That we may thoroughly understand the meaning and influence of the Season of the Liturgical Year upon which we have now entered, it is requisite for us to grasp the entire sequel of mysteries, which holy Church has celebrated in our presence and company; we have witnessed her Services, and we have shared in them. The celebration of those mysteries was not an empty pageant, acted for the sake of being looked at. Each one of them brought with it a special grace, which produced in our souls the reality signified by the Rites of the Liturgy. At Christmas, Christ was born within us; at Passiontide, He passed on and into us his sufferings and atonements; at Easter, he communicated to us his glorious, his untrammelled life; in his Ascension, he drew us after him, and this even to heavens summit; in a word, as the Apostle expresses all this workiiig, ch~i~t u;es for~cl ir?1 us, but, iu order to give solidity and pormancnce to the image of Christ formed within us, it was necessary that the Holy Ghost sliould come, that su he might increase our liglit, and cnkiiidle a flie within us that should never be quenched. This divine Paraclete came down from heaven; he gave himself to us; he wishes to take UI) 1iis aI)((de within iis, and take our life of regeneration eiitirely into Iiis o~vii hands. Now, it is during the period called, ty the Lituri~, The ti~e orter P ateea~t, tliat tliere is signified and expressed this regenerated life~ ~hicIi is to be spent on the model of Christs, and under the direction of his Spirit.
Two objects here offer themselves to our consideration: the Church and the Christian soul. As to holy Church, the Bride of Christ, filled as she is with the Paraclete Spirit, who has poured himself forth upon her, and, from that time forward, is her animating principle,—she is advancing onwards in her militant career, and will do so till the second Coining of her heavenly Spouse. She has within her the gifts of Truth and Holiness. Endowed with Infallibility of Faith and Authority to govern, she feeds Christ's flock, sometimes enjoying liljert aud peace, sometimes going through persecutions and trials. Her divine Spouse abides with her, by his grace and the efficacy of his proinises, even to the end of time; she 18 ln possession of all the favours he has bestowed upon her; and tile Holy Ghost dwells with her, and in her, for ever. A11 this is expressed by this present portion of the Liturgical Year. It is one wherein we shall not rneet with any of those great events whieh prepared, and consummate~1 the divine work; but, on the other hand, it is a season when holy Church reaps the fruits of that holiness and doctrine, which those ineffable mysteries have already produced, and will continue to produce, during the course of ages. It is during this same season, that we shall meet with the preparation for, and, in due time, the fulfilment of, those final events which will transf~rm our ~1others irlilltant life on earth into the triumphant one in heaven. As far, then, as regards holy Church, this is the meaning of the portion of the Cycle we are Cornmenciflg.
As to tlie fait}iful soul, whose life is but a compen-
~ua~ or thc Church, lier progress, during the ~ie1riod which 1s opcned to her after the Pentecos-
a feasts, should Le in keeping with that of our corn- on ~Iother. Tho soul should live and act according to that Jesus, who has united himself with lier by mysteries she has gone through; she should governed by the Ho1y Spirit, whon~ she has rece~
Gal. iv. 19.
The sublime episodes, peculiar to this second ~01 of the year, will give her an increase of light life. She will put unity into these rays, w though scattered in various directions, emanate frc one common centre: and, advancing from brightness brightness, she will aspire to being consummated in him whom she now knows so well, and whom death will enal)le her to possess as her own. Should it not te the will of God, however, to take her as yet to himself, she will begin a fresh year, and live over again those mysteries which she has already enjoyed in the foregoing first halves of the Liturgical Cycle, after which, she will find herself, once more, in the season that is under the direction of tho HoIy Gbost; till at last, her God will summon her from this world, on the day and at the liour which he has appointed from all eternity.
Between the Church, then, and the So~l, during the time intervening from the descent of the (liViflO Paraclete to the consummation, there is this difference—that the Church goes through it but once, whereas the Christian soul repeats it each year. With this exception, the analogy is perfect. It is our duty, therefore, to thank God for his providing thus for our weakness, by means of the sacred Liturgy, whereby he successively renews within us those helps, which enable us to attain the glorious end of our creation.
Holy Church has so arranged the order for reading the Books of Scripture during the present period, as to express the work
then accomplished, both in the Church herself, and in the Christian soul. For the interval between Pentecost and the commencement of August, she gives us the Four Books of
111 Cor. iii. 18.
They are a prophetic epitome of the Church's history. They describe how the kingdom of Israel was founded by David, who is the type of Christ victorious over his enemies, and by Solomon, the king of peace, who builds a temple in honour of Jehovah. During the centuries comprised in the history given in those ]3ooks, there is a perpetual struggle between good and evil. There are great and saintly kings, such as Asa, Ezechias, and Josias; there are wicked ones, like Manasses. A schism breaks out in Samaria; infidel nations league together against the City of God. The holy people, continually turning a deaf ear to the Prophets, give themselves up to the worship of false gods, and to the vices of the heathen; till, at length, the justice of God destroys both Temple and City of the faithless Jerusalem: it is an image of the destruction of this world, when Faith shall be so rare, as that the Son of Man, at his second Coining, shall scarce find a vestige of it remaining.
During the month of August, we read the Sapiential Books, - so called, because they contain the teachings of Divine Wisdom. This Wisdom is the Word of God, who is manifested unto men through the teachings of the Church, which, because of the assistance of the Holy Ghost permanently abiding within her, is infallible in the truth.
Supernatural truth produces holiness, which cannot exist, nor produce fruit, where truth is not. In order to express the union there is between these two, the Church reads to us, during the month of September, the Books called Hagiographic; these are, Tobias, Judith, Esther, and Job, and they show Wisdom in action.
At the end of the world, the Church will have to go through combats of unusual fierceness. To keep us on the watch, she
reads to us, during the month of October, the Book of Machabees; for there we have described to us the noble-heartedness of those defenders
of the Law of God, and for which they gloriously die; it will be the sarne at the last days, when power will be given to the
i~ es(, to 2nake uw witk tke Saints, and to ovecorne tlie,t.
Apoc. xiii. 7.
Apoc. xxii. 17.
The month of November gives us the reading of the Pro1jhets: the judgments of God impending upon
world which he is compelled to punish by destruction, are there announced to us. First of all, we have the terrible Ezechiel; then Daniel, who sees empire succeeding cmpire, till tlic end of aIl tizne; and, finally, the JJIino.r P~o)liefs, who for the most part, foretell the divine chastisements, though the latest among them pioclaim, at the sanie time, the near approach of the Son of God.
Such is the Mystery of this portion of the Liturgical Cycle, which is called The Time after Pentecost. It includes also the use of green Vestments; for that colour expresses the hope of the Bride, who knows that she has been intrusted, by her Spouse, to the Holy Ghost, and that he will lead her safe to the end of her pilgrimage. St. John says all this in those few words of his Apocalypse: The Spirit and the Bride say: Come! 2
Contents - The Time after Pentecost
Contents - The Liturgical Year
Liturgia Latina Index