Anthony_Sermons - (FIRST CLAUSE)

(@EX 19,16@)

The first day was that of Christ’s Incarnation, the second that of his Passion, and the third that of the sending of the Holy Spirit, at whose coming ‘thunders began to be heard’, because Suddenly there came a sound from heaven, etc. Lightning flashed (the miracles of the Apostles) and a very thick cloud (of compunction of heart and penitence) covered mount Sinai (the people living in Jerusalem). So it says in the Acts of the Apostles:

They had compunction in their heart and said to Peter and to the rest of the Apostles: What shall we do, men and brethren? (Ac 2,37)

The noise of the trumpet (preaching) sounded exceeding loud; so Peter said:

Do penance; and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of your sins. And you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. (Ac 2,38)

And all the people in the camp feared, so that:

They were baptized and there were added in that day about three thousand souls. (Ac 2,41)

(A sermon on the three tongues: of the serpent, of Eve and of Adam; and on the four natures of fire, and their meaning: From the four winds there came.)

3. And there appeared to them parted tongues as it were of fire, and it sat upon every one of them; because it was by tongues (namely those of the serpent, Eve and Adam) that death entered into the world (cf. Sg 2,24). The tongue of the serpent was poison to Eve, the tongue of Eve poisoned Adam, and Adam’s tongue tried to turn the blame back on God. The tongue is a cold organ, surrounded by moisture; thus: It is an unquiet evil, full of deadly poison (Jc 3,8), than which there is nothing colder. Therefore the Holy Spirit appeared in tongues of fire, to apply tongues to tongues, fire to deadly poison.

Note that fire has four natures: it burns, it cleanses, it warms, it gives light. Similarly the Holy Spirit burns away sins, cleanses hearts, shakes off sloth and enlightens ignorance. Fire is by nature incorporeal and invisible, but when it takes on a bodily form it appears in various colours, according to the materials in which it is burning. In the same way, the Holy Spirit cannot be seen except through the creatures in which he operates.

Note that the scattering of tongues came about at the tower of Babel. As pride scattered, so humility gathered together again. In pride is division, in humility concord. See how the Lord’s promise was fulfilled:

I will not leave you orphans; but I will send the Spirit, the Paraclete (cf. Jn 14,18 Jn 14,26)

who speaks for everyone as their Advocate. Coming on behalf of the Word, he came with tongues. The tongue represents knowledge expressed in words, and the two elements cannot be separated. So the Word of the Father (that is, the Son) and the Holy Spirit are inseparable, being indeed of one Nature. Come, spirit, from the four winds and blow upon these slain and let them live again. (Ez 37,9)

And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they began to speak with divers tongues, according as the Holy Spirit gave them to speak. Behold the sign of fullness. The full vessel overflows, and fire cannot be hidden. They spoke with every tongue; or else, though they spoke with their own (Hebrew) tongue, they were understood by all as if they spoke the proper tongue of each. The Holy Spirit, sharing with each as he will (cf. 1Co 12,11), breathes his grace where, how, how much, when and on whom he will. May he deign to breathe it on us, he who this day breathed his grace on the Apostles in tongues of fire. To him be always praise and glory, through everlasting ages. Amen.

(Second clause.

A sermon on the infusion of the Holy Spirit, and on the revival of the soul, and on the four corners of the world and their meaning.)

4. When the days of Pentecost were accomplished, the disciples were all together in one place.

Ezekiel says:

Come, spirit, from the four winds and blow upon these slain and let them live again.

(@EZ 37,9@)

The four winds are the four corners of the world, east, west, north and south. The east represents Christ’s Incarnation, the west his Passion, the north his temptation and the south his sending the Holy Spirit. Alternatively, the east stands for the remembrance of our wretched entry into life, the west for our woeful exit, the north the consideration of our unhappy state and the south the knowledge of our guilt. From these four winds the Holy Spirit comes and breathes with the breath of grace upon those killed by the sword of sin, that they may live again the life of penance. So it says in the Acts of the Apostles:

While Peter was yet speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell on all them that heard the word. (Ac 10,44)

and in today’s reading from Acts it says: When the days of Pentecost were accomplished, etc. There are four things to note here. The first is the completion of the fiftieth day, When the days of Pentecost were accomplished, etc. The second is the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, continuing: Suddenly there came a sound from heaven, etc. Thirdly, the appearance of the fiery tongues: And there appeared to them parted tongues. Fourthly, the Apostles’ speaking in all tongues: And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, etc.

