logo with text

















The Liturgical Year

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

Under this heading of Proper of the Time, we here comprise the movable Office of the Sundays and Ferias of Advent. Though anxious to give to the faithful the flowers of the Advent liturgy, yet were we to bring forward even those which might be considered as the choicest, four volumes would have barely sufficed. The fear of making our work too expensive to the faithful, persuaded us to limit it within much narrower bounds, and out of the abundant treasures before us, to give what we thought could be least dispensed with.

The plan we have adopted is this: We give the whole of the Mass and Vespers for the four Sundays of Advent. On the ferial days, we give one, at least, of the lessons from Isaias, which are read in the Office of Matins; adding to this a hymn or sequence, or some other poetic liturgical composition. All these have been taken from the gravest sources, for example, from the Roman and Mozarabic breviaries, from the Greek anthology and menæa, from the missals of the middle ages, &c. After this hymn or sequence, we have given a prayer from the Ambrosian, Gallican, or Mozarabic missal. So that the faithful will find in our collection an unprecedented abundance of liturgical formulæ, each of which carries authority with it, as being taken from ancient and approved sources.

We have not thought it desirable to give a commentary to each of the liturgical formulæ inserted in our work. It seemed to us that they would be rendered sufficiently intelligible by the general explanation which runs through our work, in which explanation we have endeavoured to excite the devotion of the reader, give unity to the several parts, and afford solid instruction. We shall thus avoid all those repetitions and commonplace remarks, which do little more than fatigue the reader.

We have inserted the Great Antiphons and the Office of Christmas Eve in the proper of the saints, because both of these have fixed days in the calendar, and to put them in the proper of the time, as they stand in the breviary and missal, would have required us to introduce into a book, destined for the laity, rubrics somewhat complicated, which would, perhaps, not have been understood.

For more information on the season of Advent, visit here.

We apply the name of Christmas to the forty days which begin with the Nativity of our Lord, December 25, and end with the Purification of the Blessed Virgin, February 2. It is a period which forms a distinct portion of the Liturgical Year, as distinct, by its own special spirit, from every other, as are Advent, Lent, Easter, or Pentecost. One same Mystery is celebrated and kept in view during the whole forty days. Neither the Feasts of the Saints, which so abound during this Season; nor the time of Septuagesima, with its mournful Purple, which often begins before Christmastide is over, seem able to distract our Holy Mother the Church from the immense joy of which she received the good tidings from the Angels[1] on that glorious Night for which the world had been longing four thousand years. The Faithful will remember that the Liturgy commemorates this long expectation by the four penitential weeks of Advent.
[1] St Luke ii 10.

(From Chapter 1: The History of Christmas)

For more information on the season of Christmas, visit here.

This third section of the liturgical year is much shorter than the two preceding ones; and yet it is one of real interest. The season of Septuagesima has only three weeks of the Proper of the Time, and the feasts of the saints are far less frequent than at other periods of the year. The volume we now offer to the faithful may be called one of transition, inasmuch as it includes the period between two important seasons—viz., Christmas and Lent. We have endeavoured to teach them how to spend these three weeks; and our instructions, we trust, will show them that, even in this the least interesting portion of the ecclesiastical year, there is much to be learned. They will find the Church persevering in carrying out the one sublime idea which pervades the whole of her liturgy; and, consequently, they must derive solid profit from imbibing the spirit peculiar to this season.

Were we, therefore, to keep aloof from the Church during Septuagesima, we should not have a complete idea of her year, of which these three weeks form an essential part. The three preliminary chapters of this volume will convince them of the truth of our observation; and we feel confident that, when they have once understood the ceremonies, and formulas, and instructions, offered them by the Church during this short season, they will value it as it deserves.

For more information on the season of Septuagesima, visit here.

We begin, with this volume, the holy season of Lent; but such is the richness of its liturgy, that we have found it impossible to take our readers beyond the Saturday of the fourth week. Passion-week and Holy Week, which complete the forty days of yearly penance, require to be treated at such length, that we could not have introduced them into this volume without making it inconveniently large.

The present volume is a very full one, although it only comprises the first four weeks of the season of Lent. We have called it Lent; and yet the two weeks of the next volume are also comprised in Lent; nay, they are its most important and sacred part. But, in giving the name of Lent to this first section, we have followed the liturgy itself, which applies this word to the first four weeks only; giving to the two that remain the names of Passion-week and Holy Week. Our next volume will, therefore, be called Passiontide and Holy Week.

For more information on Lent, visit here.

After having proposed the forty-days’ fast of Jesus in the desert to the meditation of the faithful during the first four weeks of Lent, the holy Church gives the two weeks which still remain before Easter to the commemoration of the Passion. She would not have her children come to that great day of the immolation of the Lamb, without having prepared for it by compassionating with Him in the sufferings He endured in their stead.

(From Chapter 1: The History of Passiontide and Holy Week)

For more information on Passiontide and Holy Week, visit here.

WITH this volume we begin the season of Easter, wherein are accomplished the mysteries prepared for, and looked forward to, since Advent. Such are the liturgical riches of this portion of the Christian year, that we have found it necessary to devote three volumes to it.

The present volume is wholly taken up with Easter Week. A week is indeed a short period; but such a week as this, with the importance of the events it brings before us, and the grandeur of the mysteries it celebrates, is, at least, equivalent to any other section of our Liturgical Year. We have abridged our explanations as much as possible; and yet we have exceeded two-thirds of one of our ordinary volumes. Hence, it was out of the question to add the remaining weeks; the more so, as the saints’ feasts recommence on the Monday following the Easter Octave, and their insertion would have obliged us to have made our volume considerably more bulky than even that of Passiontide. We have, therefore, been satisfied with giving the Mass and Office of the Annunciation, already given in our volume for Lent, but which are needed for the Monday after Low Sunday, when Easter falls between March 22 and April 2, which is frequently the case.

For more information on Paschal Tide, visit here.

This volume opens to us the second part of the Liturgical Year, beginning the long period of the Time after Pentecost. It treats of the feasts of the most holy Trinity, of Corpus Christi, and of the sacred Heart of Jesus. These three feasts require to be explained apart. Their dates depend on that of Easter; and yet they are detached, if we consider their object, from the moveable cycle, whose aim is to bring before us, each year, the successive, and so to speak historic, memories of our Lord’s mysteries. After the sublime drama, which has, by gradually presenting to us the facts of our Redeemer’s history, shown us the divine economy of the redemption, these feasts immediately follow, and give us a deep and dogmatic teaching: a teaching which is a marvellous synthesis, taking in the whole body of Christian doctrine.

The Holy Ghost has come down upon the earth, in order to sanctify it. Faith being the one basis of all sanctification, and the source of love, the holy Spirit would make it the starting-point of His divine workings in the soul. To this end, He inspires the Church, which has sprung up into life under the influence of His impetuous breathing, to propose at once to the faithful that doctrinal summary, which is comprised in the three feasts immediately coming after Pentecost. The volumes following the present one will show us the holy Spirit continuing His work, and, on the solid foundations of the faith He established at the outset, building the entire superstructure of the Christian virtues.

This was the idea which the author of the Liturgical year was busy developing in the second part of his work, when death came upon him; and the pen that had begun this volume was put by obedience into the hands of one, who now comes before the faithful, asking their prayers for the arduous task he has undertaken, of continuing the not quite finished work of his beloved father and master. He begs of them to beseech our Lord, that He Himself will vouchsafe to bring to a successful termination an undertaking that was begun for His honour and glory, and that has already produced so much fruit in the souls of men.

Br. L.F. O.S.B.

Solesmes, May 10, 1879.


For more information on Time after Pentecost, visit here.

Introduction to the Season of advent

Introduction to the Season of CHRISTMAS

For more information on the season of Christmas, visit here.

Introduction to the Season of Septuagesima

Introduction to the Season of Lent

Introduction to passiontide and holy week

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

Detached from evil by the fear of the Lord, and ennobled with holy love by the gift of godliness, the soul feels the want of knowing how she is to avoid what she must fear, and how to find what she must love. The Holy Ghost comes to her assistance, and brings her what she needs, by infusing into her the gift of knowledge. By means of this precious gift, truth is made evident to her; she knows what God asks of her and what He condemns, she knows what to seek and what to shun. Without this holy knowledge, we are in danger of going astray, because of the frequent darkness which, more or less, clouds our understanding. This darkness arises, in the first place, from our own nature, which bears upon itself the hut too visible proofs of the fall. It is added to by the false maxims and judgments of the world, which so often warp even those whose upright minds seemed to make them safe. And lastly, the action of satan, who is the prince of darkness, has this for one of its chief aims: to obscure our mind, or to mislead it by false lights.

The light of our soul is faith, which was infused into us at our Baptism. By the gift of knowledge, the Holy Ghost empowers our faith to elicit rays of light strong enough to dispel all darkness. Doubts are then cleared up, error is exposed and put to flight, truth beams upon us in all its beauty. Everything is viewed in its true light, the light of faith. We see how false are the principles which sway the world, which ruin so many souls, and of which we ourselves were once, perhaps, victims.

The gift of knowledge reveals to us the end which God had in creation, and out of which creatures can never find either happiness or rest. It teaches us what use we are to make of creatures, for they were not given us to be a hindrance, but a help whereby to reach our God. The secret of life thus possessed, we walk on in safety, we halt not, and we are resolved to shun every path which would not lead us to our end.

The apostle had this gift in view, when, speaking to the converts of Ephesus, he said: ‘Ye were heretofore darkness, but now light in the Lord: walk then as children of the light.’[1] Hence comes that unhesitatingness, that confidence of the Christian life. There may be a want of experience now and then; so much so, indeed, that the little world around talks feelingly about the indiscretions and scandals which are almost sure to arise; but they forget that there is the gift of knowledge, of which the sacred Scripture thus speaks: ‘She conducted the just through the right ways, and gave him the knowledge of holy things,’ or, as some render it, ‘the science of the saints.’[2] We have daily proofs of this truth: a Christian, by means of supernatural light, is found to escape every danger; he has no experience of his own, but he has the experience of God.

