+St. Paschal Babylon+

LibTrads speak a great deal about the need of graces from the Sacraments to lead a Catholic life. Yet their idea of these graces and how they are received are quite skewed. We read from St. Thomas Aquinas: “Now it is manifest that human virtues perfect man according as it is natural for him to be moved by his reason in his interior and exterior actions. Consequently man needs yet higher perfections, whereby to be disposed to be moved by God. These perfections are called gifts, not only because they are infused by God, but also because by them man is disposed to become amenable to the Divine inspiration, according to Isaiah 50:5: “The Lord . . . hath opened my ear, and I do not resist; I have not gone back.” And here, of course, he is speaking of those gifts of the Holy Ghost, which, he explains, are necessary for salvation.

“Even the Philosopher says in the chapter On Good Fortune (Ethic. Eudem., vii, 8) that for those who are moved by Divine instinct, there is no need to take counsel according to human reason, but only to follow their inner promptings, since they are moved by a principle higher than human reason. This then is what some say, viz. that the gifts perfect man for acts which are higher than acts of virtue... Of all the gifts, wisdom seems to be the highest, and fear the lowest. Now each of these is necessary for salvation: since of wisdom it is written (Wisdom 7:28): “God loveth none but him that dwelleth with wisdom”; and of fear (Sirach 1:28): “He that is without fear cannot be justified.” Therefore the other gifts that are placed between these are also necessary for salvation…  As stated above (Article 1), the gifts are perfections of man, whereby he is disposed so as to be amenable to the promptings of God. Wherefore in those matters where the prompting of reason is not sufficient, and there is need for the prompting of the Holy Ghost, there is, in consequence, need for a gift” (Summa Theol., I-II, Q. 68.).

Pray to the Holy Ghost

Rev. Frederick T. Hoeger, C.S.s.P, in his The Holy Ghost Prayerbook, (1939), says of these instincts: “’The just man who lives in the state of grace has need of the seven gifts which are properly attributed to the Holy Ghost.  By means of them the soul is furnished and strengthened so as to be able to obey more easily and promptly His voice and impulse’” (Pope Leo XIII). To the Holy Ghost himself could be applied those words which he has inspired concerning supernatural wisdom: ‘All things come to me together with him and innumerable riches through his hands.’ As he enters the Christian soul to make of it His dwelling place, He comes laden with precious treasures for His host — sanctifying grace, charity and all the other supernatural virtues. These are called in a general way gifts of the Holy Ghost. But there are seven supernatural habits which He places in the sanctified soul that bear the distinctive title of gifts of the Holy Ghost: wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety and fear of the Lord.

“Saint Thomas compares these in our supernatural life to instincts and the natural life. How often it happens that after we have escaped from some dangerous predicament we say, ‘I do not know how I was saved; instinctively I jumped.’ As instinct saves us many times from harm to our body so the gifts save us from harm to our souls. Often in our supernatural life if we had stopped to reason just how much good we had to do or how much evil we had to avoid to escape sin we might have fallen from grace entirely. But when we responded to the influence the Holy Ghost brought to bear upon us through the gifts, we did not stop to measure the efforts more good deeds would cost us. And so when we look back upon the past, we are surprised how bravely we fought against evil, how courageously we went about some good deed. St. Antonius speaks of the seven gifts also as antidotes to the seven inclinations to evil which we have all inherited from our first parents. The gift of fear as opposed to pride, the gift of counsel to covetousness, the gift of wisdom to lust, the gift of understanding to gluttony, the gift of piety to envy, the gift of knowledge to anger and the gift of fortitude to sloth.”

Cardinal Manning on The Holy Ghost

And from Henry Cardinal Manning, in his two works on the Holy Ghost (The Internal Mission of the Holy Ghost and The Holy Ghost, the Sanctifier, we read:

“Now God the Holy Ghost has the office of our sanctification and the office of Sanctifier is twofold. There is the work of the Holy Ghost in every individual soul from the beginning of the world; and that work of sanctification in each individual soul will continue to the end of the world. There is also the work of the Holy Ghost in the mystical Body of Christ, that is His Church, which office began from the day of Pentecost, and will continue to the second advent of the Son of God…

“No man can hide himself from the love and from the glory of God. Go where he may if he walk upon the earth, God is there; if he ascend into heaven, He is there also; if he go down into the deep, God is there before Him. Every living soul therefore has an illumination of God in the order of nature, by the light of conscience, and by the light of reason, and by the working of the Spirit of God in his head and in his heart, leading him to believe in God, and to obey Him. Once more: Saint Paul says that “God will have all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth”:  that is, without any exception, Jew or Gentile. And once more: “We hope in the living God,” Who is the Saviour of all men, and especially of the faithful; that is, of those who believe, therefore of all men without exception. And two Pontiffs have condemned as heresy the two following assertions:

“That the heathen, and the Jews, and heretics, receive no influence from Jesus Christ, but that their will is without help, that is without grace, was condemned as a heresy by Alexander VIII. Again, that there is no grace given outside the Church, was also condemned as heresy by Clement XI. The work, therefore, of the Holy Ghost, even in the order of nature, so to say, that is, outside of the Church of God and of the revealed knowledge of Jesus Christ among the heathen, that working is universal in the soul of every individual human being; and if they who receive the assistance of the Holy Ghost are faithful in corresponding with it, God in His unrevealed mercies will deal with them in ways secret from us. His mercies unknown to us are over all His works and the infinite merits of the Redeemer of the world are before the mercy-seat of our Heavenly Father, for the salvation of those that follow even the little light which in the order of nature they receive.

