Friday, 10 October 2014

The Breath of Life and the Mouth of God




“I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father and the Son…”

 The Mouth of God the Father is God the Son; and from this Mouth proceeds the Holy Spirit, the Living Flame and Eternal Breath of God Most High. This Holy Mouth dwells on earth in every consecrated Host throughout the entire world. It is thus that from this Sacrament of the Altar proceeds the Holy Spirit, as Breath from Mouth.

 

God completed the creation of Adam when He breathed the breath of life –the Holy Spirit- into Him. Wherefore we read in Genesis: “And the Lord God formed man of the slime of the earth: and breathed into his face the breath of life, and man became a living soul.” (Gen 2:7). Yet at the Fall man breathed out as it were the breath of life -the Holy Spirit- and although he retained the power of mortal life that such a breath bestowed on him, it was the power of immortal and spiritual life that he had forfeited by his sin of sensual idolatry. However to remedy the fault of Adam, the Mouth of God became man so as to breathe once again the Breath of Life into the soul of man, so that he might be invested with the power of life everlasting.

This is why the Mouth of God instituted the Seven Sacraments, because they are seven different gifts with a variety of different graces, that all come from His One Breath that we call the Holy Spirit. In our Baptism we are filled with the sanctifying grace that we call the Breath of Life. In the Sacrament of Confirmation this Breath is magnified within us; whereby the seed of the Divine Breath that we receive at Baptism, blossoms forth into a raging whirlwind of fire. Through mortal sin we exhale this Holy Breath from within and become as dry bones that are dead in spirit. However the Sacrament of Confession –as the healing merciful kiss of the Mouth of God- restores this Breath to us, thereby restoring the ‘living flesh’ to the ‘dead bones’ of our soul. Wherefore we come to an understanding of the passage from Ezekiel:

“Prophesy to these bones, and say to them, ‘O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. Thus says the Lord God to these bones: Behold, I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. And I will lay sinews upon you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live; and you shall know that I am the Lord…Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, Thus says the Lord God: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live.” So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived… “And you shall know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves, and raise you from your graves, O my people. And I will put my Spirit within you, and you shall live…”[1]

Ezekiel in the Valley of Dry Bones

Voluntary venial sins are like spiritual emphysema, for they restrict and restrain the Breath of Life from diffusing into the blood stream and heart of the soul, thus rendering her weak and tepid. Involuntary venial sins can be said to cause the narrowing of our soul’s wind pipe; for by such faults of weakness we hinder our capacity to receive the torrents of grace that God desires to continually breathe into the lungs of our soul. However these frailties of venial sin are no hindrance to the Breath of Life, for through our inhalation of the Holy Spirit in the Sacrament of the Eucharist, we are healed and forgiven of such faults (CCC 1394), and if we are docile enough to let this Breath of Love set ablaze the forest of our heart, we may even make perfect reparation for such sins; to the point of not only receiving the delight of God's Kiss, but to return with the Lips of Christ such delight unto God Himself. Is this not what occurred with the penitent woman (whom Tradition often associates with Mary Magdalene)? For her love was so great, it appears from the response of our Saviour that not only was she forgiven, but that the ardour of her love was such that she had made reparation -and beyond- for her licentious past. The Scripture reads: 

Then turning toward the woman he said to Simon, "Do you see this woman? I entered your house, you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little." And he said to her, "Your sins are forgiven."[2]

