ADVENT OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
If there is any merit, of which we are worthy, with which we can represent
the College, or if by means of rhetoric, whether by using the arts of
elocution and by training, Most Holy Father, it is convenient to remember
what you have done from the beginning of your Pontificate, and claim it as
your right. We owe you praise and thanks because of immortal things of the
We know how much we have received from the Pontiffs, what we have to do
with grateful heart, day and night, remembering also that you have been
unanimously elected by the vote of the Fathers, chosen by divine counsel,
accepted with voices and applause of the citizens and strangers, who are
here gathered. We too express our joy, jubilation and gratefulness.
We were being led also by the fame of your virtues, that was being known
by the people, and increased so much that it spread throughout the world.
How much power of intelligence did you not reveal, in such a short time,
with such an abundance of your writings?
How much fidelity in your statements? How much integrity in dealing with
the public affairs?
Your attributes are too great to be admired by us or by anyone else, we
shall evaluate them unjustly, but there are other great realities that are
inherent to the highest degree of Priesthood, that others could not
achieve and offer to the society.
The attributes that we have mentioned a little above, like intelligence,
doctrine, justice, integrity, belong to the Pontiff and are common to the
Emperors and to the Princes.
But the concern for the Church, the zeal for the glory of God, that we
have admired in you, from the beginning of your Pontificate, belongs to
the honour and holiness proper to the Pontiff.
We are moved by these qualities, and consider them above all other
qualities, and we congratulate you for the dignity of your Pontifical
task, as the Pontiff of the Universal Church.
Desiring to have a monument of such homage, we are happy to have such an
occasion, as we have just surmised before, through the favour of God, and
through your kindness, that having celebrated the Coming of the Divine
Spirit with liturgical ceremonies, on the beginning of our Academic Year,
we offer in the name of the whole College our wishes of gratitude towards
You have, Holy Father, in this first effort of our Institution, the
conflated homage of men, and of people, who are praying for your
happiness, and will consider it as a reward, if they know that you have
received it graciously.
If in investigating the divine mysteries, Holy Father, we could not hope
to achieve above the narrow limits our human mind, I could have thought it
to be misery of our condition rather than boldness of discussing.
Who is endowed with such a strength of mind and philosophical training
that can understand what is so far from our senses, who can perceive what
is hidden, and deepen such a gamut of mysteries and embrace them with
God dwells in an inaccessible light, and his mysteries are so far from the
human mind, that their intelligence cannot reach out through efforts to
such a truth and splendour of God's glory and majesty.
But the human race would have been buried for ever in such a miserable
condition, if there had not arisen a new light through God's Spirit, that
would not only shine but even add heavenly power to our minds, so that we
can see better. The Spirit of God himself who examines everything, even
the mysteries of God, that were far from us, brought close to us, and with
his light, as Leo the Great said, made as a Sun shining in the darkness.
Endowed with this light we are able to understand, prepared to enjoy what
belongs to the kernel of religion, nothing is far, when the Spirit leads
us, nothing so deep that cannot be perceived by our mind and spirit.
We recall that the spiritual strength has been spread far and wide, today
we celebrate mainly, as last year it was said in this place about the
function of Wisdom, what is required by the gifts, may be in their praise.
What the divine Dispenser has given us may lead us to praise him.
What else can be thought, deeper that the intelligence, more pleasant than
the teaching of God, that is given to us by the Holy Spirit?
The Spirit improves our hardened minds, and guides our intelligence:
manifests the illusions of our senses, shows the fallacies, and by
eradicating all our false opinions and arguments, furnishes our mind with
right principles of divine reason, so that our mind may adhere to the
In this light what is dissonant with mysteries? What is ambiguous in
guiding our customs and mores? How much do we understand of God's nature,
that is beyond the limits of our mind? What is that, though it cannot be
well understood by thought, yet does not contradict the reason?
We perceive in God the number, the truth of one substance is not removed,
yet we recognize the singularity of one substance, that is not increased
with the threefold number of the persons. We know the God who became man,
who did not cease to be God, but neither do we think that he failed to be
man--it did not decrease from God's perfection.
We think frequently all these things and many more in our mind, when we
recollect with joy, pleasure and flavour the understanding that is given
to us by the divine Spirit. What shall I say about the world, where we
What about the knowledge of the visible things?
Are we not thinking that, with the advice of the Spirit, all these things
are adapted for the good of men by the Great Good God, as nothing is more
beautiful for sight, so nothing better could be thought for our benefit?
For us the earth is clothed with flowers, for us the herbs grow, for us
the trees bear fruits, which we receive by inheritance, we enjoy the sky,
the fields, the cities, ours are the rivers, ours the lakes, even the
domination of Man over the sea, and of the winds because of the skill of
the nautical art, and many other utilities of sea.
All these things indeed cannot be generated nor fed, nor conserved, nor
bear any fruit by themselves, without the power and care of God, so we
relate all these things to God and to the good of men, and see all these
things prepared by the Intelligence of the Spirit for the sake of Man, we
have no doubt that all has been created for the sake of men.
Whether you dwell in the cities, whether you are engrossed by the beauty
of the fields, whether you go down from earth to the sea, or are brought
from the sea to the earth, filled with this Spirit you will discover the
generosity and magnanimity of God, that is seen in various ways
everywhere, and follows often the ungrateful and the fleeing.
