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The Octave of Pentecost

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

Veni, sancte Spiritus, reple tuorum corda fidelium, et tui amoris in eis ignem accende.
Come, O holy Spirit, fill the hearts of thy faithful, and enkindle within them the fire of thy love.

We have been contemplating, with grateful hearts, the inexpressible devotedness, the divine untiredness, wherewith the Holy Ghost fulfils His mission in the souls of men; we have something still to add to our considerations, in order to have anything like a true idea of the wonders wrought by the divine Guest when the heart raises no obstacles. And first of all we deem it necessary to say a word to those Christians, who, after hearing what we have said regarding the prodigies of power and love of the divine Spirit, and the sublime mystery of His presence among us, might be tempted to fear lest all this may, in some degree, tend to make us forget our dearest Jesus, who being in the form of God, and equal to God, emptied Himself, being made in the likeness of man, and in habit found as man.[1]

The superficial knowledge of their religion is the reason why so many Christians have very vague notions about the Holy Ghost and His special workings in the Church and the souls of men. You will find these same individuals well instructed upon the mysteries of the Incarnation and Redemption; you will find them really devout in honouring the Son of God; but, judging from their conduct, you would say that they have put off knowing and honouring the Holy Ghost until they get to heaven.

We would, therefore, tell them, that the mission of this divine Spirit, far from being likely to make us forget what we owe to our Saviour, is the grandest gift bestowed upon us by this our Redeemer. Who is it that produces and keeps up within us the loving and meritorious remembrance of our Jesus’ mysteries? It is the Holy Ghost, who dwells in our hearts for the sole purpose of forming Christ, the new Man, within us, to the end that we may be united with Him, for ever, as His members. Consequently, the love we bear to our Jesus is inseparable from that we bear to the Holy Ghost; and the love we have for this divine Spirit, closely unites us with the Son of God, from whom He (the Spirit) proceeds and is given to us. When we meditate on the sufferings of Jesus, we are excited to feelings of affectionate compassion, and it ought to be so; but how comes it that we never think of, or, if we think of, never grieve over, the resistances, the slights, the disloyalties, which the Holy Ghost is every day receiving from ourselves and others? It is, indeed, most true that we are children of our heavenly Father: but, why should we forget the immense debt we owe to the other two divine Persons, who have come down from heaven to serve us, and at the risk of receiving nought but ingratitude!

After this short, but almost necessary, digression, we will continue our reflections upon the workings of the Holy Ghost in the soul of man. As we were just saying, His aim is to form Christ within us by the imitation of this our Redeemer’s sentiments and actions. Who, better than this divine Spirit, knows Jesus, whose Humanity He formed in Mary’s womb? Jesus, in whom He dwelt so unreservedly? Whom He aided and directed in all things, with a fullness of grace becoming the dignity of the human Nature which was personally united with the Divinity? We repeat—His object is to reproduce, in our humble persons, a faithful copy of Jesus, as far as our fallen nature will permit so grand a work to be realized.

The holy Spirit produces the most noble results in this His work, which is one truly worthy of a God. We have already seen how He wins from sin and Satan the creatures purchased by Christ; now let us consider Him achieving His victories in what the apostle so magnificently calls the consummation of the saints.[2] He takes them as He finds them, that is, fallen children of Adam; He first applies to them the ordinary means of sanctification, though He intends to carry them to extraordinary virtue. The courage wherewith He carries on His work is truly divine. He has to deal with nature, fallen indeed and tainted with a poison which is mortal, but a nature which retains some resemblance to its Creator; it is a ruin, but still it is an image. The Spirit, then, has to destroy what there is of corruption and defilement; at the same time, He has to purify and foster what has not been irremediably affected by the poison. The case requires an infinite care. He knows where and when to out or burn; and, what is very wonderful, He makes the invalid himself help Him to apply the saving remedies. Just as He does not save the sinner, without the sinner’s sharing in the work; so neither does He sanctify the saint, without the saint’s co-operation. But He inspirits and encourages him by countless touches of grace; so that, while corrupt nature keeps gradually losing ground in the soul, the healthy parts are being transformed into Christ, and finally the whole man is under the perfect mastery of grace.

The virtues are neither inactive nor half formed in such a Christian as this; and each day they grow more vigorous. The holy Spirit suffers none of them to lag behind, for He is unceasingly showing His disciple the great original whom he is to copy, namely Jesus, in whom are all the virtues in all perfection. There are times when He makes the soul feel her own weakness, in order that she may humble herself; He permits her to feel certain repugnances and temptations; but these are precisely the seasons wherein He evinces the most watchful solicitude. The soul must act, and she must suffer; the Holy Ghost loves her with extreme tenderness, and will never permit her to be tried above her strength. Oh! what a wonderful work is this, to enable a fallen creature to be a saint! Of course, there will be moments of discouragement, there may be defects now and then; but the work goes on in spite of all, for the divine Spirit keeps up within the soul an unchanging love, which is ever burning out the dross, whilst its own bright flame is every day gaining new intensity and beauty.

The human element at last disappears; it is Christ who lives in this new man, and this man lives in Christ.[3] His life is one of prayer, for it is in prayer that he finds union with his Jesus; the more he prays, the closer is the bond. The Holy Ghost is continually opening out new charms of truth to him, in order to encourage him to seek his sovereign good in prayer. He has made it the mystic ladder; it rests on earth, but its summit reaches to high heaven. Who could tell the favours bestowed by God on a soul that has broken every tie of self-love and interest, in order that, with oneness of purpose and energy, she may see and enjoy her Lord, and lose herself eternally in His infinite beauty! The whole blessed Trinity is devoted to such a soul: the Father embraces her in His paternal affection, the Son has no reserves of His love towards her, the Holy Ghost is ever working within her, enlightening and consoling her.

The citizens of heaven, with their wonted interest in us, which makes them keep a feast of joy at the conversion of one poor sinner,[4] are enraptured at the lovely sight of a saint; they yearn over him with an indescribable love; they sing a loud hymn of praise to the Holy Ghost who has produced such a masterpiece of perfection out of such materials as fallen nature yields. At times, the blessed Mother evinces her joy by appearing to this her new-born child; the angels show themselves to this brother upon whom they look as worthy to be throned among them; the saints treat him with an intimacy which tells him that they expect him to be soon their companion in the home of everlasting glory. Is it to be wondered at, that this dear child of the Holy Ghost should sometimes be allowed to stay the laws of nature, and work miracles in favour of his suffering or necessitous fellow mortals? Does he not love them with an affection which springs from the love which he has for God, and which is not shackled by the egotism of a heart divided between the world and its Creator?

