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제목 Who is the Holy Ghost? - Pentecost(2016-05-15)
작성자 관리자 작성일 2016-05-16





Who is the Holy Ghost? Pentecost(2016-05-15)


My dear Brethren,


Because of the great feast of Pentecost, I will postpone to my next visit the end of the series of sermons on the Commandments.

In the Catholic Creed, we profess that the Holy Ghost is “Dominum et Vivificantem - Lord and Giver of life”: this is a very important truth, and it touches very deeply each and every one of us. Our Lord Jesus Christ said: “I am come that they may have life, and may have it more abundantly” (Jn. 10:10). He also said: “It is the Spirit that quickeneth [=gives life]” (Jn. 6:64) and St Paul said exactly the same to the Corinthians (2 Cor. 3:6): the Spirit gives life.

What life does the Holy Ghost give us? Ultimately He gives us “eternal life”, but that eternal life starts here below. Indeed our Lord Jesus Christ said: “For God so loved the world, as to give his only begotten Son; that whosoever believeth in him, may not perish, but may have life everlasting” (Jn. 3:16). This starts already now, indeed “He that believeth in the Son, hath life everlasting [present tense]; but he that believeth not the Son, shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him” (Jn. 3:36). And later again our Lord said in Capharnaum: “this is the will of my Father that sent me: that every one who seeth the Son, and believeth in him, may have life everlasting, and I will raise him up in the last day… Amen, amen I say unto you: He that believeth in me, hath everlasting life” (Jn. 6:40, 47). Note that he already has now everlasting life – in his soul – and will have his body raised up in the last day.

Who does not desire everlasting life? What does it profit to have a “good time” if it passes away and leaves nothing? A life is truly good if it leads to eternal life; and, as St Augustine says, a life is not truly good if it is spent in ignorance or contempt of eternal life!

Eternal life, no man can get by himself; no man can reach by his own strength: we are mortal by nature, and by punishment of sin. “For the wages of sin is death. But the grace of God, life everlasting, in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 6:23). It is by the gift of God, by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that we can get eternal life.

And what is that everlasting life? It is a participation in the very life of God Himself. St Peter indeed says: “By [Christ] he hath given us most great and precious promises: that by these you may be made partakers of the divine nature” (2 Pet. 1:4). Our Lord Jesus Christ describes eternal life thus: “Now this is eternal life: That they may know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent” (Jn. 17:3). To know God, to see God face to face: eternal contemplative life! St John says in his epistle: “Behold what manner of charity the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called, and should be the sons of God. Therefore the world knoweth not us, because it knew not him. Dearly beloved, we are now the sons of God; and it hath not yet appeared what we shall be. We know, that, when he shall appear, we shall be like to him: because we shall see him as he is. And every one that hath this hope in him, sanctifieth himself, as he also is holy” (1 Jn. 3:1-3). This is eternal life: “we shall be like to him: because we shall see him as he is!” And this is the gift of the Holy Ghost, the Life Giver.

This is the new life which we receive at Baptism, being “born again of water and the Holy Ghost” (Jn. 3:5). This Life is strengthened by the Sacrament of Confirmation, which was Pentecost for each one of us, the coming of the Holy Ghost in our life. This life is and nourished by the Holy Eucharist, and repaired by the Sacrament of Penance, which our Lord instituted saying to his Apostles: “Receive ye the Holy Ghost. Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them; and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained” (Jn. 20:22-23). For this life the Sacrament of Extreme Unction gives the last preparation. This is the life of which St Paul says: “So do you also reckon, that you are dead to sin, but alive unto God, in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 6:11). It is the life of the soul, the supernatural life, the life of Christ in us, the life a children of God. It is a gift of the Holy Ghost: “whosoever are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God” (Rom. 8:14).

Now this life is something real, inherent to our soul. St Thomas Aquinas explains that this life consists in a very special gift, called “sanctifying grace”. Our natural life is our “soul”: it vivifies our body and together with our body it makes our very human substance: as humans, we are composed of a soul and a body, the soul being the life of the body: it animates our body, it vivifies it. A body without a soul is just a corpse! The supernatural life, called “sanctifying grace”, is not another substance but it is a gift that elevates our own substance to make it living as a child of God: St Thomas calls it a “substantial habit”, that is, a quality that modifies, elevates, perfections our substance, and enables it to performs some new activities, somehow divine activities.