We give thee thanks, O holy Paraclete! for this Thy gift of light, which Thou so lovingly maintainest within us! Oh! never permit us to seek any other. It alone is sufficient; without it, there is nought but darkness. Preserve us from those sad inconsistencies, of which so many are guilty, who follow Thy guidance to-day, and the maxims of the world to-morrow; wretched double-dealing, which displeases Thee, and does not please the world! Make us love that knowledge, which Thou gavest us in order to our salvation. The enemy of our souls is jealous of our having such a gift, and is ever studying to make us exchange it for his lying principles. O divine Spirit! suffer not his treachery to triumph. Be Thou ever within us, aiding us to distinguish truth from falsity, and right from wrong. May our eye be single and simple, as our Jesus bids it be; that so our body, that is, our actions, desires, and thoughts, may be lightsome; and preserve us from that evil eye, which makes the whole body to be darkness.[3]

[1] Eph. v. 8.
[2] Wisd. x. 10.
[3] St. Matth. vi. 22, 23.


From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

Veni, sancte Spiritus, reple tuorum corda fidelium, et tui amoris in eis ignem accende.
Come, O holy Spirit, fill the hearts of thy faithful, and enkindle within them the fire of thy love.

We have seen with what fidelity the Holy Ghost has fulfilled, during all these past ages, the mission He received from our Emmanuel, of forming, protecting, and maintaining His bride the Church. This trust given by a God has been executed with all the power of a God, and it is the sublimest and most wonderful spectacle the world has witnessed during the eighteen hundred years of the new Covenant. This continuance of a social body, the same in all times and places; promulgating a precise Symbol of faith which each of its members is bound to accept; producing by its decisions the strictest unity of religious belief throughout the countless individuals who compose the society: this, and the wonderful propagation of Christianity, are the master facts of history. These two facts are not, as certain modern writers would have it, results of the ordinary laws of Providence; but miracles of the highest order, worked directly by the Holy Ghost, and intended to serve as the basis of our faith in the truth of the Christian religion. The Holy Ghost was not, in the exercise of His mission, to assume a visible form; but He has made His presence visible to the understanding of man, and thereby He has sufficiently proved His own personal action in the work of man’s salvation.

Let us now follow this divine action, not in its carrying out the merciful designs of the Son of God, who deigned to take to Himself a bride here below, but in the relations of this bride with mankind. Our Emmanuel willed that she should be the mother of men; and that all, whom He calls to the honour of becoming His own members, should acknowledge that it is she who gives them this glorious birth. The Holy Ghost, therefore, was to secure to this bride of Jesus what would make her evident and known to the world, leaving it, however, in the power of each individual to disown and reject her.

It was necessary that this Church should last for all ages, and that she should traverse the earth in such wise that her name and mission might be known to all nations; in a word, she was to be Catholic, that is, universal, taking in all times and all places. Accordingly, the Holy Ghost made her Catholic. He began by showing her, on the day of Pentecost, to the Jews who had flocked to Jerusalem from the various nations; and when these returned to their respective countries, they took the good tidings with them. He then sent the apostles and disciples into the whole world; and we learn from the writers of those early times, that a century had scarcely elapsed before there were Christians in every portion of the known earth. Since then, the visibility of this holy Church has gone on increasing gradually more and more. If the divine Spirit, in the designs of His justice, permitted her to lose her influence in a nation that had made itself unworthy of the grace, He transferred her to another where she would be obeyed. If, at times, there have been whole countries where she had no footing, it was either because she had previously offered herself to them and they had rejected her, or because the time marked by Providence for her reigning there had not yet come. The history of the Church’s propagation is one long proof of her perpetuity, and of her frequent migrations. Times and places, all are hers; if there be one wherein she is not acknowledged as supreme, she is at least represented by her members; and this prerogative, which has given her the name of Catholic, is one of the grandest of the workings of the Holy Ghost.

But His action does not stop here: the mission given Him by the Emmanuel in reference to His bride obliges Him to something beyond this; and here we enter into the whole mystery of the Holy Ghost in the Church. We have seen His outward influence, whereby He gives her perpetuity and increase; now we must attentively consider the inward direction she receives from Him, which gives her unity, infallibility, and holiness—prerogatives which, together with Catholicity, designate the true bride of Christ.

The union of the Holy Ghost with the Humanity of Jesus is one of the fundamental truths of the mystery of the Incarnation. Our divine mediator is called Christ because of the anointing which He received;[1] and His anointing results from the union of His Humanity with the Holy Ghost.[2] This union is indissoluble; eternally will the Word be united to His Humanity; eternally, also, will the holy Spirit give to this Humanity the anointing which makes Christ. Hence it follows, that the Church, being the body of Christ, shares in the union existing between its divine Head and the Holy Ghost. The Christian, too, receives in Baptism an anointing by the Holy Ghost, who, from that time forward, dwells in him as the pledge of his eternal inheritance:[3] but, whilst the Christian may by sin forfeit this union, which is the principle of his supernatural life, the Church herself never can lose it. The Holy Ghost is united to the Church for ever; it is by Him she exists, acts, and triumphs over all those difficulties, to which by the divine permission she is exposed while militant on earth.

St. Augustine thus admirably expresses this doctrine in one of his sermons for the feast of Pentecost: ‘The spirit, by which every man lives, is called the soul. Now, observe what it is that our soul does in the body. It is the soul that gives life to all the members; it sees by the eye, it hears by the ear, it smells by the nose, it speaks by the tongue, it works by the hands, it walks by the feet. It is present to each member, giving life to them all, and to each one its office. It is not the eye that hears, nor the ear and tongue that see, nor the ear and eye that speak; and yet they all live; their functions are varied, their life is one and the same. So it is in the Church of God. In some saints she works miracles; in other saints she teaches the truth; in others she practises virginity; in others she maintains conjugal chastity. She does one thing in one class, and another in another: each individual has his distinct work to do; but there is one and the same life in them all. Now, what the soul is to the body of man, that the Holy Ghost is to the body of Christ, which is the Church: the Holy Ghost does in the whole Church what the soul does in all the members of one body.’[4]

Here we have a clear exposition, by means of which we can fully understand the life and workings of the Church. The Church is the body of Christ, and the Holy Ghost is the principle which gives her life. He is her soul—not only in that limited sense in which we have already spoken of the soul of the Church, that is, of her inward existence, and which, after all, is the result of the holy Spirit’s action within her—but He is also her soul, in that her whole interior and exterior life, and all her workings, proceed from Him. The Church is undying, because the love, which has led the Holy Ghost to dwell within her, will last for ever: and here we have the reason of that perpetuity of the Church, which is the most wonderful spectacle witnessed by the world.

Let us now pass on, and consider that other marvel, which consists in the preservation of unity in the Church. It is said of her in the Canticle: 1 One is my dove; my perfect one is One.’[5] Jesus would have but one, and not many, to be His Church, His bride: the Holy Ghost will, therefore, see to the accomplishment of His wish. Let us respectfully follow Him in His workings here also. And firstly, is it possible, viewing the thing humanly, that a society should exist for eighteen hundred years, and never change? Nay, could it have continued all that time, even allowing it to have changed as often as you will? And during these long ages, this society has necessarily had to encounter, and from its own members, the tempests of human passions, which are ever showing themselves, and which not un frequently play havoc with the grandest institutions. It has always been composed of nations differing from each other in language, character, and customs; either so far apart as not to know each other, or, when neighbours, estranged one from the other by national jealousies and antipathies. And yet, notwithstanding all this—notwithstanding, too, the political revolutions which have made up the history of the world—the Catholic Church has maintained her changeless unity: one faith, one visible head, one worship (at least in the essentials), one mode of deciding every question, namely, by tradition and authority. Sects have risen up in every age, each sect giving itself out as the true Church: they lasted for a while, short or long according to circumstances, and then were forgotten. Where are now the Arians with their strong political party? Where are the Nestorians, and Eutychians, and Monothelites, with their interminable cavillings? Could anything be imagined more powerless and effete than the Greek schism, slave either to Sultan or Czar? What is there left of Jausenism, which wore itself away in striving to keep in the Church in spite of the Church? As to Protestantism, the produce of the principle of negation, was it not broken up into sections from its very beginning, so as never to be able to form one society? And is it not now reduced to such straits, that it can with difficulty retain dogmas, which, at first, it looked upon as fundamental, such as the inspiration of the Scriptures, or the Divinity of Christ?

Whilst all else is change and ruin, our mother the holy Catholic Church, the one bride of the Emmanuel, stands forth grand and beautiful in her unity. But how are we to account for it? Is it, that Catholics are of one nature, and sectarians of another? Orthodox or heterodox, are we not all members of the same human race, subject to the same passions and errors? Whence do the children of the Catholic Church derive that stability, which is not affected by time, nor influenced by the variety of national character, nor shaken by those revolutions that have changed dynasties and countries? Only one reasonable explanation can be given: there is a divine element in all this. The Holy Ghost, who is the soul of the Church, acts upon all the members; and as He Himself is One, He produces unity in the body He animates. He cannot contradict Himself: nothing, therefore, subsists by Him, which is not in union with Him.

To-morrow, we will speak of what the Holy Ghost does for maintaining faith, one and unvarying, in the whole body of the Church; let us, to-day, limit our considerations to this single point, namely, that the holy Spirit is the source of external union by voluntary submissson to one centre of unity. Jesus had said: ‘Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church:’[6] now, Peter was to die; the promise, therefore, could not refer to his person alone, but to the whole line of his successors, even to the end of the world. How stupendous is the action of the Holy Ghost, who thus produces a dynasty of spiritual princes, which has reached its two hundred and fiftieth Pontiff, and is to continue to the last day! No violence is offered to man’s free will; the holy Spirit permits him to attempt what opposition he lists; but the work of God must go forward. A Decius may succeed in causing a four years’ vacancy in the See of Rome; antipopes may arise, supported by popular favour, or upheld by the policy of emperors; a long schism may render it difficult to know the real Pontiff among the several who claim it: the holy Spirit will allow the trial to have its course, and, while it lasts, will keep up the faith of His children; the day will come when He will declare the lawful Pastor of the flock, and the whole Church will enthusiastically acknowledge him as such.

In order to understand the whole marvel of this supernatural influence, it is not enough to know the extrinsic results as told us by history; we must study it in its own divine reality. The unity of the Church is not like that which a conqueror forces upon a people that has become tributary to him. The members of the Church are united in oneness of faith and submission, because they love the yoke she imposes on their freedom and their reason. But who is it, that thus brings human pride to obey? Who is it, that makes joy and contentment be felt in a life-long practice of subordination? Who is it that brings man to put his security and happiness in having no individual views of his own, and in conforming his judgment to one supreme teaching, even in matters where the world chafes at control? It is the Holy Ghost who works this manifold and permanent miracle, for He it is who gives soul and harmony to the vast aggregate of the Church, and sweetly infuses into all these millions a union of heart and mind which forms for our Lord Jesus Christ His one dear bride.

