Sunday, June 04, 2006

Happy Whitsun

I know I have been woefully remiss in keeping this blog up to date. The constraints of time being what they are, it is difficult to squeeze in everything one wants to do in a whole day. Still, I was inspired to write by today's second reading at Mass.

Paul's letter to the Galatians has ...

Paul's letter to the Galatians has a profound message for us.

live by the Spirit and you will certainly not gratify the desire of the flesh. For the flesh has desires against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; these are opposed to each other, so that you may not do what you want. (Galatians 5:16-17)
This directly relates Pentecost to the latest encyclical by the Holy Father. As a digression, I had so desired to write about that at the time he published it, but alas for time. Back to the quote. Pentecost is the day we celebrate the birth of the Church, because the promised Paraclete came to rest with the Apostles. In turn, the Paraclete, the Holy Ghost, confers certain gifts upon whom he is bestowed. One of the great gifts the Church has received, is the great ability to witness to Love.

In the Encyclical, the Holy Father discusses the fact that the Church tries to lead all Men from eros to caritas. Put simply, the Church speaking for the Holy Ghost, calls us to leave the passions behind to ascend to the selfless love of the other. As the Pontiff rightly points out, this has the effect sometimes of making us seem as if we enjoy going into the bedroom blowing a whistle on people's activities. The reality is that we desire to show Men the way upward.

Now, where do we get the idea that the carnal desires of the flesh will do little to save Man? Where do we get the idea that we must selflessly love our brothers and sisters as we love ourselves? Principally we learn it from the Inspired Scripture, like the one I quoted above. In fact, Paul has an important lesson here for us. It is the prompting of the Holy Ghost within us also that calls us to leave the warring with carnality behind. But the Church's view also comes from its long experience and its common sense.

Consider that at its most basic level, eros is the using of another person for one's own pleasure. Carnal desire is, at its most basic level, selfish love. Caritas, therefore, is the goal to which we are called, because it lifts us from same level as the brutes to a higher, more noble level.

That is not to say that eros is behind every ill, but it is behind many. When we desires others' bodies for own momentary gratification, it suggests a general disregard for our fellow brothers and sisters. This then helps to explain how it is Man can be so cruel to other Men, and why we seem to value others so cheaply.

And that is what the Church so desires, as does the Holy Ghost who guides Her. In order for their to be true selfless charity, Man must leave behind the passions of the beasts and take on the selfless love of others.

So, on this Whitsun, I was mindful of this idea, because the clarion call of the Paraclete is little discussed in our sermons and homilies. Indeed, the Paraclete Himself seems more notable for His absence than His inclusion is those sermons and homilies.


And now for something completely off-topic. There was a terrible, horrible crime committed at Mass today. It was a crime against the English language. The English language was brutally assaulted during the Sequence. Here is the translation as it appeared in my Missal:

In our labor, rest most sweet;
Grateful coolness in the heat;
Solace in the midst of woe.

O most blessed Light divine,
Shine within these hearts of yours,
And our inmost being fill

Where you are not, we have naught,
Nothing good in deed or thought,
Nothing free from taint of ill.

As you can see the rhyme scheme is pretty obvious ... aab ccb dde etc. So, what is that abomination "yours" doing there? It should be thine! Thine, you fools! This smacks of those condescending idiots who think that to make God more accessible, he must be made stupid. "Those poor, simple folk in the pews can't understand 'thine'! Let's make it 'yours'!" Of course "we have naught" is perfectly intelligible but "thine" is not. Idiots! Leave it alone! The English language is perfectly lovely when used properly. Abuse it like this, and all you get is a conviction for aggravated assault. Dreadful.