Indeed from sanctifying grace there flows the theological virtues of faith, hope and charity, by which we know God, trust in God and love God in a manner much superior to what our nature could do, in a manner that makes us resemble God and which prepares us for heavenly life where “we shall be like to Him, because we shall see Him as He is!”

Reason can reach the knowledge of God through reasoning from the creatures and concluding that there must be a First being, cause of all the others, etc. And there were some philosophers such as Plato and Aristotle, and others, who did prove properly God’s existence and some of his attributes. This is the highest part of philosophy, called “theodicy”. Yet if men were left to reason alone to know God, because of the difficulties involved, only few men would reach it, after a long time, and not without mixture of errors.

But by the Catholic Faith, a little child in the very first year of catechism knows with more certitude and without mixture of error, not only those elementary truths, but also the very inner life of the most Holy Trinity! And he knows the purpose of creation, the goal of our human life in the plan of God, and the way to return to God: our Lord Jesus Christ! “He has known, and has believed the charity, which God hath to us” (1 Jn. 4:16): this is truly marvellous. Faith is therefore truly a great light to the mind, a reflection of Divine Light: “we all beholding the glory of the Lord with open face, are transformed into the same image from glory to glory, as by the Spirit of the Lord” (2 Cor. 3:18). This is the fruit of contemplation, which is a loving look of Faith on the Most Holy Trinity!

“The just man liveth by faith” (Rom. 1:17), that is, he lives at the light of Faith, considering everything in the light of God, in the light of eternity. This is particularly necessary in the important choices of life, the choice of a state of life, the choice of a good marriage, the choices for the education of the children, etc. For instance, my father had made the deliberate choice not to have the television. This choice was done for reasons of faith, and it was the right choice: he would not have had three priests among his children if we had the television in our house.

One cannot contemplate God without desiring Him, longing for him, as the psalmist says: “One thing I have asked of the Lord, this will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life. That I may see the delight of the Lord! … My heart hath said to thee: My face hath sought thee: thy face, O Lord, will I still seek” (Ps. 26:4, 8). “It is good for me to adhere to my God, to put my hope in the Lord God” (Ps. 72:28). “Seek ye the Lord, and live” (Amo 5:6). “Seek ye the Lord, and be strengthened: seek his face evermore” (Ps. 104:4). How few men really search for God, long for Him, long for eternal life with Him in Heaven? How few!

By ourselves, we would not be able to reach God, to attain eternal life. But “this is the promise which he hath promised us, life everlasting” (1 Jn. 2:25). Relying on that promise, relying on the help of God, on the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, then we can hope to reach there, to attain eternal life. We do not rely on our virtue, on our merits, but on the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ: however this does not mean that we are dispensed from practicing virtue and acquiring merits. Far from it! Relying on the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, we must “follow Christ’s steps” (1 Pet. 2:21). “He that followeth me, walketh not in darkness, but shall have the light of life” (Jn. 8:12). Indeed “he who saith that he knoweth [God], and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him” (1 Jn. 2:4). But we keep the Commandments of God, commandments of life, relying on the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. The Protestants oppose promise and merit; the Catholics believe both, because the Scriptures teach both.

The third virtue that springs forth from sanctifying grace is the virtue of Charity: “the charity of God is poured forth in our hearts, by the Holy Ghost, who is given to us” (Rom. 5:5). Charity is the heart of the spiritual life, of the supernatural life. It is essentially bound with sanctifying grace: if one has grace, he has charity; if he has not charity, he has not sanctifying grace; mortal sins destroy grace because they expel charity. If one loses grace by mortal sin, he does not always lose Faith and hope, but he loses charity. Without charity it is impossible to go to Heaven; with Charity it is impossible to go to Hell! Charity is to love God “with the whole heart, and with the whole mind, and with the whole soul, and with the whole strength; and to love one's neighbour as one's self” (Mk. 12:33). Charity is really a participation in the Life of God, so much so that St John could say: “God is charity: and he that abideth in charity, abideth in God, and God in him” (1 Jn. 4:16).

