Touching the Holy Spirit– part 1

Before, during, and now—after Pentecost, I feel so impelled to search out a deeper understanding of the Holy Spirit. A year ago, inspired by Venerable Conchita’s words on the Holy Spirit, actually words by Christ to her about the Holy Spirit, I put together a talk on the Holy Spirit: her text, text from the Catholic Catechism, and a wonderful little pamphlet, an adaptation of the teaching of St. Thomas Aquinas on the gifts, written by Father Peter John Cameron, O.P. published by the Knights of Columbus, 2002. [See the full, printable pamphlet: http://www.kofc.org/un/en/resources/cis/cis360.pdf ]

Having worked my way through this teaching with my little Soul Food group, when I came upon Venerable Archbishop Luis Martinez’ book, I glanced through it, but I was still digesting the first material, so I lay it aside. TRUE DEVOTION TO THE HOLY SPIRIT is an abridged translation [269 pp] of Archbishop Martinez original, THE SANCTIFIER [368 pp].holy-spirit

I was moved when I read what Jesus spoke about the Holy Spirit to Conchita: “All the good a soul accomplishes, it carries out under His inspiration, in His light, by His grace and His help. And yet He is not invoked, He is not thanked for His direct and intimate action in each soul. If you invoke the Father, if you love Him, it is through the Holy Spirit. If you love Me ardently, if you know Me, if you serve Me, if you imitate Me, if you make yourself but one with My wishes and with My heart, it is through the Holy Spirit” [Diary, Jan. 26, 1915].

Yet the Holy Spirit is hardest for us to understand. We identify with Jesus because He is God and man—He is like us in being man. If you think about it, most Christians feel closer to Christ than to any other person in the Blessed Trinity. The Father, because He is FATHER, most Christians can also identify with—He is probably the second most often invoked member of the Blessed Trinity. But what can we make of the Holy Spirit?

The Church gives us icons: the cloud, pillar of fire, tongues of fire, mighty wind, water, dove. Our Delightful Guest confuses us though we believe in His significance. Ask Catholics what they know about the Holy Spirit and they will cite Pentecost, tongues, the above images, Comforter, Consoler, perhaps Sanctifier, but they don’t really understand much else. This Mystery we have entered so poorly, and because of the obscurity, we stay away. We want the power, but we don’t understand it.

How can we become intimate with the Holy Spirit? Jesus has told Conchita that this is the era of the Holy Spirit—but He is so unknown and unappreciated! I want to touch and to enter into the Holy Spirit in the same intimate way that I have touched the Sacred Heart and entered the Heart of the Father. So this week I picked up Archbishop Martinez’ book TRUE DEVOTION TO THE HOLY SPIRIT where I will begin again, entering, hopefully, at a deeper level than I did a year ago.

I was also inspired by the recent posts on Anthony Mullen’s DIVINE ANTIDOTE [Flame of Love blog]—what wonderful inspirational posts on the gifts and the Holy Spirit. He whet my appetite for more! [See his link on the sidebar.]

As Jesus told Conchita, Martinez also tells us: “Our first intimacy is with the Holy Spirit” [p. 31]. As Scripture tells us, “No one can say Jesus is Lord except in the Holy Spirit” [1 Cor. 12,13]. His ministrations to us are so deep, yet secretive, that we are not even aware of them. He is our first and most basic Gift.

Archbishop Martinez explains: “The Gift of God will come to each one of them [us] as it came to the Virgin Mary, and since, after Love itself, the Gift of divine love is Jesus, the Holy Spirit will bring to each soul the divine fecundity of the Father. In each, the Word will take flesh mystically, and Jesus will sing the poem of His divine mysteries; and each through Him, will go to the Father. Nobody goes to the Father except through Him” [32-33]. The Holy Spirit transforms us into Christ that we may go the Father.

