Translated by Fray Hubert Dunstan Decena, OAR
A. 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. 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) Amen.
With hearts well disposed, with serenity, read slowly the following words savoring them and allowing yourself to be touched by them.
15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 And I will ask my Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you always, 17 the Spirit of truth, which the world cannot accept, because it neither sees nor knows it. But you know it, because it remains with you, and will be in you. 18 I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you. 19 In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me, because I live and you will live. 20 On that day you will realize that I am in my Father and you are in me and I in you. 21 Whoever has my commandments and observes them is the one who loves me. And whoever loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and reveal myself to him.”
Let us now meditate with the commentary of St. Augustine on these words of the Gospel according to St. John.
“When the Gospel was being read, brothers, we heard the Lord say: If you love me, keep my commandments, and I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you always, the Spirit of truth, which the world cannot accept because it neither see nor knows it. But you know it, because it remains with you, and will be in you. There is so much to investigate in these few words of the Lord, but it is much for us to search everything that is here to seek out, or to find everything there is here to search. Nevertheless, in the measure that the Lord deigns to grant us according to my or your capacity, be attentive to what I ought to say and to what you ought to hear, receive, my dearest, through me what I am able, and ask him for what I am unable.
Christ has promised the Apostles the Spirit, the Paraclete; let us be attentive as to how he promised it. If you love me, he says, keep my commandments, and I will ask the Father, and he will give you another paraclete, that he may remain with you for all eternity, the Spirit of truth. Evidently, in the Holy Trinity, this Holy Spirit is what the Catholic faith confesses as consubstantial and coeternal with the Father and the Son. Of him the Apostle says: The Love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us. How come then that the Lord says: “If you love me, keep my commandments, and I will ask the Father and he will give you another paraclete,” when he says it of the Holy Spirit without whom we can neither love God nor keep his commandments? How can we love him to receive him whom we are not capable of loving if we do not have him? Or how can we keep his commandments to receive him if without him we cannot keep his commandments? [Perhaps the charity with which we love Christ preceded in us so that loving Christ and keeping his commandments, we may merit to receive the Holy Spirit in order that, through the Holy Spirit that has been given us, will be poured in our hearts not the Charity of Christ, which had already preceded, but the Charity of God the Father? Perverse is this opinion. In fact, he who believes that he loves the Son but does not love the Father, in reality does not love also the Son, but something that he himself has fabricated.]
Finally, the Apostle says: “No one says ‘Jesus is Lord’ if not in the Holy Spirit.” And who but someone who loves him can say that Jesus is Lord, if he says it in the manner that the Apostle wanted to be understood? In reality, many say it with the voice, but on the other hand deny him with their heart and with their actions, as he affirms of certain individuals: For they confess that they know God; but they deny him with their actions. If it is denied with the actions, without doubt it is also said with the actions. Therefore, no one says “Jesus is Lord” with the mind, with the word, with the action, with the heart, with the mouth, with the work; no one says “Jesus is Lord,” except in the Holy Spirit, and no one says it so except one who loves him. Therefore, if the apostles already said “Jesus is Lord;” and if they said it not in a fictitious manner – confessing with the lips and yet denying with the heart and with the actions– to sum up, if they were saying it truthfully, without doubt, they loved him. Therefore, how would they love him except in the Holy Spirit? Nevertheless, he commands them first to love him and observe his commandments in order to receive the Holy Spirit, not possessing whom they cannot in reality love him nor observe the commandments (Io. eu. tr. 74, 1).
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 more 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.
a. “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (Jn.14:15).
- How do you live the commandments of Christ?
- Why is the keeping of Christ’s commandments a sign of love?
b. “I will ask the Father to give you another Advocate, who will always remain with you, the Spirit of Truth” (Jn. 14:16).
- Why is the Holy Spirit the Advocate?
- How important is the Holy Spirit in your life?
c. Pray with this phrase: “Lord, give us your Holy Spirit.”
I propose to you some points for affective interior contemplation. Once again, you need not follow all of it, rather you can choose what fits your personal experience.
a. Contemplate how the love of Christ fills your whole life and how this love is of the Father and of the Son. Contemplate how your life is inserted into the mystery of the Blessed Trinity, and that you receive from them the love and the strength to live. Contemplate and be thankful.
b. Contemplate how Christ places the Spirit Consoler in your heart. Contemplate how this Spirit fills you with his peace and moves you to love Christ and in Christ all your brothers. Contemplate and love.
Think of everything that you can share with those around you about the experience you had with God, especially about God’s indwelling in you and of receiving the peace of Christ. 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 dominant 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 you deign to hear our petitions according to your good will, that by your power you may drive away the enemy from all our thoughts and actions; that you increase our faith, govern our mind, and 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, one God, forever and ever. Amen (en. Ps. 150:8).
“When you love Christ, you love the Son of God; when you love the Son of God, you also love the Father. Love is indivisible” (ep. Io. tr. 10,3)