Veni Sancte Spiritus!
"And they were filled with the Holy Spirit and they began to speak of the wonderful works of God." (Acts 2:4)
Today's reflection for Pentecost Sunday was preached by fra' Johannes Tauler, O.P., (c.1300 - 1361) who was a contemporary and disciple of the Dominican Meister Eckhart, one of the school of Rhineland mystics and one of the most influential medieval German preachers who is credited (among others) for the development of Middle High German. Tauler invites us today to shut out all distractions and worldly attractions so that we may prepare a dwelling place for the Holy Spirit Who makes us receptive to His divine operation within us, giving us the Seven Gifts we have considered this past week:
"This is the marvellous day on which the Holy Spirit descended in the form of fiery tongues upon the disciples and upon those who were united with them. This is the day on which the priceless treasure, lost in Paradise through the evil counsel of Satan and human weakness, has been returned. It is the day on which it has been restored to us.
Even the outward circumstances of the event fill us with wonder; but the spiritual reality hidden and contained with it exceeds everything that could be known, conceived, or expressed by any creature. It is past all telling. So incomprehensible is the Holy Spirit in His greatness, so infinite in His loving richness, that all His greatness and infinity eludes any image our human reason could form. Heaven and earth and all they contain are as nothing in comparison. Compared to Him, all creatures together are as small as the tiniest particle beside the whole world. All created beings in their entirety are a thousand times less than the least that may be said of the Holy Spirit. If, therefore, He should be fitly received, it is He who must prepare the place, create the receptiveness in the soul, and also dwell there to receive Himself. It is the ineffable abyss of God that must be His dwelling and the place where He is received, not that of creatures.
"And the whole house was filled". God fulfills wholly. Wherever He enters, He fills the entire capacity of the soul completely, every nook and corner.
The disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit. First, we must observe what were the circumstances when the disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit, for these should be the same for all of us. They were gathered there, gathered within themselves, and they were sitting still when the Holy Spirit was sent to them. This Holy Spirit, so rich in love, will be sent to each of us as often and as much as we withdraw ourselves from creatures and turn wholly to God. The very instant we do this, the Holy Spirit comes at once with all His gifts, flooding the recesses of the soul down to its very ground. On the other hand, the moment a man turns willfully away from God to creatures, whether it be to himself or to any created thing whatever, the Holy Spirit immediately flees and leaves the soul, taking with Him all the treasures and riches. Wherever such a man now turns without God and outside of God - it is his own self he is now seeking.
The house where the disciples gathered was completely filled. In one sense this house signifies Holy Church, which is indeed God's dwelling place. In another sense it signifies each man in whom the Holy Spirit dwells. Now, just as there are many dwellings and rooms in one house, so in one man there are many faculties, senses, and activities; and in all these He enters in a special way. When He comes, He urges, impels and straightens man by His influence and illumination. However, these operations are not perceived by all people in the same manner; for in reality He dwells in the souls of all the just. Yet, if we wish to feel His action, if we desire to savour His presence, then we must bring ourselves to a focus, shut out external matters, and allow the Holy Spirit to unfold within us in stillness and repose. In this manner we first and foremost become aware of Him and so He reveals Himself to us. Our awareness will increase in proportion to our consent. And hour by hour He will reveal Himself more clearly, although He has been given to man from the very beginning...
Beloved, how glad, how exceeding glad we should be to forsake all things and to follow this blessed Spirit Who is given to us today and always, and Who will be given every day and every hour to those who are ready to receive Him. May God grant that we will receive Him in so noble a manner. Amen."