On the Holy Ghost as the Father of the Poor.
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 Father of the Poor.
In order that your heart may be duly filled with love and gratitude towards the Holy Ghost, you have in the preceding meditations contemplated several of His glorious characteristics. You have seen Him to be the Light of the world, the Author of your salvation, the Spirit of charity; now you are invited to fix your thoughts in devout meditation on another most attractive, attribute of that same Spirit, which the Church recalls to our mind when she invokes Him as the “Father of the poor.” Veni, pater pauperum. This name is rightly given to the third Person of the Holy Trinity, as we shall proceed to show.
1st. The Holy Ghost is the Father of all men, and all men may well be called poor. Are we not all poor banished children of Eve, mourning and weeping in this vale of tears, and moreover unhappy sinners, who in addition to all other tribulations have the dread of hell before our eyes? We poor mortals have, it is true, a father, God the Father who created us. We are, it is true, His children, but, be it observed, we are “children of wrath,” children who have lost their right to the heavenly inheritance destined for them, children who have been justly rejected, disowned by their father. Thus we do indeed deserve to be called poor. Yet let us take courage; poor and destitute as we are, we still have a father, the Holy Spirit. For He it is who lovingly adopts the disinherited; He it is who in the regenerating waters of baptism makes us who are children of wrath to be born again as the children of God; He it is who as a kind and tender father nourishes and fortifies us by the holy sacraments; He it is of whom the Apostle speaks when he says: “You have received the spirit of adoption of sons, whereby we cry Abba, Father.” (Rom. viii. 15.) Wherefore give thanks to the divine Spirit for His fatherly loving-kindness, and ask yourself whether you can at this present moment say that you are really and truly His child.
2d. Consider that the Holy Spirit is the Father of those who are actually poor. Poverty is one of the consequences of sin and dates from the moment when God said: “Cursed is the earth for thy sake; thorns and thistles shall it bring forth to thee.” (Gen. iii. 17, 18.) The lot of the poor was indeed terribly sad until the advent of Christ. God appeared to regard them as His step-children; they were abandoned and despised by men, until at length the “Father of the poor” appeared, the Holy Ghost came to their aid. See how He immediately preferred the poor to the rich. He chose a poor Virgin to be His spouse; poor fishermen were the first on whom He poured forth in richest measure the treasures of His grace; and in His spiritual kingdom, the community of Christian believers in Jerusalem, there was no distinction between poor and rich, for they had all things in common like brethren. And as He was then, so is He now the Father of the poor, for where He holds undisputed sway, where His grace is all effectual, the hungry are fed, the thirsty are given drink, the naked are clothed. Men and women who are “filled with the Holy Ghost” erect hospitals and found Orders for the care of the sick and needy, and dedicate themselves to the service of poor suffering humanity. my soul, look with wondering admiration on this great Father of the poor; give thanks to Him this day and humbly adore Him.
3d. Consider that the Holy Spirit is the Father of the spiritually poor. The Spirit of the Lord speaking by the mouth of the prophet Osee, says: “I will lead her into the wilderness and I will speak to her heart.” (Osee ii 14.) The Holy Ghost Himself and all the souls whom He inspires know only too well that the riches, the pleasures, the turmoil of the world leave the soul so destitute and comfortless that she is forced bitterly to exclaim in the words of that king who had tasted all that earth can offer: “Vanity of vanities, and all things are vanity.” But those whose hearts are filled with the Holy Ghost perceive that to forsake this world where wealth is worshipped, to hide oneself amid the poverty and barrenness of a desert-like solitude is that which makes the soul truly rich and above measure happy. As in the early Church at Jerusalem, the first-fruits of Christianity, so now in the same manner the Holy Ghost is the Father of the poor; through the power of His grace He begets sons and daughters who, impelled by His spirit, forsake the luxuries of the world and fly into seclusion, where they embrace voluntary poverty and renounce all things for the love of God. You, my soul, are such a child of that Father of the poor. You also have espoused the bride of the Holy Ghost, holy poverty. But woe betide you, if you have not been faithful to that spouse. If like Ananias and Saphira you have kept back a part, if you do not sacrifice your all, the words of the wise Cassian may be applied to you: “I hardly know how to speak of a ridiculous weakness on the part of some Religious. After they have parted with everything that they called their own in the world, in the cloister they cling to trifles, they hold to some comfort of an insignificant nature, and that with such tenacity and mental disquiet that the anxiety concerning these trifles far outweighs the attachment they felt to their former possessions.” Such souls are not poor in spirit, they are not true children of the Father of the poor. Therefore ponder well these weighty words of St. Bonaventure: “What madness it is on our part if after we have abandoned what is greater, to our own injury we cling to what is lesser, a particular cell, a certain book, a special habit, etc. When once we have shown our contempt for the world, renounced the claims of affection to our relatives, imprisoned ourselves in the cloister as in a dungeon, and even given up our own will, ought we not to strain every nerve lest through our own folly and negligence all that we have done should be but labor lost?
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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