Holy Spirit

Overflowing sustained through depth

If then you are wise, you will show yourself rather as a reservoir than as a canal. For a canal spreads abroad water as it receives it, but a reservoir waits until it is filled before overflowing, and thus communicates, without loss to itself, its superabundant water.  –St Bernard of Clairvaux


Holy Spirit

O Holy Spirit, by whose breath
life rises vibrant out of death,
come to create, renew, inspire;
come, kindle in our hearts your fire.

You are the seeker’s only course,
of burning love the living source,
protector in the midst of strife,
the giver and the Lord of life.

In you God’s energy is shown,
to us your varied gifts made known.
Teach us to speak, teach us to hear;
yours be the tongue and yours the ear.

Flood our dull senses with your light;
in mutual love our hearts unite.
Your power the whole creation fills;
make strong our weak, uncertain wills.

From inner strife grant us release;
turn nations to the ways of peace.
To fuller life your people bring
that as one body we may sing:

Praise to the Father, Christ, his Word,
and to the Spirit: God the Lord,
to whom all honor, glory be
both now and for eternity.




Poetry By Mary Oliver

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice–
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do–
determined to save
the only life you could save.


Still waters run deep

Romano Guardini ‘The Lord’


The Christmas liturgy includes these beautiful verses from…the Book of Wisdom: “For while all things were in quiet silence, and the night was in the midst of her course, thy almighty word leapt down from heaven from thy royal throne”. The passage, brimming with the mystery of the Incarnation, is wonderfully expressive of the infinite stillness that hovered over Christ’s birth. For the greatest things are accomplished in silence—not in the clamor and display of superficial eventfulness, but in the deep clarity of inner vision; in the almost imperceptible start of decision, in quiet overcoming and hidden sacrifice. Spiritual conception happens when the heart is quickened by love, and the free will stirs to action. The silent forces are the strong forces. Let us turn now to the stillest event of all, stillest because it came from the remoteness beyond the noise of any possible intrusion—from God.

Luke reports:

“Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, … and when the angel had come to her, he said, ‘Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women.’ When she had heard him she was troubled at his word, and kept pondering what manner of greeting this might be. “And the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for thou hast found grace with God. Behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb and shalt bring forth a son; and thou shalt call his name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he shall be king over the house of Jacob forever; and of his kingdom there shall have no end.’

“But Mary said to the angel, ‘How shall this happen, since I do not know man?’

“And the angel answered and said to her, ‘The Holy Spirit shall come upon thee and the power of the Most High shall overshadow thee; and therefore the Holy One to be born shall be called the Son of God.’

“But Mary said, ‘Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it done to me according to thy word.’ And the angel departed from her.

How quietly everything occurred….


Apostolic Succession


Jesus said to his disciples:
“When the Advocate comes whom I will send you from the Father,
the Spirit of truth that proceeds from the Father,
he will testify to me.
And you also testify,
because you have been with me from the beginning.

“I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now.
But when he comes, the Spirit of truth,
he will guide you to all truth.
He will not speak on his own,
but he will speak what he hears,
and will declare to you the things that are coming.
He will glorify me,
because he will take from what is mine and declare it to you.
Everything that the Father has is mine;
for this reason I told you that he will take from what is mine
and declare it to you.”

Gospel of John 15:26-27, 16:12-15


Pope John Paul II

Pope John Paul II



Quietude aware

Listening to the Holy Spirit,
One who never speaks,
Within prayer,
A hush, a tone, atonement,

A snippet from Rainer Maria Rilke’s ‘Sonnets to Orpheus’

Creatures of silence emerged from the clear
unfettered forest, from dens, from lairs.
Not from shyness, this silence of theirs;
nor from any hint of fear,

simply from listening. Brutal shriek and roar
dwindled in their hearts. Where stood a mere
hut to house the passions of the ear,

constructed of longing darkly drear,
haphazardly wrought from front to rear,
you built them a temple at listening’s core.


