10 June 2011

'As the Father has sent me, so I send you'. Pentecost Sunday

The Vigil Mass has its own prayers and readings. The texts for the Mass During the Day should not be used on Saturday evening, though many priests seem to be unaware of this. Pentecost is one of a number of feasts that have a Vigil Mass. A Vigil Mass is not an 'anticipated Mass'. It is a liturgical celebration in its own right, for a specific day and time. Participation in the Vigil Mass fulfils our Sunday obligation.

The readings here are from the New American Bible, used in the lectionary in the Philippines and in the USA.

Gospel John 20:19-23 (NAB)

On the evening of that first day of the week, when the doors were locked, where the disciples were,
for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.”
When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.”

Soiscéal, Eoin 20:19-23 (Gaeilge, Irish)
Tráthnóna an lae chéanna, an chéad lá den tseachtain, agus na doirse faoi ghlas le heagla na nGiúdach, san áit ina raibh na deisceabail, tháinig Íosa agus sheas ina measc agus dúirt leo: “Síocháin daoibh!” Á rá sin dó, thaispeáin sé dóibh a lámha agus a chliathán. Bhí áthas ar na deisceabail nuair a chonaic siad an Tiarna. Dúirt Íosa leo ansin arís:
“Síocháin daoibh! Amhail mar a chuir an tAthair uaidh mise, táimse do bhur gcursa uaim freisin.”
Arna rá sin dó, d’análaigh sé orthu agus dúirt leo: “Glacaigí an Spiorad Naomh. Na daoine a maithfidh sibh a bpeacaí dóibh, beidh siad maite dóibh; na daoine a gcoinneoidh sibh a bpeacaí,
beidh a bpeacaí coinnithe.”


At the Last Supper Jesus said to the Apostles, 'I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete' (John 15:11). He also said to them, 'I have told you this so that you might have peace in me' (John 16:33). In today's gospel the Risen Lord seems to anticipate Pentecost when he breathes the Holy Spirit on the Apostles after saying 'Peace be with you'. He sends them, and us, on mission as the Father had sent him.

Jesus is well aware of the suffering that he will undergo and which his followers will undergo. In his case it was to be a terribly painful and humiliating death, that of a criminal, the following day. Yet he wants our joy to be complete. He assures us of the peace we will find in him.

Archbishop Paulos Faraj Rahho (20 November 1942 - February or March 2008)

The age of the martyrs is far from over. In February or March 2008 Archbishop Paulos Faraj Rahho of Mosul, Iraq, died or was killed after being kidnapped, eight or nine months after the murder of his secretary, Fr Ragheed Ganni who, with three subdeacons, was shot dead just after celebrating Mass. These all belonged to the Chaldean Rite of the Catholic Church, the rite to which most Iraqi Catholics belong.

Fr Ragheed Ganni (20 January 1972 - 3 June 2007)

Bayan Adam Bell, widow of one of the three subdeacons murdered with Fr Ragheed, told what happened:

"At a certain point the car was stopped by armed men. Fr Ragheed could have fled, but he did not want to, because he knew they were looking for him.  They forced us to get out of the car, and led me away.  Then one of the killers screamed at Ragheed, 'I told you to close the church, why didn't you do it? Why are you still here?'  And he simply responded, 'How can I close the house of God?' They immediately pushed him to the ground, and Ragheed had only enough time to gesture to me with his head that I should run away.  Then they opened fire and killed all four of them".  At this point, Bayan fainted.  In the hours immediately after the killing, the bodies remained abandoned on the road because no one dared to get close to them.  

Shabaz Bhatti (9 September 1968 - 2 March 2011)

More recently we had the assassination of Pakistani politician Shabaz Bhatti, the only Christian in the cabinet. A Catholic deeply committed to justice, especially for the Christian minority in Pakistan, Shabaz Bhatt knew his life was in danger but said, 'I only want a place at the feet of Jesus. I want my life, my character, my actions to speak for me and say that I am a follower of Jesus Christ'.

Father Ragheed lived in the Pontifical Irish College in Rome while studying before and after his ordination. he had given up a career as an engineer to be a priest. He spent some summers as a young priest working at St Patrick's Purgatory, Lough Derg, Ireland, a place of penitential pilgrimage. He could have continued to work as a priest in Ireland but chose to go back into danger in his own country. Shabaz Bhatti made a similar choice because of his faith in Jesus Christ.

These contemporary martyrs are examples of the truth of the words of Jesus, testimonies of the living presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives, witnesses to what we as Church are called to be. Few of us will be asked by God to lay down our lives for our faith in Jesus Christ but all of us are called to say with Shabaz Bhatti, 'I only want a place at the feet of Jesus. I want my life, my character, my actions to speak for me and say that I am a follower of Jesus Christ'.


The above is the Sequence for the Solemnity of Pentecost, which may be sung or recited after the second reading of the Mass During the Day. Here is an English translation

Veni, Sancte Spiritus

From A Catholic Prayer Book
Ascribed to Stephen Langton, Archbishop of Canterbury (+ 1228)

Holy Spirit, Lord of Light,
From the clear celestial height.
Thy pure beaming radiance give.

Come, thou Father of the poor,
Come, with treasures which endure;
Come, thou Light of all that live!

Thou, of all consolers best,
Thou, the soul's delightful guest,
Dost refreshing peace bestow.

Thou in toil art comfort sweet;
Pleasant coolness in the heat;
Solace in the midst of woe.

Light immortal, Light divine,
Visit thou these hearts of thine,
And our inmost being fill.

If thou take thy grace away,
Nothing pure in man will stay;
All his good is turned to ill.

Heal our wounds, our strength renew;
On our dryness pour thy dew,
Wash the stains of guilt away.

Bend the stubborn heart and will;
Melt the frozen, warm the chill;
Guide the steps that go astray.

Thou, on us who evermore
Thee confess and thee adore,
With thy sevenfold gifts descend.

Give us comfort when we die;
Give us life with thee on high;
Give us joys that never end.
Amen. Alleluia.

Photo, Kurt Zion Pala, Columban seminarian

God’s Grandeur
by Gerald Manley Hopkins SJ (1844-1889)

Written 1877, published 1918

The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod; 
And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
And wears man’s smudge and shares man’s smell: the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.

And for all this, nature is never spent;
There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went
Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs—
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.

1 comment:

Brian said...
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