Divinum Illud Munus- Pope Leo XIII -The Papal Library


Divinum Illud Munus Encyclical of Pope Leo XIIIon the Holy Spirit Promulgated on May 9, 1897 To Our Venerable Brethren, The Patriarchs, Primates, Archbishops, Bishops, and other Local Ordinaries having Peace and Communion with the Holy See. Venerable Brethren, Health and the Apostolic Benediction. 1. That divine office which Jesus Christ received from His Father for the welfare of mankind, and most perfectly fulfilled, had for its final object to put men in possession of the eternal life of glory, and proximately during the course of ages to secure to them the life of divine grace, which is destined eventually to blossom into the life of heaven. Wherefore, our Saviour never ceases to invite, with infinite affection, all men, of every race and tongue, into the bosom of His Church: Come ye all to Me, I am the Life, I am the Good Shepherd. Nevertheless, according to His inscrutable counsels, He did not will to entirely complete and finish this office Himself on earth, but as He had received it from the Father, so He transmitted it for its completion to the Holy Ghost. It is consoling to recall those assurances which Christ gave to the body of His disciples a little before He left the earth: It is expedient to you that I go: for if I go not, the Paraclete will not come to you: but if I go, I will send Him to you (1 John xvi., 7). In these words He gave as the chief reason of His departure and His return to the Father, the advantage which would most certainly accrue to His followers from the coming of the Holy Ghost, and, at the same time, He made it clear that the Holy Ghost is equally sent by—and therefore proceeds from—Himself and the Father; that He would complete, in His office of Intercessor, Consoler, and Teacher, the work which Christ Himself had begun in His mortal life. For, in the redemption of the world, the completion of the work was by Divine Providence reserved to the manifold power of that Spirit, who, in the creation, adorned the heavens (Job xxvi., 13), and filled the whole world (Wisdom i., 7). 2. Now We have earnestly striven, by the help of His grace, to follow the example of Christ, Our Saviour, the Prince of Pastors, and the Bishop of our Souls, by diligently carrying on His office, entrusted by Him to the Apostles and chiefly to Peter, whose dignity faileth not, even in his unworthy successor (St. Leo the Great, Sermon ii., On the Anniversary of his Election). In pursuance of this object We have endeavoured to direct all that We have attempted and persistently carried out during a long pontificate towards two chief ends: in the first place, towards the restoration, both in rulers and peoples, of the principles of the Christian life in civil and domestic society, since there is no true life for men except from Christ; and, secondly, to promote the reunion of those who have fallen away from the Catholic Church either by heresy or by schism, since it is most undoubtedly the will of Christ that all should be united in one flock under one Shepherd. But now that We are looking forward to the approach of the closing days of Our life, Our soul is deeply moved to dedicate to the Holy Ghost, who is the life- , all the work We have done during Our pontificate, that He may bring it to maturity and fruitfulness. In order the better and more fully to carry out this Our intention, We have resolved to address you at the approaching sacred season of Pentecost concerning the indwelling and miraculous power of the Holy Ghost; and the extent and efficiency of His action, both in the whole body of the Church and in the individual souls of its members, through the glorious abundance of His divine graces. We earnestly desire that, as a result, faith may be aroused in your minds concerning the mystery of the adorable Trinity, and especially that piety may increase and be inflamed towards the Holy Ghost, to whom especially all of us owe the grace of following the paths of truth and virtue; for, as St. Basil said, Who denieth that the dispensations concerning man, which have been made by the great God and our Saviour, Jesus Christ, according to the goodness of God, have been fulfilled through the grace of the Spirit? (Of the Holy Ghost, c. xvi., v. 39). 3. Before We enter upon this subject, it will be both desirable and useful to say a few words about the Mystery of the Blessed Trinity. This dogma is called by the doctors of the Church the substance of the New Testament, that is to say, the greatest of all mysteries, since it is the fountain and origin of them all. In order to know and contemplate this mystery, the angels were created in Heaven and men upon earth. In order to teach more fully this mystery, which was but foreshadowed in the Old Testament, God Himself came down from the angels unto men: No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him (John i., 18). Whosoever then writes or speaks of the Trinity must keep before His eyes the prudent warning of the Angelic Doctor: When we speak of the Trinity, we must do so with caution and modesty, for, as St. Augustine saith, nowhere else are more dangerous errors made, or is research more difficult, or discovery more fruitful (Summ. Th. la., q. xxxi. De Trin. 1 1., c. 3). The danger that arises is lest