The mission of the Holy Ghost (2)

Extract from Christ in his Mysteries (1919)

The Holy Spirit came for us; those assembled in the Cenacle represented all the Church. The Spirit comes that He may abide with her for ever. This is Christ’s own promise: Ut maneat vobiscum in aeternum. (Jn 14:16)

The Holy Ghost descended visibly upon the apostles at Pentecost; from that day the Holy Church has been spreading over all the earth; she is the kingdom of Jesus; and it is the Holy Spirit Who, with the Father and the Son, governs His Kingdom. He completes in souls the work of holiness begun by the Redemption. He is, in the Church, what the soul is to the body: the Spirit that animates and quickens it, the Spirit that safeguards unity, whilst His action produces manifold and diverse effects; He brings all Her vigour and all beauty.

See indeed, what abundance of grace and charismata inundate the Church on the morrow of Pentecost. We read in the Acts of the Apostles, the book which is the history of the beginning of the Church, that the Holy Spirit came down visibly upon those who were baptised and filled them with marvellous graces. With what complacency St Paul enumerates them. 

“There are diversities of graces, but the same Spirit … Who worketh all in all. And the manifestation of the Spirit is given unto every man unto profit. To one indeed by the Spirit, is given the word of wisdom: and to another, the word of knowledge … to another, faith in the same Spirit; to another, the grace of healing in one Spirit: to another, the working of miracles; to another, prophecy; to another, the discerning of spirits; to another diverse kinds of tongues … But all these things one and the same Spirit worketh, dividing to every one according as He will.”

1 Corinthians 12:4 ff

It is the Holy Spirit, promised and sent by the Father and by Jesus, Who gave this plenitude and this intensity of supernatural life to the first Christians; dissimilar as they were, they had however, on account of the love that the Holy Spirit poured forth in them, “but one heart and one soul” (Act 4:32).

Since then, the Holy Spirit abides in the Church in a permanent, indefectible manner, therein exercising an unceasing action of life and sanctification: “he shall abide with you, and shall be in you” (Jn 14:17). He renders her infallible in the truth: “When He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will teach you all truth” (Jn 16:13) and will guard you from all error. By His action a wonderful supernatural fruitfulness springs up in the Church; He plants and unfolds in virgins, martyrs and confessors, those heroic virtues which are among the marks of holiness. In a word He is the Spirit Who by His inspirations, works in souls, rendering the Church which Jesus acquired for Himself by His Precious Blood — “holy, and without blemish” — worthy of being presented by Christ to His Father, on the day of final triumph.

Historically and as a visible mission, Pentecost is doubtless ended, but the inward action of the Spirit is unceasing. Its virtue endures forever, its grace remains. The Holy Spirit’s mission in souls is henceforth invisible, but it is nonetheless fruitful.

Look at the Church, on the day when she celebrates the Ascension. What is her prayer, after having hymned the glorification of her Divine Bridegroom and having rejoiced thereat with gladness? 

“O King of Glory, Lord of hosts, Who didst to-day ascend in triumph to the highest heavens, leave us not orphans, but send down upon us the Spirit of truth promised by the Father.”

Antiphon from second Vespers of the Ascension

O most powerful High Priest, now that Thou art seated at the right hand of the Father, and dost enjoy in all fullness Thy victory and power, ask Thy Father as Thou didst promise, to send us another Comforter. By the sufferings of Thy humanity, Thou didst merit this grace for us; the Father will hear Thee because He loves Thee; because Thou art His beloved Son, He will send with Thee the Spirit that He Himself promised when He said, “I will pour forth the Spirit of grace and of prayers upon all the inhabitants of Jerusalem.” Send Him into our souls — in nos — that He may abide there for ever.

The Church prays as if Pentecost was to be renewed for us; she repeats the antiphon Rex gloriae each day during the octave of the Ascension; then, on the day of the solemnity of Pentecost, she multiplies the praises she offers to the Spirit in language full of magnificence and poetry: “Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of Thy faithful and kindle in them the fire of Thy love!” (Versicle of the alleluia of the Mass) “Come, and from the height of heaven send down on us a ray of Thy light! O most blessed light, fill our inmost hearts with Thy radiance! (Sequence: Veni Sancte Spiritus) “Fount of living water, Fire of love, spiritual Unction, come! shed Thy light in our minds, pour forth Thy charity into our hearts, strengthen our weakness with Thy unfailing strength!” (Hymn: Veni Creator)

If the Church, our Mother, places these desires in our souls and these prayers upon our lips, it is not only to recall to us the visible mission which took place on the day of Pentecost but in order that this mystery may be interiorly renewed within us all.

Let us repeat these ardent aspirations with the Church. Above all, let us beseech the Heavenly Father to send us this Spirit. Through sanctifying grace, we are His children; and, as such, our condition urges the Father to pour down His gifts upon us. It is because He loves us as His children that He gives us His Son; Holy Communion is “the Bread of children”: Panis filiorum (Sequence: Lauda Sion); again it is because we are His children that He sends us His Spirit, one of His most perfect gifts: Donum Dei altissimi (Hymn: Veni Creator). Indeed what does St Paul say? — “Because you are sons, God hath sent the Spirit of His Son within your hearts” (Gal 4:6); He is the Spirit of the Son, because He proceeds from the Son as from the Father, and He is sent by both the Father and the Son. This is why, in the Preface for Pentecost, the Church sings, “It is truly meet and just … that we always and in all places, give thanks to Thee, O holy Lord, Father Almighty, eternal God, through Christ Our Lord. Who, ascending above all the heavens, and sitting at Thy right hand, did this day send down upon the children of adoption the Holy Spirit Whom He had promised” — Promissum Spiritum Sanctum hodierna die in filios adoptionis effudit.

So then, it is to all the children of adoption, to all those who are the brethren of Jesus by sanctifying grace that the Holy Spirit is given. And because this Gift is divine and contains every most precious gift of life and of holiness, His effusion in us — an effusion which was manifested with such abundance on the day of Pentecost — “fills the whole world with overflowing joy” — Quapropter profusis gaudiis, totus in orbe terrarum mundus exsultat. (Preface of Pentecost)