June 8: The Holy Spirit – Gift of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus

Based on the Writings of St. Joseph Sebastian Pelczar

Although the Lord Jesus ascended and entered into His heavenly glory, He did not sever His close union with humanity but even strengthened it. Now in an infinite, spiritual realm, the Lord Jesus is able to give Himself at once personally to each and everyone in the world.  He does this by means of the Holy Spirit who is the personifying love between God the Father and God the Son. In the descent of the Holy Spirit and through His action, we can also recognize the gift of Jesus to us, that is, the love of His Divine Heart. St. Joseph Sebastian reminds us that the Holy Spirit enlightens, sanctifies and strengthens the human soul, redeemed by the Blood of Jesus. In fact, through the future merits of Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit was already doing so from the beginning of the world. The Savior promised to send this Holy Spirit upon the Apostles. He repeated this promise later after His Resurrection, and commanded them to wait until they were clothed with power from on high (Lk 24:49). On the fiftieth day after the Resurrection of the Lord, the Holy Spirit descended upon the Apostles gathered together in the Cenacle. There is a great mystery in such a number of days. Fifty days after consuming the paschal lamb and the exodus from Egypt, the Israelites received the old covenant on Mount Sinai.  Similarly, fifty days after the Resurrection of the Savior, who as Lamb of God had led humanity out of the Egypt of sin, the New Covenant of love and grace was promulgated to the whole world. The Holy Spirit gave the Apostles the radiant light of faith and enkindled in them a great fire of love toward God and neighbor.

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The Holy Spirit desires to come to each person and abundantly bestow His gifts, but He requires that we desire and implore them. For this reason He gives us a spirit of prayer, and what is even more, Himself makes intercession within us and for us, in groanings, as the Apostle says, that cannot be expressed in speech (Rom 8:26). All the gifts of the Holy Spirit are closely united with sanctifying grace and only in relation to sanctifying grace can these gifts be received and increased and unfortunately, lost. Mortal sin saddens the Spirit and separates us from Him.

The Holy Spirit strengthens and enlivens our faith, sustains us in our weakness, arms us for battle against evil, and gives us fortitude. He is the Spirit of light and holiness, power and consolation. He enlightens the teaching Church and gives her the gift of infallibility. He enlightens the faithful also by preparing their hearts so that they can believe. He also indirectly acts through people and in the circumstances of life, in joys, as in crosses. He speaks directly through illumination and inspirations.

Through the Holy Spirit, the Lord Jesus renewed the face of the earth, renewing all humanity and through the sacraments the Holy Spirit pours out upon us the sanctifying grace that flows from the wounds of Jesus. As the personified love of the Father and the Son, the Holy Spirit unites us with the Holy Trinity, leading us as Consoler, to the sweetest and most sure sources, particularly the Most Merciful Heart of Jesus that ever beats for us in the Most Blessed Sacrament.

Before each prayer and each important task, let us ask the Holy Spirit for God’s light: Come Holy Spirit, enlighten my mind and enkindle my heart with the fire of your love.

Further Reading on God the Holy Spirit:

The Paraclete, The Life of my Soul

O Eternal Paraclete, the light and the life of my soul.

My God, I adore you for taking on yourself the charge of sinners; of those, who not only cannot profit you, but who continually grieve and profane you. You have taken on yourself the office of a minister, and that for those who did not ask for it. I adore you for your incomprehensible condescension in ministering to me. I know and feel, O my God, that you might have left me, as I wished to be left, to go my own way, to go straight forward in my will­fulness and self-trust to hell. You might have left me in that enmity to you which is in itself death. I would at length have died the second death and would have had no one to blame for it but myself. But you, O eternal Father, have been kinder to me than I am to myself. You have given me, you have poured out upon me your grace, and thus I live.

My God, I adore you, O eternal Paraclete, the light and the life of my soul. You might have been content with merely giving me good suggestions, inspiring grace, and helping from without. You might thus have led me on, cleansing me with your inward virtue, when I changed my state from this world to the next. But in your infinite compassion you have from the first entered into my soul, and taken possession of it. You have made it your temple. You dwell in me by your grace in an ineffable way, unit­ing me to yourself and the whole company of angels and saints. Nay, as some have held, you are present in me, not only by your grace, but by your eternal substance, as if, though I did not lose my own individuality, in some sense I was even here absorbed in God—as though you had taken possession of my very body, this earthly, fleshly, wretched tabernacle; even my body is your temple. O astonishing, awesome truth! I believe it, I know it, O my God.

