INVOKING THE HOLY SPIRIT
We invoke the Holy Spirit using the words of St. Augustine.
Come, Holy Spirit, by whom every devout soul, who believes in Christ, is sanctified to become a citizen of the City of God! (en. In Ps. 45:8) Come, Holy Spirit, grant that we receive the motions of God, put in us your flame, enlighten us and raise us up to God (s. 128, 4).
With heart well disposed, with serenity, read slowly the following words, savoring them and allowing yourself to be touched by them.
Jesus told his disciples a parable, “Can a blind person guide a blind person? Will not both fall into a pit? No disciple is superior to the teacher; but when fully trained, every disciple will be like his teacher. Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own? How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me remove that splinter in your eye,’ when you do not even notice the wooden beam in your own? You hypocrite! Remove the wooden beam from your own eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter in your brother’s eye.”
“A good tree does not bear rotten fruit, nor does a rotten tree bear good fruit. For every tree is known by its own fruit. For people do not pick figs from thorn bushes, nor do they gather grapes from brambles. A good person out of the store of goodness in his heart produces good, but an evil person out of a store of evil produces evil; for from the fullness of the heart the mouth speaks.”
Let us now meditate with the commentary of St. Augustine on these words of the Gospel according to St. Luke.
Hypocrite, remove first the beam from your eye and afterwards you can see how you can remove the straw from the eye of your brother; that is, remove the hatred from yourself and later you can correct the one whom you love. He is right in saying, Hypocrite! To reprimand vices is a mission of good and benevolent men; but when bad men do this, they usurp an impersonation, like the hypocrites, who hide under the mask what they are, and they present a character that they are not. Therefore, under the title of hypocrites is understood those who are pretenders. This kind of deceitful people are truly terrible and annoying who, on taking with hate and malice the accusation of all vices, they wish to appear as counsellors. There is need to be careful and proceed with piety and prudence, in such a way that, when there is a need to reprimand or punish someone, let us think first of all if perhaps the vice is such that we never had it ourselves or that we have already freed ourselves of it. If we never had it, let us think that we are also human and we can have it; if we had it but no longer have it, let us remember with indulgence our common weakness, so the not hatred but mercy may precede the reprimand or punishment…” (De Serm. Dom. in Mont., 2, 64).
“The tree is the soul itself, that is, the man himself, and the fruits are the good works of man. It cannot be that a bad man can do good works, nor can a good man perform bad works. Because the evil person, if he wishes to do good works, must first become good. (…) Also there, later on, after having mentioned the two trees, he added: Hypocrites, how can you speak about good things if you are evil? Therefore, as long as one remains evil he cannot bear good fruits; and if he would bear good fruits, he would no longer be evil. He could rightfully proceed to say that snow cannot be hot; once it begins to be heated, we no longer call it snow but water. It is possible that what was snow stopped being so; but it is impossible that snow be hot. Thus it can happen that someone who was evil ceases to be evil, but it cannot be that one who is evil can do something good. And if in some circumstance it becomes useful, it is not he who does it, but it comes through him with the intervention of the Divine Providence, as it had been said of the Pharisees: Do what they tell you, but do not follow what they are doing” (De Serm. Dom. in Mont., 2, 79).
With the text, let us now pray from the depths of our heart. I suggest the following phrases and questions that can awaken in you dialogue with God and at the same time can give rise to affections and sentiments in your dialogue with God. Do not move to the next phrase or question if you can still continue dialoguing with God in one of them. It is not a matter of exhausting the list, but of helping you to pray with some points that better fit your personal experience.
- “Hypocrite! Remove first the wooden beam from your eye; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter in your brother’s eye” (Lk. 6:42).
- What elements impede you from seeing your own sins and make you more attentive to the defects of others?
- What do you think about this statement of St. Augustine: “The straw is the beginning of the beam, because when the beam is formed, the start is like a straw. By watering the straw, you transform it into a beam; by nourishing anger with evil suspicions, you lead it to hatred” (s. 82, 1)?
- “A tree is known by its fruit” (Lk. 6:44).
- What are the fruits of your life?
- Pray with this statement of St. Augustine: “Love is the root from which only good fruits can come out” (Ep. Io. Tr. 7, 8).
I propose to you some points for affective interior contemplation. Once again, you do not need to follow all of it, rather you can choose what fits your personal experience.
- Contemplate: what is the beam that you carry in your interior eye, that it impedes you from seeing your own sins. Ask Christ to free you from it.
- Contemplate: the root of love that exists in your heart. Feel how its power and vigor give you peace and make you fruitful even in the midst of difficulty.
Think of everything that you can share with those around you about the experience you had with God, especially about learning to see one’s own defects and sins, the importance of having love as your root. The following points can help you as guide to share with your community the experience of the Lectio Divina on this text:
- What have I discovered about God and about myself in this moment of prayer?
- How can I apply this text of Scripture at this moment of my life? What light does it give me? What challenges does it put before me?
- What concrete commitment does this text of Scripture ask of me in my spiritual life, in my community life?
- What has been my predominant sentiment during this moment of prayer?
FINAL PRAYER OF ST. AUGUSTINE
Turning towards the Lord:
Lord God, Father Almighty, with pure heart, as far as our littleness permits, allow us to give you our most devoted and sincere thanks, begging with all our strength from your particular goodness, that by your power you may drive away the enemy from all our thoughts and actions; that you may increase our faith, govern our mind,give us spiritual thoughts and bring us to your happiness, through your Son Jesus Christ, our Lord, who with you lives and reigns, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, forever and ever. Amen (en. Ps. 150:8).
“Just as concupiscence is the root of all evil, so also is love the root of all good” (s. 350, 1). “When this Spirit, God from God, is given to man, He inflames him with His love of God and of neighbor, because He is Love” (De. Trin., 15, 17, 31).