Of course it may be argued that this perspective exaggerates the reality, and that this woman –by the ardour of her love- was merely forgiven for her debts, and had not made reparation, well, at least not perfect reparation. Yet intuitively we know that love, which is none other than the Spirit we call the Breath of Life, has more than enough power to make reparation for sins, to the point of lavishing upon God more good than the evil we have done, and more beauty than the ugliness of our all deeds. For “love covers a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8), and concerning love the Breath of Life through St. Paul tells us: that “when the perfect comes, the imperfect will pass away” (1 Cor 13:10). What else is this saying but that when we inhale the Breath of Love Divine, such as in our reception and Adoration of the Holy Sacrament, our imperfections are burnt away as straw in a fire? Indeed there is the story about the penitent woman who was so filled with sorrow at her sins, and so overwhelmed by the love of God, that shortly after repenting she died from such love.[3] Then there is the story of St. Mary of Egypt, who after repenting of her lustful ways fled into the desert only to be found some time after by St. Zosimas, who upon her request gave to her Holy Communion, and thereafter she asked him to return the following year to give to her the Holy Eucharist. The next year the Saint returned, yet found her dead body with an inscription near her head which stated that the she had died on the very night he had administered to her Communion. Perhaps it might be argued that God in His providence permitted this holy woman to live just long enough until she could receive the Kiss of God’s Mouth in the Eucharist; yet fused with this perspective I believe she died from love. Furthermore, there is the story of Blessed Imelda (1322-1333) who had not yet turned twelve years of age, as was required by the local custom in order to receive the Sacrament of the Eucharist. Yet however upon the miraculous occasion where a Host hovered above her head whilst she was wrapped in prayer, the priest conceded to give to her the desire of her heart: our Lord in Holy Communion. Whereupon this reception of Holy Communion was both her first and her last, for the Breath of Love had so ravished her soul that it had torn it from her body. For indeed she had died and entered the fullness of life eternal upon her inhalation of the Breath of Life that the Mouth of God had imparted within her.

The Holy Eucharist is the King of the Sacraments and the Treasury of the Church; for this Sacrament is the Mouth of God from whence the Breath of Life flows forth. When we adore the Holy Eucharist and receive It in the attitude of Adoration, we are kissing the Beloved, the Holy One of Israel, the Mouth of God lip to lip. For “the Latin word for adoration is ad-oratio –[meaning] mouth to mouth contact, a kiss, an embrace, and hence, ultimately love.”[4] It is thus that whenever we come before Christ Jesus the Mouth of God who dwells in the Blessed Sacrament, we receive anew the outpouring of the Holy Spirit into our souls; that is to say; whenever we come before this Sacrament, we receive into the lungs of our soul, an increased portion of the Breath of Life. Therefore the following Scripture was not only carried out over two millennia ago, when the Resurrected Christ first appeared to His disciples; but this Scripture is carried out each and every day, and every single time that a soul comes before Him in the Holy Eucharist:

“Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.’ And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.”[5]

Just as a father longs to be loved by his children, so too in a special way is God the Father desperate for our love. Be still and listen through adoring silence before this Host of Love; and you will hear the panting of the Crucified Christ, the Mouth of God the Father, who pants and breathes heavily with groans and rattling’s, with the ardent longing for your love. “I thirst!” exclaims this Mouth Divine; “O that you would kiss me with the kisses of your mouth!” (Jn 19:28; Song 1:1). If indeed you hearken to this voice and draw near to Him, kissing Him with the lips of your soul, with the loving surrender of your will; then you shall inhale bout after bout of His Sweet Breath, that Air Divine called the Holy Spirit, until the lungs of your soul swell with bursting joy!

With each passive inhalation that the soul receives through the infusion of the Breath of Life, she is created anew, and thus she is being transformed continually into a unique image of God the Son, for the glory and delight of God the Father, who repeats these words in reference to such souls: “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” (Mt 3:17). So it is that whilst the sensual idolatry of Adam caused man to exhale the Breath of Life, Adoration of Christ the New Adam, fills the soul with Breath after Breath. In this regards let us recall the versicle and response of the Traditional prayer to the Holy Spirit:

V. Send forth Thy Spirit and they shall be created.
R. And Thou shalt renew the face of the earth.

In other words this is to say to Jesus who dwells in the Blessed Sacrament, and who abides in the chapel of our heart: ‘Breathe Thy Breath into me, and I shall be created anew; and Thou shalt renew in sanctity and in likeness unto Thyself, the face of my soul.’