Nor must we forget to speak of the grandest feature in the soul thus perfected by the Holy Ghost. Men of the world may scoff, and frivolous spirits may feel sceptical, at what we are going to say; it is not the less true, and, thank God, it is not so rare as some among us pretend. It evinces the power of the merits won for us by our Redeemer; it testifies the greatness of His love for mankind; it manifests the divine energy of the Holy Ghost in the souls that put no obstacles to His working within them. The soul, then, that we have been describing, is called to an espousal with Jesus, not only in heaven, but now and on this earth of exile. Jesus loves, as only a God can, the bride He has redeemed with His Blood; and this bride is not only the beloved Church; it is this soul of whom we are speaking, who was once mere nothingness, whose present existence is not known by the world, and yet whose beauty is such that her Creator deigns to say that He, the King, greatly desireth it.[5] He, together with the Holy Ghost, has wrought this beauty within her; and He wishes her to be all His. Then is achieved by the holy Spirit, in favour of an individual soul, the same mystery that we have seen accomplished in the Church herself; He prepares her, He establishes her in unity, He fixes her in truth, He perfects her in sanctity. This done, the Spirit and the bride say: ‘Come’![6]

It would take a volume to describe the workings of the Holy Ghost in the saints, and we are obliged to be satisfied with this hurried and imperfect sketch. The little we have said was a necessity, in order that we might give a general idea of the mission of the Holy Ghost upon earth, such as we are taught it is by the words of sacred Scripture, and by the principles of dogmatic and mystical theology. What we have said to-day will, moreover, assist our readers in their study and appreciation of the saints. In the course of the liturgical year, during which the names and actions of the saints have been so frequently proclaimed and celebrated by the Church herself, it was important to find an occasion for honouring the sanctifying Spirit: and surely, Pentecost was the most fitting season for doing so.

This is the last day of Paschal Time; it is the last of the Pentecost octave; we must not allow it to pass without offering to the Queen of saints the homage which is so justly her due, and without presenting our adoration and praise to the Holy Ghost for all the glorious things He has achieved in her. After the sacred Humanity of our Redeemer, which received from this holy Spirit every gift that could make it worthy, as far as a creature can be, of the divine Nature to which the Incarnation united it, Mary’s soul, and whole being, were adorned with grace above all other creatures together. It could not but be so, as must be evident to us if we reflect for a moment upon the meaning of a Mother of God. Mary, in her single self, forms a world apart in the order of grace; she alone was, for a short time, the Church of Jesus. The holy Spirit was at first sent for her alone, and He filled her with grace from the instant of her Immaculate Conception. That grace developed itself in her, by the continuous action of the Holy Ghost, until at length she became worthy, as far as a creature could be, of conceiving and giving birth to the very Son of God, who became thus the Son of Mary. During these days of Pentecost, we have seen the new gifts wherewith the divine Spirit prepared her for her new office. Is it possible for us her children to think of all these things, and not be ardent in our admiration of her? or not be overflowing with gratitude for the august Paraclete, who has deigned to show such munificence to this our own matchless Mother?

At the same time, we cannot help being overpowered with delight at the thought of the perfection, wherewith this favourite of the holy Spirit corresponded with the graces she received from Him. Not one was lost, not one was fruitless, as is sometimes the case with even the holiest souls. At her very commencement, she was as the rising morn;[7] from that time, her sanctity gradually mounted to the midday of its perfection, and that midday was to have no setting. Even before the Archangel announced to her that she was to conceive the Son of God in her chaste womb, she had already conceived Him in her soul, as the holy fathers teach us. The eternal Word loved her as His bride, even before He conferred upon her the honour of being His Mother. If Jesus could say of a soul that had needed regeneration:’They that seek Me, will find Me in the heart of Gertrude,’ what must have been the harmony of soul existing between Him and His blessed Mother! how close must have been their union! Trials of the severest kind awaited her in this world; she bore them all with heroic fortitude; and when the hour came for her to unite her own sacrifice with that made by her Son, she was ready. After Jesus’ Ascension, the Holy Ghost descended upon her; He opened out to her a new career, which would require her being an exile, for many long years, from the heaven where her Son was reigning: —she did not hesitate to accept the bitter chalice thus offered to her; she proved herself to be indeed the handmaid of the Lord, desirous, above all other things, to do His will in every tittle.

So that the triumph of the Holy Ghost in Mary’s person was of the most perfect kind: how grand soever might be His gifts, she worthily corresponded with them all. The sublime office of Mother of God, to which she was called, entitled her to graces in keeping with such a dignity; she received them, and turned them to the richest account. In return for her fidelity, as also in consideration of her incomparable dignity, the Holy Ghost allotted to Mary the place she well merited in the great work He had come to do, namely, the consummation of the saints and the formation of the Church, the body of Christ.[8] Her divine Son is the Head of the immense body of the faithful; He gives it unity; but she herself represents the neck, whereby life and motion are communicated from the head to the rest of the body. Jesus is the chief agent; but He acts upon each member through Mary. Her union with the Incarnate Word is immediate, on account of her being to Him what no other creature could be; but with regard to us, the graces and favours, the light and consolation, which we receive from our divine Head, come to us through Mary.

Hence the influence of this blessed Mother upon the Church in general, and upon each individual in particular. She unites us to her Son, and He unites us to the Divinity. The Father gave us His Son; the Son chose a Mother from among His creatures; and the Holy Ghost, by giving fruitfulness to this Virgin-Mother, perfected the union of creatures with their Creator. The end God proposed in creation, was to effect this union; and now that the Son is glorified, and the Holy Ghost has come, we understand the whole divine plan. More favoured than those who lived before the descent of the divine Spirit, we have, not only in promise, but in reality, a Brother who is crowned with the diadem of the divinity; a Paraclete who is to abide with us for ever, to enlighten our path and strengthen us; a mother, whose intercession is all-powerful; a Church, a second mother, by and from whom we receive all these blessings.

The Station at Rome is in St. Peter’s. It was in this noble basilica that the neophytes of Pentecost appeared in their white robes for the last time, and were presented to the Pontiff as the last lambs of the Pasch, which closes to-day.

This Saturday is now kept as the day for ordinations. The three days’ fasting and prayer prescribed by holy Church have rendered heaven propitious; we may confidently hope that the Holy Ghost, who is about to seal the new priests and sacred ministers with the sacramental character, will vouchsafe to act with all the plenitude of His goodness as well as with all the might of His power; for, upon this day, there is question not only of an immense privilege granted to those who are ordained, but likewise of the salvation of the flocks who are hereafter to be entrusted to their care.

We will praise the divine Spirit with these concluding stanzas of the hymn used by the Armenian liturgy during the feast of Pentecost.

Hymn
(Canon septimæ diei.)

Qui in pennis agilibus immaterialium volantium ac ignem vibrantium Seraphim supersedens, in providentia curam geris creaturarum; Spiritus tu sancte, benedictus es a creaturis tuis.

Qui praeclarissima ac mi- roplena voce cum Patre et Filio semper glorificaris, ac benigne respicis ad creaturas; Spiritus tu sancte, benedictus es a creaturis tuis.

