Monday, January 30, 2012

John of Avila: Third Sermon on the Holy Ghost

I share with you some highlights of St. John of Avila's third sermon on the Holy Ghost.  These excerpts are taken from The Holy Ghost (Scepter, 1959).  What the saint writes of our essential need for the Holy Ghost and recognition of the Trinity is crucial to what I have attempted to share of some insights gained while in a profound state during Mass.

While extolling all the aid the Holy Spirit will provide us, St. John of Avila asks, "What must we do so that we may have Him?"  He answers, thus:  "Let us go to the most holy Virgin.  She is deeply loved by the Holy Ghost and He by her....He that was from eternity made Himself mortal; He that was rich became poor: and all this was accomplished through the power, the operation, the direction and the wisdom of the Holy Ghost....Let us beseech her who is so loved by the Holy Ghost to obtain for us the grace to speak of this important guest."

Then John of Avila asks his listening--and us his reading--audience, "Have you received the Holy Ghost?" Do you possess Him within you?  Blessed be the soul who has received Him!  Blessed be he who by believing has received this guest!  He gives Himself to man in return for man's faith in Him....Do you long for Him to be infused into your hearts?...It is not enough to ask Him to come, to wish to receive Him, unless your actions merit His coming to you. Your deeds must be in harmony with your conversations and your desires, if this great guest is to come and dwell in your soul."

Jesus tried to explain to the apostles why He was physically leaving their presence--He Who had been among them in person, comforting, fortifying, and teaching them His doctrine.  'I go, and I will ask the Father; and He shall give you another Paraclete in my place.'  Who is this Paraclete?  'The Spirit of Truth who will dwell within you, and teach you not wrong ideas and false doctrines, but the truth!'"

Again we are reminded of the words of Jesus: "If any one love Me, he will keep My word.  And my Father will love him, and we will come and make our abode with him."  John of Avila exhorts us to ponder these words and carry out this order to love Him.  "'He who keeps my word, loves me.'  What does this mean?  How am I to keep His word?  How am I to show my love for Him?  You must love Him; and to show that you truly love Him, you must reject and renounce all that prevents you from loving and serving Him worthily."  This takes effort, but Jesus tells us that the Holy Spirit will help us.

When it seems impossible that anyone other than Jesus Christ could ever console the apostles if He were not with them, Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit would come to comfort them.  As St. John of Avila paraphrases, we, too, come to be consoled.  "'Then you will no longer grieve because I go.  Another Paraclete will come equal with Me, who will comfort and cherish you even more than I.'  Only God could heal this wound, and this is a powerful argument to believe in the divinity of the Holy Ghost.  Because if the Holy Ghost were less than God, He could not comfort the apostles in the sorrow they felt at Christ's absence.  Jesus Christ is God:  If the Paraclete who was to be sent were less than Christ, He could not be God....It is clear, then, that since Christ said He would send them a Paraclete who would be able to console them, as He could, this Paraclete must be God, as Jesus Christ was God.  No one but the Holy Ghost could fill the void in their hearts, for He, like Jesus Christ, is God."

And the following seems, to me, to express quite clearly the availability and type of union that all may have with God--although the effects of union come in various ways and often not with visible signs.  "How shall I explain...the relationship the Holy Ghost wants to establish with your soul?  It is not incarnation exactly; but a state where the soul is united with God in a union so close and so complete, that it resembles incarnation.  The incarnation was a union in which the divine Word united in His one person the divine and human natures.  But this is not the case in our union with the Holy Ghost, for we are joined to Him in a union of grace.  The former union is called the incarnation of the Word, and the other may be called spiritualization by the Holy Ghost.

"Today the Holy Ghost preaches the same message that Jesus Christ preached, teaches the same doctrine, consoles and delights man as He did.  What more could you ask for?  What more could you look for?  What more do you want?  For you have within you a counselor, a tutor, a director.  One who will guide you, advise you, encourage you, put you on the right road, who will accompany you in everything you do, and everywhere you go.  Finally, if you do not lose sanctifying grace, He will go by your side so that you may neither do, say nor think anything that is not inspired or directed by Him.  He will be your faithful and true friend; if you do not leave Him, He will never leave you."

Well, the Holy Spirit is God, as Jesus Christ is God, as the Father is God.  Thus they are His Real Presence, the Trinity.  John of Avila repeats again that "As Christ during His life on earth performed marvelous cures among the sick who needed Him and asked for His help, so this Teacher and Paraclete performs spiritual cures among those souls in whom He dwells and with whom He is in union through grace....Christ, as man, went among men performing these holy deeds, which He oculd not have done if He were not God, so we say that they were the work of God and Man.  And we call the wonders accomplished by the Holy Ghost in the heart where He dwells, the work of the Holy Ghost and man, though man here plays a lesser part."

Further, St. John of Avila writes exemplifying what Jesus was trying to explain to the woman at the well.  "...Christ, Our Lord, has said, 'If any man thirst, let him come to Me and drink.'  And if a man comes to Him and drinks of the water of the Holy Ghost and receives this Paraclete, this divine breath of the Holy Ghost, he will be filled, he will be comforted, he will be taught, he will be preserved from all error and doubt.

