Pentecost and Renewal

 

So ever the king had a custom that at the feast of Pentecost in especial, afore other feasts in the year, he would not go that day to meat until he had heard or seen of a great marvel.

 

When my children were small as the family drove to Mass, I offered the kids a dollar for the first one to sight the Questing Beast, tying the Arthurian legend with the great feast.  When my son died on Pentecost four years ago, the bright spot on that bleak Pentecost was when my bride gave voice to a thought that had occurred to me:  Larry has gone after the Questing Beast.

The birthday of the Church, inaugurated with the great miracles of the coming of the Holy Spirit and the tongues of fire underlining the universal nature of the mission of the Church, at Pentecost has always reminded me that since the coming of Christ we live in an age of miracles, if we only have the wit and the faith to see them.  I know this from personal experience:   since the death of Larry I have received a small miracle to assure me of his love from the other side.

We live in a time in the West of great cultural pessimism and spiritual sickness that has infected the Church.  We forget that over 2000 turbulent years Christ has never failed us and that we Christians should never give way to despair.  We do battle with Principalities and Powers, and not merely misguided or evil fellow men, and Christ is ever ready to aid us if we call on Him in humility and love.

The Holy Spirit, Saint Thomas Aquinas teaches us, brings us renewal:

 

The second effect is a renewal which consists of four things: grace that cleanses, justice that is ever making progress, wisdom that illuminates, and glory that attains consummation.

I say that the effect of renewal through the Holy Spirit consists, first of all, of the grace that cleanses. Sin is a sort of old age of the soul, and a man is only freed from this old age through justifying grace, by which he is cleansed from sin. Hence the Apostle writes: “As Christ has risen from the dead, so also let us walk in newness of life” (Rom. 6:4).81 Where does this newness come from? The Holy Spirit. So the same Apostle writes to Titus: “He saved us, not because of deeds done by us in righteousness, but in virtue of His own mercy, by the laver of regeneration and renewal in the Holy Spirit” (Tit. 3:5). All sins are forgiven through that laver, and in this way man is renewed.
Secondly, this renewal consists in the justice that is ever making progress. If one should walk, grow tired, and become weak, and then he rests, his powers seem to him to be renewed; and when a man works diligently,82 he is renewed when he gains further power for working. About this renewal Job says: “My glory shall be renewed, and the bow in my hand shall be repaired” (Job 29:20). The glory of the saints is the testimony of conscience. A man is renewed when he is quick to fight against vices. Isaiah describes it: “They shall take wings as eagles, they shall fly and not fail” (Is. 40:31),83 namely, for running in the way of God’s commandments (Ps. 118:32).84 But who causes this running? The Holy Spirit. “He led us out through the deep, as a horse in the wilderness that does not stumble, and the Spirit of the Lord was his leader” (Is. 63:13-14).85

Thirdly, renewal comes about through the wisdom that illuminates. When a man comes to new knowledge of more of the good things of God, he is renewed. About this renewal it says in Colossians: “Put on the new man who is created according to God.”86 The “new man” [nouus homo] indicates Christ, because His was a novel [noua] kind of conception,87 “not from the seed of man, but from the Holy Spirit”88; a novel kind of birth, because His mother remained a virgin after birth; a novel kind of suffering [passio], because it was without guilt 89; a novel kind of rising from the dead [resurrectio], because it was quick and renewing, for He rose quickly and in glory 90; a novel kind of ascension, because he ascended by His own power, not by that of another, as did Enoch and Elijah.91 And so it is said in Ecclesiasticus: “Show signs anew and work wonders” (Sir. 36:6). And because all things are renewed through Christ, therefore on solemnities we use new vestments in church, that we may “sing to the Lord a new song”92—as though to signify that he who is renewed by the exterior cleanness of his clothing is renewed interiorly in his mind by grace. By “stripping off the old man,” i.e., the habit of sins with its deeds, “and putting on” the habit of virtue which is not lacking in [good] deeds, “the new man,” i.e., the rational mind, will be renewed “in the knowledge of God” (Col. 3:9-10).93 As Romans has it, “Put on the Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 13:14). And from whom does that wisdom come? The Holy Spirit, as Job testifies: “As I see, there is a spirit in men, and the inspiration of the Almighty gives understanding. [They that are aged are not the wise men, neither do the ancients understand judgment]” (Job 32:8-9).94

Fourthly, renewal comes about through the glory that attains consummation, when the body is renewed, the oldness of punishment and guilt being taken away. We read about this in the prophet Isaiah: “Behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; [and the former things shall not be remembered or come into mind]” (Is. 65:17). And where does this renewal come from? The Holy Spirit. He is the pledge of our inheritance, and it is He who leads us into the heavenly inheritance. He who needs to be created and renewed shall obtain this from the Holy Spirit.

The second effect is a renewal which consists of four things: grace that cleanses, justice that is ever making progress, wisdom that illuminates, and glory that attains consummation.

I say that the effect of renewal through the Holy Spirit consists, first of all, of the grace that cleanses. Sin is a sort of old age of the soul, and a man is only freed from this old age through justifying grace, by which he is cleansed from sin. Hence the Apostle writes: “As Christ has risen from the dead, so also let us walk in newness of life” (Rom. 6:4).81 Where does this newness come from? The Holy Spirit. So the same Apostle writes to Titus: “He saved us, not because of deeds done by us in righteousness, but in virtue of His own mercy, by the laver of regeneration and renewal in the Holy Spirit” (Tit. 3:5). All sins are forgiven through that laver, and in this way man is renewed.

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