obstacles that oppose my salvation, / the Spirit of Knowledge that I may know God and know myself / and grow perfect in the science of the Saints, / the Spirit of Piety / that I may find the service of God sweet and amiable, / the Spirit of Fear of the Lord / that I may be filled with a loving reverence towards God, and may dread in any way to displease Him. / Mark me, dear Lord, / with the sign of Thy true disciples / and animate me in all things with Thy Spirit. / Amen.
This prayer summarizes each of the Seven Gifts of God the Holy Ghost so very succinctly.
We must be wise in order to love the things of Heaven and to hate the things of this passing world.
We must choose after the surest way, the Catholic Church, as the surest way to please God.
We must be willing to bear our crosses with love, understanding that each cross has been sent to us to help us to give honor and glory to God through the Immaculate Heart of Mary and thus to be of some small benefit in the sanctification and salvation of our own souls.
We must strive to get to know God and the Deposit of Faith that He has entrusted exclusively to the Catholic Church, being able to recognize and to flee from all errors, yes, especially those that flow from the wolves in shepherds' clothing in the counterfeit church of conciliarism, seeing in the lives of the saints our models for how to defend the Faith when it is threatened from without and denied from within.
We must love to attend to our prayers and the affairs of the interior life of the soul, not considering our spiritual life to be "burdensome" or, worse yet, distasteful. And, as noted above, we must despise sin as we are filled with such an abiding reverence for God that we want to take on additional penances and mortifications in order to do reparation for our past sins, understanding how they wounded Our Lord in His Sacred Humanity during His fearful Passion and Death and how they have contributed in no small measure to the wounding of the Church Militant here on earth.
One of the best agents of God the Holy Ghost in our daily lives is our Guardian Angel. He beholds the very glory of the Beatific Vision as he ministers to us here in this mortal life. A good spiritual practice, therefore, is to ask our Guardian Angel to be an instrument of the Holy Ghost to enlighten our intellects and to strengthen our wills so that we will more worthily receive Sanctifying Grace, especially in Holy Communion and in the Sacrament of Penance, and more promptly respond to Actual Graces. Our Guardian Angels are special friends of the Holy Ghost. They see Him immediately and purely, desiring to help us to respond to the graces that He sends to us through the hands of Our Lady. In addition to praying our Angel of God prayer every morning and night, we should ask our Guardian Angels to help us to be more attentive to the demands of the interior life and the promptings of the Holy Ghost that are sent to us to move us along on the pathways of spiritual perfection.
Dom Gueranger wrote the following in The Liturgical Year about this day in which we keep a vigil for the Feast of Pentecost:
We have not forgotten His words: "It is expedient for you that I go; for if I go not, the Paraclete will not come to you." Oh! how much the world must have needed this divine guest, of whom the very Son of God made Himself the precursor! And that we might understand how great is the majesty of this new master who is to reign over us, Jesus then speaks of the awful chastisements which are to befall them that offend Him: "Whosoever shall speak a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him; but he that shall speak against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world nor in the world to come." This divine Spirit is not, however, to assume our human nature, as did the Son; neither is He to redeem the world, as did the Son; but He is come among men with a love so immeasurable, that woe to them who despise it! It is to Him that Jesus intends to confide the Church, His bride, during the long term of her widowhood; to Him will He make over His own work, that He may perpetuate and direct it in all its parts.
We, then, who are to receive a few hours hence the visit of this Spirit of love, who is to renew the face of the earth, must be all attention, as we were at Bethlehem when we were awaiting the birth of our Emmanuel. The Word and the Holy Ghost are coequal in glory and power, and their coming upon the earth proceeds from the one same eternal and merciful decree of the blessed Trinity, who, by this twofold visit, would make us partakers of the divine nature. We, who were once nothingness, are destined to become by the operation of the Word and the Spirit, children of the heavenly Father. And if we would know what preparation we should make for the visit of the Paraclete, let us return in thought to the cenacle, where we left the disciples assembled, persevering with one mind in prayer, and waiting, as their Master had commanded them, for the power of the Most High to descend upon them, and arm them for their future combat.
