Academic journal article Sacred Music

A Homily for the Ember Saturday in the Octave of Pentecost

Academic journal article Sacred Music

A Homily for the Ember Saturday in the Octave of Pentecost

Article excerpt

[Preached by Msgr. Andrew Wadsworth at a Solemn High Mass in the Church of the Epiphany, Pittsburgh at Colloquium XXI of The Church Music Association of America, June 18, 2011.]

From the text of the introit, and indeed the epistle of this Holy Mass: Caritas Dei diffusa est in cordibus nostris (The love of God is poured forth in our hearts).

Pentecost, as we know, is the culmination of the Easter festival, which, my breviary informs me, ends today after the office of None. The feast of Pentecost and its octave explains to us how the power of the mystery of Jesus, the mystery of Christ's suffering, dying, and rising is communicated and received; communicated by God, and received by us. God's plan of salvation is, shall we say, expressed in summary form in the breath-taking readings of today's Mass.

If a person were to walk in from the street, and one knowing nothing of the faith that we hold, if that person were enlightened by the Holy Spirit to understand what they were witnessing at this Mass, just about the whole truth of the Catholic faith is laid before them. Today's great feature is the distinctive sequence of prophecies, alleluias, and collects of this Ember Day Mass. Our faith is made so much clearer to us; for we hear of the pouring out of the Holy Spirit (Joel 2:28-32); we hear of the harvest which God expects (Lev. 23: 9-11, 15-17, 21); we hear of the possession of the land (Deut. 26:1-11) and the fruitfulness of that land (Lev. 26:3-12); and we hear, finally, of the purification by fire, which is the suffering and the trial through which we must all pass (Dan. 3:47-51).

In today's great epistle (Rom. 5:1-5) we hear that we have, through God's great mercy, access through faith in Christ, to grace. And then, the gospel we've just heard (Luke 4:38-44) tells us how that grace is put to work, by God, in our hearts, to heal us. In this, Simon's mother-in-law is a picture of the church. This morning at Matins, St. Ambrose in his wonderful homily commenting on the gospel, makes it clear that the fever of Simon's mother-in-law is an expression of the weakness and the vulnerability that we know so well.

He says, "Febris enim nostra, avaritia est: febris nostra, libido est: febris nostra, luxuria est: febris nostra, ambitio est: febris nostra, iracundia est" (Homily by St. …

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