THE HOLY SPIRIT: Come, Creator Spirit by Raniero Cantalamessa

Meditations on the Veni Creator

Come, Creator Spirit by Raniero Cantalamessa

From: Come, Creator Spirit

Now, let us apply all of this to that “little world” which is our own heart.  The Fathers, in fact, do not reserve to the church the title of “cosmos of the cosmos,” the crown of creation, but sometimes speak also of the individual human being in the same terms.  This can have an extraordinary influence on the way we grasp the Holy Spirit in our mind and cooperate with the Spirit in our lives as believers.  “Darkness covered the face of the deep,” (Genesis 1:2).  But the human heart too, says the scripture, is an abyss, a place of hidden depths, (Psalms 64:7).  There is an outward chaos, but there is also the chaos within.  Our chaos is the darkness that is in us, the whirlpool of desires, intentions, undertakings, and contrary regrets all in conflict with one another.  A spiritual writer of the Middle Ages (he was a Carthusian monk who lived a life of profound contemplation!) described his own spiritual state in these words:

I become aware, Lord, that the world of my own spirit is still formless and void and that darkness still covers the face of this abyss.  It is truly in a state of confusion, a kind of dark and terrifying chaos, knowing nothing of its own end or of its own origin or of what sort of being it is.  That is how my soul is, my God!  That is how my soul is!  A wasteland, empty and formless, and darkness is upon the face of the abyss.  But the abyss that is my spirit cries out to you.  Lord, asking you to make a new Heaven and a new Earth of me, too!

There is a current in modern literature that simply takes us and continues, but in a psychological key, the theme of humankind, the prey to chaos, rushing headlong into the morass of its own contradictions: man “in the underground.”  Or else it chooses to rerun, but in reverse, the creative journey: starting this time from being and ending in nothingness; from light to darkness.  This is the path of nihilism.

What a light faith in the Creator Spirit throws on this universal experience of chaos!  The Spirit of God, that was working upon and within the primordial chaos, is still at work in this world.  Intoning the Veni Creator, we are saying, “Come, Holy Spirit, hover over my chaos too and breathe upon it and put light again into my darkness (see Psalm 18:28),  make of me too a microcosm, a real little world, something beautiful, harmonious and pure: a new creation.”

See here what a person writes who has spent a long time meditating on the opening words of the Veni Creator:

Come, Creator Spirit!  Confronted with these words, we cannot remain as we are – not kneeling, not sitting, not on our feet.  We are stunned, we need to fall to the ground, bowed low, overcome, and powerless like a paralytic: more accurately, like the clay before God breathed into it the breath of life.  And silent, absolutely silent.  The protagonist of the universe, the author of life: God is that!  And the invocation spreads around me, like a spot of oil on the water, covering all my family, my friends, my neighbors, all those I know and all those I do not know.  How many millions inhabit the Earth?  On every one of them all, Veni, Creator Spiritus!

New heavens, new Earths, new Adams, new Eves!  Politicians, governors, the poor, the unhappy, prostitutes, homosexuals, the depraved, all sinners who know not what they do, the whole Earth and all that is in it, all under the creative power of God.  To this Creator Spirit, who has created the human model in the perfection of every single one of its cells, I entrust this tangle of muscles, nerves and ganglia, synapses, hypothalamus, and all that works together for the orderly functioning of the life of my body and my mind and my emotions, so that in his hands it will all be able to be brought to new birth in harmony, in beauty, in truth and in purity.  In the sanctity of children of God.  Come, Creator Spirit!

We carry within ourselves a vestige of the primordial chaos, our own unconscious.  What modern psychoanalysis has outlined as the passage from the unconscious to the conscious, from the Id to the Superego, is an aspect of the creative work that needs to continue in us until it is fully accomplished.  We need to progress, from unformed to fully formed.  The Holy Spirit also wants to hover over the chaos of our unconscious where obscure forces are at play and contrary impulses arise, this depth in us that is the hatching-place of anxieties and neuroses, but that is also a source of unexplained possibilities.  “The Spirit reaches the depth of everything,” (see 1 Corinthians 2:10).

To one who has problems with his or her own unconscious (and who does not?), it is not possible to give better counsel than to foster a special devotion to the Holy Spirit and to call often on him, particularly in his function as Creator.  The Spirit is the very him, particularly in his function as Creator.  The Spirit is the very best psychoanalyst and the very best psychiatrist in the world.  Devotion to the Holy Spirit does not necessarily mean that we make less use of the human resources we have in this field, but the Holy Spirit certainly completes them and far surpasses them.

Besides that, there is a particular time of our day when it is even more necessary for us, and when we are more ready to experience the creative power of the Spirit, and that is the time of waking up in the morning.  Each morning we have a vivid reminder and a symbol of the emergence of the world from the primordial chaos.  The wonder is renewed.  The liturgy itself suggests this association, particularly in some of the hymns for Morning Prayer:

At the dawning of the day,
robed in light and silence
all things emerge from the darkness,
just as when time began.

Night is like a temporary falling-back into chaos.  “The sun goes down and there comes the frightful chaos.” (Prudentius)  Anguish, dreams, nightmares; good and evil; reality and fantasy: all is mixed up and confused in the darkness of night.  All is vague; dreams have no time frame, no color.  There are times when we wake up with the feeling that we have to start all over again, from the very beginning, as if we were atheists who had never known anything of God and have no idea of what faith or hope or love might be.  That is why it is important to start every new day with the Holy Spirit, so that the Spirit may transform our nighttime chaos into the light of faith and hope and love.  I have found that the loveliest words with which to begin a new day are, in fact, the first two lines of our hymn, “Come, Creator Spirit, visit the minds of those who are yours!”  I feel an almost physical need of them as I face the task of shaking off the heaviness, the inertia, and the oblivion of the night.

All the rest of our reflections, in this book are intended to help us to come to a meaningful insight into this mystery on which we are meditating: to pass anew from chaos to cosmos, to emerge as a “new creation” by the grace of the creative action of the Holy Spirit.

We close this chapter with a hymn that is used in the Liturgy of the Hours in English-speaking countries:

Spirit of God, on the waste and the darkness
hov’ring in power as creation began,
drawing forth beauty from clay and from chaos,
breathing God’s life in the nostrils of man,

Come and sow life in the waste of our being,
pray in us, form us as sons in the Son.
Open our hearts to yourself, mighty Spirit,
bear us to life in the Three who are One.

 

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