The first we look for in this sanctuary of of recollectedness and peace, is Mary, the Mother of jesus, the master-piece of the Holy Ghost, the Church of the living God, from from whom is to be born on the morrow, and by the action of the same divine Spirit, the Church militant; for this second Eve represents and contains it within herself. Well, indeed, does this incomparable creature now deserve our honour? Have we not seen her glorious share in all the mysteries of the Man-God? And is she not to be the dearest and worthiest object of the Paraclete's visit? Hail, then, O Mary full of grace! Thou art our mother, and we rejoice in being thy children. The holy Church expresses this joy of ours, when she thus comments on the words of David's canticle: "Our dwelling in thee, O holy Mother of God! is of them that are all rejoicers!" In vain wouldst thou decline the honours that await thee on the morrow! Mother Immaculate! Temple of the Holy Ghost! there is no escape, and receive thou must a new visit of the Spirit, for a new work is entrusted to thee; take care of the infant Church for several years to come!
The apostolic college is clustered around the holy Mother; it is such a feast to them to look upon her, for they see the likeness of their Jesus in her face! In the very cenacle where they are now assembled, and in Mary's presence, an event occurs which is of deep importance. As God, when He formed His Israelite people, chosen the twelve sons of Jacob that they might be the fathers of that privileged race, so did Jesus choose twelve men, and they, too, were Israelites, that they might be the foundations of the Church, of which He Himself, and Peter together with and in Him, is the chief corner-stone. The terrible fall of Judas has reduced the number to eleven; the mysterious number is broken, and the Holy Ghost is about to descend upon the college of the apostles. Jesus had not thought proper to fill up the vacancy before His Ascension into heaven: and yet the number must be completed, before the coming of the Power from on high. The Church surely could not be less perfect than the Synagogue. Who, then, will take Christ's place in designating the new apostle? Such a right, says St. John Chrysostom, could not belong to any but Peter: but he humbly waived his right, and expressed his wish that there should be an election. The choice fell upon Mathias, who immediately took his place among the apostles, and awaited the promised Comforter.
In the cenacle, and in the blessed Mother's company, there are also the disciples, less honoured., it is true than the twelve, yet they have been witnesses of the works and mysteries of the Man-God; they, too, are to share in the preaching of the good tidings. And finally, Magdalene and the other holy women are there, preparing, as the Master had prescribed, for the visit from on high, which is to tell upon them also. Let us honour this fervent assembly of the hundred and twenty disciples. They are our models. The holy Spirit is to descend first upon them, for they are His first-fruits; but He is to come down upon us also, and it is with a view to prepare us for our Pentecost that the Church imposes on us to-day the obligation of fasting. (Dom Gueranger, O.S.B. The Liturgical Year.)
This ninth and last day of our Novena to God the Holy Ghost is spent meditating upon His Twelve Fruits (Charity, Joy, Peace, Patience, Benignity, Goodness, Faith, Mildness, Long-Suffering, Temperance, Chastity, Continence). The meditation provided for this day in the Novena says it all:
The gifts of the Holy Ghost perfect the supernatural virtues by enabling us to practice them with greater docility to divine inspiration. As we grow in the knowledge and love of God under the direction of the Holy Ghost, our service becomes more sincere and generous, the practice of virtue, more perfect. Such acts of virtue leave the heart filled with joy and consolation, and are known as Fruits of the Holy Ghost. These Fruits in turn render the practice of virtue more attractive, and become a powerful incentive for still greater effort in the service of God, to serve Whom is to reign.
The restoration of the Church Militant, having undergone her mystical passion and death, on earth depends in large measure upon our own daily willingness to let God the Holy Ghost work in our souls to serve the Father through the Son in the midst of the circumstances, both personal and ecclesiastical, that have been chosen for us from all eternity to save our souls.