O my God, can I sin when you are so intimately with me? Can I forget who is with me, who is in me? Can I expel a divine inhabitant by that which he abhors more than anything else, which is the one thing in the whole world that is offensive to him, the only thing that is not his? Would not this be a kind of sin against the Holy Spirit? My God, I have a double security against sinning: first, the dread of such a profanation of all you are to me in your very presence; and next, because I do trust that that presence will preserve me from sin. My God, you will go from me, if I sin; and I shall be left to my own miser­able self. God forbid! I will use what you have given me; I will call on you when tried and tempted. I will guard against the sloth and carelessness into which I am con­tinually falling. Through you I will never forsake you.   

—Saint John Henry Cardinal Newman (Meditations and Devotions, Christian Classics, 1975, 400-402)

Commentary on St. John Henry Newman’s “The Paraclete, The Life of my Soul

In the life of almost every Christian there are times when we resist God and want nothing to do with Him.  Sometimes, like Saul of Tarsus, we oppose Him with force, and at other times we try to sneak away, like Jonah.  But when we come to ourselves, as the Prodigal Son does in Jesus’ parable, how eternally grateful we are to God for not giving up on us, even though we had given up on Him.  

For many people, God is an unseen force acting in secret and subtle ways.  Even Christians can fall into the error of doubting God’s personhood, especially in regards to the third Person of the Godhead, the Holy Spirit.  But, as Saint John Henry Newman identifies in his meditation, “The Paraclete, the Life of my Soul,” the Holy Spirit is God with us; truly, He is closer to us than we are to ourselves.  

God’s relentless pursuit of sinners is the action of the Holy Spirit who reveals his intimate love for us. St. Newman begins his meditation, “God, I adore Thee for taking on Thee the charge of sinners; of those, who not only cannot profit Thee, but who continually grieve and profane Thee. Thou hast taken on Thyself the office of a minister, and that for those who did not ask for it.”  The Holy Spirit stoops down even to the very sinful depths of our souls. And while no one respects our human freedom more than the God who created it, God is not content until He has pleaded, persuaded, and loved every sinner back to Himself.

We can imagine God’s desire to bring us back to himself when we read stories like the Prodigal Son, but the reality is more powerful than the story.  When we return to the Lord, we do not simply dwell in His house – He takes up residence in our souls. Newman writes, “But in Thine infinite compassion Thou hast from the first entered into my soul, and taken possession of it. Thou hast made it Thy Temple. Thou dwellest in me by Thy grace in an ineffable way, uniting me to Thyself and the whole company of angels and saints.”  We cannot begin to understand how God possesses us without destroying our individuality, but as the life and sustenance of our souls, He is nearer to us than our own breath.

God’s intimacy with us has another effect, Newman says: that of keeping us close to Him.  We are prone to wander, as the hymn goes, but the action of the Holy Spirit can keep us from sin.  Newman writes, “O my God, can I sin when Thou art so intimately with me? … My God, I have a double security against sinning; first the dread of such a profanation of all Thou art to me in Thy very Presence; and next because I do trust that that Presence will preserve me from sin.”  

In this meditation Newman expresses two attitudes toward repentance, both of which God accepts in His mercy. The first is a contrition based on fear of punishment, or losing God; the second, and more perfect contrition, is the desire to change for love of God.  Moved by the Holy Spirit, Newman was contrite for past sins and tried to overcome any defects that would keep him from remaining in union with God.

Like Saint Newman, we, too, want to keep the Holy Spirit close.  Let’s thank Him for not letting us wander too far from Him, and pray for our loved ones who still need His gentle prompting to return.

David Warren @ http://www.johnhenrycardinalnewman.com           

Prayer of St. John Henry Newman

Dear Lord, help me to spread Thy fragrance everywhere I go. Flood my soul with Thy spirit and life. Penetrate and possess my whole being so utterly that all my life may only be a radiance of Thine. Shine through me and be so in me that every soul I come in contact with may feel Thy presence in my soul. Let them look up and see no longer me but only Thee, O Lord!

Stay with me, and then I shall begin to shine as Thou shinest; so to shine as to be a light to others. The light O Lord will be all from Thee; none of it will be mine; It will be Thou, shining on others through me. Let me thus praise Thee in the way Thou dost love best, by shining on those around me.  Let me preach Thee without preaching, not by words but by my example, by the catching force, the sympathetic influence of what I do, the evident fullness of the love my heart bears to Thee!’

Holy Is His Name, Sung by our Sisters

St. Joseph Sebastian Pelczar, Founder of the Sister Servants of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus and Bishop of Przemysl, Poland (1842-1924)

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