During the days of His mortal life, Jesus prayed His eternal Father to bless us with unity: ‘May they be one, as we also are.’[7] He prepares us for it, when He calls us to become His members; but, in order to achieve this union, He sends His Spirit into the world, that Spirit, who is the eternal link between the Father and the Son, and who deigns to accept a temporal mission among men, in order to create on the earth a union formed after the type of the union which is in God Himself.

We give Thee thanks, O blessed Spirit! who, by dwelling thus within the Church of Christ, inspirest us to love and practise unity, and suffer every evil rather than break it. Strengthen it within us, and never permit us to deviate from it by even the slightest want of submission. Thou art the soul of the Church; oh! give us to be members ever docile to Thy inspirations, for we could not belong to Jesus who sent Thee, unless we belong to the Church, His bride and our mother, whom He redeemed with His Blood, and gave to Thee to form and guide.

Next Saturday, the ordination of priests and sacred ministers is to take place throughout the whole Church. The Sacrament of Orders is one of the principal workings of the Holy Ghost, who comes into the souls of those who are presented for ordination, and impresses upon them, by the bishop’s hands, the character of priesthood or deaconship. The Church prescribes a three days’ fast and abstinence; with the intention of obtaining from God’s mercy, that the grace thus given may fructify in those who receive it, and bring a blessing upon the faithful. This is the first of the three days.

At Rome, the station is in the basilica of Saint Mary Major. It was but right that on one of the days of this great octave the faithful should meet together under the protection of the Mother of God, whose participation in the mystery of Pentecost, was a glory and a blessing to the infant Church.

We will close this day with one of the finest of Adam of Saint Victor’s sequences on the mystery of the Holy Ghost. 



Lux jocunda, lux insignis,
Qua de throno missus ignis
In Christi discipulos
Corda replet, linguas ditat,
Ad concordes nos invitat
Linguæ cordis modulos.

Christus misit quod promisit
Pignus sponsae, quam revisit
Die quinquagesima;
Post dulcorem melleum
Petra fudit oleum,
Petra jam firmissima.

In tabellis saxeis,
Non in linguis igneis,
Lex de monte populo;
Paucis cordis novitas
Et linguarum unitas,
Datur in cœnaculo.

O quam felix, quam festiva
Dies, in qua primitiva
Fundatur Ecclesia!
Vivæ sunt primitiæ
Nascentis Ecclesiae,
Tria primum millia.

Panes legis primitivi,
Sub una sunt adoptivi
Fide duo populi:
Se duobus interjecit
Sicque duos unum fecit
Lapis, caput anguli.

Utres novi, non vetusti,
Sunt capaces novi musti:
Vasa parat vidua:
Liquorem dat Eliseus:
Nobis sacrum rorem
Deus, Si corda sint congrua.

Non hoc musto vel liquore,
Non hoc sumus digni rore,
Si discordes moribus.
In obscuris vel divisis,
Non potest haec
Paradisis Habitare cordibus.

Consolator alme veni:
Linguas rege, corda leni:
Nihil fellis aut veneni
Sub tua praesentia.
Nil jocundum, nil amoenum,
Nil salubre, nil serenum,
Nihil dulce, nihil plenum,
Sine tua gratia.

Tu lumen es et unguentum,
Tu cœleste condimentum,
Aquæ ditans elementum
Virtute mysterii.
Nova facti creatura,
Te laudamus mente pura,
Gratiæ nunc, sed natura
Prius irae filii.

Tu qui dator es et donum,
Nostri cordis omne bonum,
Cor ad laudem redde pronum,
Nostræ linguæ formans sonum,
In tua præconia.

Tu nos purga a peccatis,
Auctor ipse puritatis,
Et in Christo renovatis
Da perfectae novitatis
Plena nobis gaudia!

The glad and glorious light
—wherewith the heaven-sent Fire
filled the hearts of Jesus’ disciples
and gave them to speak in divers tongues
—invites us now to sing our hymns
with hearts in concord with the voice.

On the fiftieth day,
Christ revisited his bride,
by sending her the pledge he had promised.
After tasting the honeyed sweetness,
Peter, now the firmest of rocks,
pours forth the unction of his preaching.

The Law, of old,
was given on the mount to the people,
but it was written on tablets of stone,
and not on fiery tongues: but in the cenacle,
there was given to a chosen few
newness of heart and knowledge of all tongues.

O happy, O festive day,
whereon was founded
the primitive Church!
Three thousand souls!
Oh! how vigorous the first fruits
of the new born Church!

The two loaves commanded
to be offered in the ancient Law
prefigured the two adopted
people now made one; the stone,
the head of the corner,
set himself between the two, and made both one.

New wine may not be put
into old bottles, but into new:
the widow prepares her vessels,
and Eliseus fills them with oil:
so, too, our God gives us his heavenly dew,
if our hearts be ready.

If our lives be disorderly,
we are not fit to receive the wine,
or the oil,
or the dew.
The Paraclete can never dwell
in dark or divided hearts.

O dear Comforter, come!
govern our tongues, soften our hearts:
where thou art, must be no gall or poison.
Nothing is joyous, nothing pleasant,
nothing wholesome,
nothing peaceful,
nothing sweet, nothing full,
save by thy grace.

Thou art light and unction;
thou the heavenly Saviour
that enrichest the element of water
with mysterious power.
We praise thee with hearts made pure;
we that have been made a new creature;
we that once, by nature, were children of wrath,
but now children of grace.

O thou, the Giver and the Gift.
O thou, the only good of our hearts!
make our hearts eager to praise thee,
and teach our tongues
to sound forth thy glory.

Do thou, O Author of purity,
purify us from sin!
Renew us in Christ;
and then, give us the full joy
of perfect newness!


[1] Ps. xliv. 8.
[2] Acts, x. 38.
[3] Eph. i. 14.
[4] Serm. cclxvii. In die Pentecostes.
[5] Cant. vi. 8.
[6] St. Matth. xvi. 18.
[7] St. John, xvii. 11.


From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

The gift of knowledge has taught us what we must do and what we must avoid, in order that we may be such as Jesus, our divine Master, wishes us to be. We now need another gift of the Holy Ghost, from which to draw the energy necessary for persevering in the way He has pointed out to us. Difficulties we are sure to have; and our need of support is proved enough by the miserable failures we are daily witnessing. This support the Holy Ghost grants us by the gift of fortitude, which, if we but faithfully use it, will enable us to master every difficulty, yea, will make it easy to us to overcome the obstacles which would impede our onward march.

When the difficulties and trials of life come upon him, man is tempted, sometimes to cowardice and discouragement, sometimes to an impetuosity which arises either from his natural temperament or from pride. These are poor aids to the soul in her spiritual combat. The Holy Ghost, therefore, brings her a new element of strength: it is supernatural fortitude, which is so peculiarly His gift, that when our Saviour instituted the seven sacraments, He would have one of them be for the special object of giving us the Holy Ghost as a principle of energy. It is evident that, having to fight during our whole lives against the devil, the world, and ourselves, we need some better power of resistance than either pusillanimity or daring. We need some gift, which will control both our fear, and the confidence we are at times inclined to have in ourselves. Thus gifted by the Holy Ghost, man is sure of victory; for grace will supply the deficiencies, and correct the impetuosities of nature.

There are two necessities, which are ever making themselves felt in the Christian life: the power of resistance, and the power of endurance. What could we do against the temptations of satan, if the fortitude of the holy Spirit did not clothe us with heavenly armour and nerve us for the battle? And is not the world, too, a terrible enemy? Have we not reason to dread it when we see how it is every day making victims by the tyranny of its claims and its maxims? What, then, must be the assistance of the Holy Ghost, which is to make us invulnerable to the deadly shafts that are dealing destruction around us?

The passions of the human heart are another obstacle to our salvation and sanctification; they are the more to be feared, because they are within us. It is requisite that the Holy Ghost change our heart, and lead it to deny itself as often as the light of grace points out to us a way other than that which selflove would have us follow. What supernatural fortitude we need in order to hate our life,[1] as often as our Lord bids us make a sacrifice, or when we have to choose which of the two masters we will serve![2] The holy Spirit is daily working this marvel by means of the gift of fortitude: so that, we have but to correspond to the gift, and not stifle it either by cowardice or indiscretion, and we are strong enough to resist even our domestic enemies. This blessed gift of fortitude teaches us to govern our passions and treat them as blind guides; it also teaches us never to follow their instincts, save when they are in harmony with the law of God.

There are times, when the holy Spirit requires from a Christian something beyond interior resistance to the enemies of his soul: he must make an outward protestation against error and evil, as often as position or duty demands it. On such occasions, he must bear to become unpopular, and console himself with the words of the apostle: ‘If I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.’[3] But the Holy Ghost will be on his side; and finding him resolute in using His gift of fortitude, not only will He give him a final triumph, but He generally blesses that soul with a sweet and courageous peace, which is the result and recompense of a duty fulfilled.

Thus does the Holy Ghost apply the gift of fortitude, when there is question of a Christian’s making resistance. But, as we have already said, He imparts also the energy necessary for bearing up against the trials, which all must go through who would save their souls. There are certain fears, which damp our courage, and expose us to defeat. The gift of fortitude dispels them, and braces us with such a peaceful confidence, that we ourselves are surprised at the change. Look at the martyrs: not merely at such an one as Saint Mauritius, the leader of the Theban legion, who was accustomed to face danger on the battle-field; but at Felicitas, a mother of seven children; at Perpetua, a high-born lady with everything this world could give her; at Agnes, a girl of thirteen; and at thousands of others like them: and say, if the gift of fortitude is not a prompter to heroism. Where is the fear of death—that death the very thought of which is sometimes more than we can bear? And what are we to say of all those lives spent in self-abnegation and privation with a view to make Jesus their only treasure and to be the more closely united with Him? What are we to say of those hundreds and thousands of our fellow-creatures who shun the sight of a distracted and vain world, and make sacrifice their rule? whose peacefulness is proof against every trial, and whose acceptance of the cross is as untiring as the cross itself is in its visit? What trophies are these of the Spirit of fortitude! and how magnificent is the devotedness He creates for every possible duty! Oh! truly, man of himself is of little worth; but, how grand when under the influence of the Holy Ghost!