(A sermon on Noah’s ark, and on its five chambers and their meaning: The ark of Noah.)

Let us say, then: When the days of Pentecost were accomplished. Pentecost in Greek, Quinquagesima in Latin: five times ten makes fifty. There are five senses in the body, and ten precepts in the Decalogue. If the five senses of our body were to be perfected by the ten precepts of the Decalogue, without doubt the most holy day of Pentecost would be fully come in us, that day on which the Holy Spirit is given. Regarding this ‘fifty’, Genesis says that Noah’s ark was fifty cubits wide (cf. Gn 6,15); but first we should note that the ark itself had five compartments. The first was the dung-chamber, the second was the store-chamber, the third was for the wild animals, the fourth for the domestic animals and the fifth for human beings and birds. Noah is the just man, whose ark is his own body; it is well-called an ‘ark’, because an ark was a ‘strong-box’ against thieves. Just so the just man’s body should keep out every vice which might come to steal away virtues. The five compartments of this ark are the five senses; namely taste, smell, touch, hearing and sight.

(A sermon on the five bodily senses and their disposition, properties and meaning: The first compartment is called the dung-chamber.)

5. The first compartment is called the dung-chamber. This is the tongue in our mouth, by which we must expel in confession all the filth of sin. This is the ‘gate of the dunghill’ spoken of in the book of Esdras:

And the gate of the dunghill Melchias the son of Rechab built... and shut up the doors thereof, and the locks, and the bars. (Ne 3,14)

A dunghill is a place where rubbish is piled up, smeared and stained with filth. The mind of the sinner, stinking and stained with the devil’s dung, must be purged through the gate of confession. Melchias the son of Rechab builds this gate. Melchias means ‘choir of the Lord’, and Rechab is ‘going up’. Melchias is the penitent who goes up with timbrel and choir, that is, with the mortification of the flesh and the harmony of love. He sings a hymn to the Lord. He is a son of Jesus Christ ascending to the Father. This Melchias must fit ‘doors’ to his tongue, which are like interior gates or valves which veil and close off what is within. He shuts up all his inner goods, having at the forefront of his mind the words of Isaiah:

My secret to myself, my secret to myself. (Is 24,16)

He also fits ‘locks’, so that the unruly movements of the mind, as they attempt to break out, may be restrained by the locks of divine love and fear; and ‘bars’, so that according to time and place he may speak what is useful and be ever silent from what is evil.

6. The second compartment, the store-chamber, is the sense of smell in our nostrils. The nostrils are the passages for air or breath. They have three functions: breathing, detecting odours, and drawing off the brain’s effluent. It is inappropriate to breathe except through the nostrils, because this accords with the right order of creation. Breathing through the mouth may sometimes be necessary, but it is unhygienic and contrary to natural order. The nostrils are also the passages through which we sneeze, when air builds up in the brain and is suddenly expelled. It is often said that the nostrils represent discretion and prudence. Through these virtues we breathe in the spirit of contemplation and of heavenly charity, as it were through two nostrils. We receive, too, the odour of good example, and we purge out superfluous thoughts. And just as the right and proper way to breathe is through the nostrils, so by means of discretion and prudence the spirit of divine love is rightly drawn in, and it is breathed out again in the consolation and edification of our neighbour. Moreover, though by necessity we may have to breathe through the mouth, though it is unhygienic, so by necessity we may have to make confession by the mouth. You sin, so you must confess. If you will not confess, you will be damned. It is ‘unhygienic’, because it expresses unclean things, the defilement of which Luke speaks:

Lord, let it alone this year also, until I dig about it and dung it. (Lc 13,8)

The fig-tree is the soul, the ditch is contrition, and the application of dung is the confession of sins whereby the barren soul becomes fruitful. When the foul air of pride and vainglory builds up in the brain (that is, the mind), it is expelled suddenly by means of discretion and prudence.