Faith alone, without charity, is worth nothing as St Paul says: “if I should have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing” (1 Cor. 13:2). What counts in the eyes of God is “faith that worketh by charity” (Gal. 5:6). The Christian life is “doing the truth in charity” (Eph. 4:15). St Thomas teaches that charity is the “form of virtues”, that is, it gives to each virtue the right motive, the right ultimate goal: God! It draws and unites all our human activity towards God, and makes the love of God to become the motive for all what we do, as St Paul says: “whatsoever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31)

From sanctifying grace also flow all the other infused moral virtues, that strengthen and elevate all our spiritual life, because charity leads to the fulfilment of all the Commandments: “He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them; he it is that loveth me” (Jn. 14:21).For instance the natural virtue of justice makes us live an honest life; the supernatural infused virtue of justice would lead us to make penance and reparation for our sins and the sins of the world; the natural virtue of chastity would make one faithful in his marriage – the supernatural virtue of chastity would lead one to choose perpetual consecrated virginity. The natural virtue of fortitude would give courage in difficulties; the supernatural virtue of fortitude would go so far as martyrdom for the profession of the Catholic Faith!

These infused virtues, higher virtues of the Christian life, are the effect of the Holy Ghost, the Life-giver. St Paul call them the “fruits of the Spirit”: “the fruit of the Spirit is, charity, joy, peace, patience, benignity, goodness, longanimity, mildness, faith, modesty, continency, chastity. Against such there is no law” (Gal. 5:22-23). These higher virtues of the Christian life are particularly manifest in the beatitudes: “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are the meek: for they shall possess the land. Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after justice: for they shall have their fill. Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the clean of heart: for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called children of God. Blessed are they that suffer persecution for justice' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye when they shall revile you, and persecute you, and speak all that is evil against you, untruly, for my sake: Be glad and rejoice, for your reward is very great in heaven. For so they persecuted the prophets that were before you” (Mt. 5:3-12).

Truly God is the first principle and the last end of this Christian life, of this supernatural life given by the Holy Ghost, the Life-Giver. And there is still another truly marvellous aspect of that supernatural life: the “Inhabitation of the Three Divine Persons” in the souls of the just. The Three Divine Person have a special presence, a presence as a loving Friend, in the soul of the just. Indeed our Lord Jesus Christ said: “He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them; he it is that loveth me. And he that loveth me, shall be loved of my Father: and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him” (Jn. 14:21). Then St Jude asked Him: “Lord, how is it, that thou wilt manifest thyself to us, and not to the world?” (Jn. 14:22). And our Lord answered: “If any one love me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him, and will make our abode with him” (Jn. 14:23). Thus the Father and the Son make their abode, their dwelling within the souls that love Them: in the most secret recess of the soul, there dwells God the Father and God the Son, and also God the Holy Ghost who is inseparable from the Father and the Son. Indeed St Paul says: “Know you not, that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?” (1 Cor. 3:16). “Know you not, that your members are the temple of the Holy Ghost, who is in you” (1 Cor. 6:19).

Truly God is not far from us, and prayer becomes very intimate when we realise this Presence of God in us! St Paul calls it: “the life of Jesus” in us. “Always bearing about in our body the mortification of Jesus, that the life also of Jesus may be made manifest in our bodies. For we who live are always delivered unto death for Jesus' sake; that the life also of Jesus may be made manifest in our mortal flesh” (2 Cor. 4:10-11). By imitating our Lord Jesus Christ, especially in His Sacrifice, “bearing about in our body the mortification of Jesus”, St Paul manifested that “life of Jesus in our bodies”: Jesus lives not only in our soul but also in our bodies (because our soul is in our body!) and He strengthens us, He lives in us. “I live, now not I; but Christ liveth in me” (Gal. 2:20). Human friendship never has the same constant union, the same intimacy, the same elevation.

