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THE TIME AFTER PENTECOST.
CHAPTER THE FIRST.
THE HISTORY OF THE TIME AFTER PENTECOST.
The Solemnity of Pentecost and its Octave are oyer, and the progress of the Liturgical Year introduces us into a new period, which is altogether different from those we have hitherto spent. From the very beginning of Advent, which is the prelude to the Christmas festival, right up to the anniversary of the descent of the Holy Ghost, we have witnessed the entire series of the Mysteries of our Redemption; all have been unfolded to us. The sequel of Seasons and Feasts made up a sublime drama, which absorbed our very existence; we have but just come from the final celebration, which was the consummation of the whole. And yet, we have got through but one half of the year. This does not imply that the period we have still to live is devoid of its own special mysteries; but, instead of keeping up our attention by the ceaseless interest of one plan hurrying on its completion, the sacred Liturgy is about to put before us an almost unbroken succession of varied episodes, of which some are brilliant with glory, and others exquisite in loveliness, but each one of them bringing its special tribute towards either the development of the dogmas of faith, or the furtherance of the Christian life. That year's Cycle will thus be filled up; it will disappear; a new one will take its place, bringing before us the same divine facts, and pouring fortb the same graces on Christ's mystical body.
This section of the Liturgical Year, which comprises a little more or a little less than six months, according as Easter is early or late, has always had the character it holds at present. But, although it only admits detached solemnities and Feasts, the influence of the moveable portion of the Cycle is still observable. It may have as many as twentyeight, or as few as twenty-three weeks. This variation depends not only upon the Easter Feast, which may occur on any of the days between the 22nd of March and 25th of April, inclusively; but, also, on the date of the first Sunday of Advent, the opening of a new Ecclesiastical Year, and which is always the Sunday nearest the Kalends of December.
In the Roman Liturgy, the Sundays of this series go under the name of Sundays after Pentecost. As we shall show in the next Chapter, that title is the most suitable that could have been given, and is found in the oldest Sacramentaries and Antiphonaries; but it was not universally adopted by even all those Churches which followed the Roman Rite; in progress of time, however, that title was the general one. To mention some of the previous early names:—in the Comes of Alcuin, which takes us back to the 8th Contury, we find the first section of these Sundays called Sundays after Pentecost; the second is named Weeks after the Feast of the Apostles (post Natale Apostolorum) ; the third goes under the title of Weeks after Saint Laurence (post Sancti Laurentii); the fourth has the appellation of Weeks of the Seventh Month (September); and, lastly, the fifth is termed Weeks after Saint Michael (post Sancti Angeli), and lasts till Advent As late as the 16th Century, many Missals of the Western Churches gave us these several sections of the Time after Pentecost, but some of the titles varied according to the special Saints honoured in the respective dioceses, and which were taken as the date-marks of this period of the Year. The Roman Missal, published by order of Saint Pius the Fifth, has gradually been adopted in all our Latin Churches, and has restored the ancient denomination to the Ecclesiastical Season we have just entered upon; so that the only name under which it is now known amongst us is, The Time after Pentecost (post Pentecosten.)
CHAPTER THE SECOND.
THE MYSTERY OF THE TIME AFTER PENTECOST.
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 heaven's summit; in a word, as the Apostle expresses all this working, Christ was formed in us.1
But, in order to give solidity and permanence to the image of Christ formed within us, it was necessary that the Holy Ghost should come, that so he might increase our fight, and enkindle a fire within us that should never be quenched. This divine Paraclete came down from heaven; he gave himself to us; he wishes to take up his abode within us, and take our life of regeneration entirely into his own hands. Now, it is during the period called, by the Liturgy, The Time after Pentecost, that there is signified and expressed this regenerated life, which is to be spent on the model of Christ's, and under the direction of his Spirit.
1 Gal. iv. 19.
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 Coming 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 fiock, sometimes enjoying liberty and peace, sometimes going through persecutions and trials. Her divine Spouse abides with her, by his grace and the efficacy of his promises, even to the end of time; she is in possession of all the favours he has bestowed upon her; and the Holy Ghost dwells with her, and in her, for ever. All this is expressed by this present portion of the Liturgical Year. It is one wherein we shall not meet with any of those great events which prepared and consummated the divine work; hut, 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 transform our Mother's militant 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 commencing.
As to the faithful soul, whose life is but a compendium of that of the Church, her progress, during the period which is opened to her after the Pentecostal Feasts, should be in keeping with that of our common Mother. The soul should live and act according