“Any gift of God given freely is a grace. Our very existence is a grace; every gift in nature is a grace; every light we receive from the world leading us to the knowledge of God much more every doctrine we receive from revelation is a grace; but this is not the sense in which we are speaking now. When we talk of the grace of the Holy Ghost we mean something interior dwelling in the soul; and therefore the grace of the Holy Spirit working in the soul may be thus defined. It is a gift of God infused into the soul, not due to nature, but something superadded to nature, a perfection above nature elevating the soul to the supernatural order, and leading it to justification and eternal life. Or, to put it shortly, it is the sanctifying power and the influx of the Holy Ghost; it is the presence of the Holy Ghost entering into the soul, and infusing sanctity into the soul.

“When grace takes possession of the soul, in the reason it assumes the form of faith; in the will it takes the form of hope ; and in the heart it takes the form of love: faith, hope, and charity are the three primary workings of the Holy Ghost in the soul. Again, grace may be described as the breath of the supernatural life, which God breathes into the soul of man. A breath of life as necessary to the soul as the natural breath of life is to the body. Therefore it has an operation universal, gratuitous, derived from the sovereign love of God, necessary, vital to man, and sufficient to eternal life. This, then, is the first working of the Holy Spirit from the beginning of the world; and is at this moment even among those nations that have never received the faith.

“All those who are saved eternally will be saved by the sovereign grace of God, and by the free cooperation of their own will; and all those who are lost eternally will be lost because, by the free resistance of their will, they have refused to co-operate with the grace of God. The pre- destination of God in no way violates or takes away the perfect liberty of the human will. God created the will of man with liberty, and He respects the work of His own hands; but from the beginning there has been a line of His elect multiplying perpetually from Abel the just, continuing to expand in number from Abel to Enoch, from Enoch to Noe, from Noe to Abraham, from Abraham to Moses. In the twelve tribes of Israel the saints of God were multiplying continually; and to them God continually gave more and more of His graces, visions, revelations, promises, inspirations, vocations, and special calls: like that which called Abraham out from Ur of the Chaldees; inspirations like that which made Moses to be the Law-giver of His people, and made Aaron to be the Priest to minister before Him graces which constituted the Prophets of Israel as the teachers, the rebukers, and the admonishers of the people of God.

“All those were special graces bestowed by the Holy Ghost for the illumination and sanctification of the people of God; but over and above these there were special interior workings and graces of the Holy Ghost, increasing continually in their measure until the coming of Jesus Christ. Every saint before the coming of Jesus Christ was sanctified by the Holy Ghost in virtue of the foreseen redemption upon Calvary. The merits of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world obtained graces for the sanctification of God’s elect from the beginning ; and the sanctity of every saint like Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, of every penitent like David, the special graces of Saint Joseph and the Immaculate Conception of the Mother of God, were all purchased by the same most Precious Blood shed by the Son of God

“Now we live under the dispensation of the Holy Ghost. We are at this time committed to the care and guidance of the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity; so that the dispensation under which we are is the dispensation of the Spirit of God, the Sanctifier. It is a wonder, then, how men with the page of the New Testament before them can fail to see this: that the one great evangelical gift, the one great gift of the Gospel, is the gift of the Holy Ghost. “For you have not received the spirit of bondage again in fear ; but you have received the spirit of adoption of sons, whereby we cry : Abba, Father.” …” And if we be sons, we are heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ.”  Our whole state is elevated. Because we are the children of the Second Adam, His Father is our Father; because we are the sons of God by grace, He is our elder Brother. The Holy Ghost dwells in us, because He descends from our Head upon all His members. We are born again through Christ into a new and supernatural state. We are not restored to the state of original justice, but we are placed in a state of union with God through the Holy Ghost, like, though distinct from, that which the first man received.

“There is this further difference: he was in original justice, but it was possible for him to fall. We are united to a divine Head sinless and immortal, Who therefore can never fall, for He is God. We, who are united with Him, receive from Him, by our regeneration, a special indwelling of the Holy Ghost. Not only every grace that was ever given to man before, all the graces that were ever granted under the law to the saints and to the penitents of Israel not only all those are still given in fullness now to members of the Church, but there are super- added other graces which were never before given. In Israel there were no proper sacraments. There were shadows of sacraments, but the substance was not come. There was circumcision, and there were sacrifices of bulls and of goats, and ceremonial actions, and washings, and purifications, which were the types and shadows of things to come; but those were not proper sacraments, and they did not convey grace. There was no grace in them. They were external actions, like the taking of holy water, and they depended for their sanctifying power upon the internal state of the heart of those who used them.

