On the Holy Ghost as a Comforter.
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 a Comforter.
Picture to yourself a man who is profoundly sorrowful, utterly dejected and despondent. Nothing gives him any pleasure, nothing has power to cheer him. The world, which to others appears full of happiness and joy, is for him dreary and desolate. How greatly such a hapless individual stands in need of consolation and encouragement! Think what an inestimable benefit any one would confer on him, who went to him with solace and succor, who raised his spirits and inspired him with fresh energy and courage for the battle of life. The Holy Ghost comes to us as such a Comforter, to impart spiritual consolation to the down-cast.
1st. Consider how the Holy Spirit showed Himself to be a Comforter in the case of the apostles. Compare their state of mind, their condition before and after the day of Pentecost. Then trace the operation of the Holy Ghost as a Comforter in the course of the Church’s history. Think how He ever was her strength and solace, as the Spirit of fortitude in seasons of persecution, as the Spirit of truth when heresies arose, as the Giver of life in times of unbelief and apostacy. Consider, further, how abundantly His consolations are poured out upon the sinner in the Sacraments of Baptism and Penance, and upon the just in the other sacraments of His grace. Give thanks to this divine Comforter, call upon Him of whom the Church in her inspired language sings: Consolator optime, dulcis hostes animæ, dulce refrigerium.
Thou of comforters the best,
Thou the soul’s most welcome guest,
Sweet refreshment give and rest.
2d. Consider that true consolation is only to be found in the Holy Ghost. The world also affords consolation of a certain kind by her possessions, her joys, her pleasures. But that is no true solace; it is all too transitory, it often has a bitter flavor at the time, and generally the after taste following upon even brief enjoyment is sour and acrid to the spiritual palate. Hear what the great ascetic says on this subject: “All human solace is vain and short-lived. Blessed and true is that solace which is inwardly received from the truth.” This was the experience of all those saints who are counted as penitents. Ask St. Augustine, who for a long period tasted the sweets of earthly solace, ask the saints of your own Order, ask the saints who withdrew from the world and lived in the solitude of the desert, ask these, I say, where they found true consolation, and they will answer in the words of the Imitation: “True comfort is to be sought in God alone. For if I alone should have all the comforts of this world and could enjoy all its delights, it is certain they could not last long. Therefore thou canst not, my soul, be fully comforted nor have perfect refreshment save in God, the Comforter of the poor and the Upraiser of the humble.” (Imit. B. iii. ch. 16.)
Meditate upon this, my soul, and if you stand in need of consolation seek it only from the true Comforter, the Holy Ghost.
3d. Consider in what true consolation consists. Not in sensible devotion, sweet and pleasant to the sensible faculties of the soul. Such solace is at the best evanescent, and ofttimes delusive; not unfrequently it is due more to the natural state of mind than to the Holy Ghost. Hence it is seen that those who at the time of prayer, of meditation, of divine worship, enjoy the consolation of sensible devotion and sweet whispers to the soul, are apt to fall when temptation assails them, whereas those who are strangers to such solace and spiritual delights come out conquerors in the spiritual combat. The sensible consolations of which we speak are sweet things, given by God to beginners in the spiritual life for their encouragement, and when they come from God they are by no means to be despised. But true solace, true and perfect peace consists in this, that we surrender ourselves to the divine will with our whole heart; that with unchanged attitude of soul we persevere in giving thanks whether in happiness or in affliction, and accept all from the hand of God with the same filial affection whether His hand bestows favors, or is laid heavily upon us for our correction. But this consolation can only be obtained and attained by the renunciation of all earthly, all human solace and all sensible delights. Is not this what you as a Priest, a Religious, ought to desire? Oh turn this very day to the true source of all consolation, beseech Him to come and visit your soul with His divine solace. Say to Him: “Let all temporal solace be far from me, let Thy grace alone be poured plentifully into my soul.”
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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