The Holy Spirit

 

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 Westminster Cathedral London

 

From the treatise On the Holy Spirit by Saint Basil the Great, bishop

The work of the Holy Spirit

The titles given to the Holy Spirit must surely stir the soul of anyone who hears them, and make him realize that they speak of nothing less than the supreme Being. Is he not called the Spirit of God, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, the steadfast Spirit, the guiding Spirit? But his principal and most personal title is the Holy Spirit.

To the Spirit all creatures turn in their need for sanctification; all living things seek him according to their ability. His breath empowers each to achieve its own natural end.

The Spirit is the source of holiness, a spiritual light, and he offers his own light to every mind to help it in its search for truth. By nature the Spirit is beyond the reach of our mind, but we can know him by his goodness. The power of the Spirit fills the whole universe, but he gives himself only to those who are worthy, acting in each according to the measure of his faith.

Simple in himself, the Spirit is manifold in his mighty works. The whole of his being is present to each individual; the whole of his being is present everywhere. Though shared in by many, he remains unchanged; his self-giving is no loss to himself. Like the sunshine, which permeates all the atmosphere, spreading over land and sea, and yet is enjoyed by each person as though it were for him alone, so the Spirit pours forth his grace in full measure, sufficient for all, and yet is present as though exclusively to everyone who can receive him. To all creatures that share in him he gives a delight limited only by their own nature, not by his ability to give.

The Spirit raises our hearts to heaven, guides the steps of the weak, and brings to perfection those who are making progress. He enlightens those who have been cleansed from every stain of sin and makes them spiritual by communion with himself.

As clear, transparent substances become very bright when sunlight falls on them and shine with a new radiance, so also souls in whom the Spirit dwells, and who are enlightened by the Spirit, become spiritual themselves and a source of grace for others.

From the Spirit comes foreknowledge of the future, understanding of the mysteries of faith, insight into the hidden meaning of Scripture, and other special gifts. Through the Spirit we become citizens of heaven, we enter into eternal happiness, and abide in God. Through the Spirit we acquire a likeness to God; indeed, we attain what is beyond our most sublime aspirations—we become God.

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Fear NOT

dav
Westminster Cathedral London

Although it is not always a good idea to take verses out of context there is definitely a thread that runs through God’s word that fear can act as a blockage to God’s work in us. Time and time again we are told not to fear if we are a son or daughter of God. It causes a bottleneck or even acts as a stopper to God’s work in us.

But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. Luke 1.30

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. 1John 4:18

The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. Romans 8: 15

“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
    I have summoned you by name; you are mine. Isaiah 43 : 1

God is our refuge and strength,
    an ever-present help in trouble.
 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
    and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
 though its waters roar and foam
    and the mountains quake with their surging Psalm 46: 1-3

Our Lord’s own words:

 Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God.  Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. Luke 12: 6 – 7

 

Copy of DSCN2569
 From The Friars, Maidstone, Kent, England

 But how do we turn our back on fear? That seems easier said than done.  As always, we do not do it in our own strength because anything we try to do in our strength will never be enough. It is like trying to run  a marathon with a broken leg! The answer is always a gift of God’s grace through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone?  Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake?  If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! Matthew 7: 9-11

But how do we receive this help? It isn’t a question of asking and asking. God already knows the desires of our heart. He says we ‘rest’ in Him and ‘remain’ in Him – then he can do his work.

Let the beloved of the Lord rest secure in him,
    for he shields him all day long,
    and the one the Lord loves rests between his shoulders. Deuteronomy 33:12

Then He can work in and on us because we also begin to glimpse the desires of God’s heart so we are able to ask for those things that please him and are good for us. And, of course, resting in the Lord is the opposite of fear!

I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.  If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.  If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.  This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.   John 15 5-9

 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them.John 15:6

English Catholic Martyrs – Westminster Cathedral

The Chapel of Saint George and the English Martyrs in Westminster Cathedral, London is a moving testament to those who were brutally executed for their Catholic faith. Many were priests working clandestinely to minister to believers during the reigns of Elizabeth the First, James the First, Charles the First and Charles the Second.

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Edmund Bonner, Bishop of London – “I possess three things, soul, body and property; of the last two you can dispose at your pleasure. But as to my soul, God alone can command me.” He died in the Tower of London during the reign of Elizabeth the First.

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Chapel Ceiling

 

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Saint John Southworth – his story is below

St John Southworth was born in 1592 into a recusant family: the Southworths of Samlesbury Hall near Preston in Lancashire. He entered the English College at Douai in 1613 and was ordained to the priesthood in April 1618, returning to England in December of that year. He ministered first in London and then his native county of Lancashire. It was there in 1627 that he was arrested tried and Condemned to death for exercising his priesthood. Following a reprieve at the intervention of Queen Henrietta Maria, he was transferred from Lancaster Castle to the Clink prison in London in 1630. He remained a prisoner there for the next 20 years although for much of that time he was effectively on parole working amongst the Catholic poor in the parishes of St Giles, Holborn and St Margaret’s Westminster. He was especially renowned for his ministry to the sick and the dying even during the plague years of 1636 to 1637.

He was he was arrested again in 1654 and brought to trial accused of being a Catholic priest. The judge advised him that, as there was no proof of his priesthood, a plea of ‘not guilty’ would ensure his release. John Southworth refused to enter this plea on the grounds that to do so would harm the faith of all those to whom he had ministered. Consequently he was found guilty and condemned to death for a second time, and on June 28th 1654 aged 62 he was taken to the gallows at Tyburn when he was hung drawn and quartered.

His body was bought for 40 guineas by the Spanish Ambassador, embalmed, sewn back together and smuggled from England back to Douai where it quickly became the focus of a cult. During the French Revolution the College was closed and the body of John Southworth was secretly buried to avoid its theft. In 1927 the old buildings of the College were demolished to make way for a new road system and the lead coffin containing his body was discovered. The body was returned to England in 1929 and was taken to St Edmunds College, Ware. On 30th of April 1930 John Southworth was brought to Westminster Cathedral and solemnly enshrined in St George’s Chapel in the presence of all the Bishops of England and Wales. He had returned to the very place where he had so faithfully exercised his ministry among the Catholic people of Westminster. Canonized as one of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales on 25th of October 1970, St John Southworth in a particular way continues his ministry.