What is the supreme prayer in the heart of the Mass? “It is reserved to the priest, by virtue of his ordination, to proclaim the Eucharist Prayer, which of its nature is the high point of the whole celebration:”
1 Through him, with him, in him,
3 in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
4 all glory and honor is yours,
2 almighty Father,
5 for ever and ever.
[http://www.catholic.com/quickquestions/should-we-be-praying-through-him-with-him-in-him-aloud-with-the-priest]

How well does this prayer express the heart of our theology! I have come to relish so much this prayer, to think of it as the “Communion of the Father” as He receives us in Christ in the unity of the Holy Spirit. But the prayer is possible only in the unity of the Holy Spirit.

In an earlier post, “To Be Jesus Christ” [which, by the way, is the name of another book by Archbishop Martinez!] I remarked: “Before we can be Jesus Crucified, we must be Jesus. How—the kiss of the Holy Spirit. Just as the Holy Spirit made Jesus incarnate in the womb of the Virgin Mary, the Holy Spirit transforms those whom He anoints into Christ—we are progressively transformed into Jesus. Regarding the Holy Spirit, “my young dove” as Conchita affectionately called Him, “the heart of Jesus is the real nest of the Holy Spirit.” Wherever “the little dove” nests becomes the Heart of Jesus.”

Do you realize that right before the consecration of the bread and wine in the Sacrifice of the Mass, the priest calls on the Holy Spirit? This part of the Mass is called the EPICLESIS:
The General Instruction of the Roman Missal says in no. 79 c: In the Epiclesis, by means of particular invocations, the Church implores the power of the Holy Spirit that the gifts offered by human hands be consecrated, that is, become Christ’s Body and Blood, and that the spotless Victim to be received in Communion be for the salvation of those who will partake of it.

In all forms of the Eucharistic Prayer, the Epiclesis is evident because of the priest’s gesture. From the orans or praying position with his hands outstretched, he lowers his hands and holds them, palms down, over the bread and wine as he makes the invocation. Then he makes a Sign of the Cross over the gifts with his right hand. [http://www.catholicweekly.com.au/article.php?classID=3&subclassID=67&articleID=4217&class=Copyright&subclass=]

Truly, wherever the little dove nests becomes the Heart of Jesus: in Mary, in us, on the altars of the Church. Archbishop Martinez tells us also: “To glorify the Father fully, it is necessary to be transformed into Jesus, because the glorification of the Father is His work, and ‘in order to do the work of Jesus, it is necessary to be Jesus,’ according to the profound words of Monsignor Gay.” [Martinez 34]

Archbishop Martinez explains: “The Holy Spirit takes us to Jesus; He makes us Jesus by transforming us into Him. This is His work; nobody can be conformed to Jesus except in the unity of the Holy Spirit….This is the divine cycle in the sanctification of souls: nobody can go to the Father except through Jesus; nobody can go to Jesus except through the Holy Spirit. Through Jesus, with Jesus, and in Jesus, souls glorify the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit forever and ever” [emphasis is mine, p. 37].

Spiritual marriage is to be utterly filled with the Holy Spirit, our first Gift, our Delightful Guest who loves us as we love Him: “Each day, our thoughts and our acts get nearer and nearer to love’s source, until the thought of God and His loving presence becomes a divine obsession….If we are to obtain intimate life with the Holy Spirit and to have the sweet presence of the divine Guest, there is only one definitive and efficacious means: it is love” [77].

“When God wishes to fill a heart with His greatness, all that is created must go out of it. This emptiness is demanded by the Holy Spirit, who aspires to fullness of possession….”[59]. “The delightful Guest of our soul aspires to this union, and the mystery of it is accomplished by the theological virtues: faith, hope, and charity” [59].

What I learned from Archbishop Martinez, or have entered into more deeply, is that the intimacy I now enjoy with the Trinity comes from the Holy Spirit, that first Gift, the Divine Guest who jealously guards His beloved [me!]—He aspires to fullness of possession. All the sweetness, the joy comes from His presence which, like the most fragrance anointing, overflows heart, mind, and spirit. This takes nothing away from Jesus, the Sacred Heart, the beloved Abba—all is one in the unity of the Spirit! One treasure. One pearl of great price! As I wrote in my Trinitarian spiritual communion: “The Holy Spirit, that little dove Who nests in my heart, groans with the thirst that we be One.” “We” is me plunged into the bosom of the Trinity.