It is the same divine Spirit who also gives the Christian courage to withstand the vile temptation of human respect, by raising him above those worldly considerations which would make him disloyal to duty. It is He that leads man to prefer, to every honour this world could bestow, the happiness of never violating the law of his God. It is the Spirit of fortitude that makes him look upon the reverses of fortune as so many merciful designs of Providence; that consoles him, when death bereaves him of those who are dear to him; that cheers him under bodily Bufferings, which would be so hard to bear but for bis taking them as visits from his heavenly Father, In a word, it is He, as we learn from the lives of the saints, that turns the very repugnances of nature into matter for heroic acts, wherein man seems to go beyond the limits of his frail mortality and emulate the impassible and glorified spirits of heaven.

O divine Spirit of fortitude! take full possession of our souls, and keep us from the effeminacies of the age we live in. Never was there such lack of energy as now, never was the worldly spirit more rife, never was sensuality more unbridled, never were pride and independence more the fashion of the world. So forgotten and unheeded are the maxims of the Gospel, that when we witness the fortitude of self-restraint and abnegation, we are as surprised as though we beheld a prodigy. O holy Paraclete! preserve us from this anti-Christian spirit, which is so easily imbibed! Suffer us to present to Thee, in the form of prayer, the advice given by Saint Paul to the Christians of Ephesus: ‘Give us, we beseech Thee, the armour of God, that we may be able to resist in the evil day, and to stand in all things perfect. Gird our reins with truth; arm us with the breast-plate of justice; let our feet be shod with the love and practice of the Gospel of peace; give us the shield of faith, wherewith we may be able to extinguish all the fiery darts of the most wicked one; cover us with the helmet of the hope of salvation; put into our hand the spiritual sword, which is the word of God,’[4] and by which we, as did our Jesus in the desert, may defeat all our enemies! O Spirit of fortitude! hear, we beseech Thee, and grant our prayer!

[1] St. John, xii, 25.
[2] St. Matth. vi. 24.
[3] Gal. i. 10.
[4] Eph. vi. 11-17.


From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

Veni, sancte Spiritus, reple tuorum corda fidelium, et tui amoris in eis ignem accende.
Come, O holy Spirit, fill the hearts of thy faithful, and enkindle within them the fire of thy love.

The divine Spirit has been sent to secure unity to the bride of Christ; and we have seen how faithfully He fulfils His mission, by giving to the members of the Church to be one, as He Himself is one. But the bride of a God, who is, as He calls Himself, the truth,[1] must be in the truth, and can have no fellowship with error. Jesus entrusted His teachings to her care, and has instructed her in the person of the apostles. He said to them: ‘All things whatsoever I have heard of My Father, I have made known to you.’[2] And yet, if left unaided, how can the Church preserve free from all change, during the long ages of her existence, that word which Jesus has not written, that truth which He came from heaven to teach her? Experience proves that everything changes here below; that written documents are open to false interpretations; and that unwritten traditions are frequently so altered in the course of time, as to defy recognition.

Here again we have a proof of our Lord’s watchful love. In order to realize the wish He had to see us one, as He and His Father are one,[3] He sent us His Spirit; and in order to keep us in the truth, He sent us this same Spirit who is called the Spirit of truth. ‘When the Spirit of truth is come,’ said He, ‘He will teach you all truth.’[4] And what is the truth which this Spirit will teach us? ‘He will teach you all things, and bring all things to your mind, whatsoever I shall have said to you.’[5]

So that nothing of what the divine Word spoke to men is to be lost. The beauty of His bride is to be based on truth, for ‘beauty is the splendour of truth.’ Her fidelity to her Jesus shall be of the most perfect kind; for if He be the truth, how could she ever be out of the truth? Jesus had said:’I will ask the Father, and He shall give you another Paraclete, that He may abide with you for ever; and He shall be in you.’[6] It is by the Holy Ghost, then, that the Church is ever to possess the truth, and that nothing can rob her of it; for this Spirit, who is sent by the Father and the Son, will abide unceasingly with and in her.

The magnificent theory of St. Augustine comes most appropriately here. According to his teaching—which, after all, is but the explanation of the texts just cited—the Holy Ghost is the principle of the Church’s life; and He, being the Spirit of truth, preserves and directs her in the truth, so that both her teaching and her practice cannot be other than expressions of the truth. He makes Himself responsible for her words. jnst as our spirit is responsible for what our tongue utters. Hence it is that the Church, by her union with the Holy Ghost, is so identified with truth, that the apostle did not hesitate to call her ‘the pillar and ground of the truth’.[7] The Christian, therefore, may well rest on the Church in all that regards faith. He knows that the Church is never alone; that she is always with the holy Spirit who lives within her; that her word is not her own, hut the word of the Spirit, which is the word of Jesus.

Now, this word of Jesus is preserved in the Church by the Holy Ghost, and in two ways. He guards it as contained in the four Gospels, which the evangelists wrote under His inspiration. It is by His watchful care that these holy writings have been kept free from all change during the past ages. The same is to be said of the other books of the new Testament, which were also written under the guidance of the same Spirit. Those of the old Testament are equally the result of the inspiration of the Holy Ghost: and, although they do not give us the words spoken by our Saviour during His mortal life, yet do they speak of Him, and foretell His coming, and contain, moreover, the primitive revelations made by God to mankind. The Books of sacred Writ are replete with mysteries, the interpretation of which is communicated to the Church by the Holy Ghost.

The other channel of Jesus’ word is tradition. It was impossible for everything to be written; and even before the Gospels were composed, the Church was in existence. Tradition, like the written word itself, is from God; but unless the Spirit of truth watch over and protect it, how can it remain pure and intact? He therefore fixes it in the memory of the Church, He preserves it from change: it is His mission; and thanks to the fidelity wherewith He fulfils His mission, the Church remains in possession of the whole treasure left her by her Spouse.

But it is not enough that the Church possesses the word, written and traditional: she must also have the understanding of that word, in order that she may explain it to her children. Truth came down from heaven that it might be communicated to men; for it is their light, and without it they would be in darkness, knowing not whither they are going.[8] The Spirit of truth could not, therefore, be satisfied if the word of Jesus were kept as a hidden treasure; no, He will have it thrown open to men, that they may thence draw life to their souls. Consequently, the Church will have to be infallible in her teaching; for how can she be deceived herself, or deceive others, seeing it is the Spirit of truth who guides her in all things and speaks by her mouth? He is her soul; and we have already had St. Augustine telling us that when the tongue speaks, the soul is responsible.

The infallibility of our holy mother the Church is the direct and immediate result of her having the Spirit of truth abiding within her. It is the promise made to her by Jesus; it is the necessary consequence of the presence of the holy Spirit. The man who does not acknowledge the Church to be infallible, should, if he be consistent, admit that the Son of God has not been able to fulfil His promise, and that the Spirit of truth is a Spirit of error. But he that reasons thus, has strayed from the path of life; he thought he was but denying a prerogative to the Church, whereas, in reality, he has refused to believe God Himself. It is this that constitutes the sin of heresy. Want of due reflection may hide the awful conclusion; but the conclusion is strictly implied in his principle. The heretic is at variance with the Holy Ghost, because he is at variance with the Church; he may become once more a living member, by humbly returning to the bride of Christ; but at present he is dead, for the soul is not animating him. Let us again give ear to the great St. Augustine: ‘It sometimes happens,’ he says, ‘that a member—say a hand, or finger, or foot—is cut from the human body; tell me, does the soul follow the member that is thus severed? As long as it was in the body, it lived; now that it is cut off, it is dead. In the same manner, a Christian is a Catholic so long as he lives in the body (of the Church); cut off, he is a heretic; the Spirit follows not a member that is cut off.’[9] Glory, then, be to the holy Spirit, who has conferred upon the bride the ‘splendour of truth!’ With regard to ourselves: could we, without incurring the greatest of dangers, put limits to the docility wherewith we receive teachings which come to us simultaneously from ‘the Spirit and the bride,’ who are so indissolubly united?[10] Whether the Church intimates what we are to believe, by showing us her own practice, or by simply expressing her sentiments, or by solemnly pronouncing a definition on the subject, we must receive her word with submission of heart. Her practice is ever in harmony with the truth, and it is the Holy Ghost, her life-giving principle, that keeps it so; the utterance of her sentiments is but an aspiration of that same Spirit, who never leaves her; and as to the definitions she decrees, it is not she alone that decrees them, but the Holy Ghost who decrees them in and by her. If it be the visible head of the Church who utters the definition, we know that Jesus prayed that Peter’s faith might never fail,[11] that He obtained it from the Father, and that He gave the Holy Ghost the mission of perpetuating this precious prerogative granted to Peter. If it be the sovereign Pontiff and bishops, assembled in council, who proclaim what is the faith on any given subject, it is the Holy Ghost who speaks by this collective judgement, makes truth triumph, and puts error to flight. It is this divine Spirit that has given to the bride to crush all heresies beneath her feet; it is He that, in all ages, has raised up within her learned men, who have confuted error whensoever or wheresoever it was broached.

So that our beloved mother the Church is gifted with infallibility; she is true, always and in all things; and she is indebted for this to Him who proceeds eternally from the Father and the Son. But there is auother glory which she owes to Him. The bride of the thrice holy God could not but be holy. She is so; and it is from the Spirit of holiness that she receives her holiness. Truth and holiness are inseparably united in God. Hence it is that our Saviour, who willed us to be perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect,[12] and, creatures as we are, would have us take the infinite good as our model, prayed that we might be sanctified in the truth.[13]

Jesus, therefore, consgined His bride to the direction of the Spirit, that He might make her holy. Holiness is so inherent in this divine Spirit, that it is His very name. Jesus Himself calls Him the Holy Ghost;[14] so that it is on the authority of the Son of God that we call Him by this beautiful name. The Father is power; the Son is truth; the Spirit is holiness: and it is for this reason that the Spirit has, here below, the office of Sanctifier; although the Father and the Son are holy, just as truth is in the Father and the Spirit, and power is in the Spirit and the Sou. The three Persons of the blessed Trinity have each His special property, but They are all one in essence or nature. Now, the special property of the Holy Ghost is love, and love produces holiness; for it unites the sovereign Good with the soul that loves Him, and this union is holiness, which is the splendour of goodness, as beauty is the splendour of truth.

