Temples of the Holy Ghost ~ Card. Newman

(1) The Temples of the Holy Ghost

Blessed John Henry has some beautiful sermons on the Resurrection of Our Lord in his Parochial and Plain Sermons, vol 6. In Meditations and Devotions he offers a few short meditations on the Resurrection. He begins by reflecting on the condescension of the Eternal Son of God to assume the human condition while acknowledging that his Body “could not remain under the power of death” because Son wonderfully made it his.

Next Newman considers how the Resurrection of Christ is the pledge of the resurrection of our bodies. He notes how pagans thought the destruction of the body was the condition of a higher existence. Instead Christ revealed to man that what was so vile, so degraded and so sinful could “become celestial and immortal, without ceasing to be a body!” by virtue of God’s power.

Indeed we have been made temples of the Holy Spirit, to whom Newman prays: “O my God, teach me so to live, as one who does believe the great dignity, the great sanctity of that material frame in which Thou hast lodged me.”

1. I ADORE Thee, O Eternal Word, for Thy gracious condescension, in not only taking a created nature, a created spirit or soul, but a material body. The Most High decreed that for ever and ever He would subject Himself to a created prison. He who from eternity was nothing but infinite incomprehensible Spirit, beyond all laws but those of His own transcendent Greatness, willed that for the eternity to come He should be united, in the most intimate of unions, with that which was under the conditions of a creature. Thy omnipotence, O Lord, ever protects itself—but nothing short of that omnipotence could enable Thee so to condescend without a loss of power. Thy Body has part in Thy power, rather than Thou hast part in its weakness. For this reason, my God, it was, that Thou couldst not but rise again, if Thou wast to die—because Thy Body, once taken by Thee, never was or could be separated from Thee, even in the grave. It was Thy {351} Body even then, it could see no corruption; it could not remain under the power of death, for Thou hadst already wonderfully made it Thine, and whatever was Thine must last in its perfection for ever. I adore Thy Most Holy Body, O my dear Jesus, the instrument of our redemption!

2. I look at Thee, my Lord Jesus, and think of Thy Most Holy Body, and I keep it before me as the pledge of my own resurrection. Though I die, as die I certainly shall, nevertheless I shall not for ever die, for I shall rise again. My Lord, the heathen who knew Thee not, thought the body to be of a miserable and contemptible nature—they thought it the seat, the cause, the excuse of all moral evil. When their thoughts soared highest, and they thought of a future life, they considered that the destruction of the body was the condition of that higher existence. That the body was really part of themselves and that its restoration could be a privilege, was beyond their utmost imagination. And indeed, what mind of man, O Lord, could ever have fancied without Thy revelation that what, according to our experience, is so vile, so degraded, so animal, so sinful, which is our fellowship with the brutes, which is full of corruption and becomes dust and ashes, was in its very nature capable of so high a destiny! that it could become celestial and immortal, without ceasing to be a body! And who but Thou, who art omnipotent, could have made it so! No wonder then, that the wise men of the world, who did not believe in Thee, scoffed at the Resurrection. But I, by Thy grace, will ever keep before me how differently I have {352} been taught by Thee. O best and first and truest of Teachers! O Thou who art the Truth, I know, and believe with my whole heart, that this very flesh of mine will rise again. I know, base and odious as it is at present, that it will one day, if I be worthy, be raised incorruptible and altogether beautiful and glorious. This I know; this, by Thy grace, I will ever keep before me.

3. O my God, teach me so to live, as one who does believe the great dignity, the great sanctity of that material frame in which Thou hast lodged me. And therefore, O my dear Saviour! do I come so often and so earnestly to be partaker of Thy Body and Blood, that by means of Thy own ineffable holiness I may be made holy. O my Lord Jesus, I know what is written, that our bodies are the temples of the Holy Ghost. Should I not venerate that which Thou dost miraculously feed, and which Thy Co-equal Spirit inhabits! O my God, who wast nailed to the Cross, confige timore tuo carnes meas—”pierce Thou my flesh with Thy fear;” crucify my soul and body in all that is sinful in them, and make me pure as Thou art pure. {353}