CHILDREN OF THE HOLY GHOST AND CHILDREN OF THE WORLD
"Know ye not that you. are the temple of God, and that the spirit of God dwelleth in you?" I. Cor. iii. 16.
SYNOPSIS.Introduction. Whit-Sunday one of the great feast days in memory of our Redeemer. Christmas, Easter, Ascension. I will send you the Comforter, the Holy Ghost." The Holy Ghost not only to guide Mother Church, but each individual soul. Children of the Holy Ghost and children of the world.
I. (a) A child of the Holy Ghostone that avoids grievous sin. Especially the sin of impurity. Purify your souls by penance. (b) A child of the Holy Ghost adorned with numerous virtues. The principal virtues. (c) A child of the Holy Ghost fond of prayer. The Apostles assembled in prayer when the Holy Ghost descended upon them.
II. (a) Children of the world in direct contrast. (b) The hearts of children of the world attached to worldly goods. (e) Children of the world strive after worldly pleasures. Not all enjoyment, however, forbidden. The difference. (d) Children of the world the lukewarm Christians. (e) Children of the world those that indulge in frivolous and sinful speech. Exhortation.
From the beginning of the ecclesiastical year, which you, dear Christians, know commences with Advent, the holy Catholic Church has celebrated glorious festivals in honor of our divine Savior. First of all was the holy feast of Christmas, when the faithful rejoiced that the Redeemer had come down from heaven to deliver us from sin and eternal damnation; after that we celebrated the joyful feast of the Resurrection, and we sang with the risen Savior joyful alleluias because His bitter passion and our redemption was accomplished; and, finally, a few days ago, we saw our divine Savior return to His heavenly Father, from henceforth to take possession of His throne of glory for all eternity. But there the same Jesus, who in this world had done so many such unutterably great things for us, was not unmindful of our soul's salvation: He kept His word, which He had spoken to His Apostles, and also to usthe word, "I will send you another comforter," another deliverer, "the Holy Ghost," and this Holy Spirit will not only rule over the holy Church founded by Him, but, according to the words of my text, He will enter into every soul and enlighten and guide them in the way of salvation; in Him we shall live, walk, and work for heaven.
But do all men who have received the Holy Ghost cooperate with Him for heaven? In other words, are they all true children of the Holy Ghost? Unfortunately I must say that many men, although they have received the Holy Ghost, are not children of the Holy Ghost, but children of the world. I consider it, therefore, necessary to show you whereby we can recognize:
I. Who is a child of the Holy Ghost, and
II. Who is a child of the world.
Without doubt, dear brethren, that Christian is a child of the Holy Ghost who avoids all grievous sins, for the Holy Ghost can only dwell in a soul which is disunited from grievous sin; He is that purest Spirit in whose eyes sin is an abomination. Therefore St. Paul writes, "Grieve not," that is to say by sin, "the Holy Spirit of God." (Eph. iv. 30.) Sin turns the abode of the Holy Ghost into an abode of Satan. St. Gregory writes, therefore: "The sinner's heart is the devil's workshop, but not the dwelling of the Holy Ghost." It is especially the sin of impurity, whether committed by unchaste thoughts, words, or works, which drives the Holy Ghost out of our hearts, and closes against Him the entrance to our souls. "The sensual man," writes St. Chrysostom, "can not receive the grace of the Holy Ghost." And Holy Writ says, in expressive words, that on account of this sin the Holy Ghost can not remain in man. "My spirit," we read, "shall not remain in man forever, because he is flesh" (Gen. vi. 3); in other words, because he is addicted to the lust of the flesh.
For this reason, dear Christians, if through a sinful life you have lost the Holy Ghost, strive by penance to purify your soul again from sin, so as to receive the Holy Ghost into your heart again. St. Peter exhorts us to do this in the words: "Do penance, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of your sins: and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost." (Acts ii. 38.) Reflect upon what you have lost through sin, namely, that you are no longer a child of the Holy Ghost. Let us do penance, that we may obtain the heavenly treasure again!