That she might be worthy, then, of the Emmanuel, her Spouse, the Church was to be holy. He gave her truth, and the divine Paraclete has preserved it within her: the Spirit is to endow her with holiness; and the Father, seeing her true and holy, will adopt her as His daughter:—this is her glorious destiny. Let us now see what proofs she gives of her being holy. The first is her fidelity to her Spouse. History is one long testimony of this her fidelity. Every possible snare has been laid, every sort of violence has been used, to make her unfaithful: she has bravely withstood them all: she has sacrificed everything, her blood, her peace, the very countries where she reigned, rather than allow what Jesus had entrusted to her to be corrupted or changed. Count, if you can, her martyrs, from the apostles down to our own times, who have died for the faith. Call to mind the offers made to her by the potentates of the earth, soliciting her to dissemble the truth. Think of the threats and persecutions whereby the world sought to make her withdraw one or other dogma of her Creed. Who that knows aught of past or present history, can forget the great battle she fought against the emperors of Germany in defence of the liberty wherewith her Jesus had made her free, and of which He is so jealous; or the noble love of justice she evinced, when her refusal to sanction by an unlawful dispensation the adultery of a king, was to be followed by the apostasy of England; or the high-minded love of principle she showed in the person of Pius IX, when she braved the clamours of modern infidelity, yea, and the cowardly remonstrances of temporizing Catholics, rather than allow a Jewish boy who had been baptized when in danger of death, to be exposed to the temptation of denying his faith and blaspheming the Saviour who had made him His child?

Such has been, and such ever will be, the conduct of the Church, because she is holy in her fidelity, and because the divine Spirit inspires her with a love which overleaps everything when duty is at stake. She can show the code of her laws to her enemies as well as to her faithful children, and defy them to point out a single enactment that has not been made with a view to procure the glory of her Jesus and lead mankind to virtue. The observance of these her laws has given to God millions of saints, whom she has produced through the influence of the Holy Ghost. The Church claims each one of those myriads of the elect as the fruit of her maternal care. Even those whom Providence has permitted to be born of heretical parents—if they have lived in the disposition of mind of entering the true Church as soon as they should find it, and have faithfully corresponded, by a virtuous life, to the grace given to them through the merits of the Redeemer—they, too, are children of the Church.

She is the school of devoted ness and heroism. Virtues, of which men knew not so much as the name before she was founded, are now being practised in every country of the world. There are extraordinary actions of saintliness, which she rewards with the honour of canonization; there are the more humble and hidden virtues, which are to be published only on the day of judgement. The precepts of Jesus are observed by all His disciples; they obey Him as their dear Master. This Master has also His counsels, which all cannot follow, but which afford the Church a new scope for the development of her gift of holiness. Not only are there individual and generous souls who fervently practise these counsels; there are the religious Orders, whose aim is perfection, and whose first law is the obligation, under vow, of observing the evangelical counsels, unitedly with the precepts; and these Orders are produced in the Church by the action of the Spirit of holiness.

After this, we cannot wonder at her having the gift of miracles, which is the outward mark of holiness. It is a supernatural gift, which our Lord told her she should always possess.[15] Now, the apostle assures us, that the working of miracles comes directly from the Holy Ghost.[16]

It may be objected that all the members of the Church are not holy: to this we reply, that she offers to all the means of becoming so, but that their freewill may, and frequently does, reject such means. Free-will has been granted to man that he might thereby merit; and it is a contradiction in terms to say that he who has free-will is, at the same time, necessitated to choose good. Moreover, an immense number of those who are now in a state of sin, but who are members of the Church by faith and respectful submission to her lawful pastors, and particularly to the sovereign Pontiff, will sooner or later be reconciled to God and die in holy dispositions. It is the mercy of the Holy Ghost that works this wonderful change, and He works it through the Church, who, imitating her divine Spouse, breaketh not the bruised reed, nor quencheth the smoking flax.[17]

How could she be otherwise than holy, who has received, in order to administer them to her children, the seven sacraments, of which we have spoken in one of the preceding weeks? What more holy than these divine rites, some of which give life to sinners, and others an increase of grace to the just? These sacraments, which were instituted by Christ and given in heritage to His Church, all bear some relation to the Holy Ghost. In Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Orders, His operation is direct; in the eucharistic sacrifice, it is by His action that the Man-God lives and is immolated on our altars; it is He that restores baptismal grace by Penance; He is the Spirit of fortitude, who strengthens the dying by Extreme Unction; He is the sacred link which inseparably unites husband and wife together in the sacrament of Matrimony. Our Jesus gave us these seven sacraments as a pledge of His love, when He left us to return to His Father; but the treasure remained sealed up until the descent of the Holy Ghost. It was for Him to prepare the bride, by sanctifying her, to receive these precious gifts into her royal hands, and to administer them faithfully to her children; it was for Him, therefore, to put her in possession of them.

Lastly, the Church is holy because of her ceaseless prayer. He who is the Spirit of grace and of prayers,[18] is ever producing, in the children of the Church, those varied acts of adoration, thanksgiving, petition, repentance, and love, which constitute the sublime concert of prayer. To these He adds, for many of the faithful, the gifts of contemplation, whereby either the creature is raised up to his God, or God comes down to him, with favours which seem only fit for such as are already in heaven. Who could enumerate the aspirations, we mean the effusions of love, which the holy bride sends up to her Jesus in those millions of prayers, which are day and night ascending from earth to heaven, and seem to unite the two in the embrace of closest intimacy? How could she be otherwise than holy, who, as the apostle so forcibly expresses it, has her conversation in heaven?[19]

But if the individual prayer offered up by her children is thus admirable by its multiplicity and its ardour, how beautiful and grand must be the united prayer of the Church herself in her liturgy, wherein the Holy Ghost acts with all the plenitude of His inspiration, and puts upon her lips those thrilling and sublime words, which we have undertaken to explain in our Liturgical Year! We would ask those who have followed us thus far, if the liturgy is not the best of all prayers, and the guide and soul of their own individual prayer? Let them, therefore, love the holy mother who gives them to partake of her own abundance. Let them glorify the Spirit of grace and of prayers for all that He so mercifully deigns to do both for her and for them!

O Church of our God! thou art sanctified in truth! By thee we are taught the whole doctrine of our Jesus! By thee we are put in the path of that holiness, which is thy very life. What would we have more, having truth and holiness? They that seek them out of thee, seek in vain. Happy we, who have nothing to seek, because we have thee for our mother, who art ever lavishing upon us all thy grand gifts and lights! Oh! how beautiful art thou on this solemnity of Pentecost, which gave thee the riches thou givest to us! We gaze with delighted wonder at the magnificent prerogatives prepared for thee by thy Jesus, and communicated to thee by the Holy Ghost. And now that we know thee better, we will love thee with warmer hearts!

The Station for the Thursday of Whitsuntide is in the basilica of St. Laurence outside the walls. This venerable church, where lie the relics of the intrepid archdeacon of Rome, is one of the grandest trophies of the victory gained by the Holy Ghost over the prince of this world. This annual assembly of the faithful in so holy a place, and for all these long ages, is an eloquent testimony to the completeness of that victory, which made Rome and her power subject to Christ.

The Armenian Church comes, for the fourth time, to aid us in our homage to the Holy Ghost. The richest fragrance of antiquity is in the stanzas we select for to-day.

(Canon quintæ diei.)

Hodie exsultant chori apostolorum adventu Spiritus Dei, quos consolatus est loco Verbi incarnati, degens apud illos: gloriam offeramus illi agiologa voce.

Hodie exiit aqua viva in Jerusalem, unde repleta sunt flumina Dei, et currentes inebriarunt terrarum orbem quadrifluvio fonte Eden; gloriam offeramus illi agiologa voce.

Hodie rore intelligibli de nubibus Spiritus lætata sunt germina Ecclesiae, pinguefacti sunt agri justitia, speciosa effecta est deserta pura virginitate; gloriam offeramus illi agiologa voce.
To-day, the choir of apostles rejoice at the coming of the Spirit of God: he consoles them, he lives with them, taking the place of the Incarnate Word. Let us offer him our holy songs of praise!

To-day, a living water sprang up in Jerusalem: it filled the rivers of God, which ran through the whole earth, inebriating it with the fourfold fountain of Eden. Let us offer him our holy songs of praise!

To-day, the young plants of the Church were gladdened with spiritual dew from the clouds of the Spirit; the fields were made rich in justice; the desert was made to bloom with purest virginity. Let us offer him our holy songs of praise!

We subjoin a sequence from Germany; in which her illustrious prophetess, the holy abbess Hildegarde, gives expression to her love of the divine Spirit, whose inspiration she almost uninterruptedly enjoyed and obeyed.


O ignis Spiritus Paraclite,
Vita vitae omnis creaturae.

Sanctus es, vivificando Formas.
Sanctus es ungendo Periculose fractos.
Sanctus es tergendo Foetida vulnera.

O spiraculum sanctitatis,
O ignis charitatis,
O dulcis gustus
In pectoribus, et infusio cordium
In bono odore virtutum!

O fons purissimus, in quo consideratur
Quod Deus alienos Colligit, et perditos requirit.

O lorica vitæ,
Et spes compaginis
Membrorum omnium!

O cingulum honestatis,
Salva beatos!

Custodi eos qui carcerati sunt ab inimico,
Et solve ligatos, quos divina vis salvare vult.

O iter fortissimum, quod penetravit omnia,
In altissimis, e in terrenis, et in omnibus abyssis,

Quum omnes componis
Et colligis.

De te nubes fluunt, Æther volat, 
Lapides humorem habent, 
Aquæ rivulos educunt Et terra viriditatem sudat.

Tu etiam semper educis doctos, 
Per inspirationem sapientiae Laetificatos.

Unde laus tibi sit, 
Qui es sonus laudis Et gaudium vitæ, 
Spes et honor fortissimus,
Dans praemia lucis. 

O sacred Fire! O Paraclete, Spirit!
thou art the life of every creature’s life.

Thou art the Holy One, vivifying all beings!
Thou art the Holy One, healing with thine unction them that are dangerously bruised!
Thou art the Holy One, cleansing our festered wounds!

O breath of holiness!
O fire of charity!
O thou sweet Saviour
of the soul, and the heart’s infusion
of the pleasing odour of virtues!

O purest fount! wherein is reflected the mercy of God,
who adopts aliens for his children, and goes in search of them that are lost.

O breast-plate of life,
that givest all the members hope
of compact strength!

O girdle of beautiful energy,
save us thy happy people!

