Of the marvellous sermon that the Brother Minor Saint Antony of Padua preached in the consistory (the consistory is an official meeting of the pope with his cardinals.)
That marvellous vessel of the Holy Spirit, Saint Antony of Padua, one of the chosen disciples and the companion of Saint Francis, whom Saint Francis called his vicar, preached on a time in the consistory before the pope and the cardinals, in the which consistory were men of diverse nations, to wit, Greeks, Latins, French, Germans and Slavs, and English, and of other diverse languages of the world; and being kindled by the Holy Spirit, he set forth to them the word of God so forcibly, so devoutly, so subtly, so sweetly, so clearly, and so learnedly, that all they that were in the consistory, albeit they were of diverse languages, full clearly understood his every word, as distinctly as if he had spoken in the language of each one of them.
They were all amazed, and it seemed as though that ancient miracle of the Apostles at the time of Pentecost had been renewed, the which through the virtue of the Holy Spirit spake in every tongue; and they spake together one with the other marvelling; “Is he not of Spain, this preacher? and how then do we all hear in his speech the language of our countries?” The pope in like manner pondering and marvelling at the deep meaning of his words, said: “Of a truth, this man is the ark of the Testament and the armoury of Holy Writ.”
St Anthony of Padua and St Francis of Assisi by Friedrich Pacher
St Aloysius, Somers Town, London.
Two articles came before my eyes on the same day. In one, an English divorce lawyer said that the main cause of marriage breakdown was lack of communication: spouses not speaking to each other.
The other article was in the Columban Fathers’ Far East magazine for September 2018. Father Willie Lee, a Fijian missionary who has worked in Peru described how he was inspired by the missionaries who ‘were always there with the grassroots people, crossing boundaries and cultures and learning another language. It gave them a feeling of belonging.
‘The sacrifices they made in their calling, in their missionary life, amazed me. If these people can leave their family, come this far … and be happy on their mission, why can’t I do this?’
Learning another language is hard work, very few Pentecost morning experiences these days; if people are to hear us speaking their own language, we must first get close to them and learn to listen.
Let us pray for ears to hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches.
To read the interview with Fr Lee by Mark Bowling see the message below from the Columbans’ Katie Howard:
We are so pleased to hear that you feature the Far East magazine in your blog. Please use link below and scroll down to ‘Past Issues’ where your readers can download the September/ October 2018 edition of the Far East:
John XXIII’s opening paragraph really applies to any baptised Christian, and so does much of this extract. John concludes by reminding us that women were there from the beginning of the Church, and perhaps he challenges us all to act as one in what he calls a fusion of souls.
No soul consecrated to the Lord is dispensed from the sublime duty of continuing the saving mission of the Divine Redeemer.
The Church expects much from those who live in the silence of the cloister, and especially from there. They, like Moses, have their arms raised in prayer, conscious that in this prayerful attitude one obtains victory.
So important is the contribution of women religious of the contemplative life to the apostolate that Pius XI wished to have as co-patron of the missions—and a rival therefore of St. Francis Xavier—not a Sister of the active life, but a Carmelite, St. Theresa of the Child Jesus.
May the Church militant feel that you are present wherever your spiritual contribution is needed for the good of souls, as well as for real human progress and human peace.
May those who are dedicated to the active life … strive in obedience to study and obtain the degrees which will allow you to surmount every difficulty. Thus, in addition to your merited and proven capability, you may be better appreciated also for your spirit of dedication, patience and sacrifice.
There is, moreover, the presage of further demands in the new countries which have entered the community of free nations. Without lessening one’s love for his own country, the world has become more than ever before a common fatherland. Many Sisters have already felt this call. The field is immense.
Not even the Sisters dedicated to contemplation are exempt from this duty. The people in certain regions of Africa and the Far East feel a greater attraction to contemplative life, which is more congenial to the development of their civilization.
The consecrated souls in the new secular institutes should know also that their work is appreciated and that they are encouraged to contribute toward making the Gospel penetrate every facet of the modern world.
May the spirit of Pentecost prevail over your chosen families and may it unite them in that fusion of souls which was seen in the cenacle where, together with the Mother of God and the Apostles, several pious women were to be found (Acts 1:14).
