The Life of All Things

 

Many of us find it easier to think about what we will wear to work each day than how we will speak to our coworkers.  We are careful to brush our teeth each day, but we are not as careful to pray for a few minutes each day. It almost seems like a law of our nature that the more important something is, the less we attend to it.  The Holy Spirit is the Third Person of the Trinity, the Paraclete or Helper, Who is more intimate to our souls than oxygen to our lungs, yet we rarely think of Him. It is fitting to the nature of God to be so humble, but Blessed John Henry Newman, in his meditation, “Paraclete, the Life of All Things,” teaches us to see, ponder, and adore this most Sacred Person so vital to our whole being, physical and spiritual.

Blessed Newman begins his meditation by invoking the Holy Spirit and praising Him as the life of all living things.  As Genesis reveals, He was present and active in the creation of the world. All things, from the planet Mars and a speck of sand in the Caribbean to oak trees and crab grass to elephants and turtles, exist and subsist by the power of the Holy Spirit. “Through Thee the many tribes of brute animals live day by day, drawing in their breath from Thee. Thou art the life of the whole creation, O Eternal Paraclete—and if of this animal and material framework, how much more of the world of spirits!”  Moreover, the Holy Spirit is the source of all goodness, whether good thoughts, plans, actions, or successes. All religious orders and institutions, devotions, and conversions find their inspiration in Him.

The Holy Spirit is a Person, and He works intimately in our souls as he does in the whole of creation.  Blessed Newman acknowledges his personal debt to the Holy Spirit, without Whom he is helpless. He calls himself weak as water and says if the Holy Spirit ceases to act in him he will languish.  “Of my good desires, whatever they may be, of my good aims, aspirations, attempts, successes, habits, practices, Thou art the sole cause and present continual source. I have nothing but what I have received…”

Besides the intimate presence and acts of the Holy Spirit, Newman adores His faithfulness over the span of his own life.  “Thou didst put good resolutions into me when I was young, and didst turn me to Thee.” The Holy Spirit will never leave Newman unless he turns from Him, and even this Newman trusts the Holy Spirit to keep him from doing.

Like Newman, we can can keep our eyes fixed on what matters most, and pray: Keep us, Paraclete, ever aware of Your life and breath. Stay in us and with us, and never leave. Watch our steps and keep us from leaving You.

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