Friday, 9 May 2014

The Abiding Presence Of The Holy Ghost in the Soul, by Bede Jarrett, O.P. part 18. The Fruits Of The Spirit.

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1. Besides the beatitudes there are other acts that follow from the gifts when properly used by the soul. The beatitudes are means which, under the light infused by God, are valued at their true worth as leading finally to happiness in its more complete sense. But when these are thus put into practice, for the soul understands the new meaning life gathers, they do not end the wonders of the action of grace. As a boy I met life and found it full of interest and dawning with the glories of success. The world in its aspect of nature had such manifest beauties that these quickly entranced and thrilled the soul. The sun and grass and flowers and woods and waters, make no secret of their kinship with their creator; Francis Thompson found them “garrulous of God,” so garrulous in our youth that we see that life is full of very good things. Then comes the reaction (to many even before full manhood), when life is found to be full of illusion. Life is now judged a melancholy business, apt to fail you just when the need of it is most discovered, hard to be certain of; it is the age of romantic melancholy when most people put into verse their sorrow at the disappointment to be found in all things of beauty. Every tree and flower and “dear gazelle” is no sooner loved than it is lost through death or misunderstanding.

2. Then, finally, the balance is set right. The two phases pass. They are both true only as half truths. There is no denying that life is good and beautiful and thrilling. The boy’s vision is correct. Yet it is equally true to say that there is sorrow and suffering and death and disappointment in all human things. But a new phase, blessedly a last phase, dawns upon the soul. Sorrow and pain are real, but the old happiness of boyhood is made to fit in and triumph over them by the sudden realization that strength is the lesson to be learned. Sorrow comes that discipline may be born in the soul, self-restraint, humility. Life is hard, but its very hardness is no evil, but our means of achieving good. That is the very atmosphere of the beatitudes, the message they bring, the teaching they imparted from the Sermon on the Mount. Poverty, cleanness of heart, mercy, meekness, are all things difficult to acquire; but they give a real, true blessedness to the soul that will see their value. Life is no longer a disappointment, but the training ground of all good.

3. Finally, there follow other acts, too many to number, though there are twelve usually given, which result from gifts and beatitudes. These are called the fruits of the Holy Ghost, for they represent in that metaphorical sense the ultimate result of the gifts. They are the last and sweetest consequences of the sevenfold habits infused by the Spirit. Indeed, just as trees are grown in an orchard because of their fruits, and, therefore, just as it can be said that the fruit is, from the gardener’s point of view, the purpose for which the tree is cultivated (for of the fruitless fig Our Lord asked why it cumbered the ground), so these fruits of the Holy Ghost (charity, joy, peace, patience, benignity, goodness, longanimity, mildness, faith, modesty, continency, chastity—Gal. 5.22) can be looked upon as the very purpose for which the gifts were given, that I might, by seeing a new blessedness in life’s very troubles, begin to find joy and peace and patience and faith, where else I had found only sorrow. Endlessly could the list of these be extended, for St. Paul has chosen only a very few; but these that he names are what a man delights in when he has received the gifts, and has understood and valued the beatitudes. Sweetness is what they add to virtue, ease, comfort. I not only hunger and thirst after justice, but enjoy the very pain of the pursuit.