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VATICAN - Ave Maria by Mgr. Luciano Alimandi -
Vatican City (Agenzia Fides) - Part of the Summer season is generally, if possible, devoted to holidays. A period particularly suitable not only for well earned rest and relaxation for the body, but also for restoring the truths of the spirit, I mean, those great truths which nourish the soul. In fact the soul, created by the Supreme Truth and Supreme Good, rests – as Saint Augustine says so wonderfully – only in God: “you have made us for yourself, o Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in You” (Confessions I, 1,1).
The Lord made us for Himself. It is not man who gives himself his being or the reason for his existence. Our being, that is our soul, and our purpose, that is our vocation, are given by God, the Creator and Lord of all creation.
We human beings are free to choose whether or not to correspond to the Father's plan for our sanctification, as we are taught in a magisterial manner by Saint Paul: “Blessed be God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with all the spiritual blessings of heaven in Christ. Thus he chose us in Christ before the world was made to be holy and faultless before him in love, marking us out for himself beforehand, to be adopted sons, through Jesus Christ.” (Eph 1, 3-6).
For Christians therefore the calling and the commitment for holiness never goes on holiday. Tension towards conversion of heart should never take time off, Winter or Summer. In fact true repose consists in becoming increasingly aware the presence of God within us.
We can say that holiday time is particularly suitable for rediscovering the call to holiness, because the holiday rhythm, also for those of us who are priests, is an opportunity for reflection and meditation, silence and prayer, absolutely necessary in order to re-concentrate the mind, the light and the guide of the will, on the essential truths of the faith and of all human existence which does not end with death, instead it leads to eternity! We can only reflect deeply on our call to holiness, renew our spiritual life, if we are united with the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth who sanctifies us in Christ Jesus.
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In the Sequence of Pentecost we invoke the coming of the Paraclete with words rich in significance, firmly based on Revelation and Church Tradition, and therefore unchanging. Words which underline the role of the Holy Spirit, rightly called “sweet relief”, bringing calm to the soul, “in fatigue, repose” (from the Sequence of Pentecost).
If we pray this sequence, not only at Pentecost, but every day, we receive a special gave, because we are addressing the Third Person of the Most Holy Trinity, calling him to come: “Come, Father of the poor, come, Giver of gifts, come, Light of hearts”.
If we were to pray this sequence more frequently and with faith we would experience more keenly the wondrous presence of the Holy Spirit in our life. In the Gospel Jesus promises that the Father will give us all that we ask for with confidence, but especially the gift of gifts, the Holy Spirit: “ If you then, evil as you are, know how to give your children what is good, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!' ” (Lk 11, 13).
Since we are body and soul, if we rest only the body, our rest is incomplete. Just like the body, the soul too needs to restore lost energies. We all experience this.
When a new week begins we realise how much spiritual energy will be necessary in order to live it well and when Sunday, the Lord's Day, comes at last we breath a sigh of relief because this is the day of complete rest for soul and body, a time to recharge spiritual and physical energies.
The soul rests when it finds its vital core, which is communion with God, made possible by Jesus who gives us His Spirit: “…he breathed on them and said: "Receive the Holy Spirit. ” (Jn 20, 22). Jesus came down to earth that we might ascend to Heaven thanks to the working of the Holy Spirit who
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“lifts us ever higher”!
Man “rests” completely when he rediscovers the essential bond of his being, communion with God, with the Holy Spirit who is Love. The soul is calm when it rests in the hands of God, which are the hands of Our Lord Jesus Christ. He urged the apostles to rest when they returned from their apostolic work: “ 'Come away to some lonely place all by yourselves and rest for a while' ” (Mk 6, 31), as if to say: remain in me, because in communion with Me everything assumes true and lasting value!
These words of the Lord, “come to a lonely place”, are especially addressed to priests, who, as the Holy Father, Benedict XVI, has so often taught, are called to a life of intense communion with God: “ no one can give what he does not personally possess; in other words we cannot pass on the Holy Spirit effectively or make him perceptible to others unless we ourselves are close to him. This is why I think that the most important thing is that we ourselves remain, so to speak, within the radius of the Holy Spirit's breath, in contact with him. Only if we are continually touched within by the Holy Spirit, if he dwells in us, will it be possible for us to pass him on to others. ” (Benedict XVI, meeting with the clergy of the diocese of Bolzano-Brixen, 6 August 2008).
(Agenzia Fides 24/7/2009; righe 65, parole 932)