If I go not, the Paraclete will not come to you: but if I go I will send Him to you.
Fourth Sunday after Easter
by Dom Guéranger
Our Jesus has organized his Church, and confided to his Apostles the sacred deposit of the truths which are to form the object of our faith. We must now follow him in another work, of equal importance to the world, and to which he gives his divine attention during these forty days: it is the institution of the Sacraments. It is not enough that we believe; we must, moreover, be made just, that is, we must bear upon us the likeness of God’s holiness; we must receive, we must have incorporated within us, that great fruit of the Redemption, which is called Grace; that thus being made living members of our divine Head, we may be made joint-heirs with him of the Kingdom of heaven. Now, it is by means of the Sacraments, that Jesus is to produce in us this wondrous work of our justification; he applies to us the merits of his Incarnation and Sacrifice but he applies them by certain means, which he himself, in his power and wisdom, has instituted.
Being the sovereign Master of his own gifts, he can select what means he pleases whereby to convey Grace to us; all we have to do, is to conform to his wishes. Thus, each of the Sacraments is a law; so that, it is in vain that we hope for a Sacrament to produce its effects, unless we fulfil the conditions specified by our Redeemer. And here, at once, we cannot but admire that infinite goodness, which has so mercifully blended two such widely distinct operations in one and the same act, — namely, on the one side, the humble submission of man, and, on the other, the munificent generosity of God.
Commemoration: St. Fidelis of Sigmaringen, Martyr
Fidelis of Sigmaringen, O.F.M. Cap. (1577 – 1622), was a Capuchin friar who was a major figure in the Counter-Reformation, and was murdered by his opponents at Seewis im Prättigau, now part of Switzerland. Fidelis was canonized in 1746.
Life as a friar
Upon entering the Capuchin order, the guardian gave him the religious name of Fidelis, the Latin word for “faithful,” alluding to that text from the Book of Revelation which promises a crown of life to him who shall continue faithful to the end. He finished his novitiate and studies for the priesthood, presiding over his first Mass at the Capuchin friary in Fribourg (in present-day Switzerland), on October 4, 1612 (the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi, founder of the order).
As soon as Fidelis finished his course of theology, he was immediately employed in preaching and in hearing confessions. After becoming guardian of the Capuchin friary in Weltkirchen, Feldkirch (in present-day Austria), many residents of the town and neighboring places were reformed by his zealous labors, and several Calvinists were converted. The Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith commissioned Fidelis to preach in the Graubünden region of eastern Switzerland. Eight other Capuchin friars were to be his assistants, and they labored in this mission under his direction.
The Calvinists of that territory, being incensed at his success in converting their brethren, loudly threatened Fidelis’ life, and he prepared himself for martyrdom. Ralph de Salis and another Calvinist gentleman were both converted by his missionary efforts. Fidelis and his companions entered into Prättigau, a small district of Graubünden, in 1622, on the Feast of the Epiphany, January 6. The effects of his ardent zeal, where the Bishop of Coire sent a lengthy and full account to the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith, enraged the Calvinists in that province.
On April 24, 1622, Fidelis made his confession, celebrated Mass and then preached at Grüsch. At the end of his sermon, which he had delivered with more than ordinary zeal, he stood silent all of a sudden, with his eyes fixed upon Heaven, in ecstasy. He foretold his death to several persons in the clearest terms, and began signing his letters, “P. Fidelis, prope diem esca vermium” (“Father Fidelis, in days ahead to become food for worms”). After the service at Grüsch he and several companions traveled to Seewis. His companions noted that he was particularly cheerful.
On April 24, in a campaign organized by the Habsburgs, Fidelis was preaching under protection of some Austrian imperial soldiers in the Church at Seewis with the aim to reconvert the people of Seewis to Catholicism. During the sermon, his listeners were called “to arms” by the Calvinist agitators outside. Some of the people went to face the Austrian troops outside the church. Fidelis had been persuaded by the remaining Catholics to immediately flee with the Austrian troops out of Seewis, which he did, but then returned alone to Grüsch. On his way back he was confronted by 20 Calvinist soldiers who demanded unsuccessfully that he renounce the Catholic faith, and when he refused, they subsequently murdered him.
Semi-double – White vestments
If I go not, the Paraclete will not come to you: but if I go I will send Him to you.
INTROIT – Psalm 97: 1, 2
Cantáte Dómino cánticum novum, allelúia: quia mirabília fecit Dóminus, allelúia: ante conspéctum géntium revelávit justítiam suam, allelúia, allelúia, allelúia. Ps. 97. 1. Salvábit sibi déxtera ejus: et bráchium sanctum ejus. V. Glória Patri.
Sing ye to the Lord a new canticle, alleluia, for the Lord hath done wonderful things, alleluia: He hath revealed His justice in the sight of the Gentiles, alleluia, alleluia, alleluia. Ps. His right hand, and His holy arm, hath gotten Him salvation. V. Glory be to the Father.
Laden with the blessings of God, who, by his divine Sacraments, has made them to be one people, the Faithful should not be satisfied with observing the commandments, —they should love them; they should also long after the Heaven that is promised them. The Church prays, in the Collect, that her children may receive the grace to do all this.
God, who makest the minds of the faithful to be of one will, grant to Thy people to love that which Thou commandest and desire that which Thou dost promise; that so, among the changing things of this world, our hearts may be set where true joys are to be found. Through our Lord.
Commemoration of St. Fidelis
O God, Who didst vouchsafe to adorn with the grace of working miracles and the palm of martyrdom in the propagation of the true faith the blessed Fidelis, inflamed with seraphic ardour of soul, we beseech Thee, by his merits and intercession, so to strengthen us through Thy grace in faith and charity that we may be worthy to be found faithful in Thy service even unto death. Through our Lord.
