Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Advent with Fr. Hecker: Day 4

If it be asked how the Holy Spirit is received, the answer is, sacramentally. "Unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." ... The Holy Spirit is received by the sacramental grace of baptism, and renewed by the other sacraments; also in prayer, vocal or mental, hearing sermons, reading the Scriptures or devout books, and on occasions, extraordinary or ordinary, in the course of daily life; and when once received, every act of the soul that merits heaven is done by the inspiration of that Divine Guide dwelling within us. Even though unperceived, though indistinguishable from impulses of natural virtue, though imperceptibly multiplied as often as the instants are, yet each movement of heaven-winning virtue, and especially love, hope, faith an repentance is made because the Holy Spirit has acted upon the soul in an efficacious manner.

It is not to induce a strained outlook for the particular cases of the action of the Spirit of God on us, or the signs of it, that these words are written.

Not an anxious search, least of all a craving for extraordinary lights; but a constant readiness to perceive the Divine guidance in the secret ways of the soul, and then to act with decision and a noble and generous courage -- this is true wisdom. The sacraments, prayer and holy reading, and hearing sermons and instructions, are the plain instruments and accompaniments of the visitations of God, and, together with spiritual direction, are sufficient landmarks for the journey of the soul, unless it be led in a way altogether extraordinary. And apart from these external marks, no matter how one watches for God, His visitations are best known by their effects; it is after the cause has been placed, perhaps some considerable time after, that the faith, hope, love, or sorrow becomes perceptibly increased
[Note: "sorrow" in the sense of "repentance"]-- always excepting extraordinary cases. Not to "resist the Spirit" is the first duty. Fidelity to the Divine guidance, yielding one's self up lovingly to the impulses of virtue as they gently claim control of our thoughts -- this is the simple duty. (Emphases added.)

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