Hodie divina Providentia in cœnaculo personans ventoso sonore, atque apostolos inebrians distributus es in creaturis; Spiritus tu sancte, benedictus es a creaturis tuis.
Thou that sittest on the swift wings of the fire-darting Seraphim, takest all creatures under the care of thy providence. O holy Spirit, thou art blessed by thy creatures!

Thou that, in grandest, sweetest hymns, art ever glorified together with the Father and the Son, thou lookest with mercy on thy creatures. O holy Spirit, thou art blessed by thy creatures!

To-day, with divine provision, thou descendedst with sound of a mighty wind into the cenacle, and by inebriating the apostles with thy grace, thou wast given to creatures. O holy Spirit, thou art blessed by thy creatures!

 

Sequence

Veni, summe Consolator,
Spes salutis, vitæ dator,
Adsit tua gratia!
Dulcis ardor, ros divine,
Bonitatis germine
Eadem substantia.

Ab utroque derivatus,
Et a neutro separatus,
Ad utrumque colligatus
Sempiterno foedere;
Ros et vapor utriusque,
Donet Pater Filiusque
Quod effluas ad nos usque
Largifluo munere.

Rorem audis et vaporem,
Crede simul et odorem
Quo Deus discernitur.
Rorem istum quem emittit
Qui plus gustat, magis sitit,
Nec ardor reprimitur.

Plebs ut sacra renascatur,
Per hunc unda consecratur,
Cui super ferebatur
In rerum exordium;
Fons, origo pietatis,
Fons emundans a peccatis,
Fons de fonte deitatis,
Fons sacrator fontium!

Ignis vive, vivax unda,
Munda sinus et fecunda,
Subministra gratiam;
Charitatis tactos igne,
Nosmet tibi fac benigne
Sanctitatis hostiam.

Patris, Nati pium Flamen,
Vitiorum medicamen,
Fessis esto sublevamen,
Mœstis consolatio.

Castus amor et honestus,
Æstus ardens, sed modestus,
Quos urit ardor incestus
Tua sanet unctio.

Vox non sono designata,
Vox subtilis, vox privata,
Vox beatis inspirata,
O vox dulcis,
O vox grata,
Sona nostris mentibus!

Lux dispellens falsitatem,
Lux inducens veritatem,
Vitam atque sanitatem
Et æternam claritatem
Nobis confer omnibus.

Amen.
Come, O best of Comforters,
hope of our salvation, giver of life!
aid us with thy grace.
O sweet fire, O divine dew!
thou art, with Father and Son,
the germ of infinite goodness.

Thou proceedest from both;
from neither ever separate,
but united to both
with an everlasting link.
O thou their dew and Spirit!
may the Father and Son
grant thee to flow in copious gift,
even unto us.

Christian! he is the dew and Spirit:
believe, too, that he is the fragrance
that tells thee he is God.
The more we drink of this heaven-sent dew,
the more we thirst to drink,
and pant the more to have.

That we may be regenerated as children of God,
he gives water its mystic power,
he that moved over the waters
when this world began.
He is the fount of holiness,
the fount that cleanses us from sin,
the fount that springs from the fountain Godhead,
the fount that consecrates the font.

O living fire, O life-giving stream!
cleanse and fructify our hearts,
and give them grace.
Inflame us with the fire of charity,
and then, in mercy,
make us a holy offering to thyself.

Dear Spirit of the Father and the Son!
thou remedy of sin!
be to the wearied help,
and to the sorrowing consolation!

O chaste and beautiful love!
O burning, yet purest love!
may thine unction
heal the wound of seething lust.

O soundless voice!
Voice mysterious and still!
Voice whispered in the faithful ear!
O voice most sweet
and dear!
speak to our souls!

O lie-dispelling light!
O truth-bearing light!
grant to each and all of us
thy servants life, and health,
and brightness everlasting.

Amen.

[1] Philipp. ii. 6, 7.
[2] Eph. iv. 12.
[3] Gal. ii. 20.
[4] St. Luke, xv. 7.
[5] Ps. xliv. 12.
[6] Apoc. xxii. 17.
[7] Cant. vi. 9.
[8] Eph. iv. 12.

 

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

The second favour destined by the Holy Ghost for the soul that is faithful to Him in action, is the gift of wisdom, which is superior to that of understanding. The two are, however, connected together, inasmuch as the object shown by the gift of understanding, is held and relished by the gift of wisdom. When the psalmist invites us to draw nigh to God, he bids us relish our sovereign good:’Taste’, says he,’and see that the Lord is sweet!’[1] Holy Church prays for us, on the day of Pentecost, that we may relish what is right and just (recta sapere), because the union of the soul with God is rather an experience or tasting, than a sight, for such sight would be incompatible with our present state. The light given by the gift of understanding is not intuitive; it gladdens the soul, and gives her an instinctive tendency to the truth; but its own final perfection depends upon its union with wisdom, which is, as it were, its end.

Understanding, therefore, is light; wisdom is union. Now, union with the sovereign good is attained by the will, that is, by love, which is in the will. Thus, in the angelic hierarchy, the Cherubim, with their sublime intellect, are below the Seraphim, who are inflamed with love. It is quite true that the Cherubim have ardent love and the Seraphim profound intelligence; but they differ from each other by their predominating quality; and that choir is the higher of the two which approaches the nearer to the Divinity by its love and relish of the sovereign good.

The seventh gift is called by the beautiful name of wisdom, which is taken from its uniting the soul, by love, to the eternal Wisdom. This eternal Wisdom, who mercifully puts Himself within our reach even in this vale of tears, is the divine Word, whom the apostle calls the brightness of the Father’s glory, and the figure of His substance.[2] It is He who sent us the Holy Ghost, that He might sanctify us and lead us to Himself; so that the sublimest of the workings of this holy Spirit is His procuring our union with Him, who, being God, became Flesh, and for our sake made Himself obedient unto death, even to the death of the cross.[3]By the mysteries wrought in His Humanity, Jesus enabled us to enter within the veil of His Divinity; by faith, enlightened by supernatural understanding, we see the glory of the Only-Begotten of the Father;[4] and just as He made Himself a partaker of our lowly human nature, so does He give Himself, the uncreated Wisdom, to be loved and relished by that created wisdom, the noblest of the gifts which the Holy Ghost forms within us.