Be the protector of them that have been imprisoned by the enemy!
Loose the bonds of them whom God’s power would save!

O way, which nothing can resist!
that penetratest heaven and earth, and every deep abyss,

bringing all to order
and unity!

‘Tis by thee that clouds glide in the firmament, that air wings its flight,
that rocks yield springs,
that waters flow, and earth gives forth her verdure.

‘Tis thou that leadest men to knowledge,
gladdening them with the inspiration of wisdom.

Praise, then, be to thee,
O thou praise-yielding Spirit, thou joy of life,
our hope, our highest honour,
the giver of the reward of light!


[1] St. John, xiv. 6.
[2] Ibid. xv. 15.
[3] Ibid. xvii. 11.
[4] St. John, xvi. 13.
[5] Ibid. xiv. 26.
[6] Ibid. 16, 17.
[7] 1 Tim. iii. 15.
[8] St. John, xii. 35.
[9] Sermcclxvii. In die Pentecostes.
[10] Apoc. xxii. 17.
[11] St. Luke, xxii. 32.
[12] St. Matth. v. 48.
[13] St. John, xvii. 19.
[14] Ibid. xiv. 26. xx. 22, et alibi.
[15] St. John, xiv. 12.
[16] 1 Cor. xii. 11.
[17] Is. xlii. 3.
[18] Zach. xii. 10.
[19] Philipp. iii. 20.


From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

We have seen how necessary for the sanctification of a Christian is the gift of fortitude; but it is not sufficient; there is need of another gift, which completes it. This other gift is Counsel. Fortitude needs direction. The gift of knowledge is not the guide of fortitude, and for this reason: knowledge teaches the soul her last end, and gives her general rules for her conduct; hut it does not bring her light sufficient for the special application of God’s law to particular cases, and for the practical doing of her duty. In those varied circumstances in which we are to be placed, and in the decisions we must then form, we shall have to hearken to the voice of the Holy Ghost, and this voice speaks to us through the gift of counsel. It will tell us, if we are attentive to its speaking, what we must do and what we must not do, what we must say and what we must not say, what we may keep and what we must give up. The Holy Ghost acts upon our understanding by the gift of counsel, as He acts upon our will by the gift of fortitude.

This precious gift bears upon our whole life; for we are continually obliged to be deciding on one of two sides or questions. How grateful, then, should we be to the Holy Ghost, who is ever ready to be our counsellor, if we will but permit Him! And if we follow His direction, what snares He will teach us to avoid! how many illusions He will dispel! bow grand the truths He will show us! But, in order that His inspirations may not be lost upon us, we must be on our guard against such miseries of our nature as the following: natural impulse, which is but too often the sole motive of our acts; rashness, which makes us follow whatever feeling happens to be uppermost in our mind; precipitation, which urges us to judge or act, before we have seen both sides of the case; and lastly, indifference, which makes us decide at haphazard, out of a repugnance we have to take the trouble of examining what is the best course to pursue.

By the gift of counsel, the Holy Ghost saves us from all these evils. He corrects the impetuosity, or, it may be, the apathy, of our temperament. He keeps the soul alive to what is true, and good, and conducive to her real interests. He introduces into the soul that virtue which completes and seasons every other—we mean discretion whereby the other virtues are harmonized and kept from extremes. Under the direction of the gift of counsel, the Christian has nothing to fear; the Holy Ghost takes the whole responsibility. What matters it, therefore, if the world find fault, or criticize, or express surprise, or be scandalized? The world thinks itself wise; but it has not the gift of counsel. Hence it often happens that what is undertaken by its advice, results in the very opposite to what was intended. Was it not of the world that God spoke, when He said:’My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor your ways my ways’?[1]

Let us, then, with all the ardour of our hearts, desire this divine gift, that will preserve us from the danger of being our own guides; but let us remember, it will only dwell in us on the condition of our allowing it to be master. If the Holy Ghost sees that we are not led by worldly principles, and that we acknowledge our own weakness, He will be our counsel; if He find that we are wise in our own eyes, He will withdraw His light, and leave us to ourselves.

O holy Spirit! we would not that Thou shouldst ever abandon us. Sad experience has taught us how fraught with danger is all human prudence. Most cheerfully do we promise Thee to mistrust our own ideas, which are so apt to blind and mislead us. Keep up within us the magnificent gift Thou gavest us at Baptism: be Thou our counsel, yea, unreservedly and for ever! Show me, O Lord, Thy ways, and teach me Thy paths. Direct me in Thy truth, and teach me: for Thou art the God who canst save me; therefore have I waited on Thee, all the day long.[2] We know that we are to be judged for all our works and intentions; but we know, too, that we have nothing to fear so long as we are faithful to Thy guidance. Therefore will we attentively hear what the Lord God will speak in us;[3] we will listen to Thee, O holy Spirit of counsel, whether Thou speakest to us directly Thyself, or whether Thou sendest us to those whom Thou shalt appoint as our guides. Blessed, then, be Jesus, who has sent us such a Counsellor! And blessed be Thou, O holy Spirit, who deignest to give us Thine aid, in spite of all our past resistance!

[1] Is. lv. 8.
[2] Ps. xxiv. 4, 5.
[3] Ibid. lxxxiv. 9.


From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

Veni, sancte Spiritus, reple tuorum corda fidelium, et tui amoris in eis ignem accende.
Come, O holy Spirit, fill the hearts of thy faithful, and enkindle within them the fire of thy love.

So far, we have considered the action of the Holy Ghost in the Church; we must now study His workings in the soul of the Christian. Here, also, we shall find fresh motives for admiration and gratitude towards this divine Paraclete, who so graciously condescends to minister to us in all our necessities, and lead us to the glorious end for which we were created.

As the Holy Ghost, who was sent that He might abide with us for ever,[1] exercises His power in upholding and guiding the Church, that thus she may be the faithful bride of Jesus; so, likewise, does He work in each one of us, that He may make us worthy members of our divine Head. This is His mission: to unite us so closely with Jesus, that we may be made one body with Him. His office is, to create us in the supernatural order, to give and maintain within us the life of grace, by applying to us the merits acquired for us by Jesus, our Mediator and our Saviour.

Let us begin by considering how sublime is this mission given by the Father and the Son to the Holy Ghost. In the Godhead, the Holy Ghost is produced, and does not produce. The Father begets the Son; the Father and the Son produce the Holy Ghost. This difference is founded on the divine Nature itself, which is not and cannot be but in three Persons. Hence, as the holy fathers teach, the Holy Ghost has received a fecundity outside, having none within, the Godhead. Thus, when the Humanity of the Son of God was to be produced in Mary’s womb, it was the Holy Ghost that achieved the mystery. Again, when the Christian is to be formed in the creature corrupted by original sin, it is the same holy Spirit who produces the new being. St. Augustine thus forcibly expresses himself: ‘The same grace that produced Christ when He first became Man, produces the Christian when He first becomes a believer; the same Spirit of whom Christ was conceived, is the principle of the new birth of the Christian.’[2]

We have dwelt at some length on the action of the Holy Ghost in the formation and government of the Church, because the chief work of this divine Spirit is to produce, here upon the earth, the bride of the Son of God, and because it is through her that all blessings come to us. She is the depository of a portion of the Paraclete’s graces, inasmuch as He is ever ready to serve her for our salvation and sanctification’s sake. It is for us, also, that He made her Catholic and visible to the world; and this, to the end that we might the more easily find her. It is for us that He maintains her in truth and holiness, that so we may drink our fill at these two sources of life-giving water. Coming now to consider what He does in the souls of men, the first marvel that demands our attention is His creative power. Is it not a veritable creation, when He raises a soul from the abyss of original sin, or from the still deeper fall of actual guilt, and instantly makes her an adopted child of God, and a member of the Son of God? The Father and the Son look with complacency upon this work of the Spirit, who is their own mutual love. They sent Him into the world that He might work, yea, work with sovereign authority; and wheresoever He reigns, there do They also reign.

This elect soul has been eternally present to the mind of the blessed Trinity. The time fixed by the divine decree having come, the Holy Ghost descends, and takes possession of this object of His love. Swifter than ever eagle to his prey, the Dove of infinite mercy flies to His destined habitation. If no hindrance be offered to His action by the creature’s free-will, there happens in her what St. Paul describes as happening in the Church herself: the things that were not become superior to the things that were,[3]and where sin abounded, grace is made to dwell in rich superabundance.[4]

We have already seen how our Emmanuel gave to water the power of purifying the soul; but we also remember how, when He went down into the Jordan stream, the Dove rested upon Him; hereby showing that He, the Spirit of God, took possession of the element of regeneration. The font of Baptism is His domain.’The water of Baptism,’ says the great St. Leo,’is like the virginal womb (that conceived Jesus) it gives to man a spiritual regeneration; for the same holy Spirit that gave fecundity to the Virgin, gives fecundity to the font, to the end that sin, of which there could be no question in the sacred conception (of the Son of God in Mary’s womb), may be washed away by the mystic font.’[5]

What tongue could describe the fond delight wherewith the holy Spirit looks upon the new creature that rises from the font, or the impetuosity of love wherewith He comes into such a soul? He is’the Gift of the Most High,’ sent that He may dwell within us. He takes up His abode in the new-born soul, be it that of an infant but one day old, or that of an adult advanced in years. He is well-pleased with the dwelling He has, from all eternity, longed to possess; He fills it with His glowing and His light; and being, by nature, one with the other divine Persons, He brings thither with Him the presence of the Father and the Son, and all Three abide in that happy soul![6]

But the Holy Ghost has here His own special action, His mission of sanctification: and in order that we may understand the full effect of His presence in the Christian, we must know that it is not confined to the soul. The body, too, is part of man, and had its share in the regeneration. The apostle tells us that the soul is the dwelling of the Holy Ghost;[7] but he also assures us that our bodies are the temple of the same divine Spirit,[8] who bids us make them serve justice unto sanctification.[9] He graces them with a germ of immortality, which will rest upon them even in the tomb, and give them to rise again, at the last day, spiritualized,[10] and bearing on them the seal of the divine Paraclete, who deigned to be their Guest during the term of their mortality.

