[Station at St. Anastasia.]
The titular church of St. Anastasia, once the Court church during the Byzantine period, is chosen for today’s station instead of the Basilica of St. Paul, as the latter is too far out for a procession at this season of the year when the weather is too warm. During the Octave of Pentecost the Church celebrates more especially the glories of the grace of the Holy Ghost and His secret work of sanctification in the Mystical Body of Christ. Thus today she repeats in the verse for the Communion the words of Our Lord: “The Spirit Who proceedeth from the Father, He shall glorify Me,” and this glorification consists chiefly in our sanctification and in the growth of the Kingdom of God in our souls.
Yesterday, we were admiring the work of the Holy Ghost, whereby he drew mankind to the faith and the name of Jesus, to whom all power was given in heaven and in earth. Today, we see the further workings of the Holy Spirit for the glory of the Son of God, who had sent him into the world. The Introit, taken from the 4th Book of Esdras (which, although not received by the Church as part of the Sacred Scriptures, was frequently read by the early Christians on account of the admirable instructions it contains), is addressed to the Neophytes, inviting them to appreciate the glory they have received, and to give thanks to the God who has called them to a heavenly kingdom.
The Epistle regards the inhabitants of Samaria, who had received the word of God through the preaching of Philip the Deacon. They had received, at his hands, the Sacrament of Baptism, which made them Christians. It reminds us of the dialogue between Jesus and the woman at Jacob’s well, and of the three days that he spent in the city.
Alleluia, alleluia. ℣. Spiritus Sanctus docebit vos quæcumque dixere vobis. Alleluia. (Hic genuflectitur). Veni, Sancte Spiritus, reple tuorum corda fidelium, et tui amoris in eis ignem accende.
Alleluia, alleluia. ℣. The Holy Ghost will teach you all things whatsoever I have said to you. (All kneel). Come, O Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of thy faithful and kindle within them the fire of thy love.
The Church’s reason for putting today’s Gospel before the Neophytes of Pentecost was to put them on their guard against a danger which might probably occur in later years. At present, they are the favored Sheep of the Good Shepherd Jesus, represented by men to whom he himself has given the charge to feed his Lambs. These men have received their mission from Peter, and he who is with Peter is with Jesus. But history has shown that false Shepherds have managed to get into the fold; our Savior calls them thieves and robbers. The Holy Ghost has poured forth his divine gifts upon these new Christians, but the virtues that are in them cannot be meritorious of eternal life unless they continue to be members of the true Church.
The Gift of Knowledge
Detached from evil by the fear of the Lord, and ennobled with holy love by the gift of Godliness, the soul feels the want of knowing how she is to avoid what she is to fear, and how to find what she must love. The Holy Ghost comes to her assistance, and brings her what she needs, by infusing into her the Gift of Knowledge. By means of this precious gift, truth is made evident to her; she knows what God asks of her and what he condemns, she knows what to seek and what to shun. Without this holy Knowledge, we are in danger of going astray, because of the frequent darkeness which, more or less, clouds our understanding. This darkness arises, in the first place, from our own nature, that bears upon itself the all too visible proofs of the Fall. The false maxims and judgments of the World, which warp even those whose upright minds might otherwise make them safe.—and the action of Satan, who is the Prince of darkness, uses this fact to obscure our mind, or to mislead it by false lights.
The Light of our soul is Faith, which was infused into us at our Baptism. By the Gift of Knowledge, the Holy Ghost empowers our Faith to elicit rays of light strong enough to dispel all darkness. Doubts are then cleared up, error is exposed and put to flight, truth beams upon us in all its beauty. Everything is viewed in its true light, the light of Faith. We see how false the principles are which sway the world, which ruin so many souls, and which we ourselves were once, perhaps, victims.
The gift of Knowledge reveals to us the end which God had in creation, and out of which creatures can never find either happiness or rest. It teaches us how to make use of creatures, which were not given to us as a hindrance, but rather a help to reach our God. Once we possess this secret of life, we walk on in safety, resolved to shun every path which would not lead us to our end.
The Apostle had this Gift in view when, speaking to the converts at Ephesus, he said: Ye were heretofore darkness, but now light in the Lord: walk then as Children of the Light. This is where the unhesitatingness, the confidence, of the Christian Life comes from. It also explains why some, for want of experience, nevertheless manages almost inscrutably to escape every danger: he has the experience of God, as Sacred Scripture tells us: She conducted the just through the right ways, and gave him the Knowledge of holy things.