Happy, then, they who possess this precious wisdom, which makes the soul relish God and the things that are of God!’The sensual man,’ says the apostle,’perceiveth not the things that are of the Spirit of God;’[5] and in order that he may enjoy this gift, he must become spiritual, and docile to the teachings of the holy Spirit; and then there will happen to him, what has happened to thousands of others, namely, that after being a slave to a carnal life, he will recover his Christian freedom and dignity. The man who is less depraved than the former, but still imbued with the spirit of the world, is also incapable of receiving or even comprehending the gifts of understanding and wisdom. He is ever ridiculing those who, he cannot help knowing, possess these gifts; he never leaves them in peace, but is ever carping at their conduct, setting himself in opposition to them, and, at times, seeking to satiate his jealousy by bitter persecution. Jesus assures us that the world cannot receive the Spirit of truth, because it seeth Him not, nor knoweth Him.[6] They, therefore, who would possess the supreme good, must first divorce themselves from the spirit of the world, which is the personal enemy of the Spirit of God. If they break asunder the chain that now fetters them, they may hope to be gifted with wisdom.

The special result of this gift is great vigour in the soul, and energy in all her powers. Her whole life is, so to speak, seasoned with it; the effect may be likened to that produced in the body by wholesome diet. There is no disagreement between such a soul and her God; and hence, her union with Him is almost inevitable. ‘Where the Spirit of the Lord is,’ Bays the apostle, ‘there is liberty.’[7] Everything is easy to the soul that is under the influence of the Spirit of wisdom. Things that are hard to nature, are sweet to such a soul; and suffering does not appal her, as once it did. To say that God is near to her is saying too little: she is united with Him. And yet, she must keep herself in an attitude of profound humility, for pride may reach her even in that exalted state, and oh, how terrible would be her fall!

Let us with all the earnestness of our hearts, beseech the Holy Ghost to give us this wisdom, which will lead us to our Jesus, the infinite Wisdom. One who was wise under the old Law aspired to this gift, when he wrote these words, of which we Christians alone can appreciate the full meaning: ‘I wished and understanding was given to me; and I called upon God and the Spirit of wisdom came upon me.’[8] So that we are to ask for this gift, and with great fervour. In the new Covenant, we have the apostle Saint James thus urging us to pray for it:’If any of you want wisdom, let him ask of God who giveth to all men abundantly, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him; but let him ask in faith, nothing wavering.’[9] O holy Spirit! we presume to follow this injunction of the apostle, and say to Thee: O Thou who proceedest from Power and Wisdom, give us wisdom! He that is Wisdom has sent Thee unto us, that Thou mayst unite us to Him. Take us from ourselves, and unite us to Him who united Himself to our weak nature. O sacred source of unity! be Thou the link uniting us for ever to Jesus; then will the Father adopt us as His heirs, and joint-heirs with Christ![10]

The series of the mysteries is now completed, and the movable cycle of the liturgy has come to its close. We first passed, during Advent, the four weeks, which represented the four thousand years spent by mankind in entreating the eternal Father to send His Son. Our Emmanuel at length came down; we shared in the joys of His Birth, in the dolours of His Passion, in the glory of His Resurrection, in the triumph of His Ascension. Lastly, we have witnessed the descent of the Holy Ghost upon us, and we know that He is to abide with us to the last. Holy Church has assisted us throughout the whole of this sublime drama, which contains the work of our salvation. Her heavenly canticles, her magnificent ceremonies, have instructed us day by day, enabling us to follow and understand each feast and season. Blessed be this mother for the care wherewith she has placed all these great mysteries before us, thus giving us light and love! Blessed be the sacred liturgy, which has brought us so much consolation and encouragement! We have now to pass through the immovable portion of the cycle: we shall find sublime spiritual episodes, worthy of all our attention. Let us, then, prepare to resume our journey: let us take fresh courage in the thought that the Holy Ghost will direct our steps, and, by the sacred liturgy, of which He is the inspirer, will continue to throw open to us treasures of precept and example.


[1] Ps. xxxiii. 9.
[2] Heb. i. 3.
[3] Philipp. ii. 8.
[4] St. John, i. 14.
[5] 1 Cor. ii. 14.
[6] St. John, xiv. 17.
[7] 2 Cor. iii. 17.
[8] Wisd. vii. 7.
[9] St. James, i. 5, 6.
[10] Bom. viii 17.

 

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

This sixth gift of the Holy Ghost raises the soul to a still higher state. The first five gifts all tend to action. The fear of God keeps man in his right place, for it humbles him; godliness opens his heart to holy affections; knowledge enables him to discern the path of salvation from that of perdition; fortitude arms him for the battle; counsel directs him in his thoughts and works:—thus gifted, he can act, and pursue his journey with the sure hope of coming at length to his heavenly home. But the Holy Ghost has other favours in store for him. He would give him a foretaste, here below, of the happiness that awaits him in the next life: it will give him confidence, it will encourage him, it will reward his efforts. Contemplation—this is the blissful region thrown open to him, and the Holy Ghost leads him thither by the gift of understanding.

There will be a feeling of surprise and hesitation arising in the minds of many at hearing this word, contemplation. They have been taught to look on contemplation as an element of the spiritual life which is rarely to be hoped for, and almost impossible for persons who are in the ordinary walks of life. We must begin, then, by telling them that such an idea is a great and dangerous error, and one that checks the progress of the soul. No: contemplation is a state to which, more or less, the soul of every Christian is called. It does not consist in those extraordinary effects which the Holy Ghost occasionally produces in some privileged souls, and by which He would convince the world of the reality of the supernatural life. It is simply a relation of close intimacy existing between God and a soul that is faithful to Him in action. For such a soul, unless she herself put an obstacle, God reserves two favours: the first is the gift of understanding, which consists in a supernatural light granted to the mind of man.

This light does not remove the sacred obscurity of faith: but it enlightens the eye of the soul, strengthens her perception, and widens her view of divine things. It dispels clouds, which were occasioned by the previous weakness and ignorance of the soul. The exquisite beauty of the mysteries is now revealed to her, and the truths which hitherto seemed unconnected, now delight her by the sweetness of their harmony, It is not the face-to-face vision which heaven gives, but it is something incomparably brighter than the feeble glimmer of former days, when all was mist and doubt. The eye of her spirit discovers analogies and reasons, which do something more than please—they bring conviction. The heart opens under the influence of these bright beams, for they feed faith, cherish hope, and give ardour to love. Everything seems new to her. Looking at the past, and comparing it with the present, she wonders within herself, how it is that truth, which is ever the same, has a charm and a power over her now which once it had not.

The reading or hearing of the Gospel produces an impression far deeper than formerly: she finds a relish in the words of Jesus, which, in times past, she never experienced. She can understand so much better the object of the institution of the Sacraments. The holy liturgy, with its magnificent ceremonies and sublime formulas, is to her an anticipation of heaven. She loves to read the lives of the saints; she can do so, and never feel a temptation to carp at their sentiments or conduct: she prefers their writings to all others, and she finds in these communications with the friends of God a special increase of her spiritual good. No matter what may be the duties of her station in life, she has, in this glorious gift, a light which guides her in each of them. The virtues required from her, however varied they may be, are so regulated, that one is never done to the detriment of another; she knows the harmony that exists between them all, and she never breaks it. She is as far from scrupulosity as from tepidity; and when she commits a fault, she loses no time in repairing it. Sometimes the Holy Ghost favours her with an interior speaking, which gives her additional light for some special emergency.

