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Brookline Carmel Bulletin                        

May 21, 1961

Cogitatio Sancta

(Holy Meditation)

 

Pentecost

 

God said, “Let us make mankind to our image and likeness:  and let them have dominion…” (Genesis  1,26)  Then the Lord God formed man out of the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living being. (Genesis 2,7)  Then God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it.”  (Genesis 1,28)

 

After God had finished creating the earth and all its appointments, and had filled the seas, the land, and the skies above with living things, He did not rest content.  He capped it all by creating Man, giving him a participation in His attributes that far surpassed what He had thus far bestowed.  Then, when Man had fallen from His high estate, God was not satisfied with merely restoring Him, but set about incorporating Man into a far more transcendent kind of creature.  And so the excerpts from the creation story, quoted above, find a fuller and more significant application to the great events that culminated with the pouring forth of the Holy Spirit on the first Pentecost.  For that amounted to a ‘new’ creation, and the new creature is the Church.

 

Certainly the Church is a far more perfect image and likeness of God than were our first parents.  Together with Jesus her Head, the Church comprises the Mystical Christ.  Is He not the Son of God, His Word, in a word, God Himself?  Well, the Church was given to Jesus by His Father to be a helper like unto Himself, His Spouse.  Obviously, after Jesus, she is the most splendid and glorious image of God.  And she, too, can boast of having been assigned a destiny similar to that given to Adam and Eve:  Have dominion…’ before departing from His Apostles, Jesus charged them, “Go ye therefore make disciples of all nations…”

 

In a certain sense, we can say that the Church is to the Human race what the Human Race is to the rest of the earth.  God formed a body out of the dust of the earth and breathed into it the breath (spirit) of life.  Likewise, Jesus formed His mystical Body out of the members of the Human Race and breathed into it His living Spirit, the Holy Ghost.  It became a new creature, a transcendent kind of moral person leading a divine life.  It is interesting to note that the slime out of which Man’s body is made is not of itself capable of staying together.  Bereft of their animating principle, the constituent elements of a human body separate out and revert to their former, less perfect level of existence.  When vivified by the soul, though they lose their individual identity, they participate in the souls’ higher and spiritual being.  In the living body they do not exist in and for themselves, but sub-serve the well being of the entire organism.  Experience proves the same to be true of men, the constituent elements of the Church.  As long as men and aggregates of men remain united to and subject to the quickening influence of Jesus’ Spirit, they remain members of His Body and share its life.  Without it, they cannot rise above their naturally selfish, self-centered mode of existence, to which they then revert.  Indeed, even on the plane of merely natural moral persons, men need a spirit to hold them together.  Speaking of civil society, we say that government is corrupt whose public officials are more interested in lining their own pockets and feathering their own nests than looking after the common welfare.  Without social justice, which we may say, is the fruit of an altruistic ‘spirit’, no nation can long endure.

 

“I have appointed you to go and bear fruit and that your fruit should remain,” said Jesus to His disciples, while the Church was still in the embryonic stage.  There is a difference, though, between the fruitfulness of the Church and that of Adam and Eve.  The latter fulfilled the precept, “Increase and multiply, fill the earth and subdue it”, by reproducing individuals of the species, all of them, humanly speaking, their equals.  The Church does so, however, by incorporating all men into herself.  She does so by communicating to them her Spirit and her Life.  When the Church shall have finally succeeded in gathering all men into her fold, then will her vocation have been fulfilled.

 

Our Faith tells us that eventually the Church’s task will be completed, and that she will have been diffused throughout the entire world and drawn all men into her communion.  But we know, too, that it cannot take place without our cooperation.  If progress is slow, nay, if it seems to bog down and stall, that is entirely due to the human element in the Mystical Body.  Because of our weakness (and sometimes our malice) the work of the Spirit in souls is hindered and His influence choked off.  Would that we resembled in zeal the members of that political persuasion who labor unflaggingly to hasten the evolution of humanity into a classless society.  In the Sequence of the Mass for Pentecost we beseech the Holy Spirit to renew and reanimate us.  We ask among other things, that He ‘cleanse what is sordid, water what is arid, heal what is wounded, bend what is rigid, warm what is cold, and straighten what is crooked.’  Only when we are perfectly healthy, i.e., fully docile to the Spirit of Jesus, will we see a return of the apostolic vigor so characteristic of the Infant Church.

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