"And I beheld, and heard the voice of one eagle flying through the midst of heaven,
saying with a loud voice: Woe, woe, woe to the inhabitants of the earth....
[Apocalypse (Revelation) 8:13]

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Heavenly Gift of God Most High

Heavenly Gift of God Most High

Father Campbell 

On the First Pentecost God kept His promise to the Church. Already prepared by our Lord Jesus Christ, and given life as blood and water flowed from the side of our dying Savior, the Church received the promised Gift of the Father and the Son, as the disciples prayed with Mary in the upper room after the Ascension of the Lord. With the sound of a mighty rushing wind, the Holy Ghost, the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity, descended in the form of tongues of fire upon each of them. Filled with “power from on high,” the Apostles went out with courage to preach the message of salvation to a waiting world. 

Without the Holy Ghost the Church is without life. St. Augustine considered the Holy Ghost the soul of the Church: “What the soul is to the human body the Holy Spirit is to the Body of Christ, the Church. The Holy Spirit is active in the whole Church in the same way that the soul animates all the members of the human body” (St. Augustine, Sermon 267, 4).

Pope Pius XII elaborates on this:

“If we examine closely this divine principle of life and power given by Christ, in so far as it constitutes the very source of every gift and created grace, we easily perceive that it is nothing else than the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete, who proceeds from the Father and the Son, and who is called in a special way the ‘Spirit of Christ’ or the ‘Spirit of the Son.’ …[A]fter Christ's glorification on the Cross, His Spirit is communicated to the Church in an abundant outpouring, so that she, and her individual members, may become daily more and more like to our Savior. It is the Spirit of Christ that has made us adopted sons of God in order that one day ‘we all beholding the glory of the Lord with open face may be transformed into the same image from glory to glory.’” (Pope Pius XII, Mystici Corporis Christi, June 29, 1943).

The Sacrament of Confirmation is an occasion for this ‘abundant outpouring,’ enabling those who receive it to share in the special graces of the original Pentecost. What a joyful occasion, and filled with solemnity at the same time! We may not end up preaching in the public square like St. Peter did, but the Paraclete comes with His special gifts, seven of them: Wisdom, Knowledge, Understanding, Counsel, Fortitude, Piety, and Fear of the Lord. He helps us to become “strong and perfect Christians, and soldiers of Jesus Christ.”

“You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you,” Jesus said to His Apostles, “and you shall be witnesses for me in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and even to the very ends of the earth” (Acts1:8). Today we are His witnesses, and for that we need the power of the Holy Ghost.

The Holy Ghost is also called the Sanctifier, the One who makes us holy. If we are obedient to Him, He brings forth in our lives the ‘fruits’ of the Spirit, the evidence of the holiness of the faithful Christian: charity (love), joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, generosity, gentleness, faithfulness, modesty, self-control, and chastity. If we are lacking any of these we must pray fervently to the Holy Ghost for His assistance.

And how does one pray? The Holy Ghost teaches us how to pray: “But… the Spirit also helps our weakness,” says St. Paul, “For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself pleads for us with unutterable groanings. And he who searches the hearts knows what the Spirit desires, that he pleads for the saints according to God” (Rom.8:26,27).

Led by the Holy Ghost we are caught up in the mysterious inner life of the Holy Trinity: “For whoever are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. Now you have not received a spirit of bondage so as to be again in fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons, by virtue of which we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’ The Spirit himself gives testimony to our spirit that we are sons of God” (Rom.8:14-16).

The Holy Ghost is the Spirit of Truth, Who calls to mind all that Jesus Christ Himself taught us. He illuminates the Holy Scriptures for those who read them in obedience to the Church’s guidance. He guides the Church and keeps it in the truth. He assists the true Vicar of Christ, the pope, in making judgments concerning faith and morals.  

Could the Holy Ghost desert the Church? Never! The Divine Paraclete, the Spirit of the Father and the Son, will be with the Church until the end of time. This does not mean, however, that the Holy Ghost will remain where there is infidelity within the Church. But although much of the ‘contemporary church’ is like a body without a soul, falling apart, ‘dismantling itself,’ as Paul VI acknowledged, the Holy Ghost is still the Comforter and the strength of those who are obedient to Him and who keep the true faith.

The Holy Ghost is our “Sweet anointing from above,” as we sing in the great hymn, Come, Holy Ghost. As St. John tells us, we must take care to abide in Him:

“These things I have written to you concerning those who lead you astray. And as for you, let the anointing you have received from him, dwell in you, and you have no need that anyone teach you. But as his anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true and is no lie, even as it has taught you, abide in him” (1Jn.2:26,27).

Come, Holy Ghost, Creator blest,
And in our souls take up thy rest;
Come with thy grace and heavenly aid
To fill the hearts which thou hast made. 

O Comforter, to thee we cry,
Thou heavenly gift of God Most High,
Thou fount of life and fire of love,
And sweet anointing from above.

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