God’s Spirit and the Holy Scriptures
In our reflections, we try to shed light on the mysterious reality of the spiritual life. We recently told what this spiritual life is, i.e. that it is the presence of the Holy Spirit in us. Many today doubt the existence of a spiritual realm in the human heart. They often confuse spiritual life with the aesthetic sphere, with some such nostalgic atmosphere, with delicate soft music or, for example, with the human psyche. People think that spiritual life is that kind of illusion or pious tradition that has been imposed by Catholic upbringing. They think that the older generation has taught people to “pat prayers” and go to church for mass, and that it all comes down to such old mouse-sticking rituals, so when a person finally grows up, in the name of independence and self-reliance, they throw away all this childhood baggage, like throw away an old coat that has gone out of fashion. This is what happens whenever someone has never felt the touch of God’s grace, when someone has not felt the living presence of God. Indeed, many Catholics live very superficial, limited lives. It boils down to a few rituals a year or a week, to a holy mass that someone goes to only so that some undefined God does not throw him into hell, if it exists at all. And many do not want to deepen their relationship with God for any treasure, claiming that it is not for them, it is too difficult … They use the excuse of lack of time, of course, but actually do not know where to start. And the main reason for this is precisely the fact that they did not feel the inner impulse of God’s grace. But this is not because God forgot about them or because God spared such an impulse, such inspiration, such a stirring of the heart, but above all because they themselves depart from God. After all, Jesus wants to communicate with us, he wants to unite with us, he wants to live with us constantly, constantly, really. He himself says it in the Book of Revelation: “Behold, I am standing at the door and knocking. If someone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and dine with him, and he with me “- this is what St. John in the Apocalypse, and these are the words that Jesus puts on the lips of Jesus, who really wants to live with us constantly, He wants us, only us. It is we who often do not hear Jesus knocking at the door of our heart, we do not feel these movements of conscience, because it is dirty, occupied with something else. The last time I spoke of these words of St. Augustine, who says: “In the depths of my soul you were, and I wandered around the world and looked for you there. You were with me, but I was not with you. ” And this is what happens often in our heart. This is why people do not feel, do not see His action – God’s action, His call. They don’t feel His presence and we have a big problem with that today. We don’t feel God’s presence in our lives. What do you have to do? What can you do to feel God’s grace working, to start feeling God’s presence in your own life? Well, the first and most important way to enable God to reach our ruined heart is to listen to the word of God. Therefore, it is necessary to read Sacred Scripture with faith, preferably in the community of the Church, together with other believers who seek God. You must read the Holy Scriptures to hear God. Without constantly reading the Gospel, we cannot hear His voice – the voice of God. The Bible is completely different from other books. Wise, very wise – from spiritual guides, because it is inspired by the Holy Spirit. When we read it with faith, this Holy Spirit begins to speak to us with faith. It speaks to our heart through it. The condition, however, is not to read the Bible with interest, not even to study it, but to read it with faith. Well, what does it mean to read with faith, what does it mean to listen to the word of God with faith? It means how? This was very well explained by St. Paul the Apostle when he wrote to the Thessalonians who believed, he wrote: “We thank God continually, because when you received the word of God heard from us, you received it not as human, but as it is really – as the word of God working in you believers”. God’s Word works. It turns out that it can show God’s power. It can make a man completely indifferent, completely apart from God – one might say – who has almost forgotten about God, makes a devout Christian. Moreover, on the example of St. Paul we can say very well that the word of God made the persecutor of Christ – the greatest apostle. The Word of God allows God to work in the human heart, to show His power. When I read them not as an instructive word of human wisdom, but when I read them with a deep awareness that the living God is speaking to me here and now. It means to read the word of God with faith. When I listen to the word of God in church or read it at home with such an inner attitude and silence, God begins to speak to me, somewhere deep in my soul, somewhere at the root of my being. We begin to understand that God is in us. Slowly, more and more, I begin to feel His voice. Not a physical voice, of course, but an inner voice in my conscience. I am beginning to understand God better. Moreover, I feel His inspiration, I feel that He is leading me. Jesus reminded us of this by saying these words that we all know by heart: “Blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it.” This is what St. Luke says in his Gospel. Recently I said that it is God who first animates our spiritual life. But one must open up to His action, expose Him to His action. The first and most important way is to listen to the word of God constantly. Christians do this. They do constantly. That is why the Bible is considered by all saints to be the first and most important textbook of the spiritual life – and yet we are talking about the spiritual life. For the absolute foundation of the development of the spiritual life St. Jerome, the one who translated the Holy Scriptures from Hebrew into Latin in the very beginnings of Christianity in Europe, said that ignorance of the Scriptures is in fact ignorance of Christ. Why? Because it is the Holy Spirit, working through the word of God, who reveals this Christ to us. Only God builds God’s life. None of us can build a spiritual life within ourselves. Only when we constantly listen to Him in the Holy Scriptures and accept Him – this voice, the voice of the Holy Spirit with all our heart, all our mind and all our strength. That is why in the church we constantly listen to the word of God, constantly we meditate on it properly; most of our prayers are the word of God, such as the psalms that we recite. Even if they are prayers composed by someone, they are actually built like the Scriptures. When we go to the Holy Mass, after cleansing our souls, let us hear this word of God, this voice of the Holy Spirit, what are we doing? We sit down, we keep silent, we close our mouths and what we do – the first part of the Holy Mass – we listen to the word of God, sitting in the pews. Only later do we receive the Eucharist. Because the word of God opens our hearts and gives us faith, inspires trust in us, awakens this faith in us. Only then can we receive the Eucharist. We cannot receive Holy Communion without faith. In the homily, the priest brings us closer and explains this word of God so that we can understand it better and, above all, accept it into our own hearts. When we listen to God’s word, God begins to speak to us and, moreover, begins to act in us. He moves our heart, awakens faith in it. Therefore, the foundation of the spiritual life is not someone’s revelations – even if they are true; not even our pious sighs, our pious thoughts. Pious books are not the foundation of spiritual life, although they are of course important in life; there are also no meetings with mystics or with stigmata. The most important foundation of the spiritual life is listening to and accepting the word of God with faith. Because God works through them, and only He can begin and root in us this spiritual life – and no one else can do it – no human being. We also cannot do it ourselves. Unfortunately, we Catholics are still trying to build our spiritual life on such a human desire for piety, on lofty prayers, sighs, on the moving revelations of saints, and not on the word of God. When in antiquity, in Antioch, Christ’s disciples were first referred to as Christians, or “christiani,” it meant they were from Christ. Christiani are those from Christ, these “Christians.” Those who constantly not only talk about Christ, but read His word through which He speaks to them. A spiritual life that is not built on God’s word is very fragile. What’s more, it very quickly becomes such a fossilized, untrue life, because there is no living dialogue with God, no living His presence. Only God himself, the Holy Spirit, and no one else is the author of the spiritual life. All other efforts will eventually fail, because these are only human aspirations and human efforts that do not reach heaven. Then we are like those who are described in Genesis as builders of the tower of Babel. They wanted to build a tower as far as God, as far as heaven, and they did not do it, because God Himself broke the tower. We are just like them if we don’t want to hear the word of God. It is our destiny to listen to the word of God, to obediently introduce it into our lives – and then we will feel that it is God in us. You have to do this constantly, continuously, throughout your life. Then we will feel that God is with us and is leading us. Spiritual life is the life of God’s Spirit in us. That is why it is called spiritual. And reading God’s word is actually the most important prayer.