It is not traditional to celebrate a person’s birthday weeks after they were born. Likewise, it is not Traditional (as in Catholic Tradition) to celebrate the ‘birth of the Church’ on Pentecost – 52 days after the Church was born on Good Friday, as unanimously taught by the Fathers of the Church.
The practice of Catholics baking birthday cakes for the Church on Pentecost Sunday is lamentable. ‘Homilies’ proclaiming the birth of the Church on Pentecost, like the related birthday cakes, are constructed from a recipe with non-Catholic ingredients. We need more sermons designed to snuff out the birthday candles celebrating a break from Catholic Tradition. The Church was not born on Pentecost.
St. Augustine of Hippo (d. 430 A.D.) was a bishop who earned the titles of Latin Father and Doctor of the Church. Augustine elucidated:
“When [Christ] slept on the Cross, He bore a sign, yea, He fulfilled what had been signified in Adam: for when Adam was asleep, a rib was drawn from him and Eve was created; so also, while the Lord slept on the Cross, His side was transfixed with a spear, and the sacraments flowed forth, whence the Church was born. For the Church, the Lord’s Bride, was created from His side, as Eve was created from the side of Adam.” (Expositions on the Psalms, On Psalm 127, 4)
This teaching of St. Augustine, referring to Adam as a foreshadowing (‘type’) of Christ, in regards to the birth of the Church on Good Friday, is also reflected in the words of other Fathers of the Church, including: Tertullian (d. 223 A.D.), Origen of Alexandria (d. 254 A.D.), St. Ambrose of Milan (d. 397 A.D.), and St. John Chrysostom (d. 407 A.D.). The details of their clear teaching can be found in my previous article, published in 2018: “The Church was NOT Born at Pentecost”.
In his 1943 Encyclical Mystici Corporis Christi (On the Mystical Body of Christ), Pope Pius XII confirmed: “That He completed His work on the gibbet of the Cross is the unanimous teaching of the Holy Fathers who assert that the Church was born from the side of our Savior on the Cross like a new Eve, mother of all the living. … One who reverently examines this venerable teaching will easily discover the reasons on which it is based” (n. 28).
This venerable teaching went unchallenged within the Catholic Church up unto the time that the seeds of Modernism started to sprout at the end of the 19th century. Prior to that time, the teachings of the Fathers of the Church were passed on and cherished from generation to generation. Then, the impious Modernists began their vile quest to demolish all the traditions and teachings that Catholics had held as treasured and true.
Puffed up with sinful pride, Modernists continue to hold forth that they, now in modern times, know better than the Fathers of the Church. Thus came the lamentable novelty that the Church was born at Pentecost. In charity, we make allowance for those making birthday cakes who are simply ignorant of the truth, but we must also steadfastly oppose all those who do so in contempt for the traditional teaching of the Church.
Medieval theology is consistent with the Patristic doctrine concerning the birth of the Church from the Savior’s side on the Cross, as evidenced by two related works of art entitled “The Creation of Eve” and “The Birth of Ecclesia.” These instructive teaching tools are found within the pages of the French Gothic “Bible Moralisée” (1225-1249 A.D.), housed in Vienna.
In the Crucifixion medallion we see our Lord and God, Jesus Christ, dead on the Cross. Out of the Sacred Wound in His Side, made by the soldier’s lance, we behold a young woman being born. She is holding a chalice in her hand and wearing a crown on her head. She is being received by God the Father. There are four men witnessing this birth from what appears to be a church building. They are wearing various forms of ecclesiastical garb. In another rendition of this image, there are more than four such men looking on.
The depiction of witnesses dressed in ecclesiastical garments of different kinds can represent the Fathers of the Church and others who testify to the unchanging truth of the birth of the Church at Calvary and the coinciding marriage of Christ to His Bride, the Church (Ecclesia).
In order to properly interpret the image of the Crucifixion, another small medallion is placed just above it. It depicts Eve being taken from the side of Adam. Pairs of animals of God’s creation are looking on. The face of God the Father receiving Eve, is the same as that of Adam, and identical to that of Christ and God the Father in the Crucifixion scene, to teach that Adam was made in “the image of God” (Gen 1:27).
In keeping with Biblical teaching and Catholic Tradition, we are visually instructed by comparing both images that Jesus Christ is the New Adam (cf. Rom. 5:14; 1 Cor. 15:45). Just as the bride of the first Adam was taken from his side as he slept, so too is the Bride of Christ, the Church, taken from the Second Adam’s Side as He slept the sleep of death.
Violence is done to the Biblical and Traditional Church teaching of Jesus being the Second Adam by those who declare, whether innocently through unawareness or knowingly with malice, that the Church was born at Pentecost. Likewise, the Traditional Catholic belief of the Church as the Bride of Christ is also cast aside by those who disregard Tradition to bake birthday cakes for the Church at Pentecost. The Church, as the Bride of Christ, was born from the side of the Second Adam on Good Friday, from which further sound Traditional Catholic theology follows. This theology is negatively impacted by those who erroneously celebrate the birth of the Church at Pentecost.