the Divine Persons be confounded one with the other in faith or worship, or lest the one Nature in them be separated: for This is the Catholic Faith, that we should adore one God in Trinity and Trinity in Unity. Therefore Our predecessor Innocent XII, absolutely refused the petition of those who desired a special festival in honour of God the Father. For, although the separate mysteries connected with the Incarnate Word are celebrated on certain fixed days, yet there is no special feast on which the Word is honoured according to His Divine Nature alone. And even the Feast of Pentecost was instituted in the earliest times, not simply to honour the Holy Ghost in Himself, but to commemorate His coming, or His external mission. And all this has been wisely ordained, lest from distinguishing the Persons men should be led to distinguish the Divine Essence. Moreover the Church, in order to preserve in her children the purity of faith, instituted the Feast of the Most Holy Trinity, which John XXII. afterwards extended to the Universal Church. He also permitted altars and churches to be dedicated to the Blessed Trinity, and, with the divine approval, sanctioned the Order for the Ransom of Captives, which is specially devoted to the Blessed Trinity and bears Its name. Many facts confirm its truths. The worship paid to the saints and angels, to the Mother of God, and to Christ Himself, finally redounds to the honour of the Blessed Trinity. In prayers addressed to one Per son, there is also mention of the others; in the litanies after the individual Persons have been separately invoked, a common invocation of all is added: all psalms and hymns conclude with the doxology to the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; blessings, sacred rites, and sacraments are either accompanied or concluded by the invocation of the Blessed Trinity. This was already foreshadowed by the Apostle in those words: For of Him, and by Him, and in Him, are all things: to Him be glory for ever (Rom. xi., 36), thereby signifying both the Trinity of Persons and the Unity of Nature: for as this is one and the same in each of the Persons, so to each is equally owing supreme glory, as to one and the same God. St. Augustine commenting upon this testimony writes: The words of the Apostle, of Him, and by Him, and in Him are not to be taken indiscriminately; of Him refers to the Father, by Him to the Son, in Him to the Holy Ghost (De Trin. 1. vi., c. 10; 1. i., c. 6). The Church is accustomed most fittingly to attribute to the Father those works of the Divinity in which power excels, to the Son those in which wisdom excels, and those in which love excels to the Holy Ghost. Not that all perfections and external operations are not common to the Divine Persons; for the operations of the Trinity are indivisible, even as the essence of the Trinity is indivisible (St. Aug., De Trin., 1. 1, cc. 4-5); because as the three Divine Persons are inseparable, so do they act inseparably (St. Aug., ib.). But by a certain comparison, and a kind of affinity between the operations and the properties of the Persons, these operations are attributed or, as it is said, appropriated to One Person rather than to the others. Just as we make use of the traces of similarity or likeness which we find in creatures for the manifestation of the Divine Persons, so do we use Their essential attributes; and this manifestation of the Persons by Their essential attributes is called appropriation (St. Th. la., q. 39, xxxix., a. 7). In this manner the Father, who is the principle of the whole God-head (St. Aug. De Trin. 1 iv., c. 20) is also the efficient cause of all things, of the Incarnation of the Word, and the sanctification of souls; of Him are all things: of Him, referring to the Father. But the Son, the Word, the Image of God is also the exemplar cause, whence all creatures borrow their form and beauty, their order and harmony. He is for us the Way, the Truth, and the Life; the Reconciler of man with God. By Him are all things: by Him, referring to the Son. The Holy Ghost is the ultimate cause of all things, since, as the will and all other things finally rest in their end, so He, who is the Divine Goodness and the Mutual Love of the Father and Son, completes and perfects, by His strong yet gentle power, the secret work of man's eternal salvation. In Him are all things: in Him, referring to the Holy Ghost. 4. Having thus paid the due tribute of faith and worship owing to the Blessed Trinity, and which ought to be more and more inculcated upon the Christian people, we now turn to the exposition of the power of the Holy Ghost. And, first of all, we must look to Christ, the Founder of the Church and the Redeemer of our race. Among the external operations of God, the highest of all is the mystery of the Incarnation of the Word, in which the splendour of the divine perfections shines forth so brightly that nothing more sublime can even be imagined, nothing else could have been more salutary to the human race. Now this work, although belonging to the whole Trinity, is still appropriated especially to the Holy Ghost, so that the Gospels thus speak of the Blessed Virgin: She was found with child of the Holy Ghost, and that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost (Matt. i., 18, 20). And this is rightly attributed to Him who is the love of the Father and the Son, since this great mystery of piety (1 Tim. iii., 16) proceeds from the infinite love of God towards man, as St. John tells us: God so loved the world as to give His only begotten Son John iii., 16). Moreover, human nature was thereby elevated to a personal union with the Word; and this dignity is given, not on account of any merits, but entirely and absolutely through grace, and therefore, as it were, through the special gift of the Holy Ghost. On this point St. Augustine writes: This manner in which Christ was born of the Holy Ghost, indicates to us the grace of God, by which humanity, with no antecedent merits, at the first moment of its existence, was united with the Word of God, by so intimate a personal union, that He, who was the Son of Man, was also the Son of God, and He who was the Son of God was also the Son of Man (Enchir., c. xl. St. Th., 3a., q. xxxii., a. 1). By the operation of the Holy Spirit, not only was the conception of Christ accomplished, but also the sanctification of His soul, which, in Holy Scripture, is called His anointing (Acts x., 38). Wherefore all His actions were performed in the Holy Ghost (St. Basil de Sp. S., c. xvi.), and especially the sacrifice of Himself: Christ, through the Holy Ghost, offered Himself without spot to God (Heb. ix., 14). Considering this, no one can be surprised that all the gifts of the Holy Ghost inundated the soul of Christ. In Him resided the absolute fullness of grace, in the greatest and most efficacious manner possible; in Him were all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, graces gratis datae, virtues, and all other gifts foretold in the prophecies of Isaias (Is. iv., I; xi., 23), and also signified in that miraculous dove which appeared at the Jordan, when Christ, by His baptism, consecrated its waters for a new sacrament. On this the words of St. Augustine may appropriately be quoted: It would be absurd to say that Christ received the Holy Ghost when He was already thirty years of age, for He came to His baptism without sin, and therefore not without the Holy Ghost. At this time, then (that is, at His baptism), He was pleased to prefigure His Church, in which those especially who are baptized receive the Holy Ghost (De. Trin. 1., xv., c. 26). Therefore, by the conspicuous apparition of the Holy Ghost over Christ and by His invisible power in His soul, the twofold mission of the Spirit is foreshadowed, namely, His outward and visible mission in the Church, and His secret indwelling in the souls of the just. 5. The Church which, already conceived, came forth from the side of the second Adam in His sleep on the Cross, first showed herself before the eyes of men on the great day of Pentecost. On that day the Holy Ghost began to manifest His gifts in the mystic body of Christ, by that miraculous outpouring already foreseen by the prophet Joel (ii., 28-29), for the Paraclete sat upon the apostles as though new spiritual crowns were placed upon their heads in tongues of fire (S. Cyril Hier. Catech. 17). Then the apostles descended from the mountain, as St. John Chrysostom writes, not bearing in their hands tables of stone like Moses, but carrying the Spirit in their mind, and pouring forth the treasure and the fountain of doctrines and graces (In Matt. Hom. 1., 2 Cor. iii., 3). Thus was fully accomplished that last promise of Christ to His apostles of sending the Holy Ghost, who was to complete and, as it were, to seal the deposit of doctrine committed to them under His inspiration. I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now; but when He, the Spirit of Truth, shall come, He will teach you all truth (John xvi., 12-13). For He who is the Spirit of Truth, inasmuch as He proceedeth both from the Father, who is the eternally True, and from the Son, who is the substantial Truth, receiveth from each both His essence and the fullness of all truth. This truth He communicates to His Church, guarding her by His all powerful help from ever falling into error, and aiding her to foster daily more and more the germs of divine doctrine and to make them fruitful for the welfare of the peoples. And since the welfare of the peoples, for which the Church was established, absolutely requires that this office should be continued for all time, the Holy Ghost perpetually supplies life and strength to preserve and increase the Church. I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Paraclete, that He may abide with you for ever, the Spirit of Truth John xiv., 16, 17). 