Filled with the Spirit of God

Tuesday, April 05, 2016

Filled with the Spirit of God
St. Vincent Ferrer (1350-1419) 

St. Vincent Ferrer was born in Spain and became a Dominican.  He became intimately involved in The Great Schism. Known as the East-West Schism, it was an event that divided Christianity into Western (Roman Catholicism and Easter Orthodoxy.  From 1378-1409, rival Popes were reigning in Rome and Avignon.  In 1379, Benedict XIII became the Pope in Avignon and summoned Vincent there to be his confessor.  At first Vincent believed that Avignon was the proper seat of the Church but had a vision that convinced him that Benedict’s reign was hurting the Church. Vincent left Avignon to preach throughout Europe.  He is said to have spoken in “tongues”.  He  spoke in his own language, but those who heard him and didn’t know Spanish were somehow able to understand him and change their lives accordingly. In 1414, the Council of Constance called for the resignation of Benedict XIII but he refused to do so.  Vincent convinced King Ferdinand of Aragon to withhold his support of Benedict.   When that happened Benedict was deposed and the Papacy was no longer in Avignon, but only in Rome.

The scripture reading for today, the 10th day of Easter describes what the early Church was like:  “The community of believers was of one heart and mind, and no one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they had everything in common”  This was the Church that St. Vincent wished for and taught to his communities.    .

In the gospel today,   Jesus is teaching Nicodemus about the faith from the perspective of Jesus who God.  He tells him to notice the wind.  He can feel and hear it but doesn’t know its origin or it destination.   All the world is filled with mysteries like the wind that we humans don’t understand until we tap into the Spirit that is within us that comes from God. 

It is people like St. Vincent who are filled with the Spirit of God who discern, witness to and proclaim the Spirit of God that empowers our world of faith.  Here are some of his quotes:

'If you truly want to help the soul of your neighbor, you should approach God first with all your heart. Ask him simply to fill you with charity, the greatest of all virtues; with it you can accomplish what you desire.'

'Let devotion accompany your studies: consult God, the giver of all science and ask Him with humility to make you understand what you read and learn. Interrupt your application by short prayers: never begin or end your studies but by prayer. learning is a gift of the Father of Lights; do not, therefore, consider it a fruit of your own intellect or industry.'

'Whatever you do, think not of yourself, but of God."

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