7. The third compartment, of the wild animals, is the sense of touch in our hands. By these we ought to take hold of discipline, and with them we ought to chastise ourselves without mercy for our undisciplined thoughts, our careless words and our unruly actions. In this way, we should offer for ourselves as many sacrifices as there have been wrongful pleasures in ourselves. And note that as there are ten fingers on our hands, so there are ten kinds of discipline: mortification of self-will, abstinence from food and drink, knowing when to keep silent, keeping night-watch in prayer, shedding tears, occupying ourselves in suitable reading, bodily exercise, compassion for the needs of others, wearing coarse clothing and self-contempt. With these ten fingers we must grasp the discipline, and strike ourselves ferociously like wild animals. So, when the day of scourging comes to shatter the bones, we may be found worthy to obtain mercy.

8. The fourth compartment, of domestic animals, is the sense of hearing. Note that the ear is composed of gristle and flesh. Inside the ear is a winding passage, like a twisted

bracelet, ending in a bone which in form and substance is like the ear itself. Every noise and sound comes here, and so passes to the brain. A single vein goes from the brain to the right ear, and another to the left. And, apart from man, every animal that has ears is able to move them. Gristle looks like bone, but is not as strong. In Latin, the words for ‘flesh’ (caro) and ‘dear’ (carus) are very similar. The gristle and flesh from which the ear is made symbolise meekness and humility, than which nothing is dearer to God and men. These two must combine in every act of human hearing, so that to every injurious, vexing or contemptuous word a meek and humble reply is made. Nature itself teaches us this, nature which makes the inner passage of the ear winding and not straight, so that when you hear something displeasing it does not strike your mind suddenly, but comes as by a winding route, impeding its passage so that its force is spent and it becomes weak, pricking you little or not at all.

The two veins which go from the brain, one to the right ear and the other to the left, are temperance and obedience. The right stands for prosperity, the left for adversity. When you hear something advantageous and pleasant, you need temperance; when you are commanded what you do not like, or when you hear something adverse, you need obedience even more, because it is even more fruitful.

And every animal that has ears is able to move them, apart from man. He is truly deserving of the title of humanity, who does not have mobile ears: that is, who is not moved by the wind of words from the stability of reason. The man with itching ears, who readily turns his eager ear to flattery, is not worth calling ‘a man’: he is just a brute.

9. The fifth compartment, that of men and birds, is the sense of sight in the eyes. By this we should look with pity on the poor and on those suffering need; and attentively consider heavenly things, because, as the Apostle says:

The invisible things of God are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made. (Rm 1,20)

And in this way we complete the five compartments of Noah’s ark, the five bodily senses of the just man.

Note, too, that Noah’s ark was made according to the measure of the human body; it had length three hundred cubits; the breadth of it fifty cubits; and the height of it thirty cubits (Gn 6,15). The length of the human body is six times its width and ten times its height; meaning by length the dimension from the sole of the feet to the top of the head, width across the ribs from one side to the other, and height from back to belly. If the five bodily senses were perfected by the ten precepts of the Decalogue, then indeed the dimensions of Noah’s ark would be reached, by a factor of fifty, and the ‘fiftieth’ would be completed, the just man being perfectly fulfilled at the end of his life. So the Book of Wisdom says:

Being made perfect in a short space, he fulfilled a long time (Sg 4,13-14).

It is well said, then: When the days of Pentecost were accomplished, the disciples were all together in one place.

