Saturday, March 16, 2013

Ipse harmonia est

Yester-day, while addressing the College of Cardinals, Pope Francis spoke thus of the Holy Spirit and His gifts of grace to all the different members of the Body of Christ:
He, the Paraclete, is the supreme protagonist of every initiative and manifestation of faith. It’s interesting and it makes me think. The Paraclete creates all the differences in the Church and seems like an apostle of Babel. On the other hand, the Paraclete unifies all these differences – not making them equal – but in harmony with one another. I remember a Church Father who described it like this: “Ipse harmonia est.” [He Himself is Harmony.] The Paraclete gives each one of us a different charism, and unites us in this community of the Church that adores the Father, the Son, and Him – the Holy Spirit.”
Now, I have been trying to find who exactly it was who spoke and wrote of the Holy Spirit in those words “Ipse harmonia est” – that is, He Himself is harmony or concord, He the Holy Spirit is harmony itself. There are so many repetitions of these words of the Holy Father themselves online that so far I have not had a chance to locate the original reference, but I do see in these words the idea that the different graces given by the Spirit result in a wonderful symphony.

In any case, these words are beautiful and worth much prayerful consideration; the last line refers I think to a phrase of St Cyprian, as repeated in the Catechism (n. 810), itself repeating Lumen Gentium: "Hence the universal Church is seen to be 'a people brought into unity from the unity of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit'" (LG 4 citing St. Cyprian, De Dom. orat 23: PL 4, 553).


A Country Priest said...

My guess, Joshua, is that the Holy Father was paraphrasing St Augustine's De Trinitate.

In Book VI, Ch 9, Augustine contemplates our Lord's words in John 17:3. (Our Lord is praying aloud at the conclusion of his Last Supper.) "And this is eternal life, that they know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent."

Augustine asks:

Why then did He omit to mention the Holy Spirit? Is it because it follows, that whenever we name One who cleaves to One by a harmony so great that through this harmony both are one, this harmony itself must be understood, although it is not mentioned?

— Augustine of Hippo, "On the Trinity", trans. Arthur West Haddan In , in A Select Library of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, First Series, Volume III: St. Augustin: On the Holy Trinity, Doctrinal Treatises, Moral Treatises, ed. Philip Schaff (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Company, 1887), 102.

Joshua said...

Many thanks, Father! Always nice to see a priest well informed about St Augustine...

I have found the Latin of the passage you quote to be as follows:

Cur ergo tacuit de Spiritu Sancto? An quoniam consequens est, ut ubicumque nominatur unum tanta pace uni adhaerens, ut per hanc utrumque unum sit, iam ex hoc intellegatur etiam ipsa pax quamvis non commemoretur?

It appears that the English word "harmony" here translates the "pax" of the original.

Joshua said...

BTW, my source is a very useful site, giving all Augustine's works in Latin, Italian, etc.: