Friday, May 30, 2014

Come, O Father of the Poor

Come, O Holy Spirit, come! And from your celestial home/Shed a ray of light divine

In these nine days before Pentecost, we pray for the the Holy Spirit to come to us. To ask intelligently, we also meditate on His person, who it actually is we invite. All of this is contained in the Veni, Sancte Spiritus, or the Pentecost Sequence, which is prayed in the Latin Catholic liturgy on the feast of Pentecost.

Today I'm thinking about this chunk: 
Come, O Father of the poor! 
Come, source of all our store!
Come, within our bosoms shine!

Veni pater pauperum
Veni dator munerum
Veni lumen cordium

My almost non-existent Latin skills and a dictionary tells me that the more literal translation into English would be "Come, father of the poor/Come, giver of gifts/Come, light of our hearts."

Speaking of the literalness of things, St. Teresa of Avila had to remind me (in her discussion of the Our Father that I recently read) of the depth of the word "father." My barren computation of this word tends to stop with the sense of "sire." A father, however, is far more than a man who contributes his seed to begin life and then absents himself. To father, as a verb, St. Teresa reminds, is to take on the responsibility for, to provide what is necessary for life, and at sacrifice.

We call on the Holy Spirit here as Father of the poor. The sense is that we seek His fatherhood for ourselves; we desire this poverty of spirit. He is indeed the one who gives life to this desire for poverty. It is His nature, and He imparts His nature to those who share His life. Spiritual poverty clings to nothing, and possesses everything. The Holy Spirit is the bond of the love of the Trinity which fills the Church and makes Her supernatural while still on earth.

And the Holy Spirit is also the provider for the poor in spirit. We have nothing of ourselves; we look to Him for everything and acknowledge every gift He sends as we employ it in living. We are to think of ourselves always as children of the Holy Spirit. That He lives within us explains who we are and how we appear to others: the light of our hearts shining in a dark place.

We pray the novena to meditate more deeply on this reality, drawing its fruit into our souls.

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