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to that Jesus, who has united himself with her by the mysteries she has gone through; she should be governed by the Holy Spirit, whom she has received. The sublime episodes, peculiar to this second portion of the year, will give her an increase of light and life. She will put unity into these rays, which, though scattered in various directions, emanate from one common centre: and, advancing from brightness to brightness,1 she will aspire to being consummated in him whom she now knows so well, and whom death will enable her to possess as her own. Should it not be 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 half of the Liturgical Cycle, after which, she will find herself, once more, in the season that is under the direction of the Holy Ghost; till at last, her God will summon her from this world, on the day and at the hour which he has appointed from all eternity.
Between the Church, then, and the Soul, during the time intervening from the descent of the divine 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 Kings. 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 Books, 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 Coming, shall scarce find a vestige of it remaining.
1II Cor. iii. 18.
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 same at the last days, when power will be given to the Beast, to make war with the Saints, and to overcome them.1
The month of November gives us the reading of the Prophets: the judgments of God impending upon a 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 empire, till the end of all time; and, finally, the Minor Prophets, who, for the most part, foretell the divine chastisements, though the latest among them proclaim, at the same 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
1 Apbc. xiii. 7. 2 Apoc. xxii. 17.
CHAPTER THE THIRD.
PRACTICE FOR THE TIME AFTER PENTECOST.
The object which holy Church has in view by her Liturgical Year, is the leading the Christian soul to union with Christ, and this by the Holy Ghost. This object is the one which God himself has in giving us his own Son, to be our Mediator, our Teacher, and Redeemer, and in sending us the Holy Ghost to abide among us. It is to this end that is directed all that aggregate of Rites and Prayers, which we have hitherto explained: they are not a mere commemoration of the mysteries achieved for our salvation by the divine goodness, but they bring with them the graces corresponding to each of those mysteries; that thus we may come, as the Apostle expresses it, to the age of the fulness of Christ.1
As we have elsewhere explained, our sharing in the mysteries of Christ, which are celebrated in the Liturgical Year, produces in the Christian what is called, in Mystic Theology, the Illuminative Life, in which. the soul gains continually more and more of the light of the Incarnate Word, who, by his examples and teachings, renovates each one of her faculties, and imparts to her the habit of seeing all things from God's point of view. This is a preparation which disposes her for union with God, not merely in an imperfect manner, and one that is more or less inconstant, but in an intimate and permanent way, which is called the Unitive Life. The production of this Life is the special work of the Holy Ghost, who has been sent into this world that he may maintain each one of our souls in the possession of Christ, and may bring to perfection the love whereby the creature is united with its God.
In this state, in this TTnitive Life, the soul is made to relish, and assimilate into herself, all that substantial and nourishing food which is presented to her so abundantly during The Time after Pentecost. The mysteries of the Trinity and of the Blessed Sacrament, the mercy and power of the Heart of Jesus, the glories of Mary and her influence upon the Church and souls,—all these are manifested to the soul with more clearness than ever, and produce within her effects not previously experienced. In the Feasts of the Saints, which are so varied and so grand during this portion of the year, she feels more and more intimately the bond which unites her to them in Christ, through the Holy Spirit. The eternal happiness of Heaven, which is to follow the trials of this mortal life, is revealed to her by the Feast of all Saints; she gains clearer notions of that mysterious bliss, which consists in light and love. Having become more closely united to Holy Church, which is the Bride of her dear Lord, she follows her in all the stages of her earthly existence, she takes a share in her sufferings, she exults in her triumphs; she sees, and yet is not daunted at seeing, this world tending to its decline, for she knows that the Lord is nigh at hand. As to what regards herself, she is not dismayed at feeling that her exterior life is slowly giving way, and that the wall which stands between her and the changeless sight and possession of the sovereign Good is gradually falling to decay; for, it is not in this world that she lives, and her heart has long been where her treasure is.1
Thus enlightened, thus attracted, thus established by the incorporation into herself of the mysteries,
1 St. Matth. vi. 21.