Veni, Sancte Spiritus (I) – Verses 1 and 2
II – Verses 3 and 4
III – Verses 5 and 6
IV – Verses 7 and 8
V – Verses 9 and 10
Da tuis fidelibus,
in te confidentibus,
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On the faithful, who adore
and confess you, evermore
in your sevenfold gift descend.
In the last two verses we are asking for gifts. “Give to your faithful,” we pray, grant to those who are trusting completely in you the sevenfold gifts (or the sevenfold holy things).
What are these sevenfold gifts?
Fear of the Lord
These are the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, as listed in Isaiah 11:2-3. (Although you will actually find only six gifts listed there, the seventh, piety, is included in the Septuagint and the Vulgate translations of Isaiah.
Da virtutis meritum,
da salutis exitum,
da perenne gaudium,
- – -
- – -
Give them virtue’s sure reward
give them your salvation, Lord;
give them joys that never end.
Give them virtue’s sure reward. As St. Ignatius says, all good gifts descend from above, as rays descend from the sun, and waters from the fountain. Anything in ourselves that we can claim as good, any virtue, we recognize as a gift from God. So we’re not talking about earning something, nor getting a prize for being virtuous — rather we could say that the reward comes with the gifts itself.
We have to cooperate, of course. We allow ourselves to be disposed, like the friends and family of Jesus who gather in the Upper Room between the Ascension and Pentecost (Acts 1), persevering in prayer even though they don’t really know yet what is going on, or what their call is for the future.
As they pray in expectation of the Spirit, the Spirit is paradoxically already praying in them — for otherwise how would prayer be possible? — preparing them to receive that pentecostal outpouring of the Spirit when it is given.
…Just as the Spirit also prays in us whenever we pray. Because the Spirit prays in us, says Karl Rahner, “our prayer is infinitely more than our prayer. Because [the Spirit] helps, our prayer is a piece of the melody that rushes through the heavens, an aroma of incense that sweetly rises to the eternal altars of heaven before the triune God” (The Need and the Blessing of Prayer).
Give them your salvation, Lord,
Give them joys that never end.
When I was a senior in high school, our English teacher, Mrs. McLeod, was skilled in leading us into discussions that made us think about life. I vividly remember one day when she commented that children have the ability to be either totally happy or totally sad — can be one and then the other — but that for adults, joy is usually intermingled with sorrow.
Now remember, we were 17 or 18 years old then, and thought of ourselves as pretty grown up. Well, a girl in the class raised her hand and said, “But Mrs. McLeod, sometimes I’m completely happy.”
To which Mrs. McLeod very kindly and gently replied, “Yes, but Sue, you’re still a child.”
I hope Sue retained her capacity for joy. Here we are asking for the joy of a child of God: total joy, a never-ending and never-failing joy. And we are asking for the joy of God’s eternity, experienced in God’s own heart, and bestowed in God’s own time.