This homily was given last week during the Novena in preparation for Pentecost, but is still appropriate for the Solemnity:
Sermon for Pentecost Sunday
I, Jesus, have sent my angel, to testify to you these things in the churches. I am the root and stock of David, the bright and morning star. And the spirit and the bride say: Come. And he that heareth, let him say: Come. And he that thirsteth, let him come. And he that will, let him take the water of life, freely. . . . Come, Lord Jesus (Rev. 21:16-17, 20).
A postconciliar Mariology that is both traditional and one that addresses the present crisis of modernity is one that sees Mary in relation to both Christ and the Church. In the context of Pentecost, this means that She is both Spouse of the Holy Spirit and Teacher of the Apostles.
Pope Benedict has said that the Marian principle of the Church is even more fundamental than the Petrine, because the Church is not an idea, but a person, and at Pentecost (as on Calvary) Mary is Mother of the Church from the top down. If this is true at every moment of Christian history, it is particularly true in this age of Marian prophecy (Rue de Bac, Lourdes, Fatima, Bl. John Paul II).
The Immaculate-Meditatrix directs human acts and serves as the living model of pastoral prudence and prophetic inspiration, reform and innovation in continuity. This is an integrated and holistic approach to Mariology, and one that is vitally necessary in order to address the disintegration of modernity. It is Spirit-filled: faithful to the deposit of the faith and responsive the souls that need to be saved in real-time.
Most of all in and through Her and Her Spouse, we must continue in hope for a New Pentecost that looks forward toward the East, not one that faces the western darkness of hopelessness or presumption.
But Our Lady respects our will. Consecration to Mary is an act of the will. It is consent in the Marian “yes” of salvation history. That is all that stands between us and our destiny of light or darkness: one little yes.
The Spirit and the Bride say “come”.
Today in the second reading from the Office of Readings was from sections 4 and 12 of the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church from the Second Vatican Council, Lumen Gentium. It is apropos to the Novena in preparation for Pentecost and provides me with the opportunity to develop ideas I introduced in my last post. There I posited that in the light of the teaching of the postconciliar popes the traditional and charismatic approaches to spirituality should not be considered fundamentally opposed, though much of what goes under the title of both “traditionalism” and “pentecostalism” is problematic.
I believe this is the sense of sections 4 and 12 of Lumen Gentium in which the Council indicates two things: that the Church is equipped and directed by both “hierarchical and charismatic gifts”; that it is “not only through the sacraments and the ministries of the Church that the Holy Spirit sanctifies and leads the people of God and enriches it with virtues, but, “allotting his gifts to everyone according as He wills, He distributes special graces among the faithful of every rank.”
Sermon for the Ascension
“Before beginning this celebration, I bring you a greeting. Before I left this morning, I was with Pope Francis, and I told him: ‘Holy Father, I have to leave soon. I’m going to Rimini where there are thousands upon thousands of faithful of the Charismatic Renewal: men, women and young people.’ With a great smile, the Pope said: ‘Tell them that I love them very much!’ Upon leaving the Holy Father, Archbishop Fisichella recounted, the Holy Father added: ‘Look, tell them that I love them very much because I was responsible for Charismatic Renewal in Argentina, and that’s why I love them very much.’”
I would suggest that the influence of the charismatic movement is evident in many of the words and actions of Pope Francis. In particular, the following strikes me noteworthy: Continue reading
I just noticed this quote from Pope Francis:
Let us all remember this: one cannot proclaim the Gospel of Jesus without the tangible witness of one’s life. Those who listen to us and observe us must be able to see in our actions what they hear from our lips, and so give glory to God! I am thinking now of some advice that Saint Francis of Assisi gave his brothers: preach the Gospel and, if necessary, use words. Preaching with your life, with your witness. Inconsistency on the part of pastors and the faithful between what they say and what they do, between word and manner of life, is undermining the Church’s credibility.
I have heard others a number of times take exception to both the attribution of the words emphasized above to St. Francis and to the soundness of the exhortation. The argument has some merit. The Franciscan sources do not support the attribution to St. Francis, and it is true that the words can be construed to mean that it is sufficient to be a witness to Christ by one’s life. Efforts to evangelize are not essential.
But while St. Francis may have never said the words, they are an excellent summary of his spirituality. Pope Francis interprets the meaning of the phrase exactly. Whoever first used the words did in fact understand St. Francis. Perhaps it was one of the novices who were led by St. Francis through the streets of the town in their poor habits, telling them: “We are going to preach the gospel.” After having returned to the friary without having spoken to anyone along the way, a novice asked St. Francis why they had not preached the gospel, St. Francis simply answered, “We did.”
The Franciscan spirit is in the first place a way of life and a witness. St. Francis was never afraid to speak out, but he was just as content to be driven out of town as he was to preach with apparent success. He was not all that impressed by eloquence and declared to the friars that it was not the preachers who converted anyone but Christ alone and that the friars who were faithful to the Rule did more for the conversion of sinners than anyone else. He called them his “Knights of the Round Table.”
At times when he got up to preach, he could not think of anything to say and just sat back down, and did so without thinking much of it. The Franciscan Order has always had a tremendous commitment to the apostolic life, but has always been its best, when it hung its hat on nothing but fidelity to the evangelical way of life, by living “the gospel of Our Lord Jesus Christ in obedience, without property and in chastity” (Rule, c. 1).
But stating that fact that witness has more power than words has never been an excuse in Franciscan circles to omit the work of evangelization. The fact that the idea is misinterpreted is not the fault of St. Francis, and neither is it a reason to deny its validity. Pope Francis, who is obviously committed to evangelization and reform, far from being confused about St. Francis is showing himself to be very astute in Franciscan spirituality.
Sermon for the Fifth Sunday after Easter
O Mary! we crown thee with blossoms today,
Queen of the Angels, Queen of the May,
O Mary we crown thee with blossoms today,
Queen of the Angels, Queen of the May.
“Bring Flowers of the Rarest” is an extra-liturgical May crowning hymn that seems to be a rather sentimental nod to the ambiguity of modern May “devotion,” and perhaps (or perhaps not) an assault upon it. It is a preconciliar hymn that I have often heard characterized as “schmaltzy” and inappropriate for the liturgy, though I have heard it many times used in traditional circles for Holy Mass.
What interests me here is its relation to the pagan or neopagan celebrations associated with May Day, the spring festival. The “Queen of the May” or “May Queen” is a personification of Spring which is ritualized in May Day celebrations by the selection of a young girl dressed in white and crowned with flowers who leads the May Day parade. British folklore has it that of old the ritual ended with the blood sacrifice of the May Queen. Continue reading