[We will next explore the theological virtues which enable us to TOUCH God.]

TRINITARIAN SPIRITUAL COMMUNION:

As I gaze on my adorable Abba
through your eyes, my Jesus,
I am filled with longing for Him.
The Holy Spirit, that little dove
Who nests in my heart,
groans with the thirst that we be One.
Feed me, my Jesus, lest I die of thirst.
Fill me with the loving gaze
of Your Sacred Heart,
the loving gaze of My Father
who melts me to tears.

“And now, Lord, what is there to wait for? In You rests all my hope” –Ps. 39,8

“And now, Lord, what is there to wait for?
In You rests all my hope.” Ps. 39,8

I came upon this scripture several years ago while praying the Liturgy of the Hours. I return to it again and again because of its rich content—the way it speaks to my soul.

Think of all the “end time” conversations you have had, listened to, or read, including current prophecy and the horrific current events which seem to portend major effects on the horizon. I don’t know about you, but it seems I have been waiting for something major to happen for years. Our human anxieties get the better of us at times; always the fear. Think of Mark Mallett’s recent remark about a struggle he had with the demon of fear. He tells us, “…[God] delivered me from the pressing darkness of this demon of fear (who is still barking, but is now back on his leash).  [Please see his latest post:  “Belle, and Training for Courage” http://www.markmallett.com/blog/belle-and-training-for-courage/#more-19315]

It’s the waiting that is so hard, not knowing what to expect, fearing the worse, etc. We keep knocking back the demon of fear, and though we may get him back on his chain, there he is—barking in the background!

So, the scripture: “And now, Lord, what is there to wait for? In You rests all my hope.” Don’t look at the horizon; look at God, at Christ. Whatever is coming can’t possibly contend with Christ who is here now. Even if what you think you are waiting for is heaven itself, heaven is already here—[though not visible because of the veil]. If all our hope rests in Christ, our eyes, the eyes of our heart, should not be looking anywhere else but on Him. If our eyes are focused on Him, we cannot see BLAC K LAMBjesus-the-good-shepherdanything that can frighten us.

That phrase:  “All my hope rests in Him” describes so powerfully  the weight of our hope placed in Him and in no one or nothing else.  All, all, all.  With these words, I sink deeply into Him, into His strength and love, into His unfailing arms, into His perfect fidelity.

I also see in this scripture the answer to the deep longing for God which at times grows painful for me. Waiting for Him, to see Him, to be united completely, feels intolerable. Waiting, and waiting. Then I have to remind myself, “What am I waiting for—in Him lies all my hope, and He is here now.”

This thought reminds me of the wonderful line which I found in The Simple Path to Union of the Love Crucified Covenant Community:
“…so the heart of the matter is always expressed in these terms: I proclaim to you a great joy, God is here, you are beloved, and this stands firm forever.”

Sometimes I think, “But will I be able to stand true, faithful to Christ and the Church, persevering to the end? I know my own weakness, vacillations, and inconstancy only too well.”

I came across a little manuscript online: An Unpublished Manuscript On Purgatory, a journal kept by a religious [in France, I believe] from 1874-1890 which records her extensive relationship and dialogues with a soul in purgatory, a former sister in the same order [and convent]. I am convinced of the document’s authenticity. [Read about it here: https://www.catholicculture.org/culture/library/view.cfm?recnum=6253

What is extraordinary is the simplicity in which the manuscript is written and the amount of sound spiritual direction included in the document. It is in this manuscript that the nun in purgatory tells her living friend: “When a soul seeks God and out of pure love desires nothing else, He never lets that soul be deceived.” Somehow this short piece of information is so consoling and reassuring to me. If I seek God, desiring nothing else, God will never let me be deceived. I’m not worried about my weakness or inconstancy, because His power is perfected in my weakness—but so many are grievously deceived today! If only I may not be deceived, I will persevere, with His grace.

What an extraordinary little prayer! Full of confidence, hope, love, and trust:
“And now, Lord, what is there to wait for?
In You rests all my hope.”

