Cardinal Newman on Pentecost

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WHEN our Lord was going to leave the world and return to His Father, He called His disciples orphans; children, as it were, whom He had been rearing, who were still unable to direct themselves, and who were soon to lose their Protector; but He said, “I will not leave you comfortless orphans, I will come to you;” [John xiv. 18.] meaning to say, He would come again to them in the power of His Holy Spirit, who should be their present all-sufficient Guide, though He Himself was away. And we know, from the sacred history, that when the Holy Spirit came, they ceased to be the defenceless children they had been before. He breathed into them a divine life, and gifted them with spiritual manhood, or perfection, as it is called in Scripture. From that time forth, they put away childish things:  they spake, they understood, they thought, as those who had been taught to govern themselves; and who, having “an unction from the Holy One, knew all things.”

That such a change was wrought in the Apostles, according to Christ’s promise, is evident from comparing their conduct before the day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit descended on them, and after. I need not enlarge on their wonderful firmness and zeal in their Master’s cause afterwards. On the other hand, it is plain from the Gospels, that before the Holy Ghost came down, that is, while Christ was still with them, they were as helpless and ignorant as children; had no clear notion what they ought to seek after, and how; and were carried astray by their accidental feelings and their long-cherished prejudices.—What was it but to act the child, to ask how many times a fellow-Christian should offend against us, and we forgive him, as St. Peter did? or to ask to see the Father, with St. Philip? or to propose to build tabernacles on the mount, as if they were not to return to the troubles of the world? or to dispute who should be the greatest? or to look for Christ’s restoring at that time the temporal kingdom to Israel?  Natural as such views were in the case of half-instructed Jews, they were evidently unworthy of those whom Christ had made His, that He might “present them perfect” before the throne of God.

Yet the first disciples of Christ at least put off their vanities once for all, when the Spirit came upon them; {338} but as to ourselves, the Spirit has long since been poured upon us, even from our earliest years; yet it is a serious question, whether multitudes of us, even of those among us who make a profession of religion, are even so far advanced in a knowledge of the Truth as the Apostles were before the day of Pentecost. It may be a profitable employment today to consider this question, as suggested by the text,—to inquire how far we have proceeded in putting off such childish things as are inconsistent with a manly, honest profession of the Gospel.

Now, observe, I am not inquiring whether we are plainly living in sin, in wilful disobedience; nor even whether we are yielding through thoughtlessness to sinful practices and habits. The condition of those who act against their conscience, or who act without conscience, that is, lightly and carelessly, is far indeed from bearing any resemblance to that of the Apostles in the years of their early discipleship. I am supposing you, my brethren, to be on the whole followers of Christ, to profess to obey Him; and I address you as those who seem to themselves to have a fair hope of salvation. I am directing your attention, not to your sins, not to those faults and failings which you know to be such, and are trying to conquer, as being confessedly evil in themselves, but to such of your views, wishes, and tastes, as resemble those which the Apostles cherished, true believers though they were, before they attained their manhood in the Gospel: and I ask, how far you have dismissed these from your minds as vain and trifling; that is, how far you have made what St. Paul in the text seems to consider the first step in the true spiritual course of a Christian, on whom the Holy Ghost has descended.

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One Comment

  1. Interesting.
    The Apostles were very familiar with Jesus’ mother. They comforted her as she also had comforted them during their time on earth. The relationship is a vital one and should not be glossed over. The relationship between Mary, Apostles and indwelling of the Holy Spirit is more than a formula to advance in the spiritual journey, it is a bond that is as magnificent as mother and child. In this exchange is found an abundance of grace to completely loose one’s life for the cause of Christ.

    Consecrated souls know this relationship. They have child like trust. They nurtured​ a lovely relationship with Mary in their beginning stages of trust which in turn lead them into the richness of knowing Her Son.
    This introduction or familiarity is from the spouse of Mary…the Holy Spirit.

    A consecrated life is not only for religious who profess the vows and live in convent’s.
    No. It’s for everyone. My personal consecration to Jesus through Mary via St. Kolbe’s method lead me almost immediately into a field of service I had never imagined. Profound change resulted in this first step in dieing to self and living a new life in Christ.

    I do not know Jesus in the fullness that the Apostles knew him, but I’ve been allowing myself to be guided by trusting in His inspirations​. Happily too.

    Ad Jesum per Marium.
    When you’ve become a child of Mary you will benefit from the Spouse of Mary.

    Praise be Jesus Christ.. today tomorrow and forever.

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