Imploring the Spirit that His will may be done (1961)
We are in the octave of Pentecost. The song of thanks and praise is also the song of humble and impassioned supplication: the Spirit who has come down, who has filled the earth, must continue to come;
we join with the supplicating Church in her joy and the response she receives, and we join with the exultant Church in the prayer she raises. The gift of the Spirit which the Church continually receives, and we receive with her, constantly extends the capacity of creation, of the soul, to receive. Thus the gift creates the desire, and the desire becoming more lively and more pressing, raises a new prayer to receive God. In this living desire which the Holy Spirit has enkindled in our heart, we repeat the words of the liturgy, for our-selves and for all our brethren, for ourselves and the whole Church, for ourselves and all humanity: Veni Sancte Spiritus!
The prayer is both guarantee and promise of the gift. This is our true vocation, the vocation of every Christian: to pray! It is God who is working, it is from Him that we look for all things. Incapable of discern-ing our true good, certainly incapable of grasping it on our own, we can always turn to God for assistance. May He illuminate us and guide us on our path, may He sustain us; by the power of His Spirit, may His holy will be done in us.
Our work must be the work of God Himself; man cannot act without Him, cannot act truly except in as much as he is moved by the divine Spirit, by the same Spirit who brought about the first creation, who brought about the second creation in the Incarnation of the Word, and who will finally bring about the Kingdom of God. Yes, the supreme activity of the Christian is docility to the Holy Spirit, and his ever more impassioned prayer to God is that the Kingdom should come.
In prayer man rises from his stupor and sets off to-wards his destination, but in its living awareness of our radical incapacity to attain that destination, prayer lends man’s action its highest value. What would be the point of all that man can do, if man’s action were not radi-cally prayer, if man’s action were not the anticipation and the prefiguring of what man can expect from God alone? Every action of man that does not end in prayer is for man nothing but the tragic experience of a failure. Life has no justification except by means of death, history has no justification except by means of its end; but the death of man and the end of the world will not lead into the Kingdom of God, unless man’s journey in this life, and man’s journey through history, have been first of all a search for God, a supplication for grace.
God will complete what He has begun. In prayer it is He who lives in you, who is your desire and your hope; this is the God who troubles your inmost parts, who spurs you into action.
We know: the definitive response to man’s prayer will be the end; but, moved interiorly by the power of the Spirit, man passes from prayer to action, lives the reality of prayer in concrete commitment: thus the strength of prayer is measured by the strength of the commitment.
It is God who prays by means of man, and it is God who by means of man replies. In as much as Christian prayer is efficacious, it is identified in some way with the very action of the one who prays. Supplication to the Spirit that He may come, does not excuse the Christian from acting; rather, the gift of the Spirit which the Christian has invoked becomes for him an irresistible force impelling him to action. The duty of the Christian at this moment is extremely grave and urgent: all of Christendom must join together in a humble and lively prayer, an impassioned supplication to the Spirit, in order to live in the Spirit the common labour of a universal renewal.