Friday, February 15, 2013

Year of Faith: The Holy Spirit

Previous posts in my series of posts for the Year of Faith:
God the CreatorJesus 
The IncarnationJesus 
The Savior
Mary, The Mother of God

"I believe in the Holy Spirit"
Come Holy Spirit

Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created. And You shall renew the face of the earth. O, God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit, did instruct the hearts of the faithful, grant that by the same Holy Spirit we may be truly wise and ever enjoy His consolations, Through Christ Our Lord, Amen.
The Holy Spirit is the third person of the Holy Trinity but has a joint mission with the Son. Whenever the Father sends His Word, he always sends His Breath, or Spirit. The Son and the Spirit are distinct but inseparable. Jesus Christ is the one who is seen, but it is the Spirit who reveals Him. (CCC689)

The Holy Spirit is first mentioned at the Annunciation but we actually see the Spirit at the Baptism of Jesus.
Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him. John tried to prevent him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and yet you are coming to me?” Jesus said to him in reply, “Allow it now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he allowed him. After Jesus was baptized, he came up from the water and behold, the heavens were opened [for him], and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove [and] coming upon him. And a voice came from the heavens, saying, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:13-17)
At Jesus' baptism, the Holy Spirit descends from the Father upon the Son. While He is without sin, Jesus submits to the purification of baptism "to fulfill all righteousness," that is, to fulfill God's plan for the salvation of the world. Just as Jesus receives the Spirit at His baptism, so do we at our baptism. It is the same Spirit that comes upon us, claims us for God and begins our journey toward salvation with us. It is the Spirit that calls us to move towards God and enables us to hear God.
“No one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.” Now God’s Spirit, who reveals God, makes known to us Christ, his Word, his living Utterance, but the Spirit does not speak of himself. The Spirit who “has spoken through the prophets” makes us hear the Father’s Word, but we do not hear the Spirit himself. We know him only in the movement by which he reveals the Word to us and disposes us to welcome him in faith. The Spirit of truth who “unveils” Christ to us “will not speak on his own.” Such properly divine self–effacement explains why “the world cannot receive [him], because it neither sees him nor knows him,” while those who believe in Christ know the Spirit because he dwells with them. (CCC 687)
Through the Spirit, we not only enter into new life in Christ, but can begin to know God as never before. The Spirit whispers to us the Truth drawing us ever closer to our Savior and Father.

In a conversation with the Pharisee Nicodemus, Jesus tells him that we must be "born from above" or baptized in order to enter the kingdom of God and it is through the Holy Spirit that we are raised to this new life, this new relationship to God:
Jesus answered and said to him, “Amen, amen, I say to you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can a person once grown old be born again? Surely he cannot reenter his mother’s womb and be born again, can he?” Jesus answered, “Amen, amen, I say to you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. What is born of flesh is flesh and what is born of spirit is spirit. Do not be amazed that I told you, ‘You must be born from above.’ The wind blows where it wills, and you can hear the sound it makes, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes; so it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” (John 3:1-8)
In this new life of the Spirit, we are adopted by God the Father and become coheirs with Christ. We can now call God our Father and Christ our brother. (Romans 8:14-17) And it is through the Holy Spirit that we are lead and equipped for the journey of our life towards eternal salvation. 
The Holy Spirit gives the baptized seven gifts, each to the measure he sees fit and to the degree the baptized accepts them, in order to sustain their moral life. These gifts are only possessed completely and  perfectly by Christ, but it is always a great blessing to receive any part of any of them. They aid us to be receptive to the will of God. (CCC 1830-1) The seven gifts are wisdom, understanding, counsel, fear of the Lord, fortitude, knowledge and piety. (Isaiah 11:2-3) Using the simplest definitions:
  1. Wisdom helps us see things as God sees them.
  2. Understanding helps us know the Catholic faith.
  3. Counsel helps us to hear the Holy Spirit.
  4. Fortitude gives us strength to overcome all dangers.
  5. Knowledge helps us to know how we should live as Christians.
  6. Piety helps us to love God our Father.
  7. Fear of the Lord helps us to know our relationship to God.
The Holy Spirit, according to God's will, brings about perfections in us as the first fruits of our eternal glory, in so far as we are open to being perfected in them. The tradition of the church lists 12 fruits of the Spirit (though there is an argument that there is only nine)love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control, modesty and chastity. (Galatians 5:22-23)

In addition, there are extraordinary gifts called the Charismatic Gifts of the Holy Spirit:
There are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit; there are different forms of service but the same Lord; there are different workings but the same God who produces all of them in everyone. To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit. To one is given through the Spirit the expression of wisdom; to another the expression of knowledge according to the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit; to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit; to another mighty deeds; to another prophecy; to another discernment of spirits; to another varieties of tongues; to another interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit produces all of these, distributing them individually to each person as he wishes. (1 Corinthians 12:4-11)
Just by His presence, the Holy Spirit makes persons, places or things holy but, as Jesus said to Nicodemus, like breath or air or the wind, we only know He is present by the effect the Spirit has. The Holy Spirit is thus the source of life for the Church and continues to sanctify her through the sanctification of her people through the ages. "We ought to pray to and invoke the Holy Spirit, for each one of us greatly needs His protection and His help. The more a man is deficient in wisdom, weak in strength, borne down with trouble, prone to sin, so ought he the more to fly to Him who is the never-ceasing fount of light, strength, consolation, and holiness." (Leo XIII, Divinm illud minus, 9)


Come Holy Spirit, Creator Blest (Veni, Creator Spiritus)

Come, Holy Spirit, Creator blest! And in our souls take up Thy rest;

come with Thy grace and heavenly aid to fill the hearts which Thou hast made. 

Great Paraclete! To Thee we cry, O highest gift of God Most High,

O fount of life! O fire of love! And sweet anointing from above.


Thou in Thy sevenfold gifts are known; The finger of God's hand we own;

The promise of the Father, Thou! Who dost the tongue with power endow.


Kindle our sense from above, and make our hearts o'erflow with love;

with patience firm and virtue high the weakness of our flesh supply. 


Far from us drive the foe we dread, and grant us Thy peace instead;

So shall we not, with Thee for guide, turn from the path of life aside. 


Oh, may Thy grace on us bestow the Father and the Son to know;

and Thee, through endless times confessed, of both the eternal Spirit blest. 


All glory while the ages run be to the Father and the Son, 

Who rose from death, the same to Thee, O Holy Spirit, eternally. Amen.

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