On the Importance of Obeying the Inspirations of the Holy Spirit.
PRAYER BEFORE MEDITATION.
My God, I firmly believe that Thou art here present. I acknowledge that on account of my many sins I am utterly unworthy to appear before Thy sacred countenance. Yet, confiding in Thy infinite goodness and mercy, I venture to address Thee, to call upon Thy holy name, and meditate upon Thy commandments, in order that I may acquire a better knowledge of Thy holy will, and accomplish it with more fidelity. Wherefore enlighten my understanding that I may perceive what I ought to do or leave undone for the promotion of Thy glory and my own salvation; at the same time excite my will, that I may repent with my whole heart of my past sins, and resolve for the future to do all that Thou requirest of me. Grant me above all to know Jesus, my divine Teacher and Guide, more clearly, that I may love Him more dearly, and consequently labor, struggle and suffer with greater generosity and self-sacrifice in imitation of His example. Holy Mary, Mother of God and my Mother, show Jesus to me now, and let me study thy divine Son to the salvation of my soul. Holy Guardian Angel, keep far from me all distracting thoughts; my patron saint, come to my assistance. Amen.
On the Importance of Obeying the Inspirations of the Holy Spirit.
Place before your mind some saint of your Order or of your state in life, one in whom the operation of the grace of the Holy Spirit was plainly visible, one who was distinguished by the most eminent virtues which are the effect of grace and the fruits of the Holy Ghost. Now if the contemplation of this saint fills you with longing to become yourself such a vessel of the Holy Ghost, such an instance of the results of His gracious operation in the soul, then lay to heart this saying of an eminent master of the spiritual life: “The greatest hindrance in the way of our progress and of the reception of spiritual graces consists in this, that we do not carry out the holy desires God instils into our hearts.” Non-obedience to the suggestions of the Holy Spirit is another hindrance to our obtaining the graces of the Pentecostal feast.
1st. “No man can come to Me except the Father who hath sent Me draw him.” (St. John vi. 44) the divine Redeemer asserts. This drawing on the part of God is a gentle impulse; it is an invitation, a whispered call; in a word it is the daily suggestions of His grace. If we do not obey these divine inspirations, if we do not correspond with them and make use of these graces, bestowed on us by God, He will be slow to confer others on us. “He,” says Father Avila, “who makes a bad use of the light given him by God has no right to expect other graces, for God might with all justice say to him: How canst thou want to know any further what My will is, since thou dost not accomplish it in matters wherein thou dost know it? If thou dost not carry out the holy desires with which God now inspires thee, with what semblance of a claim canst thou ask similar graces of Him at a subsequent period, to suit thine own pleasure and convenience?” St. Stephen, addressing the Jews, exclaimed: “you stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, you did always resist the Holy Ghost.” (Acts vii. 51.) His hearers were attracted by the words of truth which he spoke, the utterances of the Holy Spirit coming from his lips; but they did not heed them at the time, and later on they had not the chance of hearing them. Wherefore if you desire to come to God, if more particularly you desire to approach the fountain of all grace, the Holy Spirit of God, oh let yourself be drawn by Him, obey His holy suggestions day by day, and take as your own the words of the prophet Samuel: “Speak, Lord, for Thy servant heareth.” (I. Kings iii. 10.)
2d. Consider what is to be understood by the attraction or the inspiration of the Holy Ghost. The Fathers of the Church and Holy Scripture employ different expressions to designate this operation of the power of the Holy Ghost, such as knocking, inspiring, enlightening, calling, speaking to the soul, visiting it, comforting it. How often the Spirit of the Lord speaks within us! The Holy Ghost, St. Antony declares, speaks within us whenever we have a thought that is good. How often He sweetly stimulates and incites us to act, how often He helps us with “unspeakable groanings.” Consequently every really good thought, every good resolution, every pious desire of the soul is an impulse from the Holy Ghost. Listen to the words of the author of the Imitation: “Blessed is that soul which hears the Lord speaking within her. Blessed are the ears which receive the instilling of the divine whisper, and take no notice of the whisperings of the world.” (B. iii. ch. 1.) Unhappily for us, we do not hear them, and still more often do not heed them. “Even until now,” says our Lord in the words of the Imitation, “I cease not to speak to all, but many are deaf to My voice, and hard. Most men give ear more gladly to the world than to God.” Do you, my soul, belong to the many of whom our Lord here speaks?
3d. Consider how carefully one must distinguish between what is and what is not divine inspiration. “For, not every desire is from the Holy Ghost, even though it seem to a man right and good. It is hard to judge truly whether it be a good or an evil spirit which urges thee on to desire this or that, or whether thou art not moved by thine own spirit.” (Imit. B. iii. ch. 15.) Wherefore when ever you feel uncertain in this respect, let this be your petition: “Lord, Thou knowest in what way it is best; let this or that be done as Thou wilt. If Thou knowest that it will be hurtful to me, take away from me such a desire.” But if after mature deliberation on your own part, or consultation with your spiritual director it is clearly apparent that God is speaking within you, oh obey His inspirations; do not heed what is agreeable or disagreeable to the flesh, but strive that it may against its will be brought into subjection to the Spirit. Consider how much may depend upon one such call from God, if we yield obedience to it. His voice it was that led St. Antony to adopt his wondrous career, that instigated St. Francis to found his Order, that brought St. Mary of Egypt to her supernatural life of penance. How much greater would have been your advancement in perfection, how much more often would the festival of Pentecost have been a day of rich graces for you, had you only paid more attention to the daily inspirations of the Holy Spirit.
PRAYER AFTER MEDITATION.
My God, I give Thee heartfelt thanks for all the graces and all the light Thou hast conferred on me during this meditation. Pardon me all the negligence and the distractions of which I have been guilty, and give me strength to carry out the resolutions that I have made. Fortify me, that from henceforth I may diligently practise this virtue . . . avoid this fault . . . perform this action . . . to Thy honor. Help me to do this, sweet Virgin Mary; and if I ever forget my good resolutions, I entreat my Angel Guardian to recall them to my memory. Amen.
– Meditations on the Life, Teaching, and Passion of Jesus Christ
(Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur: New York, December 31, 1900)
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