Canon Cristofoli’s sermon for Passion Sunday, on the passions and Temperance
Canon Cristofoli’s sermon for Passion Sunday, on the passions and Temperance
Sermon for Pentecost Preston 2017
“The day of Pentecost had arrived; the disciples were all assembled in the cenacle. Suddenly a noise came from heaven, like that of a wind that blows with force. ”
The Holy Spirit today manifests Himself in various sensitive forms:
He manifested Himself in the form of fire
He manifested Himself in the form of language but also in the form of a strong wind.
We easily understand the first two symbols. But how can we understand the symbolism of the wind?
These three metaphors bear a great wealth of significance which must now be emphasized.
The reality of the wind can make us think of movement.
In fact, when the Holy Spirit comes, he sets in motion our spiritual faculties.
The idea of movement is opposed to the idea of immobility or slow and difficult mobility.
Faced with this opposition, the Gospel becomes clearer, and we understand better how important it is to receive the Holy Spirit.
Indeed, before he sets our spirits in motion, we can see with lucidity the unfortunate state of our soul.
My dear brothers and sisters, we usually suffer from a lack of spiritual breath, we often have a lack of spiritual mobility, we have a strong inertia, a lack of readiness to receive and follow the motions of the Holy Spirit.
We must briefly recall the causes of our spiritual gravity and thus understand the specific role that the Holy Spirit must play in this time of Pentecost;
The First cause of our lack of spiritual breath: we have the wounds of original sin. This one has deeply wounded our nature, it is infected with a congenital weakness; we have a spiritual laziness often very marked in front of the demands of holiness. Our soul is too easily moved towards sensible goods, and easily forgets the supernatural realities.
The Second cause: our will in the aftermath of original sin has lost much strength in its capacity for desire. We weakly desire God’s will and holiness. Our will is very often vague, terribly hesitant.
The Third cause of our lack of determined movement under the motions of the Spirit: Our heart is often immobilized by paralyzing fears.
We are often like the apostles before the gift of Pentecost; they were all locked up in the cenacle for fear of the Jews.
The Fourth cause: and this cause is more serious; we are sometimes in a state of discouragement.
Sometimes it is to such a point that the virtue of Hope is profoundly altered, diminished, and weakened. Here are four causes that show us the necessity today to be visited by the Holy Spirit.
My brothers, without the Spirit, we have our hearts riveted to material things; we have a disturbed love of our spiritual comfort. We have difficulty leaving our spiritual slippers when God asks us.
The fire of the Holy Ghost is therefore necessary to inflame our hearts; otherwise they remain incapable of great spiritual desires. We must receive the Holy Spirit so that our hearts may be cleansed of the disordered lust.
We need the Holy Spirit so that our desiring ability may be healed, strengthened. Our heart without the gift of the Spirit is incapable of burning with an ardent desire for Christian virtues and heavenly goods.
To move constantly in the constant and persevering effort towards heavenly goods, it is necessary to receive the strength of the Holy Spirit.
When our hearts are assailed by thoughts of discouragement, we must quickly invoke the Holy Spirit to exorcise the devil Discouragement is always his mark.
When despair seizes our heart, we must quickly react and shout:
“Vade retro satana, “Sunt mala quae libas; Ipse venena bibas »
Get behind me Satan. “What you offer is bad, a poisoned drink »
I hate your designs, your thoughts, your suggestions, your actions, your influences
Get Behind me Satan, I will never enter into your views, your plans.
Let us fervently invoke the finger of God so that with his divine touch we may be delivered from the temptations of the devil and again animated by holy love of God and holy resolutions.
My God, send me your Holy Spirit so that by his divine presence I am always freed from the presence of the devil who always seeks to make me fall to drag me to his own despair, his pride, his hatred of everything.
My God, have mercy on me, I resolutely and definitively renounce all friendship with sin and the one who inspires it.
May the very sweet fire of God’s love give me the powerful resolution to forever detest sin and mediocrity in my everyday actions.
Today, Let us pray that the Spirit may renew our whole life with His seven gifts and thus I will be more loving, more virtuous, more fervent, More Christian simply, Amen
Canon Poucin preached about the Transfiguration of the Lord, and the mportance of the Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament
Gregorian Chant Workshop
According to the method of Solesmes
for men (over 18 years old)
begining on Friday evening,
ending on Sunday by a Sung Mass at 10.30 am
sung by the workshop participants,
followed by May Procession in honour of Our Lady
Please contact the Shrine Church of St. Walburge (firstname.lastname@example.org) to book your accomodation.
Fees including lodging at the Presbytery
and meals: £ 70.
