Friday, 25 April 2014

The Abiding Presence Of The Holy Ghost in the Soul, by Bede Jarrett, O.P. part 4. Nature Of This Presence


1. We have taken it for granted that God then is present somehow in the soul by grace. We have now to consider what sort of a presence this really is. Do we mean absolutely that God the Holy Ghost, is truly in the soul Himself, or do we, by some metaphor or vague expression, mean that He is merely exerting Himself there in some new and especial way? Perhaps it is only that by means of the sevenfold gifts He has got a tighter hold of us and can bring us more completely under the sweet dominion of His will. All that is true, but all that is not enough, for we do absolutely mean what we say when we declare that by grace the Holy Spirit of God is present within the soul. Scripture is exceedingly full of the truth of this and is always insisting on this presence of the Holy Ghost. St. Paul, especially, notes it over and over again, and in his epistle to the Romans repeats it in very forcible language: “But you are not in the flesh but in the spirit, if so be that the spirit of God dwell in you” (Romans 8.9), and he goes on in that same chapter to imply that this presence is a part of grace.
2. To some it will seem curious to find that the Fathers of the Church in earliest ages were not only convinced of the fact of this presence, but appealed triumphantly to it as accepted even by heretics. When, in the early days, a long controversy raged as to whether the Holy Ghost was really God or not, the Fathers argued that since this indwelling of the Spirit was acknowledged on all hands, and since it was proper to God only to dwell in the heart of man, the only possible conclusion was that the Holy Ghost was Divine. The value of the argument is not here in question, but it is interesting to find that this presence was so generally believed in as part of the Christian Faith. In the acts of the martyrs, too, there are frequent references to this, as when St. Lucy declared to the judge that the Spirit of God dwelt in her, and that her body was in very truth the temple and shrine of God. Again, Eusebius relates in his history that Leonidas, the father of Origen, used to kneel by the bedside of the sleeping boy and devoutly and reverently kiss his breast as the tabernacle wherein God dwelt. The child in his innocence and grace is indeed the fittest home on earth for God.
3. This presence, then, of God in the soul is a real, true presence, as real and as true as the presence of Our Lord Himself in the Blessed Sacrament of the Eucharist. We look on all that mystery as very wonderful, and indeed it is, that day by day we can be made one with God the Son by receiving His Body and Blood; we know the value to be got out of visits to His hidden presence, the quiet and calm peace such visits produce in our souls; yet so long as we are in a state of grace the same holds true of the Holy Spirit within us. We are not indeed made one with the Holy Ghost in a substantial union such as united together in the Sacred Incarnation God and man; nor is there any overpowering of our personality so that it is swamped by a Divine Person, but we retain it absolutely. The simplest comparison is our union with Our Lord in the Holy Eucharist, wherein we receive Him really and truly and are made partakers of His divinity. By grace, then, we receive really and truly God the Holy Ghost and are made partakers of His divinity. If, then, we genuflect to the tabernacle in which the Blessed Sacrament is reserved and treat our Communions as the most solemn moments of our day, then equally we must hold in reverence every simple soul in a state of grace, the souls of others and our own.