Concerning the three theological virtues that we are infused with at Baptism, we can say that the first of these –faith, is the ability to open the mouth of our soul and thus through faith we are able to receive the Breath of Life. The greater our faith the more receptive we are to receiving the Holy Spirit into the lungs of our soul. If our faith is perfect, then we will never let a single Breath of God escape without first passing through our lips. The second of these –hope, is the capacity of the lungs of our soul, and thus the measure of our hope determines the capacity we have to be filled with the Breath of the Spirit. So it can be said that the more we hope or trust in God, the greater our capacity is to be able to receive and be filled with the Holy Spirit. The third and greatest theological virtue –love, is our ability to breathe –to inhale the Breath of God, the Holy Spirit, and to exhale our own created love co-mingled with the Uncreated Love which is the Holy Spirit. The thickness and richness of this Celestial Air that we inhale, is determined by the thickness and richness of the air which we exhale through our prayers and loving deeds. In other words, that which we give, determines that which we receive: “For the measure you give will be the measure you get back.” (Lk 6:38b). In other words, the measure by which you exhale love, is the measure by which you shall inhale love. For if we never exhaled, we would have no room as it were for new air. Now we are Temples of the Holy Spirit having inhaled Him through the Sacraments, and Christ in us can exhale the Breath of Loving Adoration to the Father through all that we say, think, pray and do. Yet we can restrain Christ within us by our failure to submit our will to Him; and thus in such instances it is not Christ who is exhaling from within us, but rather it is we who are exhaling; and in such instances we exhale the Breath of Selfish Idolatry. Often it will not be so black and white, for usually the soul permits Christ to exhale somewhat, whilst they themselves exhale somewhat. It is thus that according to the measure that it is Christ who is acting and praying etc. in, with and through the soul, is the measure that such a soul will inhale the Breath of Life. For each time the soul exhales with the Mouth of God’s Self through faith and in love; the Holy Spirit, the Breath of Life, is magnetised to ‘replace’ that which was exhaled. Thus the exhalation of love draws forth the Breath of Love to be inhaled. For indeed the measure you give will be the measure you get back; yet although the measure of return is equal, the quality of return is infinitely greater; for we also read in Scripture: “who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life.” (Mk 10:31). So it is that with the virtue of love we may exhale a thousand gallons of the purest water; yet we shall inhale a thousand gallons of the finest cider and wine of the Holy Spirit. For concerning the Spirit –the Breathe of Life- it is written: “the scent of your breath like apples, and your kisses like the best wine” (Song 7:8c).

As the blades of grass yearn to be caressed, and the petals of the roses stroked with ease, both alike by the gentle breeze; so too does the soul –a secret garden known to God alone- pine to be caressed with soothing touches by her Maker, He who alone can bring that deepest kind of comfort. In contemplation the soul without speaking but a word says with ardent longing: “Awake, O north wind, and come, O south wind! Blow upon my garden, let its fragrance be wafted abroad. Let my beloved come to his garden, and eat its choicest fruits.” (Song 4:16). Wherefore by calling upon the wind in general she calls upon the Holy Spirit, the Uncreated Breath of Life; and by specifically calling upon the ‘north wind’ she summons the created breath of life –the Immaculate Bride, the Blessed Virgin Mary- for of Her it is written: “For she is a breath of the power of God, and a pure emanation of the glory of the Almighty” (Wis 7:25a). By ‘south wind’ the soul summons the members of Holy Mother Church that bear the name Israel[6] to join her in communion. Blow upon my garden –that is to say: ‘ravish me o God, with the caressing breath of the Holy Spirit.’ And let its fragrance be wafted abroad- that is to say: ‘let my Adoration of loving praise waft forth to God the Father for His pleasure and delight.’ Let my beloved come to his garden –that is: ‘Come o Mouth of God, my dearest Beloved, come and enter into the secret depths of my soul’; and eat its choicest fruits –which is to say: ‘and entwine Thy lips with mine, and feast upon the eternal fruits that the waters of Thy very own love have produced within me.’[7] At which the Beloved shall say: “Your lips distil nectar, my bride; honey and milk are under your tongue” (Song 4:11a); as He the Mouth of God pours the Milk, Honey and Wine of the Holy Spirit, the Breath of Life, into the mouth of such a soul. At which the soul’s very own response shall be:

“The spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life;” for o how good it is to taste the sweetness of His Mouth, and to savour the love of His Breath upon my palate. For my Triune God “the scent of your breath [is] like apples, and your kisses like the best wine that goes down smoothly, gliding over lips and teeth.” O “I am my Beloved’s” and His Breath that I inhale is “His desire for me” and is mine for He.[8]



[1] Ezekiel 37: 4-7; 9-10a; 13a.
[2] Lk 7:44-48
[3] I cannot recall where this story is sourced from, but I am certain I read it in the works of Teresa of Avila or Therese of Lisieux who references it from the early fathers.
[4] Benedict XVI, Homily: Apostolic Journey to Cologne On the Occasion of the XX World Youth Day, 21 August, 2005.
[5] John 20:21-22.
[6] Such souls are they who live in Divine Will.
[7] Rev 22:1-2; Ez 47.
[8] Job 33:4; Song 7:8c-9, 10.