Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Whit Tuesday

From "Devout Instructions" by Fr. Goffine

The Introit of the Mass is again a song of joy: "Receive the joy of your glory, alleluia; giving thanks to God, alleluia; Who hath called you to a heavenly kingdom. Attend, O My people, to My law, incline your ears to the words of My mouth." Glory be to the Father, etc.

May the power of the Holy Ghost be with us, O Lord, we beseech Thee, which may mercifully purify our hearts and defend them from all adversities. Through Our Lord Jesus Christ, Who liveth and reigneth in the unity of the same.

LESSON (Acts v. 12-16) Now when the apostles, who were in Jerusalem, had heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John. Who, when they were come, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost. For he was not as yet come upon any of them; but they were only baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they laid their hands upon them, and they received the Holy Ghost.

EXPLANATION. The Samaritans had been converted and baptized by Philip the Deacon. Peter and John administered to them, by the imposition of hands and prayer, the Sacrament of Confirmation.
Is Confirmation a sacrament?
Yes, for Jesus Christ has promised the Holy Ghost not only to the apostles, but also to all the faithful, to confirm them fully in faith and charity.
What is the outward sigh of this sacrament?
The imposition of the bishop's hands, the anointing with the chrism, and the words of the bishop.
What grace is conveyed through this sacrament?
Through holy Confirmation, God confirms and completes in the Christians the grace of Baptism, and strengthens him for the combat with his spiritual enemies. Confirmation, like Baptism, cannot be received more than once, because the grace received in these sacraments is always efficacious if we only cooperate with it; and because in these sacraments we receive also indelible character, which forever distinguishes the souls of those who have been baptised and confirmed from those who have not.

GOSPEL (John X. 1-10.) At that time Jesus said to the Pharisees: Amen, amen I say to you: He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up another way, the same is a thief and a robber. But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out. And when he hath let out his own sheep, he goeth before them: and the sheep follow him, because they know his voice. But a stranger they follow not, but fly from him, because they know not the voice of strangers. This proverb Jesus spoke to them. But they understood not what he spoke to them. Jesus therefore said to them again: Amen, amen I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All others, as many as have come, are thieves and robbers: and the sheep heard them not. I am the door. By me, if any man enter in, he shall be saved: and he shall go in, and go out, and shall find pastures. The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I am come that they may have life, and may have it more abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd giveth his life for his sheep. But the hireling, and he that is not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and flieth: and the wolf catcheth, and scattereth the sheep: And the hireling flieth, because he is a hireling: and he hath no care for the sheep. I am the good shepherd; and I know mine, and mine know me. As the Father knoweth me, and I know the Father: and I lay down my life for my sheep. And other sheep I have, that are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice, and there shall be one fold and one shepherd.

How is this parable to be understood?
The sheepfold is the Church, or congregation of the faithful; the door for the flock is Baptism; for the pastors, lawful vocation and mission from God, through their spiritual superiors; the chief pastor is Christ; the sheep are the faithful; the invisible door-keeper is the Holy Ghost, inasmuch as He prepares hearts for Jesus; the visible door-keeper is the bishop or his representatives. The thieves and robbbers are the Pharisees and heretics of all ages, who led astray the sheep of Christ, and destroy their spiritual life by false doctrines. If we would not become the prey of thieves and murderers, we must follow the doctrines of the teachers and pastors whom Christ has appointed for his Church.