The ‘disciples’ of the just man are the rational affections and pure thoughts of the mind. These are truly ‘in one place’ when the days of Pentecost, that is the perfection of the five senses, are accomplished. Note the words ‘together’ and ‘in one place’. ‘Together’ means as equals, at the same time. The thoughts of the mind are ‘together’ when, under the equitable rule of reason, they are composed in an orderly way and proceed with discretion, so that one does not vie with another for priority, nor is one forced into inferiority by another. If that were to happen, the lack of balance would destroy the whole structure. The Apostle says: Let all things be done decently and according to order (1Cor

14.40), so that he may say to this, Go, and he goeth, and to another, Come, and he cometh, and to his servant (that is, his body), Do this, and he doeth it (cf. Mt 8,9). Let the disciples be together, so that the thoughts of the mind, gathered together at one time and with one purpose, as an army set in array (Ct 6,3), may be able to wrestle against the powers in the high places (cf. Ep 6,12). Let them also be ‘in one place’, not divided, because a divided mind is ineffectual. Ecclesiasticus says:

My son, meddle not in many matters. (Si 11,10)


Woe to the sinner that goeth on the earth in two ways. (Si 2,14)

St Gregory1 says: "A river which is divided into many streams dries up from its bed," and St Bernard2 says: "The mind occupied in many things must be burdened with many cares." If the days of Pentecost be accomplished, and the disciples be together in one place, they will be ready to receive the grace of the Holy Spirit. May he who is blessed for ever and ever grant us this. Amen.

(Third clause.

A sermon on the three kinds of sound and their meaning: And suddenly there came.)

10. There follows, secondly3 :

suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a mighty wind coming, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting.

Sound is whatever is perceptible by the sense of hearing, and these are its three kinds: vocal, by the mouth; by breath, as through a trumpet; and percussion, as upon a lyre. The ‘sound of a mighty wind’ is contrition of heart, which the penitent hears with his

heart’s ear as if it were a sound. So the Lord says in John:

The Spirit breatheth where he will (because he has the means in his power to enlighten the heart) and thou hearest his voice; but thou knowest not whence he cometh and whither he goeth. (Jn 3,8)

The voice of the Holy Spirit is compunction, speaking in the heart of a sinner, and even if you hear it you do not know where it comes from (that is, how it enters your heart) or how it goes away again, because its nature is invisible. Note, too, that this sound is made in three ways: by the voice of preaching, by the breath of fraternal compassion and by the percussion of fatherly correction. From these three the sound of compunction is wont to arise in the heart of a sinner; so that it is well said: Suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a mighty wind coming.

(A sermon for penitents or religious: The third day had now come.)

There is a concordance in Exodus; And now the third day was come, and the morning appeared; as above. The first day is the recognition of sin, the second is abhorrence, and the third contrition of heart for it. When this comes, and the morning of grace is appearing, there begin to be heard thunderings of groans, sighs and accusations; and lightning flashes of confession. A very thick cloud, the obscurity of penance, covers the mountain (which is the penitent lifted up like a mountain from the valley of filth and misery). The sound of a trumpet, that of good life and good repute, sounds out loudly, that Where sin abounded, grace did more abound (Rm 5,20). For this reason, the whole people (of demons) which are in the camp, always ready to fight, is afraid. When they see these things they dare not go out to battle. Job says:

No man spoke to him a word, for they saw that his grief was very great. (Jb 2,13)

The malign spirits see that the sound of a mighty wind coming fills the whole house. This house is the mind of the penitent, in which he ‘sits’ (that is, humbles himselfj. He recounts his years in the bitterness of his soul (cf. Is 38,15), and the demons do not attempt to proceed further, nor speak to him a word of temptation. Note that the wind is mighty or ‘vehement’, as it were banishing eternal woe or drawing the mind above. Contrition of heart banishes eternal woe and draws the mind above.

(A sermon on the property of the earth and its meaning: The Spirit of the Lord has filled the earth.)