The world and its maxims are mere vanities in her estimation; and when necessity obliges her to con- form to what is not sinful in either, she does so without setting her heart upon it. Mere natural grandeur or beauty seems unworthy of notice to her whose eye has been opened, by the holy Spirit, to the divine and the eternal. To her, this outward world which the carnal-minded man loves to his own destruction, has but one fair side, viz: that the visible creation, with the impress of God’s beauty upon it, can be turned to its Maker’s glory. She gives Him thanks when she uses it; she elevates it to the supernatural order, by praising, as did the royal prophet, Him who shadowed the likeness of His own beauty on this world of created things, which men so often abuse to their perdition, but which were intended as so many steps to lead us to our God.

The gift of understanding teaches the Christian a just appreciation of the state of life in which God has placed Him. It shows him the wisdom and mercy of those designs of Providence which have, at times, disconcerted his own plans, and led him in a direction the very opposite to his wishes. He sees that had he been left to arrange things according to his own views, he would have gone astray; whereas now, God has put him in the right place, though the workings of His fatherly wisdom were, at first, hidden from him. Yes, he is so happy now! he enjoys such peace of soul! he knows not how sufficiently to thank his God for having brought him where he is, without consulting his poor fancies! If such a Christian as this be called upon to give counsel, if either duty or charity require him to guide others, he may safely be trusted; the gift of understanding teaches him to see the right thing for others as well as for himself. Not that he ever intrudes his counsel upon others, or makes himself adviser-general to all around him; but if his advice be asked, he gives it, and the advice is a reflex of the inward light that burns within him.

Such is the gift of understanding. It is the true life of the soul, and it is weaker or stronger according to the measure of her correspondence with the other gifts. Its safeguards are humility, restraint over the desires of the heart, and interior recollection. Dissipation of mind would dim its brightness, or even wholly put out the light. But where duty imposes occupations, not only busy and frequent, but even distracting, let the Christian discharge them with a pure intention, and his soul will not lose her recollection. Let him be single-hearted, let him be little in his own eyes, and that which God hides from the proud and reveals to the humble,[1] will be manifested to him and abide with him.

It is evident from all this, that the gift of understanding is of immense importance to the salvation and sanctification of the soul. It behoves us, therefore, to beg it of the Holy Ghost with all the earnestness of supplication; for we must not forget that it is obtained rather by the longings of our love, than by any efforts of the intellect. True, it is the intellect that receives the light; but it is the heart, the will, inflamed with love, that wins the radiant gift. Hence that saying of Isaias: ‘Unless ye believe, ye shall not understand!’[2] Let us, then, address ourselves to the holy Spirit in these words of the psalmist: ‘Open Thou our eyes, and we will consider the wondrous things of Thy law! Give us understanding and we shall live!’[3] Let us beseech Him in these words of the apostle, wherein he is praying for his Ephesians: ‘Give us the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, whereby we may have the knowledge of our God! Enlighten the eyes of our heart, that we may know what is the hope of our calling, and what the riches of the glorious inheritance prepared for the saints!’[4]


[1] Luke, x. 21.
[2] Is. vii. 9; thus quoted from the Septuagint by several of the Greek and Latin fathers.
[3] Ps. cxviii. 18. and 144.
[4] Eph. i, 17, 18.

 

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

Veni, sancte Spiritus, reple tuorum corda fidelium, et tui amoris in eis ignem accende.
Come, O holy Spirit, fill the hearts of thy faithful, and enkindle within them the fire of thy love.

So far, we have considered the action of the Holy Ghost in the Church; we must now study His workings in the soul of the Christian. Here, also, we shall find fresh motives for admiration and gratitude towards this divine Paraclete, who so graciously condescends to minister to us in all our necessities, and lead us to the glorious end for which we were created.

As the Holy Ghost, who was sent that He might abide with us for ever,[1] exercises His power in upholding and guiding the Church, that thus she may be the faithful bride of Jesus; so, likewise, does He work in each one of us, that He may make us worthy members of our divine Head. This is His mission: to unite us so closely with Jesus, that we may be made one body with Him. His office is, to create us in the supernatural order, to give and maintain within us the life of grace, by applying to us the merits acquired for us by Jesus, our Mediator and our Saviour.

Let us begin by considering how sublime is this mission given by the Father and the Son to the Holy Ghost. In the Godhead, the Holy Ghost is produced, and does not produce. The Father begets the Son; the Father and the Son produce the Holy Ghost. This difference is founded on the divine Nature itself, which is not and cannot be but in three Persons. Hence, as the holy fathers teach, the Holy Ghost has received a fecundity outside, having none within, the Godhead. Thus, when the Humanity of the Son of God was to be produced in Mary’s womb, it was the Holy Ghost that achieved the mystery. Again, when the Christian is to be formed in the creature corrupted by original sin, it is the same holy Spirit who produces the new being. St. Augustine thus forcibly expresses himself: ‘The same grace that produced Christ when He first became Man, produces the Christian when He first becomes a believer; the same Spirit of whom Christ was conceived, is the principle of the new birth of the Christian.’[2]

We have dwelt at some length on the action of the Holy Ghost in the formation and government of the Church, because the chief work of this divine Spirit is to produce, here upon the earth, the bride of the Son of God, and because it is through her that all blessings come to us. She is the depository of a portion of the Paraclete’s graces, inasmuch as He is ever ready to serve her for our salvation and sanctification’s sake. It is for us, also, that He made her Catholic and visible to the world; and this, to the end that we might the more easily find her. It is for us that He maintains her in truth and holiness, that so we may drink our fill at these two sources of life-giving water. Coming now to consider what He does in the souls of men, the first marvel that demands our attention is His creative power. Is it not a veritable creation, when He raises a soul from the abyss of original sin, or from the still deeper fall of actual guilt, and instantly makes her an adopted child of God, and a member of the Son of God? The Father and the Son look with complacency upon this work of the Spirit, who is their own mutual love. They sent Him into the world that He might work, yea, work with sovereign authority; and wheresoever He reigns, there do They also reign.

