The Day of Pentecost

Before ascending into heaven, Jesus had said to His disciples: "I will I not leave you orphans." And, indeed, He left them His own Mother, who, taking His place, would be a parent to them until they received the Holy Ghost. On their return from the Mount of Olives they went to Mount Sion, on the east side of which was built the house of the Cenacle, belonging either to Joseph of Arimathea or Nicodemus. It had become a holy house, consecrated by the institution of the Divine Eucharist, in which Jesus was to continue His bodily presence upon earth; and by the institution of the Christian priesthood, wherein His soul will reside until the end of time. As it was the cradle of this mystical birth of Jesus, the house of the Cenacle was to become also the cradle of the infant Church.

In this house, so well adapted for retirement because of its distance from the centre of Jerusalem, the hundred and twenty disciples were gathered together. There also was Mary, the Spouse of the Holy Ghost. The Holy Ghost would descend first of all upon her, and afterward upon the disciples, to the end that Mary might become the Mother of the members, as she was the Mother of the Head.

As Mother of Jesus, she pre sided over the assembly, or the family, constituting the newly established Church. However, out of respect for the order appointed by her Divine Son, she wished St. Peter to assume the external and active presidency. It was no doubt at her invitation and upon her advice that St. Peter rose up in the midst of the assembly and inaugurated the exercise of his primacy, by the discourse in which he proposed that one should be chosen to replace the traitor Judas. Two candidates were put forward: Joseph, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias. The choice was left to lotor rather to God, whom they invoked in prayer. With more fervor than all, Mary exclaimed: "Thou Lord, who knowest the hearts of all men, show whether of these two Thou hast chosen." And thus it might be said that Matthias was selected through the prayer of Mary, that he was in a sense her chosen Apostle, as the eleven were the choice of Jesus.

Then all were engaged in prayer during the ten days of which St. Luke speaks. It was a prayer in which all were united, because the aspirations and petitions of all had a common centre in the heart of Mary. The example of the Blessed Virgin in her fervor, in her silence, and in all her virtues, was the most eloquent of sermons. She left her retirement only to accompany the Apostles each day to the Temple, where she continued the prayer and recollection of the Cenacle.

On the tenth day two Pentecosts were celebrated at the same time. While the Jews were solemnizing the commemoration of the Law given on Mount Sinai, the Holy Spirit brought to the Cenacle the law of grace, and under circumstances which recalled not the lightning and terrors, but the steadfast light and sweet peace of old. About the third hour a sound from heaven, as of a mighty wind, was heard; "and it filled the whole house where they were sitting."

According to tradition, a globe of fire descended upon the head of Mary, and afterward broke into a hundred and twenty tongues of flame, which rested upon the heads of the Apostles and the disciples. "And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost; and they began to speak with divers tongues, according as the Holy Ghost gave them to speak." They spoke various languages, but without confusion; for they all spoke the same thing and understood one another. These different languages had their unity in Mary, the Mother of the Word, from whom they had come, and to whom they would return, to reveal to all God made man in her and dwelling amongst us.

The Pasch of the Jews had been replaced by the Christian Pasch; so, ers together. too, was it with their Pentecost upon that day; so, too, would it be, gradually. with all their festivals-the figure giving place to the reality.

It was, then, in a certain sense, of the fulness of Mary that all received on that day. A remarkable and mysterious fact is that in the Gospel mention is made, first of all, of the pouring forth of the Holy Spirit only in Mary and through her. She was His temple, and privileged beyond the Temple of Jerusalem, up to the time of the Angelic Salutation. On the day of the Annunciation she became His spouse; on the day of Pentecost she contracted with Him a new alliance, with an increase and superabundance of heavenly gifts, which she distributed first to the disciples and then to the Church.

She received the Spirit of the Most High in proportion to her humility; the Spirit of sanctification, in proportion to her grace; the Spirit of love in proportion to the love of her Immaculate Heart, --that is to say, she received Him above and beyond all proportion. She received Him still further according to her offices in regard to the infant Church, to which she had been left: a light and guide to the Apostles, a support to the neophytes, strength to the martyrs, a counsellor to confessors, an example to virgins, a model to spouses, a consolation to widows, a support and refuge to all. In other words, she received the Holy Spirit in a measure incomparably superior to all the others

She received Him in a measure superior even to herself. At the moment of the Annunciation she was already filled with the Holy Ghost. She became more and more possessed of His plenitude through the mysteries of Jesus; and on the day of Pentecost she received Him in a degree almost unlimited, but in a degree by which to satisfy needs that were foreign to herself-the needs of the Church of her own time and of all future ages. It was from her, as from a fountain source, that issued forth all those outpourings of the Holy Spirit of which the Acts of the Apostles speak.

The Festival of Pentecost had drawn to Jerusalem multitudes of Jews from all parts of Judea and out of every nation under heaven." St. Peter speaks, and the unity of the human race, broken by the confusion of tongues, is restored by his language, understood alike by all these representatives of different nationalities. Mary was present also, and her prayers made efficacious the words of the Apostle.

Thus did she inaugurate the fulfilment of the duties of that sacred office with which she was entrusted when, in the person of the Beloved Disciple, the whole Church was committed to her maternal care. For twenty years after the Ascension she remained upon earth, an example and edification to faithful souls. She edified and instructed by her recollection and unceasing prayer, by her ardent aspirations for the conversion of the Jews and Gentiles, for the rapid propagation of the Gospel and the Name of Jesus throughout the world.

Her presence alone was a source of edification. Her look inspired faith, preached discretion, and moved to piety. As a fragrant Illy she spread the perfume of virginity and chastity, and her whole appearance was the expression of the most sincere humility.

Still more was she the light and inspiration of the Apostles. She was more enlightened than all of them; and, on certain fundamental points, she possessed a knowledge altogether personal. Before them she had drunk from the sacred fountain of Infinite Wisdom. She was privileged to hold the most intimate relationship with each of the Three Divine Persons, and in a particular manner with the Word, the Wisdom of the Father, who became her Son; and with the Holy Ghost, whose chosen spouse she was. When about to return to the Father, the Divine Word had entrusted His office to her; not that she should govern the Church, like Peter, but to the end that she might instruct others in what she alone had learned, and in what had been communicated to her with the Apostles, but which she had understood and retained better than they; and especially to instruct them in those truths which, without her aid, they could never have known except through a revelation, which was not in the designs of God's providence. She alone among creatures could realize the depth and grandeur of the mystery of the Incarnation of the Son of God, the fundamental dogma of our holy faith. So that, in a sense, we may say that she shares with Jesus the title of Author of our faith; since through her the Incarnation, upon which all other truths and mysteries of religion depend, has been made known to us in its fulness.

All this is implied in the teachings of the Fathers of the Church, who remind us that the Holy Ghost, who is the Spouse of Mary through the great mystery of the Incarnation, and the Author of grace, dispenses His graces through her hands. On this account the great St. Bernard exhorts the faithful to venerate the Blessed Virgin with all the affection of their hearts; "because," he says, " such is the will of God, who desires that we should have everything through Mary."