English: Wine grapes. Español: Uvas de vino ro...

Pentecost is a feast of the Old Law that was transformed into a feast of the New Law. In the Old Law it commemorated the giving of the commandments by God to Moses on Mount Sinai, summed up in the decalogue. In the New, it commemorates and continues the gift of the Holy Spirit to the Church. St Luke names 17 different categories of people whose ears are opened to the apostolic preaching on Whitsun. This figure itself suggests the old and the new, 10 being the typical figure of the old Law, and 7 being that of the new Law. The same number, according to St Augustine, gives a key to the meaning of the 153 fish caught at the end of St John’s gospel, and which also represent the elect from the old and new covenants.

The ember days of summer fall on the Wednesday, Friday and Saturday after Pentecost. It might seem strange to have days of penance in the midst of a joyful octave. St Albert the Great explains that the Whit fast is a fast of exultation and not one of lamentation. It is because we have been made more spiritual by the descent of the Holy Spirit that we are able, as it were naturally, to abstain from carnal foods. Unless I am mistaken, there was no such fast of exultation in the old Law. The new wine in its fermenting bursts the old customs.

Advertisements