Without doubt, I say further, is the Christian a child of the Holy Ghost if his heart is adorned with numerous virtues. As our divine Savior in Holy Communion enters only into a virtuous heart, and that the Christian before receiving the same should excite feelings of virtue, even so the Holy Ghost will only dwell in those souls which are adorned with these virtues; in such a soul He has an abiding dwelling place. Just as the oil keeps the light burning, and the flame is extinguished when the oil is all used, just so is the Holy Ghostthe light and fire of the soulpreserved within us by virtue and good works. St. Augustine, therefore, in a sermon on the feast of Pentecost, tells his listeners: "The promises of our Redeemer have been fulfilled; our Lord Jesus Christ is ascended into heaven, and the Holy Ghost has come down from heaven; there remains for us, in order that this double event be fulfilled in us, to preserve within us by a virtuous life the Holy Ghost who has descended, and by leading such life to follow Jesus Christ, who has ascended. And this virtuous life of ours should consist in a firm faith, in the hope of God's mercy, in the love of God and our neighbor, in humility, in being at peace with our neighbors, and in piety and the fear of God, especially in purity of heart and chastity. Where these virtues are found in the souls of Christians, there we find the true children of the Holy Ghost.
Finally, dear Christians, I say, a sure mark of a child of the Holy Ghost is borne by that one who is a child of prayer, especially when he often prays to God for the gifts of the Holy Ghost. Our divine Savior demands such a prayer from us when He says: "If you, then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father from heaven give the good Spirit to them that ask him?" (Luke xi. 13.) The Apostles serve us with an example that the heavenly Father grants the Holy Ghost and His gifts to those who ask Him. He promised the Holy Ghost to them with these words: "And I will ask the Father, and he shall give you another Paraclete, that he may abide with you forever." (John xiv. 16.) What, therefore, did the Apostles do when they returned to Jerusalem after the ascension of Jesus into heaven from the Mount of Olives? They adjourned to an upper room where they lived, and they all united together in prayer with Mary.
And being assembled there in the same manner, in prayer, on the feast of Pentecost, suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a mighty wind coming: and it filled the house where they were sitting, and there appeared to them parted tongues, as it were of fire; and it sat upon each of them; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they began to speak with divers tongues, according as the Holy Ghost gave them to speak. (Acts ii. 1, 2.) Should we, dear Christians, pray less than the Apostles did for the Holy Ghost and His gifts? Our holy Church imitates the Apostles in invoking God for the Holy Spirit. Through the entire week of Holy Pentecost she prays by the mouth of the priests, "Come, Holy Ghost, and visit the souls of Thy servants." She sings that beautiful hymn, "Veni Creator Spiritus" ("Come, Creator Spirit"), that He may descend into the souls of the faithful, and enlighten them by the word of God. Pious Christians have always prayed to the Holy Ghost for His seven gifts. A pious abbot named John cried out to his listeners in a sermon: "We will beseech God to grant us His Holy Spirit that He may fructify and refresh our hearts with the rain and dew of His grace." Yes, we will pray frequently for his sublime grace, and with heart and voice repeat after St. Augustine those beautiful words: "Breathe perpetually, O Holy Ghost, Thy holy work within me, that I may think upon it; move me, that I may do it; persuade me, that I may love Thee ; strengthen me, that I may hold Thee fast; keep me, that I may not lose Thee!" Truly, those who pray thus possess the Holy Ghost, and are indeed true children of the Holy Ghost!
I say, dear Christians, that the children of the world stand in direct contrast to the children of the Holy Ghost.
The children of the world, dear Christians, are manifestly those men to whom the world is everything, to whom the world and all that it offers is of more consequence than heavenI might say, to whom the world is their God. To them belong those men who are attached with their whole hearts to transitory things; who make only the one effort to accumulate the treasures and wealth of this world, to become possessed of them. Tell me, is it conceivable that such efforts could proceed from a heart filled and animated by the Holy Ghost? Does the Holy Ghost not say in Holy Writ: "If riches abound, set not your heart upon them." (Ps. lxi. ii.) Can man, then, who has sold his heart wholly and entirely to the world and its treasures and possessions, say of himself that his exertions are holy and directed to heaven? Let the Holy Ghost, dear Christians, reign in your hearts, that he may turn them toward God and heaven, in heaven alone, where are true riches and treasures. "Seek first," that is to say, more than all earthly things, "the kingdom of God."