This elect soul has been eternally present to the mind of the blessed Trinity. The time fixed by the divine decree having come, the Holy Ghost descends, and takes possession of this object of His love. Swifter than ever eagle to his prey, the Dove of infinite mercy flies to His destined habitation. If no hindrance be offered to His action by the creature’s free-will, there happens in her what St. Paul describes as happening in the Church herself: the things that were not become superior to the things that were,[3]and where sin abounded, grace is made to dwell in rich superabundance.[4]

We have already seen how our Emmanuel gave to water the power of purifying the soul; but we also remember how, when He went down into the Jordan stream, the Dove rested upon Him; hereby showing that He, the Spirit of God, took possession of the element of regeneration. The font of Baptism is His domain.’The water of Baptism,’ says the great St. Leo,’is like the virginal womb (that conceived Jesus) it gives to man a spiritual regeneration; for the same holy Spirit that gave fecundity to the Virgin, gives fecundity to the font, to the end that sin, of which there could be no question in the sacred conception (of the Son of God in Mary’s womb), may be washed away by the mystic font.’[5]

What tongue could describe the fond delight wherewith the holy Spirit looks upon the new creature that rises from the font, or the impetuosity of love wherewith He comes into such a soul? He is’the Gift of the Most High,’ sent that He may dwell within us. He takes up His abode in the new-born soul, be it that of an infant but one day old, or that of an adult advanced in years. He is well-pleased with the dwelling He has, from all eternity, longed to possess; He fills it with His glowing and His light; and being, by nature, one with the other divine Persons, He brings thither with Him the presence of the Father and the Son, and all Three abide in that happy soul![6]

But the Holy Ghost has here His own special action, His mission of sanctification: and in order that we may understand the full effect of His presence in the Christian, we must know that it is not confined to the soul. The body, too, is part of man, and had its share in the regeneration. The apostle tells us that the soul is the dwelling of the Holy Ghost;[7] but he also assures us that our bodies are the temple of the same divine Spirit,[8] who bids us make them serve justice unto sanctification.[9] He graces them with a germ of immortality, which will rest upon them even in the tomb, and give them to rise again, at the last day, spiritualized,[10] and bearing on them the seal of the divine Paraclete, who deigned to be their Guest during the term of their mortality.

After having thus made the Christian to be His dwelling-place, the Holy Ghost bestows upon him what may fit him for this high destiny. Think, for a moment, of the beauty of the theological virtues! Faith puts us into the certified and real possession of the divine truths which our mind cannot, in this present life, understand; hope gives us both the divine assistance we stand in need of, and the eternal happiness we look forward to; charity unites us to God by the strongest and sweetest of ties. Now it is to the indwelling of the Holy Ghost within him, that the Christian is indebted for these three virtues, these three means whereby regenerated man is made capable of attaining the end of his creation. The holy Spirit marked His first entrance into the soul by this triple gift, which surpasses all the creature’s merits, past, present, or future.

Over and above the three theological virtues, He bestows on the soul four other virtues, which are the hinges whereon the rest of the moral virtues turn, and hence their name of cardinal; they are, justice, fortitude, prudence, and temperance. Though, in themselves, natural qualities, the Holy Ghost transforms them by making them serve the supernatural end of the Christian. Finally, as a finish to the beauty of His abode, He infuses His seven gifts, which are to impart movement and life to the seven virtues.

But though the virtues and gifts relate to God, yet do they need that element, which is the essential means of union with Him: an element which is indispensable, for which nothing can serve as substitute, the soul of the soul, the life-giving principle, without which man can neither see nor possess God, viz. sanctifying grace. The Holy Ghost exultingly plants it in the soul; it becomes part of herself, and makes her an object of delight to the blessed Trinity. So close is the union between this grace and the presence of the holy Spirit, that when it is lost by mortal sin, He, that same instant, ceases to dwell in the soul.

He watches most carefully over His inheritance. He is ceaselessly working for the interests of His much-loved dwelling. The virtues He has infused into her are not to remain inert; they must elicit virtuous acts, and by the merits they thus produce, must increase, strengthen, and develop the fundamental element of sanctifying grace, which unites the Christian to his God. The Holy Ghost is, therefore, ever exciting the soul to action, either interior or exterior, by means of those divine influences, which theologians call actual graces. He thus enables the soul to raise herself higher and higher in virtue, add to her riches, strengthen her strength, and, in a word, become the instrument of glory to her Maker, who created her that she might serve Him, labour for Him, and yield Him fruit.

To this end, the Spirit, after giving Himself to her, and dwelling within her with devoted love, urges her to prayer, whereby she may procure every blessing: light, strength, and success in what she undertakes. But how are we to know what to pray for? The apostle solves the difficulty, by telling us the truth, of which he himself had such experience. He says: ‘The Spirit Himself asketh for us with unspeakable groanings’.[11] Yes, the Holy Ghost makes our wants His own. God as He is, He unites His own speakings with the voice of our prayer, and, with His dove-like moaning, cries in our hearts to the Father.[12] He thus, by His presence and His workings, makes us feel that we are children of God.[13] Could there be intimacy greater than this? And who, after this, can be surprised at our Jesus’ saying that we have but to ask, and we shall receive?[14] Is it not His own Spirit that asks within us?

So that He is the author of our prayer, when we pray: He is, also, the great co-operator with us in the good actions we do. So intimate is His union with the soul, that He leaves her no liberty of her own save what is necessary for her to have merit; but it is He that does the rest: that is, He inspires her, He supports her, He directs her. All she has to do, is to co-operate in what He does in and by her. It is by this mark, that is, by the united action of the Holy Ghost and the soul, that our heavenly Father knows who are His. Hence that saying of the apostle: Whosoever are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.[15] O glorious union! which brings the Christian to life everlasting, and makes Jesus triumph in him, Jesus, whose likeness is imprinted by the Holy Ghost in the creature, that the creature may become worthy to be united with his divine Head!

Alas! this union may be severed, as long as we are on earth. Our free-will is not confirmed in good, until we reach heaven; and meanwhile, it may, and frequently does, lead to a rupture between the Spirit that sanctifies, and the creature that is sanctified. The unhappy love of independence, and the passions, which we cannot master, save when we are docile to the divine Spirit, excite the unguarded heart to the desire of what is unworthy of her. Satan is jealous of the reign of the Holy Ghost, and seeks to make us disloyal, by holding out to us the lying promise of happiness and good, other than those we can find in God. The world, too, which is a spirit of evil, sets itself up as a rival of the holy Spirit of God. Wily, audacious, and active, it excels in the art of seduction, and its victims are countless, although our Saviour has put us on our guard against it, by telling us that He excluded it from any share in His prayers;[16] and the apostle tells us, that we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit that is of God.[17]

And yet, how many there are who bring about in themselves a cruel separation of their soul from the Holy Ghost! The separation is generally preceded by a certain coolness of the creature for his divine Benefactor. A want of respect, a slight disobedience, are the preliminaries of the rupture. This occasions in the holy Spirit a displeasure, which proves the tender love He bears to a faithful soul. The apostle describes the nature of this displeasure, where he says: ‘Grieve not the holy Spirit, who put His seal upon you on the day of your redemption.’[18] There is a deep meaning in these few words, and, among other truths, they reveal to us the effects of venial sins: the Holy Ghost is grieved, He finds but little pleasure in that soul; there is danger of a separation; and though, as St. Augustine tells us, ‘He does not leave us, unless we leave Him,’ and though, consequently, such a soul still possesses sanctifying grace, yet actual grace becomes less frequent and less powerful.