11. So it says in the Introit of today’s Mass:

The Spirit of the Lord hath filled the earth’s globe; and that which containeth all things hath knowledge of the voice. (Sg 1,7)

A globe is round like a circle, the earth is dark, cold and unclean. The globe is the sinner’s heart that goes in circles like a wheel, going round the world, now east, now west. It is dark with pride, cold with avarice and unclean with lust. But the Spirit of the Lord fills the earth’s globe when it pours the grace of compunction into the sinner’s heart, and so banishes eternal woe from him. That which containeth all things hath knowledge of the voice refers to man, the rational animal who contains all the four elements from which all things are made. He has knowledge of his voice, because he understands when the Spirit speaks to him. So blessed Bernard4 says: "As often as the Holy Spirit speaks to us, so often do we know what is good," while the Prophet says:

I will hear what the Lord God will speak in me; (Ps 84,9)

drawing the mind above. So the Philosopher5 says, describing ‘spirit’, "Spirit is the vehicle of the virtues, whereby the virtues go out to perform their operations."

Let us ask the Son of God, then, to pour into us the spirit of contrition, to banish eternal woe and draw our minds up to heavenly things. May he grant this, who is blessed for ever. Amen.

(Fourth clause.

A sermon on confession, on the manifestation of circumstances and on the ardour of satisfaction; and on the properties of the tongue, and its disposition and meaning: And there appeared to them parted tongues.)

12. There follows, thirdly: And there appeared to them parted tongues as it were of fire, and it sat upon every one of them. (Ac 2,3)

Note these three words: ‘tongues’, ‘parted’ and ‘fire’. The ‘tongues’ are confession, ‘parted’ refers to the manifestation of circumstances, and the ‘fire’ is the ardour of confession and satisfaction.

Note that the tongue is the organ of the sense of taste, and that sense is greatest at the tip of the tongue. The wider part of the tongue is less sensitive. And the tongue senses all that is common to every body in respect to sense: warmth and coldness, hardness and softness. And this it does in all its parts. The tongue is created for tasting fluids, and also for speaking. The tongue of man is extremely loose, soft and wide, that it may be used in both operations, taste and talk. The tongue is soft and wide, and is thus well- suited for clarity of speech, because it extends and contracts and moves in all directions in the mouth, in various ways. When the tongue is wide and loose it can speak easily. This is obvious from consideration of those whose tongues are tied, who lisp and stammer. Some have other impediments of speech, affecting only certain sounds. This happens when the tongue is narrow, not when it is wide, for the small is contained within the great but not the great within the small. Because of this, birds with wide tongues can utter some sounds or words, to a greater degree than birds with narrow tongues.

As I have said, the ‘tongue’ refers to confession, wherein should be made manifest everything common to the whole body, that is, whatever is commonly committed by the whole body. For instance, hotness- the burning of pride; coldness- malice and laziness; hardness- avarice; softness- lust and self-indulgence. As the tongue is created for both taste and talk, so confession by the tongue is also two-fold, of praise and of sin.

The confession of praise includes the Offices and psalms. If we perform these devoutly, we taste the grace of compunction and the sweetness of contemplation. So St Gregory6 says: "The voice of psalmody, when performed with due attention of heart, prepares a way into the heart for Almighty God to pour into the attentive mind either the mysteries of prophecy or the grace of compunction. So it is written: The sacrifice of praise shall glorify me (Ps 49,23). When compunction is poured forth in psalmody, a way in the heart is made for us, whereby in the end we may come to Jesus."

13. In the confession of sin we must use words, in order to acknowledge our sins freely and nakedly and openly. Nature itself teaches us that this is so, because the tongue of man is loose, soft and wide. The confession of sin, then, must be free in manifesting all the circumstances, soft in shedding tears, and wide in forgiving every injury borne, in restoring everything wrongfully taken and in having a firm and stable intention of not falling again. Such a confession by the tongue makes the soul reach out to God in contemplation, constrict itself within itself by humility, and move about in every direction towards the neighbour by compassion. Sinners- wretched, stammering and foolish- have a narrow and impeded tongue, and when they confess they stammer and confess but half of it! It is well said, then: There appeared to them parted tongues as it were of fire.