We thank God for the families we have been given, but also for our friends who are sisters, especially the Littlehampton Sisters, the Franciscan Missionary Sisters of Saint Joseph and the Franciscan Missionaries of the Divine Motherhood, who were all part of the community at the Franciscan International Study Centre.
Brexit or no Brexit, the European day of Languages deserves a mention. After all, the Church was multilingual from the day of Pentecost. Remember Acts Chapter II:
The multitude came together, and were confounded in mind, because that every man heard them speak in his own tongue. And they were all amazed, and wondered, saying: Behold, are not all these, that speak, Galileans? And how have we heard, every man our own tongue wherein we were born? Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and inhabitants of Mesopotamia, Judea, and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia, and Pamphylia, Egypt, and the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews also, and proselytes, Cretes, and Arabians: we have heard them speak in our own tongues the wonderful works of God. And they were all astonished and wondered, saying to one another: What meaneth this?
Two groups of Europeans there – Romans and Cretans.
There were centuries when the Latin Church tried to be exactly that, a Latin church, from Poland (where the reader in the picture is sitting) to Patagonia, but people want to hear in their own tongues the wonderful works of God. Not for nothing did the XIX Century missionaries translate the Scriptures as soon as they understood the languages where they were working.
Unless we have opportunities to use languages we will struggle to learn them. However, we can make visitors and strangers welcome with just a few words of English. And a multilingual smile and handshake. Let’s make sure we do.
Peace be with you!
This Welcome Poster comes from Early Learning HQ and can be downloaded free from this link.
I am created a human being, capable of receiving God’s grace. In order to give himself freely God freely creates personal beings. Thus is there union between God and humanity in Grace – somewhat analogous to the Incarnation wherein there is communion of two natures without fusion or separation. This means that in any concrete situation it is never possible to isolate what is nature from what is Grace.
Grace is the wonder of creation as evidence of God and God’s love. It is concentrated in humanity. Human charm and beauty reflect God: “Because you love me, you make me lovable” says Augustine. The reason why love of enemy is seen as grace-full is because there is no sense of recompense in it, it is entirely gratuitous, and calls for the involvement of the will.
In speaking about his own conversion [Gal.1.13-16] Paul refers to a before and an after. Nothing suggests conversion was going to happen, it came as gift. But this gift did not “begin” on that road; it was from eternity. For Paul, Grace is the experience of God desiring him.
Tradition refers to Christ and the Spirit as the two hands of God reaching out to embrace us. Unfortunately, the elaboration of the role of the Spirit did not receive the same detailed attention as did Christ. Yet both are crucial for a proper understanding of Christianity – Easter and Pentecost.
Prior to Pentecost the Spirit was experienced as a nameless force, an invisible wind. With Pentecost the Spirit is named: the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Christ, and the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is deep within human experiences, rousing them to creativity and vitality.
St Aloysius, Somers Town, Euston, London.
I left London’s Saint Pancras station by a different door to usual, and found myself walking along Phœnix Road instead of along the busy Euston Road . Less traffic and a pleasant breeze through the plane trees at the edge of the little park.
Just before reaching Euston station itself I was delighted that Saint Aloysius’ Church was open. It was twenty minutes before midday Mass, by which time I was booked on the Manchester train.
A few minutes of quiet, and a couple of photographs to remind me why I like this 1960’s building so much. It’s not a museum but comes into its own when Mass is celebrated with the faithful gathered around. A moment of pilgrimage, even when I could not stay for Mass.
Here is the mosaic behind the font, with the rim of the font visible at bottom right. ‘Veni Sancte Spiritus’ reads the inscription – Come Holy Spirit.
Next to it is the window of the Holy Spirit’s coming at Pentecost with Mary Queen of Apostles at the heart of them. And of course there were other women and men present, some 120 people altogether. We must not set Mary too far apart, though she is ‘blessed among women’. Other women, such as Mary Magdalene and Mrs Zebedee, were blessed by following the Spirit’s call to follow Jesus, even if they missed the group portrait.
Let’s pray that women’s inner calls may be heeded by those who can open doors to let them obey.
Follow the link for the parish website.
It was Saint Bartholomew’s church, so I had half expected to see him represented there. But the church at Richard’s Castle in Shropshire is redundant, a sad old place. There are traces on the walls of pre=Reformation murals, and fragments of ancient glass, the images no doubt destroyed by zealous iconoclasts. Yet it was here in the Marches that our Saint of two days ago, John Kemble, worked as a Catholic priest until he was denounced in the wake of the Titus Oates debacle.