“According to the measure of faith and piety in the heart of those who received them, was the measure of the grace received by their use. The grace did not spring from them, nor come through them, for they were not fountains or channels of grace. Now here we must observe that, over and above all the graces that have ever been given by the Holy Spirit of God before the day of Pentecost, we have received the special grace of a new dispensation. We who are born again, and are members of the mystical Body of Christ, are under a dispensation of the Holy Ghost, so full, and of such manifold grace, that there is no state of man which is not embraced by it, and in which there is not given an abundance of grace, exceeding all measure that we can conceive, and meted out according to the necessities of each individual soul. Our Lord intended this when He said: “I am come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”

“Therefore hope for the greatest gifts and graces of the Holy Ghost. They were all purchased for you by the most Precious Blood of Jesus Christ. They are yours by right, for He has given them to you. All things are yours, and ye are Christ’s, and Christ is God. His redemption purchased them for you, and His sovereignty gives them to you. He has promised to give them to all who ask Him, and He delights in being asked, and asked for the greatest things of His kingdom. He loves to be trusted ; and to ask great things is to show great trust in a great love. Timid prayers and low aspirations are false humility, for we ask not for our own merits, but for His. Hope honours Him. Ask for perfect sanctification, for perfect expiation. S. Leonard of Port Maurice used to say, I hope to go to heaven without purgatory. He meant, there is no bound to be set to the love and grace of Jesus Christ. And without a doubt a soul that hopes and aspires for so great a grace will aim and strive at a proportionate perfection in humility, charity, purity, and union with God.

“Let us then resolve, dear brethren, all we can, to love the Spirit of God, to conform ourselves to His will, to worship Him day by day, to pray to Him personally, to place ourselves under His guidance, to beware of those three degrees of disobedience of which He Himself has warned us: “Grieve not the Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption”… “Resist not the Spirit”: “Quench not the Spirit.”  These are three degrees by which we may fall from His love and from His presence. Beware also not of actual disobedience only, but of that tardy, slothful negligence by which you may provoke Him to a  just impatience. ”Would thou art neither cold nor hot…” [but the lukewarm I will vomit from my mouth]. Nothing provokes the Holy Spirit of God, Who is the fire of the love of God, more than the lukewarmness with which we allow His graces and mercies to pass by us, and to pass by us unperceived.

“Ask, then, of the Holy Spirit of God to give you light to know Him, to know His presence, to be conscious of His indwelling in your hearts. Say to Him, “O my God, I give myself to Thee with all my liberty, all my intellect and heart and will. I desire to be bound to Thee, for “where the spirit of the Lord is there, there is liberty”; no other liberty is true. I desire to be free from the servitude of my own false freedom which is the worst bondage of the human soul. To be Thy servant is to be in the liberty of the sons of God. They that are led by the spirit of God are the sons of God. O Holy Spirit of God, take me as thy disciple; guide me, illuminate me, sanctify me, bind my hands that I may not do evil; cover my eyes that I may see it no more; sanctify my heart that evil may not rest within me. Be Thou my God, be Thou my guide: wheresoever thou leadest me, I will go whatsoever thou forbiddest, I will renounce and whatsoever thou commandest, in Thy strength I will do.” (End of Cardinal Manning quotes.)


And finally, this timely and poignant quote from Rev. Hoeger’s Holy Ghost Prayerbook cited above:

“Pentecost may rightly be called the birthday of the Church. When the Holy Ghost descended upon the apostles then only did they become brave and zealous then only did they go forth fearlessly to defend the doctrine of Christ before audiences that were not only unsympathetic but even antagonistic. Today the world is filled with cowards who have not the courage of their convictions, who are slaves to the spirit of the times. What we need is light and strength from the Holy Ghost to help us live up to the Church’s teaching especially in reference to chastity honesty and loyalty so that no man can sneer at the Catholic Church because Catholics fail to do what is right.There is work to be done for God in the Church by the devout client of the Holy Ghost. The powers of evil are abroad this is their hour period let us take God’s side boldly and uncompromisingly not only by our professional faith but also by our good deeds the Holy Ghost will help us to do this even if they help the apostles of old.”

During Pentecost, all Catholics are urged by the Roman Pontiffs to make a novena to the Holy Ghost. And every Catholic is advised to say some prayer in His honor each day and beg Him for His guidance. Perhaps our lack of devotion to the Holy Ghost is what has impeded so many for so long from coming to a knowledge of the Truth. Let us begin today, then, to remedy this neglect of the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity by making this novena and reciting the prayers found in Rev. Hoeger’s book HERE. May all receive His lights and gifts.

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