Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira
The feast of Pentecost,
the Holy Ghost
and the "Secret of Mary"
Saint of the Day, Saturday, May 20, 1972. Whithout author’s revision.
This is the eve of Pentecost and the feast of Blessed Crispin of Viterbo of the Order of the Capuchin Friars Minor, whose relic is venerated in our chapel.
What should we think about the feast of Pentecost? Can we draw some teaching from it?
You know well about the nature of this feast and its antecedents, which could almost be summarized as one would a newspaper clipping for a Saturday meeting. A summary would be:
1. The very persistent infidelity of the Apostles in relation to Our Lord.
2. The fact that they finally came to their senses, did penance, and after Our Lord’s death spent a few days stunned and bewildered in the Cenacle, at the feet of Our Lady, until the moment when He appeared, following the Resurrection. By being with Our Lady, their souls recovered the graces that even the most unfaithful souls recover when they have recourse to her.
3. After the Resurrection, when Our Lord appears to them, they begin to come to their senses and a process of conversion begins, for which the period that Our Lord spent in the sepulcher was only a kind of preparation. In that process of conversion, Our Lord appeared and spoke to them several times; and not only His divine character but also His triumph become obvious, and so the scales began to drop off their eyes. And then comes the glorious and definitive step in this process: His Ascension.
4. The fourth point is the day of Pentecost. The Apostles are all gathered in the Cenacle at the feet of Our Lady and are praying together. Our Lady presides the meeting. Next to her are St. Peter, the Prince of Apostles, and all the other Apostles, salt of the earth and light of the world par excellence. They are recollected in a very elevated prayer; and the Holy Ghost acts upon them more and more profoundly, and their prayer becomes ever more elevated.
At a certain moment – the Acts of the Apostles narrate this in detail – a thunder clap is heard and the Holy Ghost enters the room in the form of flames; a great flame lands on Our Lady – here I am drawing a bit from the Acts of the Apostles – and then divides up into several flames which land upon the Apostles. And then another thunder clap is heard outside the room; the city becomes aware that a major event is taking place; and the Apostles go out and begin to preach.
They preach with such enthusiasm, so joyful and happy and with such strength and the fire of the Holy Ghost that many onlookers think they are drunk. That is exactly what the Liturgy calls “the chaste inebriation with the Holy Ghost;” it is something ultra temperate; it is an enthusiasm that does not come from intemperance but which causes the soul, entirely master of itself and fully dominated by God, to utter words so sublime and say things so extraordinary and with so much fire, that others often miss their full meaning but are ravished all the same.
So they begin to baptize and the Church to expand; but above all, a fullness of the Holy Ghost enters the Catholic Church that will never leave her. Wherever true Catholics exist, wherever the true Catholic Church exists, there will be a presence of the Divine Holy Ghost which will make itself felt through infallibility of doctrine, continuity of sanctity, apostolic vigor, and through a certain indefinable ambience which is the joy of soul of a faithful Catholic; it is this ambience at times interior, at times exterior, whereby we all know and feel that the Catholic Church is true, the only and eternally true Church, independently of proofs or apologetics.
How many times those who are in this room, upon entering some Church, suddenly had a supernatural sensation of recollection and tenderness that makes one say: “Wow, this really is the one true Church! This is what truth is all about. Whatever is not this is a lie and an imposture. And this is what I want to give myself to entirely; because whatever is not this, is worth nothing.”
What is this? It is a spark from the fire of Pentecost, that defined and definitive permanence of the Holy Ghost among the true faithful. Thus, at Pentecost the work of Our Lord Jesus Christ acquires its plenitude. He preached and taught; He founded the Church. But the Church was still like an unfinished edifice. He died and watered the Church with His blood; we could say the Church is a plant that He watered with His Blood. Then the plant begins to germinate and develop but it still had not produced flowers or fruits. At a given moment, Pentecost comes and the flowers and fruits appear; and the Church begins to appear with her definitive strength and beauty.
