On the Holy Ghost as the Light of the World.
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 Holy Ghost as the Light of the World.
Contemplate, my soul, the condition of the world as described by Moses when he said: “Darkness was upon the face of the deep.” (Gen. i. 2.) Endeavor to realize how dark and dismal that solitude was, and then behold how suddenly at the word of the Lord there was light. What a marvellous change was instantaneously wrought, how much more beautiful and attractive the world became. A similar darkness in the spiritual order brooded over the earth until all at once the light shone forth in the darkness, this change being effected by the Holy Spirit.
1st. Consider that light came into the world through the operation of the Holy Spirit. The light which shone in the spiritual darkness of the world was none other than our Lord when He became man. Of Him St. John writes: “That was the true light that enlighteneth every man that cometh into this world.” (St. John i. 9.) And our Lord Himself says: “I am come a light into the world.” (St. John xii. 46.) Now consider that it was the Holy Ghost who kindled that light, since it was by virtue of His operation that the only-begotten Son of the Father took flesh, for it was by His miraculous overshadowing power that the incarnation of our Lord in the womb of the most pure and holy Virgin was made possible. Moreover when the time came for Christ to enter upon His public ministry, the Holy Spirit set that Light, so to speak, upon a candlestick, proving to all the world the divine character of the Redeemer, by descending upon His head in the waters of Jordan; and again He it was who melted the hearts of the apostles and disciples, that they might receive that celestial light, and not thrust it from them as the other Jews did in their obduracy. The cooperation of the Holy Ghost plays a far greater part in general in the work of the Son of God than we commonly think that, it does, and the co-operation of the third Person of the Holy Trinity in the salvation of your individual soul is more necessary and important than you have perhaps hitherto considered it to be.
2d. Consider that it is through the action of the Holy Ghost that we are first fully enlightened by the celestial Light. Although our Lord had by His word and His example shown the way of salvation to His disciples, yet they comprehended it so little that we observe them only to be fully enlightened in regard to it, only really acting in conformity to the will of their Master after Christ had spoken the words: “Receive ye the Holy Ghost” (St. John xx. 22), and the Holy Spirit had descended upon them. Now what the Holy Spirit did for the apostles that He also does for us. We owe it to His illumination that the teaching of our Lord shines in the darkness of our soul; to His grace it is to be ascribed that we follow the commandments of our Lord and “walk in light” and to His vivifying presence it is due that the work of redemption accomplished by Christ maintains its life and potency upon earth. Just as Jesus, the true Light that came down from Heaven, only appeared on earth by means of the co-operation of the Holy Ghost, so without the gracious influence of that same Spirit, that Light does not shine in the soul of the individual man. For where His divine assistance is wanting these words will prove true: “The Light shineth in darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.” (St. John i. 5.)
Ask yourself, my soul, after what you have been considering, why you have to so great an extent failed to comprehend the wondrous doctrine taught by our Lord, and why you have not ordered your life more in conformity with that teaching? Is it perhaps because you have lacked the assistance of the Holy Spirit? Oh see then that you frequently call upon Him for assistance, especially in all your works, in all your undertakings, and then there will be about them something more of the character of Christ.
3d. Consider what the world would be without light. It would be utterly unattractive; it would be impossible for us to distinguish one thing from another or to recognize any person, to see anything beautiful or pleasing to the sight; all would be hidden, wrapped in obscurity. Now what the great, wide world would be in the absence of light, such is the little world of the human soul without the Holy Spirit. Without that light darkness reigns in the heart. What was wanting to the Jews, what did they need to enable them to comprehend the light which shone so clearly, so brightly in the teaching of our Lord? The light of the Holy Spirit was wanting to them, and for this they were themselves to blame, because they “always resisted the Holy Ghost.” (Acts vii. 51.) Is that perhaps the case with you? Alas, of what avail is it that the sun shines in the heavens in all its splendor, if you close windows and shutters so that its genial rays cannot find access into your dwelling? Thus many shut the door of their heart against the light, denying entrance to the light of grace shed abroad by the divine Spirit; walking in darkness and doing the works of darkness, they are not in a state of sanctifying grace, and consequently it profits them nothing that Jesus, the Light of the world, hath appeared to men. Wherefore invoke the aid of the Holy Spirit more often than heretofore, and join heartily in the Church’s supplication: Veni lumen cordium, come, divine Light, visit and enlighten my heart.
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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