In the images of the Church’s birth, the crown on the Bride’s head depicts the Jewish tradition of a crown being upon the head of the bride at an ancient wedding ceremony. The bridegroom would also wear a crown at the marriage ceremony. Jesus wore a Crown of Thorns on Good Friday, His wedding day with the Church.
The Chalice filled with the Precious Blood of Christ, held by the young woman (Ecclesia), hearkens back to the Wedding Feast of Cana, where Our Lord miraculously changed water into wine. Providing for the wine at a Jewish wedding was the responsibility of the bridegroom. The New Testament frequently refers to Jesus (the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity) as the Bridegroom (cf. Matt. 9:15, 25:1-13; Mark 2:19-20; Luke 5:34-35; John 3:29; Apoc./Rev. 18:23), His Bride being the Church (cf. Eph. 5:22-32; Apoc./Rev. 19:7-9, 21:9-14). In the Old Testament, the covenant relationship between God and His people, sealed with the blood of animals, is also referred to in terms of a marriage (cf. Isa. 50:1, 54:5-10, 62:4-5; Jer. 2:1-2,32, 3:6-10,20, 31:31-34; Ezech. 16:8-34, 59-60; Osee/Hos. 1:2, 2:7, 14-20, 9:1; Joel 1:8).
In some icons depicting the Wedding Feast at Cana, both the Bride and Bridegroom are both crowned, as at Eastern Rite weddings. In this version, only the bride is crowned. The bridegroom here is not crowned, to emphasize that Jesus Christ is the Bridegroom, uniting Himself to His Bride, the Church. This icon not only reveals the mystery of Christ’s blessing of earthly marriage, it also reveals the mystery of the heavenly marriage of Christ and the Church, of which earthly marriage is an image.
At Cana, when the Blessed Mother Mary implicitly asked Jesus to miraculously provide more wine, He responded: “My hour has not yet come” (John 2:4). The “hour” of marriage with His Bride would not be until Good Friday. His “hour” would be “at hand” on Holy Thursday at the First Mass, with Good Friday in mind (Luke 22:14; John 13:1, 17:1). As such, at the Last Supper, Jesus Christ established the New and Eternal Covenant in His Blood. The next day, Good Friday, the Sacrifice would be consummated.
At the moment that Jesus died on the Cross, Scripture tells us that “the veil of the Temple was rent in two, from the top even to bottom, and the earth quaked, and the rocks were rent” (Matt. 27:51). Catholic teaching has traditionally interpreted the moment of Jesus’ Death as the end of the Old Covenant. In Mystici Corporis Christi, Pope Pius XII wrote: “And first of all, by the death of our Redeemer, the New Testament took the place of the Old Law which had been abolished; then the Law of Christ together with its mysteries, enactments, institutions, and sacred rites was ratified for the whole world in the Blood of Jesus Christ” (n. 29).
Pius XII continues, “St. Leo the Great, speaking of the Cross of Our Lord, said there ‘was effected a transfer from the Law to the Gospel, from the Synagogue to the Church, from many sacrifices to one Victim, that as Our Lord expired, that mystical veil which shut off the innermost part of the temple and its sacred secret was rent violently from top to bottom’” (ibid.). Temple sacrifices were now replaced by the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, an unbloody re-presentation of the Lamb of God’s once-for-all Sacrifice on Calvary. Similarly, Pope Benedict XIV wrote in Ex Quo: “The first consideration is that the ceremonies of the Mosaic Law were abrogated by the coming of Christ and that they can no longer be observed without sin after the promulgation of the Gospel” (n. 61). People who participate in ‘Seder meals’ are thus put on notice to cease this non-Catholic practice.
Returning to Mystici Corporis Christi, we read further: “With the rending of the veil of the temple, it happened that the Paraclete’s gifts, which heretofore had descended only on the fleece, that is on the people of Israel, fell copiously and abundantly (while the fleece remained dry and deserted) on the whole earth, that is on the Catholic Church, which is confined by no boundaries of race or territory” (n. 31). Jesus had warned the Jews: “Therefore I say to you, that the kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and shall be given to a nation yielding the fruits thereof” (Matt. 21:43).
Given all of the perennial magisterial Church teaching and Biblical evidence that converge on this matter, it is indeed difficult, if not impossible, to reconcile with the voices of modern times presenting the novel concept that the Old Covenant was never abrogated. The tearing of this massive curtain – said to be four inches thick, 60 feet in height, and 30 feet in width – from top to bottom could only have been done by the Hand of God.
At the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, which is an unbloody re-presentation of Calvary, the priest, acting in persona Christi (“in the Person of Christ”) miraculously transubstantiates bread and wine into the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Our Lord and God, Jesus Christ. As such, in persona Christi, priests are said to be ‘married to the Church.’ In union with the Church, the Bride of Christ, seen holding out the Chalice in the Crucifixion medallion, the priest offers to God the Father the Chalice of the Precious Blood of Christ as a new and eternal (marriage) covenant in atonement for our sins, as he pronounces the words of Consecration over the wine:
HIC EST ENIM CALIX SANGUINIS MEI,
NOVI ET ATERNI TESTAMENTI:
QUI PRO VOBIS ET PRO MULTIS
EFFUNDETUR IN REMISSIONEM PECCATORUM.
