“Since the day of Pentecost a rain of charisms, a river of blessings, has watered every desert and dry land”

Every Catholic knows that today’s solemnity ranks as one of the principal feasts of the Church. The reverence due to it is beyond all question, because this day is consecrated by the most sublime and wonderful gift of the Holy Spirit.

Ten days after the Lord ascended high above the heavens to sit at the right hand of God the Father, and fifty days after his resurrection, on the very same day of the week as this joyful season began, the day of Pentecost has dawned upon us. In itself the feast of Pentecost contains great mysteries relating to the old dispensation as well as to the new, signs which clearly show that grace was heralded by the law and the law fulfilled by grace. Fifty days after the sacrifice of the lamb marking the deliverance of the Hebrews from the Egyptians, the law was given on Mount Sinai; and fifty days from the raising up of Christ after his passion and immolation as the true lamb of God, the Holy Spirit came down upon the apostles and assembled believers.

Thus the thoughtful Christian may easily perceive that the origin of the Old Testament laid the foundations of the gospel, and that the Spirit who was the author of the second covenant was the same Spirit who had established the first.

For as the apostles’ story testifies:

When the time for Pentecost was fulfilled, they were all in one place together. And suddenly there came from the sky a noise like a strong driving wind, and it filled the entire house in which they were. Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire, which parted and came to rest on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues, as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim.

O how swift is the word of wisdom, and where God is master how quickly the lesson is learnt! One needs no interpretation in order to understand, no practice in order to gain facility, no time in order to study. “The Spirit of truth breathes where he will,” and each nation’s own language has become common property in the mouth of the Church.

And so, ever since that day, the clarion call of the gospel has rung out; since the day of Pentecost a rain of charisms, a river of blessings, has watered every desert and dry land, for the Spirit of God has swept over the waters to renew the face of the earth, and a blaze of new light has shone out to dispel our former darkness.

In the light of those flaming tongues the word of the Lord has shone out clearly, and a fiery eloquence has been enkindled which is charged with the energy to enlighten, the ability to create understanding, and the power to burn away sin and destroy it.

St Leo the Great

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5 Responses to “Since the day of Pentecost a rain of charisms, a river of blessings, has watered every desert and dry land”

  1. Basem says:

    Beautiful words! Wonder though what did St Leo mean, or who does he include, by “Catholic”? Wonder why not simply say “Every Christian”?

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    • Fr Aidan Kimel says:

      By this time, “Catholic” had become a pronomial term to identify those churches that were in communion with the Bishop of Rome and the other Patriarchs (Alexandria, Antioch, Constantinople, Jerusalem). Hence substituting “Christians” would not quite work the same, since sectarian groups would also identify themselves as “Christians.”

      One question I have wondered about is when “Orthodox” achieved similar pronomial status. In any case, long after the schism between East and West, the Eastern (i.e., Orthodox) Church also continued to identify itself as the Catholic Church.

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      • Basem says:

        That is what I thought what he meant but wanted to make sure I understood it correctly. As a Copt, I am naturally not a fan of St Leo. I like his theology but not his primacy of Rome position although, to be fair, the Alexandrian fathers had somehow also asserted Alexandrian primacy even before Chalcedon. I am sure that “non-Catholics” at St Leo time would have agreed with his sentiments on Pentecost although he made the point to exclude them.

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        • Fr Aidan Kimel says:

          Did the Coptic Church continue to identify themselves pronomially as the “Catholic Church” after the Chalcedonian schism?

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          • Basem says:

            I don’t believe so Father. Although they identified themselves with the non-Chalcedonian churches at the “orthodox”. As the Chalcedonian definition became the official religion of he Byzantine empire, “Catholicity” was ensured by the State but the churches that refused the Chalcedonian definition couldn’t afford to have that since they essentially went underground until Islamic conquest of the East.

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