Sermon given by Father Pancras Raja on May 10th, 2020
“But I tell you the truth: It is expedient to you that I go” (Jn. 15: 5 – 14)
When Jesus spoke of his imminent separation from his chosen ones, he explained to them the real and disinterested love he had for them. He told them plainly that it was for their greater good that he had to depart. It was the all wise design of providence that the visible presence of Jesus was to be taken from his Apostles – so that they may enjoy the fullness of the Holy Ghost.
The reason why?
Yes, the attachment of the Apostles to the corporal presence of their master was too human and sensible, and the love they bore him was too natural and too imperfect. It was necessary therefore that the sensible object of their love – i. e: the humanity of the second person of the Holy Trinity – was to be taken away from them; for if not, they could not become spiritual men. (ஆண்டவருடைய சீடர்கள் ஆன்மீக மனிதர்கள் ஆகவேண்டும். அதற்காக ஆண்டவருடைய மனுஷீக சினேகத்தின் தோற்றம் எடுபட்டு, அவருடைய தெய்வீகத்தினுள் அவர்கள் நுழைய வேண்டும்) It means that in a sense even the bodily presence of Jesus Christ was an obstacle for them to the reception of the fulness of the Holy Ghost. Let us learn a lesson from this that only when we detach ourselves from the created things, the Holy Ghost will be able to infuse in us his divine love. Let us therefore take care lest our natural inclinations and desires hinder the operation of God’s grace in us. (தேவ வரப்பிரசாத அலுவலுக்கு நமது உலக சம்பந்தமான கவர்ச்சிகளும் ஆசைகளும் தடையாய் இராதபடி நாம் பார்த்துக்கொள்ள வேண்டும்.)
What are the operations of the Holy Ghost? (ஸ்பிரித்துஸ் சாங்க்துவின் அலுவல்கள் என்ன?)
Our Lord teaches here that when the spirit of God possesses a soul, it always produces two kinds of operations in us. 1. A spirit of sanctity. 2. A spirit of truth.
The spirit of sanctity (புனிதமாக்குதல்)
The Holy Ghost will produce the spirit of sanctity – by convincing the world of sin, of justice and of judgment:
- Reproaching us with the slightest of sin
- Showing the great insufficiency of justice (grace and virtues)
- Correcting and ratifying our defective judgment
The spirit of truth (உண்மையை உணர்த்துதல்)
The Holy Ghost will produce the spirit of truth – by
- Instructing us about our duties to obtain life everlasting
- Helping us to understand and relish eternal truths
- Showing us new means and true practices of advancing in perfection
Yes, the Apostles failed to understand the teachings of Jesus Christ – when he was living with them. Only after receiving the Holy Ghost they understood the sublime mysteries of the divine truths – and began to make Christ manifest through their preaching and examples in a more glorious manner than during his mortal life on earth.
Human understanding and corporal presence are opposed to divine grace and eternal truths! And therefore, we must obtain the spirit of sanctity and spirit of truth by practices of advancing in perfection. (உத்தமதனத்தில் வளர்வதற்கான பயிற்சிகள்)
Practices for Advancing in Perfection
Practice of perfection consists in what we ought to be doing in order to live a truly Christian life, and how to do it. (“Spiritual Combat” by Dom Lawrence Scupoli)
What constitutes the true and perfect spiritual life?
Many people think that it consists exclusively in austerities, hair-shirts, disciplines, long vigils and fasts, or in other bodily hardships and penances.
Others, especially women, think that they have made great progress if they say many varieties of vocal prayers, reciting many Rosaries, hearing many Masses, receiving many communions, singing long Offices; or visiting many churches and so on.
Others are persuaded that perfection depends upon silence, solitude, and regularity.
But Spiritual Perfection really consists:
In the knowledge of the goodness and the greatness of God, and in the knowledge of our nothingness and of our inclination to all evil.
In the love of God and the hatred of ourselves.
In the subjection to God and to all His creatures for love of Him.
In the entire renunciation of our own will and absolute resignation to His divine providence.
In willing and doing all things purely for the glory of God and to please Him.
Now that we see wherein Christian perfection consists, we must provide ourselves with four most sure and necessary weapons, in order to gain the victory in this spiritual warfare. These four weapons are: Distrust of self; Trust in God (confidence in God); Spiritual Exercises; and Prayer.
1st Weapon – Distrust of self (தன்னில் அவநம்பிக்கை என்னும் ஆயுதம்)
Our corrupt nature too easily inclines us to a false estimation of ourselves; so that, being really nothing, we account ourselves to be something.
But How to acquire Distrust of self?
There are four methods to acquire this distrust of self.
The first is, to know and consider our own vileness and nothingness.
The second is, continually to ask the Lord for it in fervent and humble prayer.
The third is, to stand in fear of our strong inclination to sin.
The fourth is, to feel with humility our weakness; for this – God permits us fall.
2nd Weapon – Trust in God (Confidence – கடவுளில் நம்பிக்கை என்னும் ஆயுதம்)
Trust in God may be accomplished in four ways:
First, is to ask for it from God.
Secondly, is to see with the eye of faith at the wisdom and omnipotence of God,
Thirdly, to call to mind that no one who trusted in God has ever been confounded.
The fourth, is to labor and to fight generously to accomplish trust in God.
3rd Weapon – Spiritual Exercises (ஆன்மீக பயிற்சிகள் என்னும் ஆயுதம்)
There are three exercises in order that the Divine will may always govern us.
First: Whenever we are assailed by the impulses of sensual appetite, we must oppose with a valiant resistance to them, so that our will may not give consent.
Secondly: When the assaults have ceased, we must accustom ourselves to repulse them with contempt and abhorrence.
Thirdly: We must make acts contrary to each evil passion which is to be resisted.
This will be made clear by the following example.
Suppose we are assailed by feelings of impatience (உதாரணமாக பொறுமையின்மை ஏற்படும்போது):
First exercise: We must do all in our power that our will may not consent to it (மனதில் அதற்கு இசைவு தரக்கூடாது).
Second exercise: We must repress every such feeling of impatience and repel them with indignation (அருவருத்து விலக்க வேண்டும்), until they become hateful and abominable in our sight.
Thirdly: We must adorn and perfect our soul in the habit of all the virtues and exercise acts of gentleness directly opposed to all our disorderly passions of impatience (நேர் எதிரான மென்மை என்னும் புண்ணியத்தைப் பயிற்சி செய்ய வேண்டும்). (St. Francis De Sales and St. Ignatius)
4th Weapon – Prayer (ஜெபம் என்னும் ஆயுதம்)
Prayer is the instrument for obtaining all the graces. And to use it well, we must be well exercised in the following five practices.
- We must have an earnest desire to serve God’s Divine Majesty in all things,
- We must have a lively faith and confidence that the Lord will give us all things needful for His service and for our good.
- When we pray, our intention should be aimed at God’s will alone, not our own. (as Our Lord Prayed during his agony in the garden – “let thy will be done not mine”)
- After our prayer, we must labor to fit ourselves for the grace and virtue we desire to obtain. (be humble of heart so that the grace may flow, and the virtue remain)
- Our petitions must be preceded by thanksgiving for previous mercies – received from God.