Contemplating all these things, is it possible that the human spirit does
not accept the love of divine power, and offer willingly homage to him,
who, as it was said by Chrysostom, created man on earth, so that he could
be in heaven? However, if any thing adverse happens (in fact many things
happen and frequently), the same Spirit of God comes as a companion of
pious men in thir perils and trials, commands us to be magnanimous, and
shows us, as if by a finger, that there will be a time, when after trails
and tempests we shall be swimming for some time, and led to the harbour of
immortality and serene place of peace we shall rejoice in heart and mind.
With this hope already, from this lowest part of the world, where we
dwell, we see heaven and, having been tossed over for long time and
intensely by the river of Babylon, we propose Jerusalem as a beginning of
our joy. The Spirit of God does not allow us to be without happiness, whom
tests with hardships in this exile, and through continual struggle
prepares us for triumph.
When the happiness of Saints in heaven will consist in the fact that we
receive the knowledge of God from the wonderful source itself, and are
realized with the most beautiful mirror of divine realities, better than
that nothing can happen, nothing more pleasant, the same Spirit of God
will help us mortals to be eager for the condition of heavenly souls
through the understanding of the heavenly intelligence, and with infinite
amplitude, as Epiphanius stated, understanding the profound realities of
God, we may contemplate his majesty as if it is before our eyes.
I was thinking of the darkness and opacity of divine realities in my mind,
when at the very outset of my Speech I stated that there was in the
teaching of the Religion nothing more profound that would be of interest
for us to know, and thus by force of Intelligence, with which we are
divinely instructed, we could not know clearly. In fact, what is more
hidden than the divine nature? What is more immense than divine majesty?
What is more sublime that his perfection?
But with the teaching of the divine Spirit we touch God's nature, we
embrace with our spirit the greatness of God, we examine his perfection,
and as the great Bishop of Seville (city of Spain, old Hispal) has written
at that time, we are taught ineffable realities, that human language
cannot utter. We come to know the Father, who generates the Son, the Son
who is not inferior to the Father, and the Holy Spirit who receives from
both, and yet he is not inferior to neither of them in dignity.
But I would not have words, nor time, if I wanted to mention all that is
perceived through heavenly intelligence by those who have received so much
light of divine function in their thought and spirit.
Could a debate, in which in the past our ancestors did not try to study
the truth, or did not publicly discuss Christian matters, be rare?
Discussion with Gnostics, Novatian, Manichee, Donatus, Arius shows how our
ancestors have confronted the enemies, and blandly with the simple and
aggressively with the militant, having been instructed by the Spirit of
God, could understand the sacred scriptures.
Justin is the witness, who, having shunned the superstitions of the
people, has studied the true philosophy.
Irenaeus is the witness, who has progressed in intelligence, so as to
refute the heresies with the help of the knowledge of those who preceded
Athanasius is the witness who had to suffer persecution on the part of the
heretics, but was strengthened by the Intelligence, so that he never
feared nor was deceived.
We have as witnesses so many others, like Nazianzen, Basilius, Chrysostom,
Cyril, who had to struggle with the Arians and Macedonians, and with
Nestorius, with courage, they were not confused with the darkness of these
people, but brought light to the human race.
Witness is, likewise, Augustine, who has discussed with the heretics,
argued with them, refuted their arguments, more than other have read or
heard. But without going further, we have the witness of the See of Peter,
that is the guardian of truth, and God has given it the authority, the
Magisterium, with the light of the Spirit, has overcome the errors of the
Montanists, Arians, Nestorians, Eutychians, and of so many others.
But why am I mentioning the past? It is even today the task of the Roman
See to fight the battle of the Lord, to defend the doctrine of Christ,
received with divine authority, not to defend the doctrine of men.
God has chosen her, and has strengthened through the Spirit of
Intelligence, so that she could give us light and show us the way to
We who belong to the one Church of Christ, we are instructed in true
piety, we receive from this source the Spirit of Intelligence, and even if
we are being driven by our passions, we are led to enquire, to see, and to
perceive with mind and thought, through the Grace of the divine Spirit.
Abbe Faria's sermon, which was
delivered in Latin, was translated into English by FR. IVO DA
CONCEICAO SOUZA. Fr. Ivo is a Professor at the Patriarchal
Seminary of Rachol, Goa. He holds Licenciate at the Pontifical
Biblical Institute, Rome, and Doctorate in the Theological Faculty of
the Gregorian University, Rome, under the guidance of Professor of the
Biblicum, Rme, late Father Stanislas LYONNET, SJ, on the vital
scriptural theme, in the light of the targumic tradition: The New
Covenant in the Second Letter to the Corinthians. A Theologico-Exegetical
Investigation On 2 Cor 3:1-4:6 and 5:14-21 in 1977, as well as
Licenciate in Systematic Theology at the Pontifical University of
St.Thomas, Rome. He has completed the Doctoral Year at the Biblicum,
as well as M.A. in Sociology at the University of Manasagangotri,
Mysore. He has learnt Latin, Greek, Hebrew, Aramaic and Sanskrit, and
knows fifteen languages, from among which he reads and speaks fluently
Konkani, English, Portuguese, French, Italian, German. He loves deeply
Cicero's language since childhood. He has published his Thesis, and
two books: Evangelize with the Power of the Spirit and The healing
Ministry, in 1999. Since 1978, Fr.Ivo is teaching at Rachol Seminary
Biblical Exegesis and Sociology.
Click here for comments/insight re Abbe Faria's sermon in the Sistine Chapel.