The Trinitarian Third Person occupies a prominent place in the life and teaching of St. Vincent de Paul. This is striking considering that the theology of the time was not characterized by much devotion to the Holy Spirit. In the writings of Vincent de Paul we find 77 quotations linked to the Holy Spirit. This manifests his
strong devotion to him as well as his intention to instill this love in those around him.
In this context of the work of the SSVP in favor of the poor of the world, let us note that St. Vincent de Paul likes to contemplate the Holy Spirit as the source of union in communities and groups:
“May God unite you all very intimately and with an indissoluble bond of charity, so that by this mutual friendship you may be recognized as true children of Our Lord, to whose love you wish to draw others by your example and your words! I ask the Holy Spirit, who is the union of the Father and the Son, to grant you this grace”. 1
The Holy Spirit acts in hearts to kindle them to love; He is the source of unity. This is how he tells a superior: “May the Holy Spirit, who has brought you together, perfect your union and perpetuate in you all the fruits of your labor, worthy of an eternal reward”. 2
Based on these reflections, let us deepen the theme of unity among the members of the SSVP who believe in the work of the Holy Spirit. It is a theme that is so strongly proposed to us in the readings of this Solemnity. The “unity of the Spirit” is described in the New Testament as communion of heart and life, of worship, of goods. It also implies not closing oneself but being in communion with the whole People of God.
The unity of the Church is intimately connected with the outpouring of the Spirit, since Pentecost is presented as the reverse of the confusion of tongues of the tower of Babel. Likewise, the Spirit appears to fertilize the one Church with a variety of charisms. It is the model of a diversity harmonized by the Spirit. Love is the supreme work of the Spirit in the Church, to which the varied charisms that he sows in individuals are oriented. Plurality gives a diversity that need not be an obstacle to unity; on the contrary, it confers on it the character of communion.
The Holy Spirit who is the love that unites the Father and the Son, and is the one who brings about unity between us. He is the one who pours love into our hearts so that we can truly love, build bridges over the rivers that separate us, destroy the barriers that divide us. He is the one who gives us the joy of striving together to achieve something good or the wonderful experience of celebrating a shared achievement.
On this Solemnity of Pentecost, we want to remember that when we are united to a brother or sister by love, we are allowing ourselves to be guided by the Holy Spirit, the model of unitive love. It is wonderful to admire how the life of the Spirit can be made present in human relationships. For every gesture of generous love is a reflection of that infinite Love that unites the Father and the Son. This is why we can admire the reflections of the Holy Spirit in a gesture of humble and generous service, in an attitude
that seeks to make another happy, in every inclination towards another person that tends to “make us one” with him.
The HS is the “nexus” between human beings. The work of the Spirit in the hearts of men necessarily possesses a communitarian dynamism. That is why the function of the HS is to set us in motion to go to others.
One concrete way in which this occurs is through dialogue. One eminent way in which the loving impulse of the Spirit is reflected is by inspiring the sincere dialogue of one who accepts that he can learn something from the other. It involves recognizing that there are various ways of accessing the truth. So when we dialogue we recognize that we are with people who are seeking truth from another perspective. Our task is not to lead them at all costs to think as we do, but to engage in conversation that produces
mutual enrichment. There is always a part of good and truth in those who think differently. To be able to grasp the perspective of the other is not weakness, but a grace in the face of truth. This is the key to the synodality that the Church is seeking. And also the SSVP as part of the Church.
On this solemnity, let us ask the HS to grant unity, dialogue and servant love to the beloved SSVP. Let us always have recourse to the HS who is our Advocate (which is no small thing) and our Inner Teacher.
1 E. S. V, 62
2 E. S. VII, 116
- Am I devoted to the HS? How can I be more so?
- Am I a person of dialogue? How are my communications with others?
- Do I seek unity in the SSVP?
- Do I spread devotion to the HS among the poor?
Andrés Motto, CM.