Well, of the five earthbound men in this image of the Ascension of Jesus from a Shropshire hill, the front right is Peter, with his keys; opposite him, next to Mary, is the beardless John. We can take Peter’s neighbour to be Bartholomew, why not? He was close to Jesus. He was soon huddled away in the Upper Room, until, filled by the Spirit, he made his way to India and Armenia with the Good News, and was eventually put to death.
John Kemble, after training on the Continent, served the people of his own district as pastor; Bartholomew served far from home. Who will hear the Good news from me today? Who will I hurt through mistaken zeal? Who will feel my faith is redundant because of my poor example?
The Paschal Mystery is the New Covenant – not that the Old has gone [there is only one covenant]. New means greater depth of intimacy with universal outreach. Jesus takes the Law and the Prophets – Israel’s heritage – and through this loves his people into existence. By the end of his short life they were still in receiving mode, not yet deepening into giving what was received and so, as Scripture says, he loved them to the end; handing over his Spirit which has lived and a human existence to the Father to give to all willing to receive – Pentecost.
To sustain and feed them along this new way he gives himself as the bread of life; not like the feeding of the 5,000. Being with him at the Last Supper, eating the bread he broke, accepting his death is to continue his way; to come together to break bread and become sustaining food for others. The Covenant Community was set up at that supper table. This is why there is much more involved in celebrating the Eucharist than a memorial experience; it is to accept his presence through his death, to become body given and blood poured out for others – service.
The Eucharist is the mystery of God’s graciousness and our salvation. Transubstantiation is a word for something we cannot understand, something beyond the competence of human language; to claim to capture it is to nullify the challenge to attune the way we live so as to address the cry of the poor. Augustine [who used the word Transubstantiation] says we are present not to satisfy personal needs [or commandments] but to be attentive and proactive to the cry of the poor. We cannot appreciate Transubstantiation if we by-pass the challenge for personal change.
The Eucharist is the real presence, not just a memorial ritual. It is Presence there for our presence, so that what is in him can be in us. Jesus does not stand-in for us, but invites us to get involved. We cannot receive the Eucharist in passive ways – the fruit of the Eucharist is one community allowing God’s love to be felt in our world.
A final reflection on Pentecost from ‘The Life and Letters of Father Andrew’, Anglican Franciscan and parish priest.
This morning I was meditating on our Saviour’s words, ‘It is expedient for you that I go away.’
The Apostles’ faith in our Lord, when they were dependent on his visible presence, did not stand the challenge of the Cross. They all forsook him and fled. But a very few weeks after, those very same men were calmly facing authorities, ‘counting it all joy that they were allowed to suffer for the Name of Jesus.’
When he was with them they failed, when, by the power of the Holy Spirit, he was in them, they overcame.
The Life and Letters of Father Andrew, London, Mowbray, 1948 pp201-202.
The Cross of Triumph at Our Lady and the English Martyrs, Cambridge.
I was waiting at the seaside bus stop when a handsome young lad arrived, a smile on his face. He was dancing on the spot, though his headphones were off his ears and indeed switched off. He looked crazily happy, but not crazy!
One of his mates got on a couple of stops later, and so we heard just why the firstcomer was so happy. He’d just got accepted at university. ‘I can’t wait to get out of here, man, and get to university. This place is dead, there’s nothing to do.’
I got off at our local university, to walk home in the Spring sunshine across the green of the campus. Two students alighted in front of me; quite a few prefer to live in the peaceful resort rather than the city.
No doubt there will be young people coming to Canterbury from the town where my fellow-traveller is going, glad to get away from somewhere that has grown too small for them. Many come from London, glad to get off their patch and out from under their parents’ eye.
Perhaps that feeling was part of the initial attraction for the Disciples, determined to follow Jesus wherever he went. Not that James and John escaped from their mother!
And after Easter and Pentecost – James stayed in Jerusalem, but John ended up in Greece, Peter in Rome, Mark in Alexandria, Thomas in India, Joseph of Arimathea, so they say, in Somerset. Fired up they were – with a Pentecostal fire that was life-long.
I trust and pray the fire that made the seasider dance will burn within him all the days of his life.