EPISTLE – James 1: 17-21
Dearly beloved, every best gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no change nor shadow of alteration. For of His own will hath He begotten us by the word of truth, that we might be some beginning of His creature. You know, my dearest brethren. And let every man be swift to hear, but slow to speak and slow to anger. For the anger of man worketh not the justice of God. Wherefore, casting away all uncleanness and abundance of naughtiness, with meekness receive the ingrafted word, which is able to save your souls.
Alleluia, alleluia. V. The right hand of the Lord hath wrought strength, the right hand of the Lord hath exalted me.
Alleluia. V. Christ, rising again from the dead, dieth now no more: death shall no more have dominion over Him. Alleluia.
GOSPEL – John 16: 5-14
At that time Jesus said to His disciples: I go to Him that sent Me; and none of you asketh Me: Whither goest Thou? But because I have spoken these things to you, sorrow hath filled your heart. But I tell you the truth: it is expedient to you that I go; for if I go not, the Paraclete will not come to you: but if I go I will send Him to you. And when He is come, He will convince the world of sin, and of justice and of judgment. Of sin, because they believed not in Me; and of justice, because I go to the Father, and you shall see Me no longer; and of judgment, because the prince of this world is already judged. I have yet many things to say to you: but you cannot bear them now. But when He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will teach you all truth. For He shall not speak of Himself: but what things soever He shall hear He shall speak, and the things that are to come He shall show you. He shall glorify Me: because He shall receive of Mine and shall show it to you.
The Apostles were sad at hearing Jesus say to them: I go. Are not we so, too? we, who, thanks to the sacred Liturgy, have been in such close company with him, ever since the day of his Birth at Bethlehem. Yet a few days, and he is to ascend into heaven, and our Year is to lose the charm it possessed of following, day by day, the actions and words of our Emmanuel. Still, he would have us moderate our sadness. He tells us, that, in his stead, the Paraclete, the Comforter, is about to descend upon the earth, and abide with us to the end of time, in order that he may give us light and strength. Let us make good use of these last hours with our Jesus: we shall soon have to be preparing for the Divine Guest, who is to take his place.
By these words, which were spoken shortly before his passion, our Saviour does more than tell us of the coming of the Holy Ghost; he also shows us, how terrible this coming will be to them that have rejected the Messias. His words are unusually mysterious: let us listen to the explanation given of them by St. Augustine, the Doctor of Doctors. — When the Holy Ghost is come, says our Lord, he will convince the world of Sin, because they believed not in me. How great must, indeed, be the responsibility of them, that have been witnesses of Jesus’ wonderful works, and yet will not receive his teaching! Jerusalem will be told that the Holy Ghost has come down upon the Disciples; and she will receive the news with the same indifference as she did the miracles which proved Jesus to be her Messias. The coming of the Holy Ghost will serve as a sort of signal of the destruction of the Deicide City. Jesus adds: The Paraclete will convince the world of Justice, because I go to the Father, and ye shall see me no longer. The Apostles, and they that believe their word, shall be just and holy by faith: they will believe in Him that is gone to the Father, — in Him whom they are to see no longer in this world. Jerusalem, on the contrary, will remember him only to blaspheme him: the holiness, the faith, the justice of them that shall believe, will be her condemnation, and the Holy Ghost will leave her to her fate. Jesus continues: The Paraclete will convince the world of Judgment, because the prince of this world is already judged. They that follow not Christ Jesus, follow Satan: he is their prince, but his judgment is already pronounced. The Holy Ghost warns the followers of the world, that their leader is already in eternal torments. Let them reflect well upon this; for, as St. Augustine observes, the pride of man has no right to reckon upon indulgence; let it but think of the hell into which even the angels were cast because they were proud.
OFFERTORY – Psalm 65: 1-2, 16
Shout with joy to God, all the earth, sing ye a psalm to His name: come and hear, and I will tell you, all ye that fear God, what great things the Lord hath done for my soul, alleluia.
O God, who by the sacred intercourse of this sacrifice hast made us partakers of the one supreme divine nature: grant, we beseech Thee, that as we know Thy truth, so we may follow it by a worthy life. Through our Lord.
Commemoration for St. Fidelis
Sanctify the gifts we offer Thee, O Lord, and through the intercession of blessed Fidelis, Thy martyr, cleanse us by them from the stains of our sins. Through our Lord.
It is truly meet and just, right and for our salvation, that we should at all times to praise Thee, O Lord, but more gloriously at this time above all others, when Christ our Pasch was sacrificed. For He is the true Lamb Who took away the sins of the world: Who by dying destroyed our death, and by rising again hath restored us to life. And therefore with Angels and Archangels, with Thrones and Dominations, and with all the hosts of the heavenly army, we sing a hymn to Thy glory, evermore saying:
Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus Dóminus, Deus Sábaoth. Pleni sunt coeli et terra glória tua. Hosánna in excélsis. Benedíctus, qui venit in nómine Dómini. Hosánna in excélsis.
COMMUNION – John 16: 8
When the Paraclete, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will convince the world of sin, and of justice and of judgment, alleluia, alleluia.
Assist us, O Lord our God, that by these gifts which we have received in faith, we may be purified from vice and delivered from all dangers. Through our Lord.
Commemoration for St. Fidelis
We beseech Thee, O almighty God, that those whom Thou dost refresh with Thy sacrament, Thou also grant them, by the intercession of blessed Fidelis, Thy martyr, to serve Thee, as befits them, with behavior pleasing unto Thee. Through our Lord.