The Holy Spirit and Prayer
Presence of God – O Holy Spirit, Spirit of piety, come and pray in me; come to regulate my filial relations with the heavenly Father.
Our relations with God are essentially filial ones, trustful and confident, for we are not strangers, but “domestics of God” (Ephesians 2:19): we belong to God’s family. Our prayer then ought to express the feelings of a happy child who enjoys talking heart to heart with his father, and can throw himself into his father’s arms with complete abandon. Unfortunately, we are always poor sinners, and the knowledge of our wretchedness and unfaithfulness may paralyze this filial affection, causing a certain fear to arise in our souls, a fear which, sometimes, spontaneously puts on our lips Peter’s cry: “Depart from me, O Lord, for I am a sinful man,” (Luke 5:8). This happens especially when the soul is going through dark periods of struggle, temptations, and difficulties, all of which tend to throw it into agitation and confusion, impeding, in spite of its efforts, that confident outpouring of the heart which submerges all its worries in God. Then one day, during prayer, the soul becomes recollected under the influence of a new light which drives away all fear, not a new thought, but an intimate realization of truth never before experienced: God is my Father, I am His child. It is the influence of the gift of piety, set in motion by the Holy Spirit. St. Paul speaking to the first Christians told them: “You have not received the spirit of bondage again in fear; but you have received the spirit of adoption of sons, whereby we cry: Abba, Father. For the Spirit Himself giveth testimony to our spirit, that we are the sons of God” (Romans 8:15, 16). Hence it is the Holy Spirit who infuses into the soul this strong feeling of filial piety, of full confidence in its heavenly Father; furthermore, He Himself, with unspeakable groanings, whispers within it: “Father!” “God hath sent the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying: Abba, Father!” (Galatians 4:6). Thus the soul feels itself transformed, and its relations with God become filial.
“Come, Holy Spirit, send down from heaven a ray of Your light. Come, Father of the poor; come, Dispenser of gifts; come, Light of hearts! O perfect Comforter, sweet Guest of the soul, delicious refreshment. You are rest in toil, shelter from burning heat, consolation in sorrow! O blessed light! Fill with Your light the depths of my heart! Without Your powerful help, nothing in me is good, nothing is without imperfection. Cleanse what is soiled, water what is dry, heal what is wounded. Soften what is hard, warm what is cold, guide him who has gone astray. Give me, who trust in You, Your seven gifts. Give reward to virtue, save me and bring me to eternal joy” (cf. Sequence of the Holy Spirit).
“Come, Holy Spirit, be my interior Master. Give me a true filial spirit toward our heavenly Father, great confidence in His paternal goodness, total adherence, both active and passive, to His will, and immense gratitude for His graces. Come and advise me in all things, reminding me of all that Jesus said; guide me, take upon Yourself the direction of my whole being, strengthen my weakness, supply for all my deficiencies. Come and fulfill in me my mission of continual prayer, for what would my prayer be worth unless it were inspired and given value by You? ‘No man can say: the Lord Jesus, but by the Holy Ghost.’ O Divine Spirit, pray then in me and through me. I ought to think that it is You who are praying and praising God in me, even when weariness or aridity or distractions prevent me from being recollected. I should remain, then, in a humble attitude of prayer, confident that You will draw from me the praise and glory which I do not know how to give, but which I desire to give to my God” (Sr. Carmela of the Holy Spirit, O.C.D.).
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Art for this post on the Holy Spirit and prayer: Holy Spirit detail of Ceiling Peterskirche Munich, artist not listed, Jebulon, 21 October 2013, CCO-Universal Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons. Father Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, mirror from open source material.