And this one, full of faith and confidence in final perseverance:
Rejoice my soul! “God is here, you are beloved, and this stands firm forever.”

“Jesus is personal…” –Father Cleo Milano

Jesus is personal….
“For God so loved the world that He did not send us an email or phone call or letter, but gave us His only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life. [John 3:17]

Today Father Cleo Milano of Our Lady of Mercy gavesafe_in_the_arms_of_Jesus us an astounding message: JESUS IS PERSONAL. Of course, I knew this; but I did not realize it in quite the same way I did today. The idea sprang from the Acts of the Apostles [15:22-31]. The early Church was in a quandary about whether or not the Gentiles who converted should be held accountable to keep Mosaic practice.

After a synod in which all the apostles including Paul and Barnabas agreed, “It is the decision of the Holy Spirit and of us not to place on you any burden that is not necessary…” this earliest of councils did something extraordinary. They wrote a simple letter, sending Judas and Silas to convey the message also by word of mouth. Not merely in an impersonal letter, but eye to eye delivery, person to person—the apostles would be personal.

They would be personal in healing and anointing, in the laying on of hands. They would be personal in baptism, in praying for the dying. Always personal.

Because Jesus is personal. He came to us as a beautiful baby boy. He comes to us in the Eucharist, food that He places in our hands or in our very mouths, food to eat. It is not enough that He descends to our altar-table, that He is revealed by His priests. Oh no—He leaves the table to come to each of us PERSONALLY.

In His life on earth, Jesus did not stay home and pray for us at a distance—as He could have done. No, He walked the dusty roads, for miles, hot in the summer, cold in the winter—whatever it would take to get close to people. Then, and now He wants to look into people’s eyes, to touch them personally. To listen to them, to speak. He gets up close.

Jesus is personal.
He died to consolidate that intimacy, that extraordinary intimacy because He wants to be one with us in eternal espousal.

Jesus is personal.
If we are one, the deepest desire of His heart, for which He prayed so earnestly on the night before He died, then we are His living hosts come down from our altar. We too must be personal, looking with His love into someone’s eyes, speaking the truth in love to one close to us, touching with gentleness—as tender as we are personal.

In this is the power and presence of the Holy Spirit. St. John said in his first letter:
1 What was from the beginning,
what we have heard,
what we have seen with our eyes,

what we looked upon
and touched with our hands
concerns the Word of life—
2 for the life was made visible;
we have seen it and testify to it
and proclaim to you the eternal life
that was with the Father and was made visible to us
3 what we have seen and heard
we proclaim now to you,
so that you too may have fellowship with us;
for our fellowship is with the Father
and with his Son, Jesus Christ.

We read also in 1 John 4:2-3: “This is how you can know the Spirit of God: every spirit that acknowledges Jesus Christ come in the flesh belongs to God, 3 and every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus does not belong to God.”

Pope Francis urges his priests, for this reason: “to bring the healing power of God’s grace to everyone in need, to stay close to the marginalized and to be ‘shepherds living with the smell of the sheep.’

“Those priests ‘who do not go out of themselves’ by being mediators between God and men can ‘gradually become intermediaries, managers,’ he said March 28 during the chrism Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica.

“When a priest “doesn’t put his own skin and own heart on the line, he never hears a warm, heartfelt word of thanks from those he has helped, the pope said in his homily.

“’This is precisely the reason why some priests grow dissatisfied, lose heart and become in a sense collectors of antiquities or novelties — instead of being shepherds living with ‘the smell of the sheep,’ he said.

“’This is what I am asking you,’ he said with emphasis, looking up from his prepared text, ‘be shepherds with the smell of sheep,so that people can sense the priest is not just concerned with his own congregation, but is also a fisher of men.”

How else can a priest be a “shepherd with the smell of sheep” but by living close to the sheep, sleeping with them, touching them, carrying them, when need be?

These powerful exhortations apply to all of us: To be up close and personal, to live with the smell of the sheep, to put our own skins and hearts on the line, to be vulnerable, and thus to be intimate.

“Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.” –JN 14:28-29

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.
Not as the world gives do I give it to you.
Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.”  Jn 14:28-29

Anxiety. Worry. You know how these work on us. The mind settles on some problem—for me this week it was a financial problem based on a leaking roof plus concern for a possible serious plumbing problem in my son’s home—inadequate funds. The mind takes hold like a bull terrier and will not turn loose. You pray, telling God that you trust Him. You WANT to trust him, but the mind will not turn loose, chews it and chews it, even at night when you need to be sleeping.

For years I have depended on ABANDONMENT TO DIVINE PROVIDENCE, that wonderful little classic by Father Jean-Pierre deCaussade, S.J. His teachings have been my backbone for years. Therefore this morning I took with me to adoration my notes. DeCaussade and I needed to revisit his words of wisdom and devotion to God’s Will.

What most confounded me was this: How in the world can a devoted Christian who spends over two hours a day in Mass, prayer, adoration and Eucharistic worship, etc.,  who purports to live only for God, be having a trust problem on this level? I know very well that anxiety and worry show clearly that I am afraid, that my trust is not yet deep enough.

How this grieves me! And how it concerns me with so much that is happening in the world, with the Storm, with the coming days of so much greater desperation, hardship, persecution. If I quake with these little problems, how will I fare with much greater ones? I look at the poor people of Nepal who wish they had one leak in their roof or a plumbing problem to deal with!

What does Jesus know better than our weakness? So small are we that we provide awesome room for His power! We never realize deeply enough His tenderness for us. Over the last couple of days I told myself over and over, “Not a sparrow falls without the Father’s knowledge. Every hair of my head is numbered. Every least detail of my life is in his understanding and compassionate Heart.”

Finally, in Adoration, I read very slowly and soaked myself in the affirming words of Father de Caussade:
[See my talk on ABANDONMENT TO DIVINE PROVIDENCE, https://soulfoodministries.wordpress.com/?s=Abandonment%5D

“Embrace the present moment as an ever-flowing    source of holiness.”
“God speaks to every individual through what happens to them moment by moment…”

The duty of the present moment, the sacrament of the moment—only one moment at a time should be the focus of our attention and devotion. This is the wisdom of Father de Caussade, and has been the rule of my life for years now. Yet still I need to be reminded. To sit and deeply reflect. How quickly we forget!

No matter what the moment brings, joy or sorrow, we can bear it, embrace it as God’s Will, the love of our life. Sometimes the moment will present to us the daily cross that He bids us to pick up and carry. At other times, we will be filled with jubilation or consolation. Whatever the moment brings, it is like a sacrament [sacrament of the moment] because that moment unites us in loving obedience to Him. That moment came to us directly from the Will of a loving, all-wise Father who wills only our good.

Father de Caussade urges us: “To be satisfied with the present moment is to relish and adore the divine will moving through all we have to do and suffer as events crowd in upon us.”

I left Mass filled with His peace. Anxiety quelled—as least for now! As Mark Mallet said recently after a lengthy battle with a demon of fear, “[God] delivered me from the pressing darkness of this demon of fear (who is still barking, but is now back on his leash)! “
[http://www.markmallett.com/blog/standing-with-christ/#more-19112].

God does not want us to have a spirit of fear, “For God did not give us a spirit of cowardice [anxiety and fear] but rather of power and love and self-control.” 2 Tim. 1,7 The peace of JESUS is not anything like that peace which the world gives. The world’s peace is constantly shifting, unreliable, and unstable. The peace of Christ is unshakeable, indivisible, indestructible—but we must constantly claim it and live in it! Trust! Trust! Trust! How can we not trust so loving and tender a Savior?

I am determined. I will not let my heart be troubled or afraid, even if I have to go back to de Caussade and read him every day!

042 In the Arms of God (AA) Bronze

PRAYER
My adorable Father, in union with Jesus,
I abandon my will into your Divine Will
in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Give me the trust and courage to live  one moment at a time,
to live for You the duty of the moment—whatever it brings,
to relish in the sacrament of every moment our unbroken communion.

I will not be afraid, my Abba,
because in every single moment of my life
I am cherished–wrapped in Your tender arms.