Rorate Caeli

Fontgombault Sermon for Pentecost 2022: Let us all become Preachers of the Gospel

Sermon of the Right Reverend Dom Jean Pateau
Father Abbot of Our Lady of Fontgombault 
Fontgombault, June 5, 2022

Audivimus eos loquentes nostris linguis magnalia Dei. We have heard them speak in our own tongues the wonderful works of God. (Acts 2:11)

Dear Brothers and Sisters, 

My dearly beloved Sons,

St. Benedict completes the very short chapter 19 in his Rule, dedicated to how to sing the Psalms, by a wish: “May our mind be in harmony with our voice.”

After reminding us, together with the Psalmist, that the duty of the monks is to sing the Lord in the sight of the angels and with fear, his conclusion is:

Therefore, let us consider how it becomes us to behave in the sight of God and His angels, and let us so stand to sing, that our mind may be in harmony with our voice.

These lines hold good for a monk’s behaviour in the choir. They also hold for his whole life, and more generally, for all human life taking place under the eyes of God. They obviously concern all the dimensions of life: private and public, domestic and professional. In the field of labour, they also apply to all men and women, and especially to politicians, in the service of public life; to journalists, whose mission it is to bring marking events to the knowledge of their fellow citizens; last, to churchmen, in the service of the works of God in the souls.

Living under the eyes of God is demanding, for God doesn’t let Himself be dazzled by mere appearances. Nothing but the deepest of being is of interest to Him. St. Benedict therefore harshly upbraids the hypocritical attitude of him who conceals his true personality, affecting feelings, or even virtues, he doesn’t have. Conversely, the man who, day after day, fights courageously the good fight of uprightness, loyalty, and truth, honours during his life God,Who is truth itself, and sanctifies himself.

On this Pentecost morning, St.Benedict’s wish is an invitation for every man to search his own heart. Let us ask for each other, let us ask for the lawmakers, and let us also ask for our families, our country, and the world, the grace of a consistent life. “But let your speech be yea, yea: no, no: and that which is over and above these, is of evil.” (Mt 5:37)

The Lord’s words reported by St. John, which we have just heard, are frightening: “Peace I leave with you: My peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, do I give unto you.” (Jn 14:27) Could then there exist several forms of peace? Indeed, the hypocrite gives a false peace, and the world is hypocritical. He who gives a false peace only wishes to turn to his own advantage his counterfeited gift, whereas Christ gives us a free and disinterested peace. As He gives us His peace, He gives us His life. God gives so as to make us free and alive.

But how should we receive this priceless gift, namely, God’s peace and life?

Starting on the day of Ascension, until the end of the octave of Pentecost, the Church invites her children to ask without respite the gift of the Spirit.

He is the sole bestower of all gifts, the gentle guest of souls. From Him, we beseech for rest in our labour, comfort in our tears. May during these days this blessed light fill the innermost depths of our hearts. Without Him, there is nothing in man that is not corrupt. By Him, tainted hearts are cleansed, insensible hearts become vulnerable and generous, wounded hearts are healed. In His heat, rigid minds are made tractable, and in His light, devious wills are made straight. Living according to the Spirit means ensuring for oneself final salvation, and the gift of everlasting joy.

But there is more. If during these days our lips repeat many times Veni, “Come”, how much more our hearts, in harmony with our voices, should also yearn for the gift of the Spirit.

According to the constant teaching of the Fathers of the desert, the first of the monks, the virtue that is most pleasing to God is purity of heart. A pure heart is a heart simple and without duplicity, a heart free of murmurings, a gentle and generous heart, a heart that is free, and that in everything seeks and expects God only. This purity of heart, which in itself is already a gift of the Spirit, calls for a new outpouring of the Spirit into the hearts of the faithful.

Mary, the full of grace, received the gifts of the Spirit to a unique degree.

Thus adorned, she had no need to await Heaven to live already of everlasting joys. Her life was but a single Magnificat, as she liked to sing: Magnificat for the past, Magnificat for the present, Magnificat for the future. Indeed, God has regarded the humility of His handmaid. For her, He has done great things. Therefore, at all times, her soul magnifies the Lord, and her spirit rejoices in God her Saviour. Long before the Apostles, Mary, filled with the Holy Spirit, sings God’s wonderful works. Already, she contemplates the treasures of divine mercy at work in the lives of those who fear God.

By her Fiat, through the gift of the Holy Spirit that has overshadowed her, Mary received in advance the gift of the Holy Spirit which the Apostles received on the day of Pentecost. For behold, a mighty wind fills the whole house. Tongues as of fire appear, and come and sit on the head of each of the disciples. Strengthened by the gift of the Spirit, the Apostles announce without fear the wonderful works of God, and all, wherever they may come from, understand them, each in his own tongue.

These wonderful works, to which the Apostles bear witness, are first God Himself, then the Paschal mystery. These wonderful works are also the fruits of the Spirit God likes to germinate in His friends’ hearts: love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, faith, gentleness, self-control.

Those who, a few days before, were lamenting over the death of their Master, have become in the fire of the Spirit the ardent and fearless preachers of the Gospel.

God is not ungenerous with His gifts. Jesus came to cast a fire upon the earth, and didn’t rest until it was kindled. But only the pure of heart will be kindled.

Let us beseech once again for the coming of the Spirit. Let us offer our lives to God, without keeping a right of repossession. Following Mary, the Apostles, the first disciples, and the first monks, let us become — within our families and communities, in the society and in the world, through putting into practice the fruits of the Spirit, in season and out of season — let us become the credible preachers of the Gospel all are awaiting.

Come, O Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of Thy faithful, and kindle in them the fire of Thy love! Amen, Alleluia!