6. By Him the bishops are constituted, and by their ministry are multiplied not only the children, but also the fathers—that is to say, the priests—to rule and feed the Church by that Blood wherewith Christ has redeemed Her. The Holy Ghost hath placed you bishops to rule the Church of God, which He hath purchased with His own Blood (Acts xx., 28). And both bishops and priests, by the miraculous gift of the Spirit, have the power of absolving sins, according to those words of Christ to the Apostles: Receive ye the Holy Ghost; whose sins you shall forgive they are forgiven them, and whose you shall retain they are retained John xx., 22, 23). That the Church is a divine institution is most clearly proved by the splendour and glory of those gifts and graces with which she is adorned, and whose author and giver is the Holy Ghost. Let it suffice to state that, as Christ is the Head of the Church, so is the Holy Ghost her soul. What the soul is in our body, that is the Holy Ghost in Christ's body, the Church (St. Aug., Serm. 187, de Temp.). This being so, no further and fuller manifestation and revelation of the Divine Spirit may be imagined or expected; for that which now takes place in the Church is the most perfect possible, and will last until that day when the Church herself, having passed through her militant career, shall be taken up into the joy of the saints triumphing in heaven. 7. The manner and extent of the action of the Holy Ghost in individual souls is no less wonderful, although somewhat more difficult to understand, inasmuch as it is entirely invisible. This outpouring of the Spirit is so abundant, that Christ Himself, from whose gift it proceeds, compares it to an overflowing river, according to those words of St. John: He that believeth in Me, as the Scripture saith, out of his midst shall flow rivers of living water; to which testimony the Evangelist adds the explanation: Now this He said of the Spirit which they should receive who believed in Him John vii., 38, 39). It is indeed true that in those of the just who lived before Christ, the Holy Ghost resided by grace, as we read in the Scriptures concerning the prophets, Zachary, John the Baptist, Simeon, and Anna; so that on Pentecost the Holy Ghost did not communicate Himself in such a way as then for the first time to begin to dwell in the saints, but by pouring Himself forth more abundantly; crowning, not beginning His gifts; not commencing a new work, but giving more abundantly (St. Leo the Great, Hom. iii., de Pentec.). But if they also were numbered among the children of God, they were in a state like that of servants, for as long as the heir is a child he differeth nothing from a servant, but is under tutors and governors (Gal. iv., 1, 2). Moreover, not only was their justice derived from the merits of Christ who was to come, but the communication of the Holy Ghost after Christ was much more abundant, just as the price surpasses in value the earnest and the reality excels the image. Wherefore St. John declares: As yet the Spirit was not given, because Jesus was not yet glorified John vii., 39). So soon, therefore, as Christ, ascending on high, entered into possession of the glory of His Kingdom which He had won with so much la our, He munificently opened out the treasures of the Holy Ghost: He gave gifts to men (Eph. iv., 8). For that giving or sending forth of the Holy Ghost after Christ's glorification was to be such as had never been before; not that there had been none before, but it had not been of the same kind (St. Aug., De Trin., 1. iv. c. 20). 8. Human nature is by necessity the servant of God: The creature is a servant; we are the servants of God by nature (St. Cyr. Alex., Thesaur. 1. v., c. 5). On account, however, of original sin, our whole nature had fallen into such guilt and dishonour that we had become enemies to God. We were by nature the children of wrath (Eph. ii., 3). There was no power which could raise us and deliver us from this ruin and eternal destruction. But God, the Creator of mankind and infinitely merciful, did this through His only begotten Son, by whose benefit it was brought about that man was restored so that rank and dignity whence he had fallen, and was adorned with still more abundant graces. No one can express the greatness of this work of divine grace in the souls of men. Wherefore, both in Holy Scripture and in the writings of the fathers, men are styled regenerated, new creatures, partakers of the Divine Nature, children of God, god-like, and similar epithets. Now these great blessings are justly attributed as especially belonging to the Holy Ghost. He is the Spirit of adoption of sons, whereby we cry: Abba, Father. He fills our hearts with the sweetness of paternal love: The Spirit Himself giveth testimony to our spirit that we are the sons of God (Rom. viii., 15-16). This truth accords with the similitude observed by the Angelic Doctor between both operations of the Holy Ghost; for through Him Christ was conceived in holiness to be by nature the Son of God, and others are sanctified to be the sons of God by adoption (St. Th. 3a, q. xx ii., a. 1). This spiritual generation proceeds from love in a much more noble manner than the natural: namely, from the uncreated Love. 9. The beginnings of this regeneration and renovation of man are by Baptism. In this sacrament, when the unclean spirit has been expelled from the soul, the Holy Ghost enters in and makes it like to Himself. That which is born of the Spirit, is spirit john iii., 6). The same Spirit gives Himself more abundantly in Confirmation, strengthening and confirming Christian life; from which proceeded the victory of the martyrs and the triumph of the virgins over temptations and corruptions. We have said that the Holy Ghost gives Himself: the charity of God is poured out into our hearts by the Holy Ghost who is given to us (Rom. v., 5). For He not only brings to u

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