Catechism on the Holy Spirit and pre-Pentecost Meandering


“No one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.” Now God’s Spirit, who reveals God, makes known to us Christ, his Word, his living Utterance, but the Spirit does not speak of himself. The Spirit who “has spoken through the prophets” makes us hear the Father’s Word, but we do not hear the Spirit himself. We know him only in the movement by which he reveals the Word to us and disposes us to welcome him in faith. The Spirit of truth who “unveils” Christ to us “will not speak on his own.” Such properly divine self-effacement explains why “the world cannot receive [him], because it neither sees him nor knows him,” while those who believe in Christ know the Spirit because he dwells with them…

Fire. While water signifies birth and the fruitfulness of life given in the Holy Spirit, fire symbolizes the transforming energy of the Holy Spirit’s actions. The prayer of the prophet Elijah, who “arose like fire” and whose “word burned like a torch,” brought down fire from heaven on the sacrifice on Mount Carmel. This event was a “figure” of the fire of the Holy Spirit, who transforms what he touches. John the Baptist, who goes “before [the Lord] in the spirit and power of Elijah,” proclaims Christ as the one who “will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.” Jesus will say of the Spirit: “I came to cast fire upon the earth; and would that it were already kindled!” In the form of tongues “as of fire,” the Holy Spirit rests on the disciples on the morning of Pentecost and fills them with himself The spiritual tradition has retained this symbolism of fire as one of the most expressive images of the Holy Spirit’s actions. “Do not quench the Spirit.”

–Catechism of the Catholic Church.  Other authentically defined symbols of the Holy Spirit: water, anointing, cloud and light (touched on in yesterdays post), the seal, the hand, the finger, lastly and most commonly the dove.

Personal meandering:

All glory to God, an exhilarating Memorial Day weekend awaits. Settling into a new home, I feel blessed. The Holy Spirit novena comes to a close with Pentecostal celebration posed for exaltation. The Holy Spirit kisses upon the forehead, gradually acquiring a taste for nothing but the Divine, imperfections providing humility, the reality of so much further to transcend. I sit patiently, biting upon the chomp. I still get a headache sometimes from so many thoughts assailing. A stomach ache and severe hurting of the soul when a certain someone plays upon my mind. Speaking to my spiritual director, he became agitated, insisting that I had to slow down. I was throwing so many things at him within moments, he became overwhelmed. He tries to keep things simple, while I just explode with thoughts, aspirations, dementations, interpretations–an overall vomiting of thoughts and concerns. I asked a priest if a certain personal battle, lust, would ever cease, admitting there are certain battles I feel I will never win. He responded well of course they will end, approximately three or four days after your death. In other words, evermore will I contend. Human, I am. So I have a mind that races, excited, continually pursuing battles, and achievements. Matters that really amount to nothing, wasting time has been a specialty for years. My spiritual director stated you have a rich interior life. It was not a compliment, rather a challenge. Now what to do? Centering myself at St Paul’s Shrine has become intrinsic, something I cannot avoid. Today before mass I was so excited to share news with Sister Clare Marie. She feels I brought to much food last week, worrying I will do the same in the near future. I waved to her to approach, before the Eucharist, and she responded reluctantly. I always love her reticent way of approaching me, internally I imagine her thinking, ‘now, what is he up to? I have to be careful around this one.’ I said, ‘Sister, I am going to bring something very special tomorrow. Can you guess?” I knew she would be thinking in terms of food. She responded questionably “donuts”, unspoken stating do not bring too much food this week. “My mother”, I declared. She smiled, cooing, “That is good”. My mother will attend mass tomorrow with me at St Paul’s. I will drive over a hundred miles one way in order to bring her back to Cleveland with me. I am so excited. There are many profound reasons why this is so important, essential to spiritual blossoming. It will be an incredible day. The following day, Memorial Day, I will return to the friary, reconciling with Father David Mary. At least, that is my intention, may God’s will be supporting, the Holy Spirit providing and abiding. I am writing this moment upon my new front porch. I love Cleveland Heights, the hipster neighborhood as I have identified it. There are two black men helping the oriental homeowner next door restore his rental property. Basketball talking, the Cavs discussing, people are a blast to encounter. A morning of shopping at Coventry, poetry books, a mystery, a spiritual biography purchased, cold coffee drank and a consignment store explored makes for pleasantries. I enjoy being around the younger generation, millennials as they are tagged. My son in Ann Arbor I place into the category. Aware, socially conscious, penetrating in their ambition to embrace life in a choke hold, I find them inspiring to share life with. I just read an interview with Bob Dylan in the AARP magazine in which he states passion is the pursuit of young people. To live based upon passion, an exterior life lived through others, as an aging man is to ask for trouble. ‘You might just get seriously hurt’, Bob Dylan firmly states, in a way only he can. Wisdom is the aim for those advanced in age. Allowing the absorbing of all surrounding, forgiving and loving, rising above all other needs and interpretations. I think of my former spiritual partner, imagining she is once again perusing single websites, focused upon dating, the bringing in of others as if exterior efforts that never worked in the past will bring in some new experience that will allow the living of life to attain a deeper meaning. Unable to ever truly conduct an adult Catholic romantic relationship with another, the absolute consummation of dating will dominate her mind.  Living like a teenager when one is older is really superficial, sad, a blocking of the necessity of developing an interior life based upon prayer, a truly contemplative approach embracing pain, boredom, and shame unable to be accomplished. Others must call forth compassion. We must truly become prayerful if we are to age properly. To create depth we must be willing to become empty, to truly develop the ability to sit still contently, contritely silent in thought and deed, adoring while absorbing who we truly are, and what the Trinity truly presents. Forcing, exerting perverse self-will, constantly attempting to fill, using people as entertainment, while unable to attain, share, intimate Catholic depth, is spiritually stifling, a sign of inadequacies and deprivation. I am still amazed how many people find it necessary to establish their spiritual life based upon their interactions with others. If only I can impress this one with my thoughts, acumen, and knowledge. Seeking sweet consolations through interaction with others becomes everything. What else could there possibly be? Lacking an interior life, one’s hope becomes centered in others. I think of this afternoon’s communal Rosary, Divine Mercy, and extensive offertory vocal prayer session and my holy Philippine friend lamenting, loudly going into a tirade regarding family members who constantly disrespect her, stab her in the back with gossip, and overall cause her extreme strife in their inability to properly conduct themselves before God. I smile inside thinking: Mary must have had a difficult time with relatives this week. I look to the Eucharist, envisioning the Holy Spirit hovering above, God, the Father sitting eternal. As it was in the beginning, it is now, and forever shall be. World without end. I have also discovered Shaker Lake, a fine park for walking. The body and exercise being central to the foreshadowing of sun and a plentiful summer. This week I started a new experience, praying, worried a bit to venture too far away from that which has proven to work, I employed what proved to be the pleasure of participating in a yoga class. It was nice. I will return weekly. I exchanged wonderful e-mails with the instructor, identifying and respecting personal paths, separate pursuits to the divine, together with others, we will share in trying to get the best out of this personal temple God splendidly graced. I was pleased to receive approval from my spiritual director regarding the effort. Passing by, a wonderful family of three walking daughters, a mother pushing the fourth, an infant, in a stroller just meandered past. The Cleveland Heights neighborhood is really working. An amusing moment after the yoga session. A woman walked with me to my car, telling me about her familiarity with yoga. I observed her during the session noticing her agreeable disposition. I could not identify her accent, a strange inflection coloring her words. I asked her if she possessed a foreign accent. She answered, ‘No, I am hearing impaired. It causes me to speak strangely’. Something about the way she stated the words made me laugh, which brought a smile to her face. She said ‘I was also raised in Boston, kind of a foreign country, yet that was years ago’. People are pleasing, smiling forward on into the contemplative I saunter. Others are a means of sharing, an investment accentuating the prayerful life.  Two teenage punk rock girls, one with blue hair, just passed, one walking two large Great Danes.

The two great commandments that contain the whole law of God are:

Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart, and with thy whole soul, and with thy whole mind, and with thy whole strength;

Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.