But, when mortal sin—that act of the creature’s boldest malice and worst ingratitude—enters the soul, it breaks the sacred compact which closely united the Christian and the Holy Ghost. He, the Spirit of love, is driven from the dwelling He had chosen for Himself and had enriched with so many graces. A greater outrage cannot be offered to God by man; for, as the apostle so strongly expresses it, he hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath esteemed the Blood of the testament unclean, by which he was sanctified, and hath offered an affront to the Spirit of grace.[19]

And yet, this miserable state of the sinner may excite the compassion of the Holy Ghost, who has been sent that He might ever be our Guest. Could anything be imagined more sad, than the wretchedness of a Christian, who, by having cast out the divine Spirit, has lost the soul of his soul, forfeited the treasure of sanctifying grace, and robbed himself of all past merits? But—O mystery of mercy, worthy of eternal praise!—the Holy Ghost longs to return to the dwelling whence sin has driven Him. Yes, such is the fulness of the mission given by the Father and the Son to the Holy Ghost: He is love, and in His love He abandons not the poor ungrateful worm, but would restore him to his former dignity, and make him, once more, a partaker of the divine nature.[20]

This divine Spirit of love labours to regain possession of His dwelling. He begins by exciting within the soul a fear of divine justice; He makes her feel the shame and anguish of spiritual death. He thus detaches her from evil, by what the holy Council of Trent calls ‘impulses of the Holy Ghost, not indeed as yet dwelling within the soul, but moving her.’[21] Dissatisfied and unhappy, the soul sighs after a reconciliation; she breaks the chains of her slavery; the sacrament of Penance then comes, bringing life-giving love, and her justification is completed. Who could describe the triumphant joy wherewith the divine Spirit re-enters His dear abode? The Father and the Son return to the dwelling that for days, or perhaps for years, had been defiled with sin. The soul is restored to life. Sanctifying grace returns to her, just as it was on the day of her Baptism. As we have already said, she had lost, by mortal sin, that fund of merit which had developed the power of grace; it is now restored to her fully and entirely, for the power of the holy Spirit is equal to the vehemence of His love.

This admirable raising from death to life is going on every day, yea every hour. It is part of the mission given to the Holy Ghost. He does the work He came for—the sanctification of man. The Son of God came down from heaven, and gave Himself to us. He found us slaves to satan; He ransomed us at the price of His Blood; gave us everything that could lead us to Himself and His heavenly Father; and, when He returned to heaven, there to prepare a place for us, He sent us His own Spirit to be our second Comforter, until He Himself should return to us. We have seen how strenuously this divine Helper undertakes His work. Let us fervently celebrate the love wherewith He treats us, and the wisdom and power wherewith He accomplishes His glorious mission. May He be blessed and glorified! May He be known throughout the whole world, for it is through Him that all blessings are imparted unto men! He is the soul of the Church; may she render Him the homage of her praise! And may He be tenderly loved by those countless millions of hearts, wherein He desires to dwell that He may give them eternal salvation and happiness.

This is the second of the three days’ fast prescribed for this week. To-morrow is the day for the ordination of the priests and other sacred ministers. It behoves us to redouble our efforts to obtain from God that the abundance of His grace may be in keeping with the sacred and ever-abiding character, which the divine Spirit is to imprint on these aspirants to Holy Orders.

At Rome, to-day’s Station is in the church of the twelve apostles, where repose the bodies of St. Philip and St. James the Less. This allusion to the favoured ones of the cenacle is most appropriate, for they were the first guests of the Holy Ghost.

The Armenian Church again lends us its beautiful hymn, in praise of the coming of the Paraclete. 

Hymn
(Canon sextæ diei)

Immortalem efficiens calix effuse de cœlis, sancte Spiritus, quem biberunt in cœnaculo chori sanctorum apostolorum; benedictus es, sancte Spiritus, tu vere.

Large diffusus es in nobis, ignis vivus; nam potati apostoli, potarunt etiam terrarum orbem; benedictus es, sancte Spiritus, tu vere.

Hodie magnopere exsultant Ecclesiae gentilium, oblectati gaudio ex te, vivifice calix: benedictus es, sancte Spiritus, tu vere.

Qui a Paterna veritate procedens fons luminis, radios vibrante lumine oblectans, replevisti apostolos: precibus horum miserere.

Qui essentiam tuam igneis mire ostendisti, eo ipso intelligibili divino lumine delectans, implevisti apostolos; precibus horum miserere.

Qui mundum ambientes tenebras initio in lucem permutasti, hodie mirabili atque divino lumine tuo delectans
implevisti apostolos; precibus horum miserere.

Qui ignem vibrantibus, ac alas pandentibus insides, hodie in chorum humanorum ineffabili amore effusus- es de cœlis; benedictus es, sancte Spiritus Deus.

Qui ab igneis linguis, trisagio agiologaris, hodie in labia humanorum igniflue effususes de cœlis: benedictus es sancte Spiritus Deus.

Qui ab igniformibus in fulgentissimis flammis semper videris, hodie terris igni- gustus calix effusus es de cœlis; benedictus es, sancte Spiritus Deus.

O holy Spirit! immortalizing chalice poured forth from heaven, of which drank the choir of holy apostles in the cenacle! Truly blessed art thou, O holy Spirit!

O living fire! widely hast thou been spread among us; for the apostles, having drunk thee in, gave also the whole earth to drink of thee. Truly blessed art thou, O holy Spirit!

To-day, the churches of the Gentiles are in exceeding great joy, being delighted with gladness at partaking of thee, O life-giving chalice! Truly blessed art thou, O holy Spirit!

Thou the fountain of light, proceeding from the Father’s truth, didst delight the apostles, filling them with ray-darting light. Through their prayers, have mercy on us!

Showing thine essence by a miraculous fire, thou delight- edst the apostles, by filling them with that same spiritual and divine light. Through their prayers have mercy on us!

At the beginning of the world, thou changedst into light the darkness that involved the earth; to-day, thou delight-
edst the apostles, by filling them with thy wonderful and divine light. Through their prayers, have mercy on us!

Thou that sittest on the fiery and winged Cherubim, didst this day, with ineffable love, descend from heaven upon a choir of men. Blessed art thou, O holy Spirit, our God!

Thou that art hymned by tongues of fire, as the thrice Holy, descendest this day as a stream of fire from heaven, and restest on the lips of men. Blessed art thou, O holy Spirit, our God!

Thou that art eternally seen, in thy most effulgent fires, by the Seraphim, art this day poured forth on earth from heaven, the chalice whose drink is fire. Blessed art thou, O holy Spirit, our God!