The last two weeks of Lent are know as Passiontide: this is the third and final stage of the preparation for Easter that began with Septuagesima and developed with Lent. The spirit of penance in the liturgy or of stripping away intensifies during this time: at Septuagesima purple vestments were introduced and the Gloria in excelsis and Alleluia disappeared from the Mass; with Lent, the organ was silenced and flowers no longer decorate the altar. Now, in this second part of Lent, the joyful Psalm 42 is omitted from the prayers at the foot of the altar, and the Gloria Patri is no longer said at its normal place in Mass (after the Asperges, when the priest washes his hands, etc.). In these last two weeks of Lent, the Lenten Preface is replaced at Mass by the Preface of the Holy Cross (also used on the feasts of the Holy Cross and the Precious Blood), as the thought of Our Lord’s impending sufferings comes to fill our mind. At Vespers we sing the beautiful hymn Vexilla Regis, “the banners of the king go forth,” in honour of the Cross, the victorious standard of Christianity. The most notable feature of Passiontide, however, is the covering of the images in the church: the crucifixes are all covered and, if it is not possible to cover all the images, at least the ones that adorn the altars or serve as a particular focus of devotion, should be covered. In the Middle Ages, this covering was done in some places at the beginning of Lent, and often a giant curtain, the “Lenten veil,” was drawn across the sanctuary during this whole season, to remind us that we have been driven from paradise by Adam’s sin, and it will be reopened to us only by Christ’s victory over sin and death at Easter (in the liturgy the nave, the place where the people sit, represents the Church on earth, and the sanctuary represents heaven). The veiling of the images is also a reference to the Gospel of Passion Sunday: “They therefore took up stones to cast at Him; but Jesus hid Himself, and went out from the temple.” The cross is unveiled liturgically on Good Friday, and the other images are uncovered during the Gloria at the Easter Vigil, as the bells are rung.
Lent is the season of preparation for Easter. The liturgy refers to the holy exercises of this season as our “Christian warfare” (praesidia militiae christianae), because during this period we devote special attention to fighting against our spiritual enemies, notably our own fallen nature. During this season, the Church particularly recommends the spiritual “arms” of prayer, fasting and almsgiving. The Lenten liturgical texts speak constantly of these three pious practices.
Lent includes 40 days of penance, in memory of the 40 days the Lord spent fasting in the desert before the beginning of his public ministry. In fact if we begin on Ash Wednesday, we can count a total of 46 days in Lent, but Sundays, which always call to mind Christ’s Resurrection, are never a day of penance, and so subtracting the six Sundays of Lent brings us back to 40 days of penance.
The liturgy of Lent has certain unique characteristics. Every day of Lent has its own special Mass, whereas on the other ferias of the year (a feria is a day when no feast is celebrated), the Mass of the preceding Sunday is simply repeated. The Lenten Masses tend to have as their theme either penance or the preparation for baptism, since the catechumens who will be baptised at Easter received their final preparation during Lent. In Lent there is a proper Preface for the Mass, which is said even on feast days.
After the final postcommunion prayer at Mass, there is a special additional prayer said over the people, who bow their heads. This prayer is repeated at Vespers. Even when a feast is celebrated during Lent, the feria must always be commemorated at Lauds and Vespers and Mass, and the Gospel from the ferial Mass, when it is not celebrated, is read in the place of the normal Last Gospel (Jn 1:1-14) at the end of feast-day Masses. The penitential aspect of the liturgy, initiated during Septuagesima, is intensified during Lent: the organ is no longer played and flowers no longer adorn the altar. In the Divine Office, additional prayers are added, which are recited kneeling.
As Catholics, our greatest treasure is the holy Eucharist: God himself truly present among us under the outward form of bread. Over the course of the centuries, different forms of adoration of the Blessed Sacrament have arisen in the Church, such as Eucharistic processions.
The solemn three-day Adoration known as the Forty Hours Devotion (or in Italian, the Quarant’ore), in honour of the roughly forty hours that the body of Christ lay in the tomb, was started in Milan around the year 1527, as part of a ceremony in reparation for the sins committed during Carnival time (just before Lent many countries observe a period of feasting called Carnival, from the Latin words carne, vale, “goodbye, meat,” in reference to the strict Lenten fast followed by our pious ancestors: in some places unfortunately this legitimate pre-Lent celebration degenerated into a drunken spectacle, and so the Church instituted special prayers of reparation for these excesses). About ten years later the Forty Hours Devotion in more or less the form we now know it seems to have been instated by the Capuchin friar Father Giuseppe da Ferno – although other names have also been suggested – with the Devotion beginning in one church just as it ends in another. In 1575 St. Charles Borromeo laid down guidelines for the celebration of the Forty Hours in his diocese of Milan, and in 1731 Pope Clement XII set down norms for Rome; these are essentially the norms followed throughout the Church today.
