Monday, June 12, 2006
St. Augustine's Sermon on the Feast of Penetecost
Is the Holy Ghost not given now, brethren? Whoever thinks this is not worthy to receive Him. He is given; even now. How is it then that no one speaks in the tongues of all nations, as they spoke who at that time were filled with the Holy Ghost? Why? Because what this wonder signified is now fulfilled. What is that? When we celebrated Ascension, you remember we told you, that the Lord Jesus Christ had established His Church, and ascended into heaven. His Disciples had asked Him, When shall the end of the world be? He answered: It is not for you to know the times or moments, which the Father had put in His own power. Yet He promised them what He has this day fulfilled: You shall receive the power of the Holy Ghost coming upon you, and you shall be witnesses unto me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and Samaria, and even to the uttermost part of the earth (Acts 1 6-8).
The Church that was then within one house received the Holy Ghost: it was few in numbers, in tongues it represented the whole earth. Behold how far it has now spread. That this little Church spoke with the tongues of all nations, what does this mean but that this mighty Church, from the rising of the sun to its going down, speaks in the tongues of all nations? What was then promised, is now fulfilled. We have heard, and we have seen. Hearken, O daughter, and see (Ps. 44.1 1). To the queen (the Church) was it said: Hearken, O daughter, and see. Hear the promise; see the fulfillment. Thy God has not deceived thee; thy Spouse has not failed thee; He has not failed thee who endowed thee with His Blood. He has not failed thee who changed thee from ugliness to beauty, from a wanton to a virgin. Thou wert promised to thyself; promised to a few, but fulfilled in many.
Therefore, let no one say: I have received the Holy Ghost, why do I not speak in the tongues of every nation? If you wish to have the Holy Ghost, attend to what I say, my brethren. The spirit within us, by which a man lives, is called a soul; our spirit, by which each single one of us lives, is called a soul. Consider what the soul does within the body. It gives life to all the members. It sees through the eyes, hears through the ears, smells through the nostrils, speaks by the tongue, works by means of the hand, walks by means of the feet. It is present at the same time in all the members, that they may live. It gives life to all; to each it allots duties. The eye does not hear, the ear does not see, the tongue does not see, and neither does the eye speak, or the ear; and yet each lives. The ear lives, the tongue lives. The duties are diverse, the life is one.
Such is the Church of God. In some of its saints it works miracles, in others of the saints it cherishes virginity, in others of the sanctified it upholds conjugal modesty; in others this, in others that. Each one does what belongs to him, but they live in the same manner. What the soul is to the body of man, the Holy Ghost is to the Body of Christ, which is the Church. What the soul does in all the members of one body, this the Holy Ghost does throughout the Church.
But see that you are on your guard, see that you are restrained, see that you fear God. It happens sometimes in the human body, that from this same body something is cut off, a hand, a finger, a foot. Do you think the soul follows the part cut thus off? While it belonged to the body it lived. Cut off it loses life. So likewise the Christian Catholic man; while in the Body he lives, becoming a heretic he is cut off; for the Spirit follows no amputated member. If therefore you wish to live in the Holy Ghost, hold fast to the bond of charity, love the Truth, long for Unity, that you may attain to eternity.
Turning then to the Lord Our God, the Father Almighty, let us as best we can give thanks with all our hearts, beseeching Him that in His goodness He will mercifully hear our prayers, and by His grace drive evil from our thoughts and actions, increase our faith, guide our minds, grant us His holy inspirations, and bring us to joy without end, through His Son Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.