The tongue of confession should be ‘parted’, because in confession the sinner should have heart and tongue divided into many parts: the heart, in order to grieve in many ways for the wrongs committed; the tongue, to reveal in all their particularity the circumstances in which they were committed. You will find a fuller treatment of this in the sermon: Jesus was led into the desert (Lent I).

And note that fire warms what is cold, softens what is hard, hardens what is soft and burns right down things that stand high. In the same way the ardour of confession and satisfaction warms what is cold with the fire of love; softens hard hearts with compunction and hardens the soft and self-indulgent with the firmness of holy resolution; and humbles the loftiness of pride, burning it away with the remembrance of our frailty. Under such ashes the fire can be maintained continually.

We beg you then, dearest brothers, to let this fire sit (that is, rest) upon each of you, so that by it your tongues may be parted in the confession of sin and its circumstances, and so that by freely, nakedly and openly confessing them you may be found worthy to come to the confession of the name of the Lord with the angels in the heavenly Jerusalem.

May he grant this, whose fire is in Sion, and whose furnace is in Jerusalem (Is 31,9), who lives and reigns for ever and ever. Amen.

(Fifth clause.

A sermon on the sending of the Holy Spirit: He sent fire from on high; and: The Lord brought the Spirit upon the earth.)

14. There follows, fourthly:

And there appeared to them parted tongues as it were of fire, and it sat upon every one of them; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they began to speak with divers tongues, according as the Holy Spirit gave them to speak.

They are filled with the Holy Spirit, who alone fills the whole world and whom the whole world cannot fill. They cannot receive any other Spirit, because what is full cannot receive an increase. So it is said in respect of blessed Mary:

Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among women. (Lc 1,28)

Note that between the words ‘full of grace’ and ‘blessed art thou among women’ come the words ‘the Lord is with thee’; because the Lord himself both keeps the fullness of grace inwardly, and works the blessing of fruitfulness (that is, holy operation) outwardly. Rightly, too, after the words ‘full of grace’ comes ‘the Lord is with thee’, because just as without God we can do and we have nothing, so also without him we can keep nothing we have. Therefore after grace it is necessary that the Lord be with us and keep what he alone has given. While he goes before us in giving grace, we are his co-workers in keeping it. He will not watch over us unless we ourselves watch with him. It is clear that our own diligence is needed, when he says to the Apostles:

Could you not watch one hour with me? Watch ye and pray that ye enter not into temptation. (Mt 26,40-41)

It is well said, then, that They were all filled with the Holy Spirit.

The Lord speaks of this in today’s Gospel:

The Paraclete, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring all things to your mind, whatsoever I shall have said to you. (Jn 14,26)

The Father sent the Paraclete in the name of the Son, that is, to manifest the glory of the Son. He will teach, that you may know; he will confirm (support) that you may will. So we sing today at Mass:

Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of thy faithful people,

that they may have knowledge; and kindle in them the fire of thy love,

that what they know they may desire to put into practice. Again we sing:

Send forth thy Spirit and they shall be created (by your knowledge):

and thou shalt renew the face of the earth (by good will). (Ps 103,30)

There is a concordance to these two in the Lamentations of Jeremiah:

From above he hath sent fire into my bones and hath taught me (Lm 1,13)

The Church says: The Father has sent from above (that is, from the Son), this day, fire (the Holy Spirit) into my bones (the Apostles); and by them he has taught me to know and to will.

15. Let it be said, then: They were all filled with the Holy Spirit.

There is a concordance to this in Genesis:

The Lord sent the (Holy) Spirit upon the earth, and the waters were abated. The fountains also of the deep, and the flood-gates of heaven were shut up: and the rain from heaven was restrained. (Gn 8,1-2)

Note these four things: waters, fountains, flood-gates and rain. The waters stand for riches, the fountains of the deep for the thoughts of the mind, the flood-gates of heaven for the eyes and the rain for an abundance of words. So when the Lord sends the Holy Spirit upon the earth (that is, upon the mind of the sinner) the waters of riches are lessened, because they are spent on the poor.