Although the Forty Hours is still customary in many places during Carnival just before Lent, this Adoration can be held any time during the year (except the Easter Triduum). Ideally the devotion runs for roughly forty continuous hours, but often the Blessed Sacrament is reposed in the tabernacle at the end of the day if no one is available to watch during the night. Where the full ceremonies are held, the Forty Hours begins and ends with a votive Mass of the Blessed Sacrament, the singing of the Litany of the Saints and a procession. On the second of the three days, a special Mass for Peace is said: the peace of Christendom has always been one of the main intentions of the Church’s prayer during the Forty Hours.
The greatest feast of the year, the Resurrection of Our Lord, is preceded by a period of preparation called Lent. But in order that the rigours of Lent not come upon us unexpectedly, the Church has wisely instituted a brief liturgical season in order to prepare us for Lent itself: this is the period of Septuagesima. Coming from the Latin word for ‘seventy,’ Septuagesima calls to mind the 70 years the Jews spent in exile in Babylon and reminds us that, before our Risen Lord leads us into our heavenly homeland, we also are living in a land of exile. That is why the singing of the Alleluia, the chant sung eternally by the saints in heaven (cf. Apoc 19:1), is suspended during Septuagesima and Lent, for ‘How shall we sing the song of the Lord in a strange land?’ (Ps 136:4). At the end of the First Vespers of Septuagesima the Alleluia is solemnly sung twice; it will not be heard again until Holy Saturday. During this time the Alleluia is therefore replaced, even on feast days, by a text called the Tract at Mass and by the verse ‘praise to Thee, king of eternal glory,’ in the Divine Office. Just as in Advent and Lent, the Gloria in excelsis is omitted at Mass and purple vestments, a sign of penance, are worn. However, in Septuagesima the organ can still be played and flowers still decorate the altar; the deacon and subdeacon at High Mass still wear their dalmatic and tunicle, vestments of joy, instead of the folded chasubles traditionally worn on penitential days. In the readings of the Divine Office, the three weeks of Septuagesima recall the history of Adam, Noah and Abraham, the great patriarchs of the Law of Nature, with whom God made his covenants to prepare the world for the formation of the Chosen People and ultimately for the coming of the promised Messiah, Our Lord Jesus Christ.
A long time ago, when the strict Lenten fast involved total abstinence from all meat, people would ‘ease into’ the Lenten fast during Septuagesima by giving up these goods, before the full fast began on Ash Wednesday. Although the discipline is no longer as strict as in the days of our ancestors, this pre-Lent season still affords us a valuable opportunity to think ahead and make our Lenten resolutions, so that we are not caught off guard on Ash Wednesday.
Drawing upon customs sanctioned by the early popes, the basic form of the Roman Mass was well established by the time of Pope St. Gregory the Great (590-604), before being embellished in succeeding centuries, especially at the time of Charlemagne (circa 800). In the aftermath of the Protestant Reformation, the Church naturally wished to take special care to guarantee that the sacred liturgy should be celebrated with all due reverence and devotion. In order to correct liturgical abuses, in 1570 Pope St. Pius V published a purified version of the Roman missal (the book containing the prayers of the Mass). Hence the traditional Latin Mass is sometimes – though not entirely accurately – called the ‘rite of St. Pius V’ or the ‘Tridentine Mass’. The word Tridentine comes from the Latin version of the name for Trent, a city in northern Italy. The Council of Trent (1545-1563) met in order to clarify and reiterate Catholic doctrine in the wake of the Protestant revolution of the sixteenth century, as well as to address legitimate practical concerns that had arisen. We must emphasise that the so-called Tridentine missal was not created by the Council of Trent or by St. Pius V but is really much older. The Mass contained in the missal of St. Pius V is simply the Mass as it had been celebrated for many centuries in the papal court at Rome and in the places evangelised by Roman missionaries. The Tridentine reform merely codified the existing liturgy, whose prayers and ceremonies had developed slowly since the time of the first Christians.
The traditional Latin Mass has thus been handed down to succeeding generations of Catholics by popes and saints from the very mists of Christian antiquity. The word ‘traditional’ comes from the Latin word tradere, ‘to hand on,’ and so the traditional Latin Mass is quite simply the form of Mass that has been handed on to us by our ancestors in the faith who have celebrated this Mass the way it developed centuries ago in Rome, at the heart of Christendom. This timeless liturgy is a precious reminder for us that through all the vicissitudes of history, our Mother the Catholic Church is, like Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today and forever.