Would God that we would never forget this Presence of the Three Divine Persons in us! We would then never sin! By mortal sin, the sinner expels God from his soul! This is the fundamental reason of the gravity of mortal sin. Mortal sin must be avoided because it leads us into Hell; but it must even more be avoided because it is such an offense to the Divine goodness and generosity towards us. And this is the reason why it truly deserves Hell. We must absolutely avoid any mortal sin, and be ready to die rather than to sin! We must also avoid venial sin and do our best to overcome them, though our frailty does not succeed to avoid all of them. Hence the need of frequent confession.

The great Sacrament that perfections this “life of Jesus in us” is the most Holy Eucharist. Indeed “he that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, abideth in me, and I in him. As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father; so he that eateth me, the same also shall live by me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead. He that eateth this bread, shall live for ever” (Jn. 6:57-59).

That life of love of God necessarily overflows on our neighbour, since “if God hath so loved us; we also ought to love one another” (1 Jn. 4:11). This is the very precept of the Lord: “A new commandment I give unto you: That you love one another, as I have loved you, that you also love one another” (Jn. 13:34). And all the good works of charity flow from this beautiful spring.

If one human person ever lived of that supernatural life, it was the Blessed Virgin Mary. And in her clearly it was the effect of the Holy Ghost, Who overshadowed her, so that she would conceive in her womb the Son of God (Lk. 1:35), who is Eternal Life (1 Jn. 5:20). She conceived by the operation of the Holy Ghost Him Who is Life; she also became at the foot of the Cross the New Eve, “mother of the living” (Gen. 3:20) as St Irenaeus calls her.

As the Son of God came down from Heaven into the most pure womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary by the operation of the Holy Ghost, so at each Mass He comes again down on the altar by the power of the words of our Lord Jesus Christ pronounced by the priest, and by the power of the Holy Ghost. As the holy Cloud in the Old Testament overshadowed the Tabernacle when God was speaking to Moses, so the Holy Ghost overshadows the Altar when the Son of God comes down at the moment of Consecration in the Mass. How much should we pay attention to these divine mysteries at every Mass!

My dear brethren, this is the Life which the Holy Ghost gives to us. This is not a life of novelties, of new practices that were unheard of in the Catholic Church. I say that because there are today some people who call themselves “charismatics” and who pretend to receive the Holy Ghost by the imposition of hands of laymen, and speak in tongues… This movement started among Protestants and not from the Catholic Church; they usually make no distinction between Catholics and Protestants, as if there was no difference of Faith. By this they show that they are not inspired by the Holy Ghost, who is “the Spirit of Truth” (Jn. 14:17). God’s truth is eternal; He does not change: “Jesus Christ, yesterday, and today; and the same for ever” (Heb. 13:8). “For I am the Lord, and I change not” (Mal 3:6). The Holy Ghost does not teach something which would not have been taught by the Apostles, but “the Paraclete, the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring all things to your mind, whatsoever I shall have said to you” (Jn. 14:26). He does not teach novelties, but rather “bring to our mind whatsoever Christ has already said to” the Apostles, and they have transmitted through the centuries to us by Catholic Tradition.

Now to pretend to give the Holy Ghost by an imposition of the hands which has never been practiced in the Church before, this is tantamount as to make an eighth sacrament! Now it is defined by the Council of Trent that Christ instituted seven Sacraments, not eight. There is already one Sacrament, which does give the Holy Ghost by the imposition of the hand of the bishop together with the anointing of Holy Chrism on the forehead: but such sacrament no one can give but a bishop, not laymen, and it does require the use of Holy Chrism. This is not what the charismatics are doing. So it is not the Holy Spirit, but rather an unholy one, whom they give! It is indeed the proper of the devil to try to ape God, to emulate Him, falsifying what He has done. This unholy spirit is liar and father of lies, a most artful deceiver.

Let us remain faithful to the HOLY Spirit, imitating the Saints and living the supernatural life as lived by the Saints, as taught for centuries by the Catholic Church, so that we may reach eternal life, the ultimate gift of the Holy Ghost, contemplating the Most Holy Trinity with our Lady and all the Saints for ever in Heaven!    Amen.


Fr. Laisney(sspxasia)