The following is a reflection from The Cenacle, a collection of fifty meditations on the Holy Spirit written by Fr. John Mary of St. Joseph, OCD in the 17th century and traditionally used by Discalced Carmelites as a preparatory retreat for Pentecost.


May we not call “Comforter,” one who flies to the aid of pain and suffering, compassionately calms agitation, and generously relieves all misery? Such indeed is the Holy Spirit, Who well deserves the title of the unfailing Comforter; since, as we have already seen, this tender Father of the poor manifests Himself to the unfortunate and the afflicted, as a liberal Benefactor, a generous Dispenser of gifts. If it be true, that the Holy Spirit is the unfailing Comforter and the Father of the poor, it is none the less certain, that he who aspires and tends to perfection is indeed poor and needy; for, held captive by the bonds of corruption, he is exposed to trials, combats, contradictions and afflictions of all kinds, and may well cry out with the Apostle: “I see another law in my members, fighting against the law of my mind.” “Video aliam legem in membris meis repugnantem legi mentis maae.” (Rom. 7:23). Incessant contradiction, cruel war, which awakens the cry of distress: “Unhappy man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death.” “Infelix ego homo! Quis me liberabit de corpore mortis hujus?” (Rom. 7:24)

But, Consolamini, consolamini, Be consoled, be consoled, O my people, the Lord your God says, be consoled. For Jesus Christ, the Eternal Truth, has made you this promise: “I will ask the Father and He shall give you another Paraclete.” “Ego rogabo Patrem et alium Paraclitum dabit vobis.” (John 14:16).

Who is this Comforter promised to us by Jesus? Is it the Angel who comforted Him in the garden of Olives? Is it Raphael the Archangel, who conducted Tobias and rescued him from the devouring fish? Or is it Moses, who delivered the suffering and oppressed Israelites out of the bondage of Egypt? No, “Alium Paraclitum dabit vobis.” “He will give you another Comforter.” One who transforms weak and feeble fishermen into heroic and magnanimous saints, ignorant and coarse boatmen into apostles, sublime in act and teaching; who changes cowardly and pusillanimous disciples into eloquent preachers and intrepid martyrs. Yea, He will give you One Who is the Supreme Consoler, because He alone is the true Father of the poor, the liberal Dispenser of gifts, the veritable Light of hearts, and above all, the most welcome and appreciative Guest of the soul; for He rewards the least preparation made for His coming, by multiplying His most sweet and vivifying gifts.

Courage, courage! devout soul. However great be your destitution or the spiritual trials under which you groan, remember that the First and Second Persons of the Blessed Trinity have commissioned the Holy Spirit to be your Sovereign Comforter. Consequently, it is the will of the Father and of the Son, that you seek your solace and relief in the Holy Spirit. Sigh after His coming, let your groans and your inflamed aspirations ascent unto Him, and be assured, that He will permit you to find in Him an asylum and a sanctuary, where your sorrows and your burning desires may at length taste sweet refreshment and supreme consolation.