The mission of Holy Mother Church as the exclusive means for us to save our souls was explained by Saint Augustine of Hippo in a sermon that is included in the readings for Matins in today's Divine Office:
We are yet the unborn offspring of a great Mother. Our Holy Mother the Church hath by the most sacred sign of the Cross received you into her womb, and from thence she is now just about to bring you forth, as she hath already brought forth your brethren, with thrills of spiritual joy. But until, through the washing of regeneration, she bringeth you forth into true light, she feedeth you in her womb with such food as becometh your condition, and in gladness matureth her children for the glad moment of her delivery. This Mother is not stricken by the doom of Eve, to bring forth children in sorrow, and they themselves oftenertimes weeping than laughing. Rather doth your spiritual Mother annul the sentence of your earthly Eve, by disobedience, endowed her offspring with death the Church, by obedience, giveth them newness of life. All the mystic prayers and ceremonies which have been and are still being performed over you by the ministry of the servants of God, exorcisms, prayers, spiritual songs, onbreathings, haircloth, prostrations, baring of the feet, the dread which ye feel, albeit so safe, all these things, I say unto you, are the nourishment which ye are ever. drawing from your Mother while yet ye are in her womb, that at the baptismal birth she may be able to present you strong and laughing babes unto Christ.
We have also received the Creed, which is the shield of the travailing Mother against the venom of the dragon. In the Apocalypse of the Apostle John xii. 4 it is written "And the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born." That this dragon is the devil ye all know. Ye know likewise that by the woman is signified the Virgin Mary, who, herself a Virgin, bore our Virgin Head, and who is revealed unto us as a type of the Holy Church, in that, even as Mary, though she bore a Son, remained a Virgin, so the Church doth in all times give birth to all her members, and yet is ever presented a chaste virgin to Christ. I have undertaken, with the help of the Lord, to expound every clause of the Creed, that I may bring home to your understandings what each containeth. Your hearts are ready, for the enemy hath been shut out of your hearts.
We have made profession of renouncing the enemy. At the moment of that profession it was not before men only, but in the presence of God and His Angels that ye said: "I do renounce him." Renounce him, not only in your words, but in your ways not only with your voices, but with your lives not only with your lips, but in your works. Know ye well that the wrestling which ye have undertaken is a strife with an enemy who is subtle, and old, and patient now that ye have once renounced him, let him never again find in you his works never again give him the right to bring you into bondage. O Christian thou wilt be caught and exposed, if thou dost one thing and professest another, if thou art faithful in name, and makest it to be evident by thy works that thou hast broken the faith pledged by this promise if some while thou goest into a church to pray, and anon to the shows to join in applauding obscene representations. What hast thou to do any more with the pomps of the devil, which thou hast renounced? (Matins, The Divine Office, Vigil of Pentecost.)
Saint Augustine reminded us, therefore, that what must matter to us first and foremost in our lives is the sanctification and salvation of our own souls in cooperation with the graces sent to us by the working of God the Holy Ghost, both sacramentally and actually, through the loving hands of Our Lady, she who is the Mediatrix of All Graces,presuming never that we might not go to Hell for all eternity and despairing never of our salvation. A soul striving to make Christ its King and honoring Mary as its Immaculate Queen will be able to plant a few seeds for the day when the Church herself, restored to glory and with the revolutionaries of the present moment having been unmasked for all to see as usurpers of the institutions of the Catholic Church, will proclaim once against the Social Reign of Christ the King and of the Queenship of the Immaculata. To this end, you see, we need the help of our soul's sweet guest, God the Holy Ghost.
Invoking the aid of the Spouse of God the Holy Ghost, Our Lady, especially through her Most Holy Rosary, may we use the final few hours of this Vigil of Pentecost to prepare for a glorious celebration of that same Holy Ghost upon the Apostles and Our Lady, thus beginning the missionary work of the Church to convert souls and nations to the reign of Christ the King and of her, our Immaculate Queen.
Viva Cristo Rey! Vivat Christus Rex!
Our Lady of the Cenacle, pray for us.
Saint Joseph, pray for us.
Saints Peter and Paul, pray for us.
Saint Michael the Archangel, pray for us.
Saint Gabriel the Archangel, pray for us.
Saint Raphael the Archangel, pray for us.
Saint John the Evangelist, pray for us.
Saint Andrew, pray for us.
Saint Matthew, pray for us.
Saint Luke, pray for us.
Saint Mark, pray for us.
Saint James the Greater, pray for us.
Saint James the Lesser, pray for us.
Saint Jude Thaddeus, pray for us,
Saint Mathias, pray for us.
Saint Bartholomew, pray for us.
Saint Thomas the Apostle, pray for us.
Saint Philip, pray for us.
Saint Simon, pray for us.
Saints Joachim and Anne, pray for us.
Saints Caspar, Melchior, and Balthasar, pray for us.