From that moment, the great, epic and varied saga of the Catholic Church begins. The Apostles disperse: some stay in the Middle East, others go to various regions of the earth. It appears from Indian legends that St. Thomas miraculously visited the Indians in South America, arriving on Brazil’s Atlantic coast. The Apostles preach throughout the earth; some fail, others are successful. Those who are successful found Christendom; Christendom rises upon all the nations of the earth and dominate the world; then it begins to decay and to rot; and its decadence drags with it all peoples.
But... “residuum revertetur”. A remnant remains and stages a comeback: it is the ultramontane reaction of the 20th century. If the immortal Church could die (one who has not died cannot be reborn) – we could say this reaction is the beginning of a rebirth of the Church and of the fight against the power of darkness, the Revolution, toward the foundation of the Reign of Mary, etc. All this begins from the fact that Our Lord’s work was completed at Pentecost as He sent the Holy Ghost upon the Catholic Church.
What teaching can we draw from Pentecost? There is a certain analogy between the Feast of Pentecost and the Secret of Mary: up until that moment the Apostles did not see, understand, or act well; there was something heavy, a stuck-on-self clumsiness about them whereby they would not get out of that rut. With Pentecost, all of a sudden everything changed as they received the grace that you all know. That grace came to them through Our Lady: fire hovered upon her head and then spread to the Apostles to indicate that She is the Mediatrix of all graces and that everything comes through her. And from that moment onward, everything changed.
How closely this resembles the “Secret of Mary”! There was only one Pentecost and there will never be another till the end of the world. But events analogous to Pentecost can happen. In other words, at a given moment, those who are gathered and praying and join Our Lady in prayer can be visited by grace, a sudden and extraordinary grace. And even the most opaque, lukewarm and wayward can suddenly become fully inebriated with the Holy Ghost.
We are at a time when the spirit of darkness advances more and more and appears to dominate everything. Would it not be logical, symmetrical, reasonable and proportional that at the moment when the Holy Ghost seemed completely banished from earth, He would suddenly return? Return with a great thunderclap, and then all things would begin to change? This is something conceivable. Who knows if the Grand Retour we wait for will happen in this way! I am not making a prediction, only a hypothesis. Who knows if at a certain moment, an event, fact or grace will change us all and we will finally become what we want to be and what we must be?
At any rate, we should spend Pentecost day bearing in mind this notion that the Holy Ghost is received at the feet of Our Lady; and that he who receives the Holy Ghost, receives the very source of all grace and is thus entirely converted.
Therefore, by asking, asking and asking, closely united with Our Lady, we will suddenly obtain the grace we have so arduously desired but through our malice and lack of correspondence have failed to correspond to sufficiently and so we linger in this blindness, exactly like the Apostles, who also fought somewhat to obtain it but corresponded only incompletely and thus remained in that state. At a certain moment, everything was transformed. This is where that beautiful prayer of the Liturgy comes in: Emite spiritum tuum et creabuntur, et renovabis faciem terrae – send forth Thy Spirit and all things will be created – and Thou shalt renew the face of the earth.
So we should present this prayer to Our Lord Jesus Christ through Our Lady: Send the Holy Ghost to this rotten, revolutionary, corrupt, wayward, blind and boobish world and all things will be, as it were, created anew; everything will flourish afresh. And Thou, O my God, will have renewed the face of the earth. The face of the earth is full of ruins, garbage and one would say all that is left begs for an exterminating fire to come down and burn it. Yet, with grace the earth can be renewed.
Let us ask her to obtain that the Holy Ghost is sent to the world so we take on a new life and the face of the world is renewed. This is what we should ask tomorrow with confidence, fidelity and faith: Ask during the Rosary, Communion, and with ejaculations throughout the day. I am certain that this prayer will be heeded; because if it is true that if you knock it will be opened and if you ask it will be given, this applies above all to the prayer asking for the Holy Ghost; and it the Holy Ghost is precisely what Our Lady wants to give us the most. All other graces are collateral. What Our Lady wants above all is for us to have the good spirit of which the Holy Ghost is the source, matrix, and thus sanctify ourselves.
So let us ask her for that which She wants to give us, certain that we will be heeded. If it does not come right away, it will come in a while; the longer it takes, the more abundant the grace will be. In this sense, tomorrow may be for us a great day.