St. Bernard says that He will teach you everything; sometimes when alone with you--at other times through the mouth of another.  He is anxious to instruct, console, help and strengthen you.  If there were many disciples who wished to be taught this doctrine, who wished to study in this school, they would all be able to learn of this gentle Spirit, source of all wisdom....  John of Avila adds, "but in this school only they will profit by the teaching of the Holy Ghost and be accepted as His disciples...them that are weaned from the milk, that are drawn away from the breasts of their mothers: these are taught by the Holy Ghost.  He is in communication with them; He gives Himself to them.  Have the courage, brethren, to wean yourselves for God's sake!...Wean yourselves from your own will, from your own judgment!  Renounce and depart from your nature, your own opinions!

Now St. John of Avila asks a most important question:  What use is there in being baptized and believing in Jesus Christ if I have not the Holy Ghost?...As circumcision was the outward sign of the Jew, so is baptism the outward sign of the Christian, but neither baptism nor anything else can save you if you have not the Holy Ghost....Those who are baptized and have not the Holy Ghost are children of God, but not legitimate children....

"Who desires Him?...In veneration of the Holy Ghost...from this time forward, reverence and honor this Guest, serve Him faithfully; even if sorrows come to you, try to work to make Him happy; even if you have to sleep on the floor, give Him your bed; and even if you have to suffer hardship, do what you can to please Him.  For love and reverence of Him, I ask you to honor Him.  Do not give yourself over to the devil!  Do not exchange this Paraclete for anyone!  You cannot live without either the Holy Ghost or the devil.  What a difference between these two guests!  Let us look attentively at the them you should perform works of mercy and do good to everyone you can at this time. They were locked in, together with the blessed Virgin Mary; call her, win her over, as that other widow importuned and won over Elijah."

"...He will come now to those who call on Him with piety.  It is indeed amazing to see the gentleness and love with which He taught the apostles to preach and pray.  St. Peter says, 'Brethren, you have sinned; know your sins and do penance for them, for the Lord will pardon you and send you a gift.  Get ready your hearts to receive it.'  May God reveal your hearts to you, your inward disposition so that you may recognize your sins...and make you weep for them!  With your whole heart call on Our Lord, Jesus Christ, and if you do this the Holy Ghost will come to you.

"He is pure: how could He come to me who am unclean?  That is the question.  Why has the Holy Ghost so much love for Jesus Christ?  Because Jesus Christ placed Himself willingly on the Cross, in obedience to the Eternal Father and the Holy Ghost; which is why the Holy Ghost will come to you in Christ's name, and will not be repelled by your wretchedness....You see it is quite true that man is not a suitable dwelling for the Holy Ghost, just as the Cross was not the place for our Redeemer, Jesus Christ; but through this union with the Cross, has come about the union of the Holy Ghost with man.  

"The Holy Ghost advised and inspired Jesus Christ to put Himself on that mean and repellant place--the Cross; and because He did so, the Holy Ghost will come to that other mean, repellent place--the heart of man.  Call Him in the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord, because He will most certainly come and give Himself to you, and present you with all His gifts.  He will enlighten your understanding.  He will make you burn with love for Him, and will give you grace and glory."

Yes, this was a lengthy sermon; but what truth and goodness we now have even in such a short synopsis of citations?  We must have faith.  It takes faith and a loving weaning, if we have been clinging to but one Person of the Trinity.  Now we can see through Jesus' own words that He desires us to accept more, to not only love and desire Him with all our strength, minds and hearts, but also to love and desire the who He went to and asked the Father to send us:  the Holy Spirit.  We must now learn of Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, and the Father, the Trinity.  The Holy Spirit, the Paraclete, teaches us today, now.  The Three-in-One resides in our hearts and we in Him.

This is one lesson I am being taught in the state of ecstasy that only happens during Mass--any Mass.  Perhaps others have not done as I had done, to be out of balance in my love and single-focused understanding of Jesus.  But once I learned about remaining in His Love--His Real Presence needed to lead me forth to grasping that He is the Trinity, and His Real Presence desired me to love all of Him:  the Son, the Father, and the Holy Spirit.  All are in the Mass and All are in each Sacrament, and All in each Sacrament are in the Mass. 

The Mass is the stairway to heaven.  His Real Presence, the Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, is fully in the fullness of the Mass.  And this extends to the reality that we take the fullness of His Real Presence in the Mass, with us, as we are sent out with His Real Presence in our thoughts and actions into the world of our daily lives.  With each encounter and thought, we approach all, knowing each Sacrament is alive and is living reality within us: His Real Presence, the Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

God bless His Real Presence in us and in all Sacraments within us that we present in each moment.  Yes, it is living, now truly understood:  The Trinity in the Present Moment.


No comments:

Post a Comment

Author cannot enter into discussion and/or debate with readers on topics. The purpose of the writing is to offer this author's insights, thoughts, and experiences. It is a web log, spiritual in nature.

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.