The children of this world are manifestly those persons who only strive after the joys and pleasures of this life. God has created us for heaven and its joys, "to the purchasing of salvation," as the Apostle writes. (I. Thess. v. 9.) At the same time, He has not forbidden us the enjoyment of worldly pleasures, for St. Paul says: "Rejoice with them that rejoice." (Rom. xii. 15.) But God has not created us that we should enjoy solely the pleasures of the world without thinking of heavenly joys, nor strive after them, much less that we should strive for them alone. "Seek first the kingdom of God." But, alas! how many people, how many Christian people, think only of joy, of pleasure, of the enjoyment of pleasures, and the lust of the world 1 How many seek these alone, and desire to enjoy them, without thinking of the joys of heaven, or longing for them 1 Worldly festivities with joyful meetings, with all the pleasures of the table; worldly pleasures with rioting and debauchery; worldly feasts with music and dancing; worldly festivities on Sundays and holy days: this is what occupies the attention of so many people their hearts desire it, without ever being satiated. Pleasures, and still more pleasures, enjoyment on enjoyment: this is what so many people are striving for. Now tell me, dear Christians, do not all these worldly pleasures and enjoyments generally bring grievous sins in their train? Do they not at least bury virtue beneath their pleasures, and are you not led thereby to eternal damnation? Can the Holy Ghost dwell and work in the hearts of such people, who only serve the spirit of the world?
The children of this world, I will say further, are manifestly those people who lead a tepid life, forgetful of God; in them the Holy Ghost can not be, for He is and lives only in the pious and God-fearing. Holy Scripture says of Simeon that he was God-fearing, and it adds these words: "The Holy Ghost was in him." (Luke ii. 25.) He was God-fearing, he was pious, as the Holy Scripture says of him. He came, as it says further on, "in answer to the Holy Ghost," and he had the grace to take into his arms the Infant Jesus, and he blessed God for this grace (Luke ii. 28.) Would Simeon have had this grace if the Holy Ghost had not dwelt in him, and if he had not led a pious, God-fearing life? Can we, then, say of lukewarm Christians that within them dwells the Holy Ghost, who instills in men the virtue of the fear of God and piety; may we say that of the lukewarm Christian who does not fear God, who does not lead a pious life nor visit the temple of God frequently, who neglects his morning and night prayers, who receives the Holy Sacraments either not at all or only once a year? No, I reply, he is a child of the world, he lives only for the world, he feels no desire to do good for heaven, and for this reason that it can not be said of him, as of the pious Simeon : "The Holy Ghost is in him."
In conclusion, those are the children of the world, and not the children of the Holy Ghost, who speak the language of the children of the world, and not the language of the Holy Ghost. But what language does the Holy Ghost speak? We see this in the holy Apostles. They are zealous to receive the Holy Ghost, who came down upon them in the form of fiery tongues, that they may speak for the holy faith; they preach virtue, they exhort to charity and peace, to mercy and justice, to chastity, and to a holy Christian life. But what is the language spoken by so many children of the world, over whom the Holy Ghost descended in the Holy Sacrament of Confirmation? I reply, they speak the language of the devil in derisive discourses on the holy faith; in unchaste conversations and stories; in curses and maledictions; in blasphemies against God and everything that is sacred to a Christian; in slander and seducing their neighbor to do wrong. The fiery tongue of the Holy Ghost, I might almost say, which descended upon them as it did upon the Apostles, even if invisibly, has been exchanged for the poisonous tongue of the devil, and for this reason they only speak the language of the devil, and not the language of the Holy Ghost.
O Christian, if your heart is so made that it only strives for the treasures and joys of the world; O Christian, if your heart is cold and lukewarm in the service of God; O Christian, if your tongue does not speak the language of the Holy Ghost, but the language of the devil, ah, then, be horrified at the unhappy state of your soul the Holy Ghost does not live and operate in your heart! On this holy festival of the Holy Ghost, therefore, lift up your hands to God and pray fervently for your soul: "O my God, who hast enlightened the hearts of Thy faithful through the Holy Ghost, grant that henceforth I shall speak only in this same spirit of heavenly things, that I may pray and work only for that which is heavenly, only accumulate treasures and merits for heaven, so that I may be found worthy one day to reach there where Thou with the Holy Ghost rules on the throne of heaven for all eternity." Amen.