We began the Easter Octave with the celebration of the Easter Vigil. Appropriately so, for it is in the Vigil where we are reminded of the new birth Christ offers to us through his Passion. During the three hour Vigil we surveyed the restoration of humanity to the LORD recorded in the Sacred Scriptures. And if we are mindful of how the liturgy has progressed since Easter Vigil, we can see how the Vigil marks the ever-present beginning of a new season of grace and a time of joy and thanksgiving. That, as you know, is what we remember (in one hour) in our worship at each Mass. So why is this thing called the Easter Octave such a big deal in the liturgy?
We as Catholic Christians understand that Easter is not one day of celebration—it is a fifty day celebration, that is why we refer to the fifty days from Easter Sunday to Pentecost Sunday as "the great Sunday." We remain true to apostolic tradition by recognizing that the feasts of Easter and Pentecost were the ultimate of the liturgical year. We know this season now as the Easter Octave. Sunday, May 15, 2016, is Pentecost Sunday. No doubt you have given more attention to the role of the Holy Spirit in the Church as you have read and prayed the Sacred Scriptures during the Easter Octave, you really can't avoid it. This Sacred Tradition of remembering our identity as first, Creations of our Triune God and ultimately as a child of God has enlarged what we used to understand in part as the role of the Holy Spirit in the Christian Faith--Sanctifier of our life in Christ. True, but as we continue in our Christian Faith as Catholic Christians we are realizing what we previously believed was a part of a much wider and profound understanding.
The treatise, On the Holy Spirit, by Saint Basil the Great was included with the Sacred Scripture readings of the Divine Office during this Easter Octave. It so resonated with us that we want to share it with you, our fellow Catholic Christians. St. Basil the Great (330-379 A. D.) is a Doctor of The Church. You can read more about him at:
The Work of the Holy Spirit:
"The titles given to the Holy Spirit must surely stir the soul of anyone who hears them, and make him realize that they speak of nothing less than the supreme Being. Is he not called the Spirit of God, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, the steadfast Spirit, the guiding Spirit? But his principal and most personal title is the Holy Spirit.
To the Spirit all creatures turn in their need for sanctification; all living things seek him according to their ability. His breath empowers each to achieve its own natural end.
The Spirit is the source of holiness, a spiritual light, and he offers his own light to every mind to help it in its search for truth. By nature the Spirit is beyond the reach of our mind, but we can know him by his goodness. The power of the Spirit fills the whole universe, but he gives himself only to those who are worthy, acting in each according to the measure of his faith.
Simple in himself, the Spirit is manifold in his mighty works. The whole of his being is present to each individual; the whole of his being is present everywhere. Though shared in by many, he remains unchanged; his self giving is no loss to himself. Like the sunshine, which permeates all the atmosphere, spreading over land and sea, and yet is enjoyed by each person as though it were for him alone, so the Spirit pours forth his grace in full measure, sufficient for all, and yet is present as though exclusively to everyone who can receive him. To all creatures that share in him he gives a delight limited only by their own nature, not by his ability to give.
The Spirit raises our hearts to heaven, guides the steps of the weak, and brings to perfection those who are making progress. He enlightens those who have been cleansed from every stain of sin and makes them spiritual by communion with himself.
As clear, transparent substances become very bright when sunlight falls on them and shine with a new radiance, so also souls in whom the Spirit dwells, and who are enlightened by the Spirit, become spiritual themselves and a source of grace for others.
From the Spirit comes foreknowledge of the future, understanding of the mysteries of faith, insight into the hidden meaning of Scripture, and other special gifts. Through the Spirit we become citizens of heaven, we enter into eternal happiness, and abide in God. Through the Spirit we acquire a likeness to God..."
Father, into your hands we commit our spirit to be transformed into your likeness by your Spirit. Your Spirit imbues our nature as we recognize that the circumstances of our life are the sacraments of your grace on the way of salvation. May we let go of our own control of our image before others so that your image--your divine nature--outshines all that is contrary to you in us.
Come, Holy Spirit! In our relationships within our families, may we choose first to allow you to posses our thoughts so that our words and actions would be Christ's words and actions.
Confirm us, Holy Spirit! In our vocations as fathers and mothers, may God's divine purpose for the family be accomplished by our desire to live our identity in the love that God has for his Creation. May we foster in our children love for you by attending to their spirits as we train them in the way they should go.
Empower us, Holy Spirit! We aren't able to correct all the injustices in the world, but through your strengthening may we practice mercy and justice in all relationships. As employees, managers, leaders may we recognize that our value begins and ends in our identity as Christ's ambassadors in our world. May his Beatitudes be our attitude in all responsibilities.
Teach us, Holy Spirit! Tame what is restless within us. Shine the light of God's brilliance into the hidden places of our mind and heart. Anoint our thoughts with discernment, wisdom and understanding. Take control of our tongues, may they be instruments of grace and not weapons of self-promotion.
Remind us, Holy Spirit! You are near us at either hand, you are near us at each step. May our labor be offerings of thanksgiving to our Creator. May our actions be the work of kindness done in praise and honor of our Triune God.