(For this is the Chalice of My Blood, of the New and Eternal Testament: the Mystery of Faith: Which shall be shed for You and for Many unto the Remission of Sins.)
Thus, we have reflected upon various theological truths contained in the Medieval artwork that are integral to the teachings of the Church Fathers that the Church, as the Bride of Christ, was born on Good Friday from the wounded Side of Christ, the Bridegroom. Those who refer to Pentecost as the birthday of the Church are likely to deny one or more of these and related truths.
Of the birth of Eve in the Garden of Eden, with a reference to Good Friday, Ven. Anne Catherine Emmerich, a religious sister and an acclaimed mystic, described the following vision (available online here): “… I saw Adam reclining on his left side, his left hand under his cheek. God sent a deep sleep on him and he was rapt in vision. Then from his right side, from the same place in which the side of Jesus was opened by the lance, God drew Eve. I saw her small and delicate. But she quickly increased in size until full grown. She was exquisitely beautiful.” Mystics are typically dismissed by Modernists as not being credible. Yet it was a vision by Sister Emmerich that led to the discovery of the house of Our Lady and Saint John in Ephesus.
In an all-out attack on the Biblical belief that there was an actual Adam and Eve, we have the so-called ‘theory’ of evolution. The Godless secular dogma of ‘evolution’ was promoted by Charles Darwin in his book On the Origin of the Species (1859). This work of atheistic fantasy denied the Biblical belief that there was an actual Adam and Eve, created in the image and likeness of God. A Jesuit priest, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (d. 1955) later wrote a book promoting evolution entitled The Phenomenon of Man in which he abandoned literal interpretations of the Book of Genesis, including the existence of Adam and Eve. The unproven evolutionary hypothesis provided a foundation for Communist movements all over the world. Our Lady of Fatima had warned that: “Russia would spread her errors throughout the world.” One of those foundational errors of Russian Communism is evolution.
To embrace evolution is to part ways with Adam and Eve. This leads to doing away with believing in the truths of the Bible and perennial Catholic Church teaching, which in turn can lead souls to accept the non-Catholic belief espoused by most Protestants that the Church was born at Pentecost. Eventually, evolution leads to the Communist ideal of disbelief in the existence of Almighty God.
Modernists embrace the idea of evolution, especially the evolution of dogma. Pope St. Pius X explains in his 1907 Encyclical Pascendi Dominici Gregis (On the Doctrines of the Modernists): “…Modernism leads to atheism and to the annihilation of all religion. The error of Protestantism made the first step on this path; that of Modernism makes the second; atheism makes the next” (n. 39). In Pascendi, the saintly Pontiff defines Modernism as “the synthesis of all heresies” (ibid.). While implying that the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Faith would be lost throughout the world, Our Lady of Fatima gave us hope when she said: “In Portugal, the dogma of the Faith will always be preserved etc.”
Be assured that the multitude of uninformed Catholics that have joined the Modernist and Protestant voices in celebrating the birthday of the Church at Pentecost do not outweigh the Traditional teaching to which the Fathers of the Church testified from the beginning. Such deviation from authentic Catholic doctrine is not a slight matter. If one accepts a single break with Catholic Tradition, it can have dire consequences leading to rejecting the dogmas of the One True Church founded by Christ. One is not free to pick and choose, as in a cafeteria, what Traditional Church teaching they choose to believe in.
After the appearance of my 2018 article, which demonstrates the fallacy of believing the Church was born on Pentecost, a reader wrote to disagree, saying that he was in possession of a book written by Rev. Francis Spirago written in the year 1900, entitled The Catechism Explained, which stated: “Pentecost is the birthday of the Church.” I also have that book. The sentence in question, which appears on page 230 of a 744-page tome, is a mere assertion without supporting evidence. Moreover, the subtitle of that book is: “An Exhaustive Exposition of the Christian Religion, with Special Reference to the Present State of Society and the Spirit of the Age.” No wonder Pope St. Pius X had to write Pascendi in 1907. Modernism existed in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and has become even more virulent today.
You can’t trust every catechism to be good, nor can you expect every recipe for a birthday cake to be good. Pentecost birthday cakes have ALL the wrong ingredients EVERY time. Key ingredients that are missing from a Pentecost birthday cake for the Church are respect for Church Tradition and adherence to the perennial teachings of the Fathers of the Church. This is a recipe for disaster – theological and spiritual devastation.
We conclude with this quote from The Oath Against Modernism prescribed by Pope St. Pius X: “I firmly hold, then, and shall hold to my dying breath the belief of the Fathers in the charism of truth, which certainly is, was, and always will be in the succession of the episcopacy from the Apostles. The purpose of this is, then, not that dogma may be tailored according to what seems better and more suited to the culture of each age; rather, that the absolute and immutable truth preached by the Apostles from the beginning may never be believed to be different, may never be understood in any other way.”
Always remember my Three R’s of Modernism: Recognize it; Refute it; and Return to Tradition.