The following is taken from the Mozarabic missal. It is an address made to the faithful by the bishop, during the Mass of Whit Sunday. He exhorts them to receive with devotion the divine Spirit, who is about to visit them.

 

Missa

Quanta possumus, fratres charissimi, fide, intentione, virtute, gaudio, exsultatione, præconio, devotione, obsequio, puritate, promissa nobis per Filium Dei, sancti Spiritus munera hodie transmissa prædicemus. Reseretur nostrorum compago viscerum. Purgentur corda credentium, et pateant omnes sensus, atque recessus animorum. Quia nequaquam immensi laudem atque adventum, pectora angusta narrare sufficiunt. Ille etenim consors Patris, et Filii, unius ejusdemque substantiæ tertius in persona, sed unus in gloria. Quem cœlorum regna non capiunt, quia non eum circumscribunt neque claudunt, hodie ad angustum cordis nostri descendit hospitium. Et quis nostrum, fratres dilectissimi, tali se dignum hospite recognoscit? Quis condigna advenienti exhibeat alimenta? Quum et Angelorum et Archange- lorum, et omnium Virtutum cœlestium ipse est vita. Et ideo quia nos impares tali habitatore cognoscimus, ut in nobis locum habitaculi sibimet praeparet supplicemus. Amen.
Let us, dearly beloved brethren, celebrate the gifts of the Holy Ghost, which were promised unto us by the Son of God, and were this day sent; let us celebrate them with all possible faith, intention, virtue, joy, gladness, praise, devotion, homage, and purity, Let us open our hearts, and purify them; let our mind and soul be dilated; for surely narrow hearts are not able to speak the praise and coming of the immense. He is coequal with the Father and the Son, of one and the same nature with them; he is the Third in Person, but One in glory. He, whom the heavens cannot contain, for they neither confine nor limit him, is coming down this day to the narrow dwelling of our heart. Who among us, dearly beloved brethren, would dare to think himself worthy of such a guest? Who would think himself able to provide an entertainment worthy of him, who is the life of the very Angels, and Archangels, and all the heavenly Powers? Since, therefore, we acknowledge that we ourselves cannot provide him a suitable dwelling, let us beseech him to prepare one himself within us. Amen.

[1] St. John, xiv. 16.
[2] De Prædestinatione Sanctorumcapxv.
[3] 1 Cor. i. 28.
[4] Rom. v. 20.
[5] Serm. xxiv. In Nativitate Domini, iv.
[6] St. John, xiv. 23.
[7] Rom. viii. 11.
[8] 1 Cor. vi. 19.
[9] Rom. vi. 19.
[10] 1 Cor. xv. 44.
[11] Rom. viii. 26.
[12] Gal. iv. 6.
[13] Rom. viii. 16.
[14] St. Luke, xi. 9.
[15] Rom. viii. 14.
[16] St. John, xvii. 9.
[17] 1 Cor. ii. 12.
[18] Eph. iv. 30.
[19] Heb. x. 29.
[20] 2 St. Peter, i. 4.
[21] Sess. xiv. cap. iv. De Pœitentia.

 

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

We have seen how necessary for the sanctification of a Christian is the gift of fortitude; but it is not sufficient; there is need of another gift, which completes it. This other gift is Counsel. Fortitude needs direction. The gift of knowledge is not the guide of fortitude, and for this reason: knowledge teaches the soul her last end, and gives her general rules for her conduct; hut it does not bring her light sufficient for the special application of God’s law to particular cases, and for the practical doing of her duty. In those varied circumstances in which we are to be placed, and in the decisions we must then form, we shall have to hearken to the voice of the Holy Ghost, and this voice speaks to us through the gift of counsel. It will tell us, if we are attentive to its speaking, what we must do and what we must not do, what we must say and what we must not say, what we may keep and what we must give up. The Holy Ghost acts upon our understanding by the gift of counsel, as He acts upon our will by the gift of fortitude.

This precious gift bears upon our whole life; for we are continually obliged to be deciding on one of two sides or questions. How grateful, then, should we be to the Holy Ghost, who is ever ready to be our counsellor, if we will but permit Him! And if we follow His direction, what snares He will teach us to avoid! how many illusions He will dispel! bow grand the truths He will show us! But, in order that His inspirations may not be lost upon us, we must be on our guard against such miseries of our nature as the following: natural impulse, which is but too often the sole motive of our acts; rashness, which makes us follow whatever feeling happens to be uppermost in our mind; precipitation, which urges us to judge or act, before we have seen both sides of the case; and lastly, indifference, which makes us decide at haphazard, out of a repugnance we have to take the trouble of examining what is the best course to pursue.

By the gift of counsel, the Holy Ghost saves us from all these evils. He corrects the impetuosity, or, it may be, the apathy, of our temperament. He keeps the soul alive to what is true, and good, and conducive to her real interests. He introduces into the soul that virtue which completes and seasons every other—we mean discretion whereby the other virtues are harmonized and kept from extremes. Under the direction of the gift of counsel, the Christian has nothing to fear; the Holy Ghost takes the whole responsibility. What matters it, therefore, if the world find fault, or criticize, or express surprise, or be scandalized? The world thinks itself wise; but it has not the gift of counsel. Hence it often happens that what is undertaken by its advice, results in the very opposite to what was intended. Was it not of the world that God spoke, when He said:’My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor your ways my ways’?[1]

Let us, then, with all the ardour of our hearts, desire this divine gift, that will preserve us from the danger of being our own guides; but let us remember, it will only dwell in us on the condition of our allowing it to be master. If the Holy Ghost sees that we are not led by worldly principles, and that we acknowledge our own weakness, He will be our counsel; if He find that we are wise in our own eyes, He will withdraw His light, and leave us to ourselves.

O holy Spirit! we would not that Thou shouldst ever abandon us. Sad experience has taught us how fraught with danger is all human prudence. Most cheerfully do we promise Thee to mistrust our own ideas, which are so apt to blind and mislead us. Keep up within us the magnificent gift Thou gavest us at Baptism: be Thou our counsel, yea, unreservedly and for ever! Show me, O Lord, Thy ways, and teach me Thy paths. Direct me in Thy truth, and teach me: for Thou art the God who canst save me; therefore have I waited on Thee, all the day long.[2] We know that we are to be judged for all our works and intentions; but we know, too, that we have nothing to fear so long as we are faithful to Thy guidance. Therefore will we attentively hear what the Lord God will speak in us;[3] we will listen to Thee, O holy Spirit of counsel, whether Thou speakest to us directly Thyself, or whether Thou sendest us to those whom Thou shalt appoint as our guides. Blessed, then, be Jesus, who has sent us such a Counsellor! And blessed be Thou, O holy Spirit, who deignest to give us Thine aid, in spite of all our past resistance!


[1] Is. lv. 8.
[2] Ps. xxiv. 4, 5.
[3] Ibid. lxxxiv. 9.