Of these waters, it says in Genesis that:

The gathering together of the waters he called Seas (Gn 1,10)

The gathering together of riches is nothing but the bitterness of tribulation and sorrow. So Habbakuk says:

Woe to him that heapeth together that which is not his own.

How long also doth he load himself with thick clay? (Ha 2,6)

Mud heaped up in the house makes a stench; spread about, it fertilizes the earth. So riches when gathered together (and especially if they are not one’s own, but other people’s) generate the stench of sin and death; but if they are spread among the poor, and given back to their proper owners, they fertilize the ground of the mind, and make it fruitful.

The heart of man is an abyss, of which Jeremiah says:

The heart is perverse above all things and unsearchable. Who can know it? (Jr 17,9)

The ‘fountains of the deep’ are thoughts. They are ‘shut up’ when the grace of the Holy Spirit is poured in. Regarding this, there is a concordance in the second book of Chronicles, where

Ezechias gathered together a very great multitude; and they stopped up all the springs, and the brook that ran through the midst of the land, saying: Lest the king of the Assyrians should come, and find abundance of water. (2Ch 32,4)

Ezechias is the just man, who must gather together a great multitude of good thoughts, and stop up the springs of wicked and perverse thoughts, and the brook of concupiscence, lest the demons find an abundance of waters and through them destroy the city of the soul.

The ‘flood-gates of heaven’ are windows, which admit light, and through which we see what is outside. The Greek for ‘light’ is phos. In the head, as if placed in the firmament, there are two luminaries, the eyes, like two windows through which we look. These are ‘shut up’ against the vanity of the world when the light of grace is poured into the mind. The rain which flows like a river stands for words, which flow everywhere without let or hindrance. Solomon says in Proverbs:

The beginning of quarrels is as when one letteth out water (Pr 17,14)

And Ecclesiasticus warns:

Give no issue to thy water, no, not a little (Si 25,34)

This rain is restrained when, by the grace of the Holy Spirit, the tongue is shaped to the praise of its Creator and the confession of its own sin. It is well said, then: And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit.

(A sermon against those who preach much but do little or nothing: They began to speak in various tongues.)

16. And they began to speak with divers tongues, according as the Holy Spirit gave them

to speak.

He who is filled with the Holy Spirit speaks in various tongues. These tongues are the various testimonies to Christ (such as humility, poverty, patience and obedience) in which we speak when we show them in ourselves to other people. When actions speak, words come alive. Let words cease, I beg you, and let your works give utterance! We are so full of words, so empty of deeds! That is why we are cursed by the Lord, who cursed the fig-tree in which he found no fruit, but only leaves (cf. Mt 21,19). St Gregory7 says: "The law is given to the preacher, that what he preaches he may also practice. He vainly boasts of knowing the law, if he undermines his teaching by his deeds." The Apostles spoke as the Holy Spirit gave them to speak. Blessed is he who speaks as the Holy Spirit prompts, and not according to his own ideas. There are people who speak from their own spirit, stealing other people’s words and putting them forward as their own, taking the credit themselves.

Of these and suchlike people the Lord says in Jeremiah:

Behold, I am against the prophets who steal my words every one from his neighbour. Behold, I am against the prophets, saith the Lord, who use their tongues and say: The Lord saith it. Behold, I am against the prophets that have lying dreams, saith the Lord, and tell them and cause my people to err by their lying and by their wonders: when I sent them not nor commanded them, who have not profited this people at all, saith the Lord. (Jr 23,30-32)

Let us speak, then, as the Holy Spirit gives us to speak, asking him humbly and devoutly to pour out his grace, so that we may complete the days of Pentecost in the perfection of our five senses and in the observance of the Ten Commandments. May we be filled with the mighty wind of contrition, and be set afire with the fiery tongues of confession; so that, ablaze and alight in the splendour of the saints, we may be found fit to see God the Three and One. May he grant this, who is God Three and One, blessed for ever and ever. Let every spirit say: Amen. Alleluia.

Anthony_Sermons - (FIRST CLAUSE)