“Sine tuo numine” – Pentecost – Fr. Gabriel Okeke
In one of the hymns on the Holy Spirit, one of the invocations says in Latin: “sine tuo numine, nihil est in homine, nihil est innoxium.”
This means: “without your spirit (outpouring), nothing is in man, nothing is without fault.” This means that the Holy Spirit must reside in me so that I can do good and live well. But what frightens me is that the text says that without this divine dwelling place, I am nothing. Is this true? How can we understand this sentence which is very assertive? What comes to mind are Jesus’ final teachings to the disciples in John 14:23 – “if anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and take up residence in him”. Before this passage, in the same chapter, Jesus says: “I will pray the Father, and he will give you another Paraclete… that he may abide with you and be in you”. (Jn 14:16-17). Then, immediately after this chapter, Jesus says assertively: “abide in me and I in you (…) for without me you can do nothing”. (Jn 15, 5). Therefore, it is clear from Jesus’ words that without this divine abode in us, we can do nothing and are nothing. This divine dwelling in us is there in the form of the Holy Spirit. Because of this, we need the everlasting invocation and help of the Holy Spirit. The first word is ‘anakaleo’, the second ‘parakaleo’.
Anakaleo ἀνακαλέω– We are not the first disciples of Jesus; there were early disciples who did what we have to imitate. After the Ascension when Jesus gave the disciples their final instructions not to leave Jerusalem but to remain in prayer, these disciples did exactly what Jesus had commanded before and after Pentecost:
– Before Pentecost, the Scripture says: “all these (disciples) were persevering and with one accord in prayer, together with some women and Mary, the mother of Jesus…” (Acts 1:14).
– After Pentecost, the Scripture says: “they were steadfast in the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread and in prayer” (Acts 2:42).
Then, verse 46 emphasises the same thing, “they were daily persevering together in the temple, and breaking bread in the houses…”. So, these disciples before and after Pentecost, 1. prayed, 2. meditated on the word (teachings of the apostles), 3. celebrated the Eucharist.
All these three matters can be summed up under the Greek verb “anakaleo”, i.e. to call from above, or simply ‘to invoke’. From this greek verb comes the Latin name ‘Anacletus’. In prayer, what we do is raise our minds to God, invoking his divine help. In the Bible, what we do is to listen to the divine will, invoking his help to accomplish it. In the Eucharist, what we do is the memory of Jesus’ sacrifice, invoking the Holy Spirit to sanctify the gifts and ourselves. So it is up to us humans to do the anakaleo (invocation of the Holy Spirit).
There are some very important phrases not to be overlooked in these matters of the disciples. These phrases are emphasized by obvious or implied repetition; they are: ‘every day’ and ‘persevering’. The word ‘persevering’ comes from the Latin ‘per-severus’, which means ‘through the severe’. That is, these disciples continued to do those three chores even in severe and difficult times, without ceasing. It is interesting to note that the coming of Pentecost did not give these actions any pause, instead, they grew in vigor to the point that these actions became integral parts of their lives. With this, we understand what happened with Paul and Silas in prison. Around midnight, they praised God as they are wont to do with all their hearts despite the fact that they were in a precarious condition.
But if someone says that that praise and invocation of God at night was not something they usually did, that they only did it that way because they needed divine help at that time, then we will ask to this person why they did not escape from prison when all the doors were shaken and opened! Thus, that invocation was an integral part of their daily activities, not something decided upon in order to receive divine help to escape.
This last explanation initiates the second important sentence – ‘every day’. Invoke the Holy Spirit wholeheartedly is a spiritual action that is incumbent on us every day. Every day’ is its own entity that is never dependent on the past day or the next day. We never say, “Since we ate well yesterday, we don’t need to eat today.” No! We eat every day, and sometimes three times a day to maintain bodily life; how much more spiritual life!
All this is with regard to the verb ‘anakaleo’-invoke; what about epikaleo and parakaleo?
Epikaleo ἐπικαλέω, and parakaleo Παρακαλéώ – the first word means to call over, from where epiclesis comes; ‘parakaleo’ means ‘to call beside’. From there comes the name ‘Paraclete’ or ‘Paracletus’. When we do the anakaleo, it is up to the Holy Spirit to give us his response with the outpouring of his being and his help. In his outpouring, he gives us his sanctification. Then, he comes to stand beside or near us to help us do and live the good. God is always faithful, that is, the Holy Spirit is always faithful and ready to come alongside and help those who call upon him with sincerity. Because of his faithfulness to be the parakaleo God sent to a God-fearing man named Cornelius with his whole family to St Peter. The word says that this man prayed to God all the time (every day); despite the fact that he was not a Jew, God saw him and sent Peter to him to receive the Holy Spirit with his whole family (Acts 10). The same thing happened to that certain Ethiopian eunuch who was always seeking God; then God sent Philip to him so that he could receive baptism (Acts 8:26-40). So the saying is very true that he who seeks, finds; and we add that to him who calls, it will be poured out.
Dear brothers and sisters, that phrase in the hymn of the invocation of the Holy Spirit resounds again in our minds: sine tuo noumine, nihil est in homine (without your outpouring, there is nothing in human beings). Mother Church invites us to imitate the first disciples who lived fully with the help of the Holy Spirit. What they did was to invoke him every day with all sincerity in prayer, divine word and the Eucharist.
Let us pray for the help of our Mum Mary, the excellent and immaculate bride of the Holy Spirit, that she may help us to know how to pray well every day for the filling of the Holy Spirit, because sine tuo numine, nihil est in me.
Fr Gabriel Okeke