After having thus made the Christian to be His dwelling-place, the Holy Ghost bestows upon him what may fit him for this high destiny. Think, for a moment, of the beauty of the theological virtues! Faith puts us into the certified and real possession of the divine truths which our mind cannot, in this present life, understand; hope gives us both the divine assistance we stand in need of, and the eternal happiness we look forward to; charity unites us to God by the strongest and sweetest of ties. Now it is to the indwelling of the Holy Ghost within him, that the Christian is indebted for these three virtues, these three means whereby regenerated man is made capable of attaining the end of his creation. The holy Spirit marked His first entrance into the soul by this triple gift, which surpasses all the creature’s merits, past, present, or future.

Over and above the three theological virtues, He bestows on the soul four other virtues, which are the hinges whereon the rest of the moral virtues turn, and hence their name of cardinal; they are, justice, fortitude, prudence, and temperance. Though, in themselves, natural qualities, the Holy Ghost transforms them by making them serve the supernatural end of the Christian. Finally, as a finish to the beauty of His abode, He infuses His seven gifts, which are to impart movement and life to the seven virtues.

But though the virtues and gifts relate to God, yet do they need that element, which is the essential means of union with Him: an element which is indispensable, for which nothing can serve as substitute, the soul of the soul, the life-giving principle, without which man can neither see nor possess God, viz. sanctifying grace. The Holy Ghost exultingly plants it in the soul; it becomes part of herself, and makes her an object of delight to the blessed Trinity. So close is the union between this grace and the presence of the holy Spirit, that when it is lost by mortal sin, He, that same instant, ceases to dwell in the soul.

He watches most carefully over His inheritance. He is ceaselessly working for the interests of His much-loved dwelling. The virtues He has infused into her are not to remain inert; they must elicit virtuous acts, and by the merits they thus produce, must increase, strengthen, and develop the fundamental element of sanctifying grace, which unites the Christian to his God. The Holy Ghost is, therefore, ever exciting the soul to action, either interior or exterior, by means of those divine influences, which theologians call actual graces. He thus enables the soul to raise herself higher and higher in virtue, add to her riches, strengthen her strength, and, in a word, become the instrument of glory to her Maker, who created her that she might serve Him, labour for Him, and yield Him fruit.

To this end, the Spirit, after giving Himself to her, and dwelling within her with devoted love, urges her to prayer, whereby she may procure every blessing: light, strength, and success in what she undertakes. But how are we to know what to pray for? The apostle solves the difficulty, by telling us the truth, of which he himself had such experience. He says: ‘The Spirit Himself asketh for us with unspeakable groanings’.[11] Yes, the Holy Ghost makes our wants His own. God as He is, He unites His own speakings with the voice of our prayer, and, with His dove-like moaning, cries in our hearts to the Father.[12] He thus, by His presence and His workings, makes us feel that we are children of God.[13] Could there be intimacy greater than this? And who, after this, can be surprised at our Jesus’ saying that we have but to ask, and we shall receive?[14] Is it not His own Spirit that asks within us?

So that He is the author of our prayer, when we pray: He is, also, the great co-operator with us in the good actions we do. So intimate is His union with the soul, that He leaves her no liberty of her own save what is necessary for her to have merit; but it is He that does the rest: that is, He inspires her, He supports her, He directs her. All she has to do, is to co-operate in what He does in and by her. It is by this mark, that is, by the united action of the Holy Ghost and the soul, that our heavenly Father knows who are His. Hence that saying of the apostle: Whosoever are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.[15] O glorious union! which brings the Christian to life everlasting, and makes Jesus triumph in him, Jesus, whose likeness is imprinted by the Holy Ghost in the creature, that the creature may become worthy to be united with his divine Head!

Alas! this union may be severed, as long as we are on earth. Our free-will is not confirmed in good, until we reach heaven; and meanwhile, it may, and frequently does, lead to a rupture between the Spirit that sanctifies, and the creature that is sanctified. The unhappy love of independence, and the passions, which we cannot master, save when we are docile to the divine Spirit, excite the unguarded heart to the desire of what is unworthy of her. Satan is jealous of the reign of the Holy Ghost, and seeks to make us disloyal, by holding out to us the lying promise of happiness and good, other than those we can find in God. The world, too, which is a spirit of evil, sets itself up as a rival of the holy Spirit of God. Wily, audacious, and active, it excels in the art of seduction, and its victims are countless, although our Saviour has put us on our guard against it, by telling us that He excluded it from any share in His prayers;[16] and the apostle tells us, that we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit that is of God.[17]

And yet, how many there are who bring about in themselves a cruel separation of their soul from the Holy Ghost! The separation is generally preceded by a certain coolness of the creature for his divine Benefactor. A want of respect, a slight disobedience, are the preliminaries of the rupture. This occasions in the holy Spirit a displeasure, which proves the tender love He bears to a faithful soul. The apostle describes the nature of this displeasure, where he says: ‘Grieve not the holy Spirit, who put His seal upon you on the day of your redemption.’[18] There is a deep meaning in these few words, and, among other truths, they reveal to us the effects of venial sins: the Holy Ghost is grieved, He finds but little pleasure in that soul; there is danger of a separation; and though, as St. Augustine tells us, ‘He does not leave us, unless we leave Him,’ and though, consequently, such a soul still possesses sanctifying grace, yet actual grace becomes less frequent and less powerful.

But, when mortal sin—that act of the creature’s boldest malice and worst ingratitude—enters the soul, it breaks the sacred compact which closely united the Christian and the Holy Ghost. He, the Spirit of love, is driven from the dwelling He had chosen for Himself and had enriched with so many graces. A greater outrage cannot be offered to God by man; for, as the apostle so strongly expresses it, he hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath esteemed the Blood of the testament unclean, by which he was sanctified, and hath offered an affront to the Spirit of grace.[19]

And yet, this miserable state of the sinner may excite the compassion of the Holy Ghost, who has been sent that He might ever be our Guest. Could anything be imagined more sad, than the wretchedness of a Christian, who, by having cast out the divine Spirit, has lost the soul of his soul, forfeited the treasure of sanctifying grace, and robbed himself of all past merits? But—O mystery of mercy, worthy of eternal praise!—the Holy Ghost longs to return to the dwelling whence sin has driven Him. Yes, such is the fulness of the mission given by the Father and the Son to the Holy Ghost: He is love, and in His love He abandons not the poor ungrateful worm, but would restore him to his former dignity, and make him, once more, a partaker of the divine nature.[20]

This divine Spirit of love labours to regain possession of His dwelling. He begins by exciting within the soul a fear of divine justice; He makes her feel the shame and anguish of spiritual death. He thus detaches her from evil, by what the holy Council of Trent calls ‘impulses of the Holy Ghost, not indeed as yet dwelling within the soul, but moving her.’[21] Dissatisfied and unhappy, the soul sighs after a reconciliation; she breaks the chains of her slavery; the sacrament of Penance then comes, bringing life-giving love, and her justification is completed. Who could describe the triumphant joy wherewith the divine Spirit re-enters His dear abode? The Father and the Son return to the dwelling that for days, or perhaps for years, had been defiled with sin. The soul is restored to life. Sanctifying grace returns to her, just as it was on the day of her Baptism. As we have already said, she had lost, by mortal sin, that fund of merit which had developed the power of grace; it is now restored to her fully and entirely, for the power of the holy Spirit is equal to the vehemence of His love.

This admirable raising from death to life is going on every day, yea every hour. It is part of the mission given to the Holy Ghost. He does the work He came for—the sanctification of man. The Son of God came down from heaven, and gave Himself to us. He found us slaves to satan; He ransomed us at the price of His Blood; gave us everything that could lead us to Himself and His heavenly Father; and, when He returned to heaven, there to prepare a place for us, He sent us His own Spirit to be our second Comforter, until He Himself should return to us. We have seen how strenuously this divine Helper undertakes His work. Let us fervently celebrate the love wherewith He treats us, and the wisdom and power wherewith He accomplishes His glorious mission. May He be blessed and glorified! May He be known throughout the whole world, for it is through Him that all blessings are imparted unto men! He is the soul of the Church; may she render Him the homage of her praise! And may He be tenderly loved by those countless millions of hearts, wherein He desires to dwell that He may give them eternal salvation and happiness.

This is the second of the three days’ fast prescribed for this week. To-morrow is the day for the ordination of the priests and other sacred ministers. It behoves us to redouble our efforts to obtain from God that the abundance of His grace may be in keeping with the sacred and ever-abiding character, which the divine Spirit is to imprint on these aspirants to Holy Orders.

At Rome, to-day’s Station is in the church of the twelve apostles, where repose the bodies of St. Philip and St. James the Less. This allusion to the favoured ones of the cenacle is most appropriate, for they were the first guests of the Holy Ghost.

The Armenian Church again lends us its beautiful hymn, in praise of the coming of the Paraclete. 

(Canon sextæ diei)

Immortalem efficiens calix effuse de cœlis, sancte Spiritus, quem biberunt in cœnaculo chori sanctorum apostolorum; benedictus es, sancte Spiritus, tu vere.

Large diffusus es in nobis, ignis vivus; nam potati apostoli, potarunt etiam terrarum orbem; benedictus es, sancte Spiritus, tu vere.

Hodie magnopere exsultant Ecclesiae gentilium, oblectati gaudio ex te, vivifice calix: benedictus es, sancte Spiritus, tu vere.

Qui a Paterna veritate procedens fons luminis, radios vibrante lumine oblectans, replevisti apostolos: precibus horum miserere.

Qui essentiam tuam igneis mire ostendisti, eo ipso intelligibili divino lumine delectans, implevisti apostolos; precibus horum miserere.

Qui mundum ambientes tenebras initio in lucem permutasti, hodie mirabili atque divino lumine tuo delectans
implevisti apostolos; precibus horum miserere.

Qui ignem vibrantibus, ac alas pandentibus insides, hodie in chorum humanorum ineffabili amore effusus- es de cœlis; benedictus es, sancte Spiritus Deus.

Qui ab igneis linguis, trisagio agiologaris, hodie in labia humanorum igniflue effususes de cœlis: benedictus es sancte Spiritus Deus.

Qui ab igniformibus in fulgentissimis flammis semper videris, hodie terris igni- gustus calix effusus es de cœlis; benedictus es, sancte Spiritus Deus.

O holy Spirit! immortalizing chalice poured forth from heaven, of which drank the choir of holy apostles in the cenacle! Truly blessed art thou, O holy Spirit!

O living fire! widely hast thou been spread among us; for the apostles, having drunk thee in, gave also the whole earth to drink of thee. Truly blessed art thou, O holy Spirit!

To-day, the churches of the Gentiles are in exceeding great joy, being delighted with gladness at partaking of thee, O life-giving chalice! Truly blessed art thou, O holy Spirit!

