Guild of St. Peter ad Vincula

The Guild of St. Peter ad Vincula

Finally, the wait is over.  After the Apostles witnessed the Ascension of our Lord nine full days ago, they had returned to their familiar surroundings in Jerusalem, where our Lord had told them to wait in prayer until the promise of the Father should be fulfilled “not many days hence.”  They didn’t know how many days hence, only that it wasn’t going to be very many.  They faithfully obeyed our Lord’s last wishes, and for nine days they prayed together in one accord.

This accord they had was a unity unlike any other.  It was a unity based on the faith.  And basically, the faith they had was the same as the one we have today.  True, the Church has increased our understanding of that faith over the centuries.  The greatest minds the world has known, the likes of St. Augustine, St. Ambrose, St. Jerome, St. Thomas Aquinas and many more doctors and theologians like them, have studied the deposit of the faith and exposed more and more of its intricacies and depths.  But in the twelve apostles, we would not find in their beliefs anything that we do not ourselves believe today.  It was the same faith.  The faith of our fathers.  The faith that has been dutifully passed on to us here this morning by the successors of those apostles, a faith never changing in its substance.  The Apostles’ Creed is called the Apostles’ Creed because they wrote it, at the Council of Jerusalem at which they presided.

If the Apostles had one advantage over us, it was this: that a lot of what we know by faith, they knew by their own experience.  Our faith tells us that Christ was born of a Virgin in Bethlehem, worshipped by shepherds and kings from the east.  The Apostles knew this because Our Blessed Lady herself had told them.  We know by faith that Christ walked on the water, that he miraculously fed the multitude in the desert, that he healed the sick, the blind and the lame, that he raised Lazarus and others from the dead, and so many other miracles.  They knew these things because they saw them.

And so they were all in one accord, united around the rock upon which Christ was to build his Church, St. Peter, the first Pope and Prince of the Apostles.  And on a higher level yet, they were all united, St. Peter included, around the Holy Mother of God, the Blessed Virgin Mary.  This is something that is often overlooked, and certainly the Protestants tend to downplay the presence of our Lady at Pentecost.  But there is no denying that she was there—it is specifically mentioned by St. Luke in his Acts of the Apostles.

We may legitimately wonder about the reason why she was there.  After all, if she was already “full of grace,” if the Holy Ghost had already “overshadowed her” at the time of our Lord’s Incarnation in her womb, why would she benefit more from the descent of this same Holy Ghost on the Apostles?  There is more than one answer to this question.  I’d like to mention just one, very important reason why God wanted our blessed Mother there on that first Pentecost morning.

With the coming of the Holy Ghost, the fulfillment of the prophecies concerning the Messiah were literally brought to fruition.  The incarnate Christ was a man, and as such was not destined to live forever in this world.  But God did not want us to be without him, and so he would remain with us in spirit, in the Holy Spirit.  According to the promise of our Lord, his Spirit would guide Christ’s Church in holiness and truth. But what Church?  Christ had said that he would (in the future) build his Church on Peter, but when?  It was on Pentecost Sunday that the Church was born.  The Mystical Body of Christ, which is the Church, was born on this day, when the Holy Ghost descended in tongues of fire on the heads of our blessed Lady and the Apostles.  And like our Lord’s physical nativity in the stable in Bethlehem, his mystical nativity in the Cenacle in Jerusalem took place in the presence of the Blessed Mother.  And in both cases it was a very necessary presence.  In Bethlehem it was holy Mary who gave birth to Jesus.  And in a mystical way, the same holy Mary gave birth mystically upon this holy day of Pentecost to our Lord’s mystical Body, the Church.  Our Lady was not just there to reassure the Apostles, to comfort them in their wait, to support them in their new apostolate.  Her role in the story of Redemption was far greater than that.  She who was the Mother of Jesus, now assumes her new role as the Mother of us all, the Mother of our Church.

Especially in these days when the successors of Peter appear to have betrayed their solemn vows to feed Christ’s sheep, let us remember that when the Church was born, all the Apostles, including Peter, were united around the Blessed Virgin.  And as we turn our thoughts to that first Pentecost and praise God for the coming of his Spirit upon us, as we think of all the wondrous things that took place that day, let’s remember that none of it could have happened without our blessed Lady.  If we can no longer unite ourselves around Christ’s Vicar on earth, we must never lose sight of our Lady’s role in our Redemption.  Let us pray that all true subjects of Christ the King may be truly united in the faith, and in submission to that greatest of creatures, the Mother of his human Body and his mystical Body, the Most Pure, most Blessed Queen of Apostles, our Mother Most Holy, St. Mary the Virgin.