A meditation of Fr Mortier O.P.
There is an admirable harmony in the work of the salvation of the world.
The Hebrew people had their Pascal time, in remembrance of their deliverance from the Egyptian oppression, by the blood of the lamb, prophetic figure of the Christian Easter which is the deliverance from the oppression of the world under the yoke of Satan, by the blood of the true Lamb, Our Lord Jesus Christ. Fifty days after the Hebrews left Egypt, they received on Mount Sinai the Law which would govern them, and make of them, in the midst of the Gentiles, the People of God. It was also the first Pentecost, prophetic figure of the second, the Christian Pentecost. But the Christian Pentecost doesn’t call to mind the thunder and lightning of Sinai. She only brings to mind that 50 days after the Resurrection of Our Savior, the Holy Ghost descended, under the form of tongues of fire, upon the Apostles united in the Cenacle. This is no longer the terrifying promulgation of the Law which enchained the Hebrew people in its observance by the fear of chastisements; rather, it is the gift of light and of force which must spread the Charity of God throughout the entire world, and by this Charity, the practice of the Evangelical Law.
With the Holy Ghost, it is substantial Charity which takes possession of the world to bring it back to God. And once descended upon the earth, this Charity will not leave it again. It will permeate all peoples, it will insinuate itself in all souls, Divine conqueror, and little by little, under His gentle and strong impulsion, it was found that the world was Catholic. Work of Charity, this wonderful transformation which cast at the feet of Jesus so many Peoples and taught them to say to God: Our Father! Cry of filial love, cry of the Holy Ghost in souls.
It is this taking possession of the world by Charity that we celebrate on this day of Pentecost. And so our hearts rejoice: Profusis gaudiis totus in orbe terrarum mundus exultat, as sings the Preface. (Wherefore does the whole world rejoice with exceeding great joy.)
Let us elevate our souls to these heights to celebrate with devotion, with gratitude the descent of Charity upon the earth.
It took place at Jerusalem, in the Cenacle, where the Disciples of Jesus were reunited around His Holy Mother. Even the hour is mentioned, because it was a solemn moment, decisive for the salvation of souls: the hour of Terce according to the ancient manner of dividing the day, which corresponds to around 9:00 in the morning.
In Her Liturgy, the Church, who lives by the Holy Ghost, daily commemorates this hour of eternal Charity which has become her treasure, by the hymn that the priests recite at Terce. It is the perpetual invocation to the perpetual descent of Divine Charity.
There came up a violent wind around the Cenacle and in the entire City, and at the same time tongues of fire appeared above the Apostles.
It is the impetuosity of Charity, which manifests itself by this gust of wind. It signifies that those who receive the Holy Ghost, who live in His presence, who allow themselves to be conducted by Him, must give themselves without reserve. Charity is without measure. If it calculates, it is no longer Charity. It goes its way and none can stop it, just like no one can stop a storm. Divine Charity would throw the Apostles into an irresistible whirlwind throughout the world, as it ought always throw into a whirlwind all those who love God, either by the apostolate of preaching, or by that of penance and of prayer.
It was tongues of fire which descended upon the Apostles. “I am come to cast fire on the earth,” said Our Lord, “and what will I, but that it be kindled?” (Luke 12, v. 49).
It is done. The fire is descended, it has been cast, the gust will flame the fire throughout the entire world. Who can escape from its Divine sparks? Today as well we burn with this fire when we love God; when, to prove it to Him we resist evil; when we feel within us the immense and insatiable desire to love Him more; when we would make Him known, make Him loved by those around us, by those far from us and everywhere. Then, it is the fire of Divine Charity which embraces us. To keep it for oneself is not possible. Whosoever would keep it to himself has but a little bit. This fire wishes to be communicated, to be spread. Whoever possesses it in himself feels the imperious need of giving it to others.
(Fr Mortier O.P., La Liturgie dominicaine [ The Dominican Liturgy], Paris, DDB, 1922, t. 5, p. 240-241.)