Thou the fountain of light, proceeding from the Father’s truth, didst delight the apostles, filling them with ray-darting light. Through their prayers, have mercy on us!

Showing thine essence by a miraculous fire, thou delight- edst the apostles, by filling them with that same spiritual and divine light. Through their prayers have mercy on us!

At the beginning of the world, thou changedst into light the darkness that involved the earth; to-day, thou delight-
edst the apostles, by filling them with thy wonderful and divine light. Through their prayers, have mercy on us!

Thou that sittest on the fiery and winged Cherubim, didst this day, with ineffable love, descend from heaven upon a choir of men. Blessed art thou, O holy Spirit, our God!

Thou that art hymned by tongues of fire, as the thrice Holy, descendest this day as a stream of fire from heaven, and restest on the lips of men. Blessed art thou, O holy Spirit, our God!

Thou that art eternally seen, in thy most effulgent fires, by the Seraphim, art this day poured forth on earth from heaven, the chalice whose drink is fire. Blessed art thou, O holy Spirit, our God!

The following is taken from the Mozarabic missal. It is an address made to the faithful by the bishop, during the Mass of Whit Sunday. He exhorts them to receive with devotion the divine Spirit, who is about to visit them.



Quanta possumus, fratres charissimi, fide, intentione, virtute, gaudio, exsultatione, præconio, devotione, obsequio, puritate, promissa nobis per Filium Dei, sancti Spiritus munera hodie transmissa prædicemus. Reseretur nostrorum compago viscerum. Purgentur corda credentium, et pateant omnes sensus, atque recessus animorum. Quia nequaquam immensi laudem atque adventum, pectora angusta narrare sufficiunt. Ille etenim consors Patris, et Filii, unius ejusdemque substantiæ tertius in persona, sed unus in gloria. Quem cœlorum regna non capiunt, quia non eum circumscribunt neque claudunt, hodie ad angustum cordis nostri descendit hospitium. Et quis nostrum, fratres dilectissimi, tali se dignum hospite recognoscit? Quis condigna advenienti exhibeat alimenta? Quum et Angelorum et Archange- lorum, et omnium Virtutum cœlestium ipse est vita. Et ideo quia nos impares tali habitatore cognoscimus, ut in nobis locum habitaculi sibimet praeparet supplicemus. Amen.
Let us, dearly beloved brethren, celebrate the gifts of the Holy Ghost, which were promised unto us by the Son of God, and were this day sent; let us celebrate them with all possible faith, intention, virtue, joy, gladness, praise, devotion, homage, and purity, Let us open our hearts, and purify them; let our mind and soul be dilated; for surely narrow hearts are not able to speak the praise and coming of the immense. He is coequal with the Father and the Son, of one and the same nature with them; he is the Third in Person, but One in glory. He, whom the heavens cannot contain, for they neither confine nor limit him, is coming down this day to the narrow dwelling of our heart. Who among us, dearly beloved brethren, would dare to think himself worthy of such a guest? Who would think himself able to provide an entertainment worthy of him, who is the life of the very Angels, and Archangels, and all the heavenly Powers? Since, therefore, we acknowledge that we ourselves cannot provide him a suitable dwelling, let us beseech him to prepare one himself within us. Amen.

[1] St. John, xiv. 16.
[2] De Prædestinatione Sanctorumcapxv.
[3] 1 Cor. i. 28.
[4] Rom. v. 20.
[5] Serm. xxiv. In Nativitate Domini, iv.
[6] St. John, xiv. 23.
[7] Rom. viii. 11.
[8] 1 Cor. vi. 19.
[9] Rom. vi. 19.
[10] 1 Cor. xv. 44.
[11] Rom. viii. 26.
[12] Gal. iv. 6.
[13] Rom. viii. 16.
[14] St. Luke, xi. 9.
[15] Rom. viii. 14.
[16] St. John, xvii. 9.
[17] 1 Cor. ii. 12.
[18] Eph. iv. 30.
[19] Heb. x. 29.
[20] 2 St. Peter, i. 4.
[21] Sess. xiv. cap. iv. De Pœitentia.


From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

This sixth gift of the Holy Ghost raises the soul to a still higher state. The first five gifts all tend to action. The fear of God keeps man in his right place, for it humbles him; godliness opens his heart to holy affections; knowledge enables him to discern the path of salvation from that of perdition; fortitude arms him for the battle; counsel directs him in his thoughts and works:—thus gifted, he can act, and pursue his journey with the sure hope of coming at length to his heavenly home. But the Holy Ghost has other favours in store for him. He would give him a foretaste, here below, of the happiness that awaits him in the next life: it will give him confidence, it will encourage him, it will reward his efforts. Contemplation—this is the blissful region thrown open to him, and the Holy Ghost leads him thither by the gift of understanding.

There will be a feeling of surprise and hesitation arising in the minds of many at hearing this word, contemplation. They have been taught to look on contemplation as an element of the spiritual life which is rarely to be hoped for, and almost impossible for persons who are in the ordinary walks of life. We must begin, then, by telling them that such an idea is a great and dangerous error, and one that checks the progress of the soul. No: contemplation is a state to which, more or less, the soul of every Christian is called. It does not consist in those extraordinary effects which the Holy Ghost occasionally produces in some privileged souls, and by which He would convince the world of the reality of the supernatural life. It is simply a relation of close intimacy existing between God and a soul that is faithful to Him in action. For such a soul, unless she herself put an obstacle, God reserves two favours: the first is the gift of understanding, which consists in a supernatural light granted to the mind of man.

This light does not remove the sacred obscurity of faith: but it enlightens the eye of the soul, strengthens her perception, and widens her view of divine things. It dispels clouds, which were occasioned by the previous weakness and ignorance of the soul. The exquisite beauty of the mysteries is now revealed to her, and the truths which hitherto seemed unconnected, now delight her by the sweetness of their harmony, It is not the face-to-face vision which heaven gives, but it is something incomparably brighter than the feeble glimmer of former days, when all was mist and doubt. The eye of her spirit discovers analogies and reasons, which do something more than please—they bring conviction. The heart opens under the influence of these bright beams, for they feed faith, cherish hope, and give ardour to love. Everything seems new to her. Looking at the past, and comparing it with the present, she wonders within herself, how it is that truth, which is ever the same, has a charm and a power over her now which once it had not.

The reading or hearing of the Gospel produces an impression far deeper than formerly: she finds a relish in the words of Jesus, which, in times past, she never experienced. She can understand so much better the object of the institution of the Sacraments. The holy liturgy, with its magnificent ceremonies and sublime formulas, is to her an anticipation of heaven. She loves to read the lives of the saints; she can do so, and never feel a temptation to carp at their sentiments or conduct: she prefers their writings to all others, and she finds in these communications with the friends of God a special increase of her spiritual good. No matter what may be the duties of her station in life, she has, in this glorious gift, a light which guides her in each of them. The virtues required from her, however varied they may be, are so regulated, that one is never done to the detriment of another; she knows the harmony that exists between them all, and she never breaks it. She is as far from scrupulosity as from tepidity; and when she commits a fault, she loses no time in repairing it. Sometimes the Holy Ghost favours her with an interior speaking, which gives her additional light for some special emergency.

The world and its maxims are mere vanities in her estimation; and when necessity obliges her to con- form to what is not sinful in either, she does so without setting her heart upon it. Mere natural grandeur or beauty seems unworthy of notice to her whose eye has been opened, by the holy Spirit, to the divine and the eternal. To her, this outward world which the carnal-minded man loves to his own destruction, has but one fair side, viz: that the visible creation, with the impress of God’s beauty upon it, can be turned to its Maker’s glory. She gives Him thanks when she uses it; she elevates it to the supernatural order, by praising, as did the royal prophet, Him who shadowed the likeness of His own beauty on this world of created things, which men so often abuse to their perdition, but which were intended as so many steps to lead us to our God.

The gift of understanding teaches the Christian a just appreciation of the state of life in which God has placed Him. It shows him the wisdom and mercy of those designs of Providence which have, at times, disconcerted his own plans, and led him in a direction the very opposite to his wishes. He sees that had he been left to arrange things according to his own views, he would have gone astray; whereas now, God has put him in the right place, though the workings of His fatherly wisdom were, at first, hidden from him. Yes, he is so happy now! he enjoys such peace of soul! he knows not how sufficiently to thank his God for having brought him where he is, without consulting his poor fancies! If such a Christian as this be called upon to give counsel, if either duty or charity require him to guide others, he may safely be trusted; the gift of understanding teaches him to see the right thing for others as well as for himself. Not that he ever intrudes his counsel upon others, or makes himself adviser-general to all around him; but if his advice be asked, he gives it, and the advice is a reflex of the inward light that burns within him.

Such is the gift of understanding. It is the true life of the soul, and it is weaker or stronger according to the measure of her correspondence with the other gifts. Its safeguards are humility, restraint over the desires of the heart, and interior recollection. Dissipation of mind would dim its brightness, or even wholly put out the light. But where duty imposes occupations, not only busy and frequent, but even distracting, let the Christian discharge them with a pure intention, and his soul will not lose her recollection. Let him be single-hearted, let him be little in his own eyes, and that which God hides from the proud and reveals to the humble,[1] will be manifested to him and abide with him.

It is evident from all this, that the gift of understanding is of immense importance to the salvation and sanctification of the soul. It behoves us, therefore, to beg it of the Holy Ghost with all the earnestness of supplication; for we must not forget that it is obtained rather by the longings of our love, than by any efforts of the intellect. True, it is the intellect that receives the light; but it is the heart, the will, inflamed with love, that wins the radiant gift. Hence that saying of Isaias: ‘Unless ye believe, ye shall not understand!’[2] Let us, then, address ourselves to the holy Spirit in these words of the psalmist: ‘Open Thou our eyes, and we will consider the wondrous things of Thy law! Give us understanding and we shall live!’[3] Let us beseech Him in these words of the apostle, wherein he is praying for his Ephesians: ‘Give us the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, whereby we may have the knowledge of our God! Enlighten the eyes of our heart, that we may know what is the hope of our calling, and what the riches of the glorious inheritance prepared for the saints!’[4]

[1] Luke, x. 21.
[2] Is. vii. 9; thus quoted from the Septuagint by several of the Greek and Latin fathers.
[3] Ps. cxviii. 18. and 144.
[4] Eph. i, 17, 18.