In honor of Pentecost, the celebration of the Holy Spirit’s presence in the Church, here is the introduction to my newest book: The Holy Spirit: Font of Love, Life, and Power.
At first I was tempted to title this book “The Holy Spirit: Our Superhero.” Since the 1930s, people have been intrigued with superheroes like Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Captain America, and Spider-Man. According to Wikipedia, a superhero is someone “usually possessing supernatural or superhuman powers, who is dedicated to fighting the evil of their universe, protecting the public, and usually battling supervillains.” When you think about it, that is a fitting description for the Holy Spirit! Let me explain.
This Person of the Trinity possesses incredible superhuman powers because he* is God, the Supreme Being. As the absolute good, the Holy Spirit works to vanquish all forms of evil. His archenemy is the ultimate villain, Satan, who is compared to a roaring lion prowling around “looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). The Holy Spirit is constantly present with us and within us, protecting, guiding, enlightening, and strengthening.
At every Sunday Mass as we pray the Nicene Creed, we acknowledge the Holy Spirit as “the Lord, the giver of life.”
* In this book for the sake of convenience masculine pronouns are used to refer to the Holy Spirit, who, being a pure spirit, actually has no gender.
Not only is he the source of our life, but he is devoted to ensuring that our lives are safe and happy here on Earth and continue happily in the kingdom of heaven.
In view of who the Holy Spirit is as well as his intimate connection to our lives and well-being, you would conclude that he is foremost in our minds and prayers. Ironically and sadly, most people pay scant attention to him so that the Spirit has been called “the Cinderella” of the Trinity. For many years, I too was one of those unenlightened people.
Then one day my spiritual director asked, “Do you ever pray to the Holy Spirit?” “Not really,” I answered. “You, a writer?” he asked, his eyebrows raised.
From then on, I cultivated a friendship with this mysterious Spirit, and he has come to my defense and empowered me on numerous occasions. For example, the Holy Spirit rightly could be called the co-author of my books. (A witty friend suggested that the Spirit is my ghostwriter!)
The catalyst for my writing a book about the Holy Spirit occurred as I was selling my books at my parish. Dominic, a successful businessman, approached me and said, “Would you write a book on the Holy Spirit? I don’t understand him.” I promised Dominic that I would—and I like to keep my promises.
The Holy Spirit: Font of Love, Life, and Power is geared to the average man or woman. It presents some of the great truths about our triune God, in particular the Spirit, in plain English. Each chapter opens with a quotation linked to its topic and concludes with questions for reflection or discussion, a prayer—to the Holy Spirit, of course—and an action. The Appendix contains a collection of prayers to him gleaned from various sources.
Although the Holy Spirit is a mysterious, invisible Person, symbols have arisen that provide glimpses into who he is and what he does. Among them are wind, breath, fire, water, cloud, dove, seal, and dew. These metaphors associated with the Spirit appear in the Old and New Testaments, and most of them are explained in gray boxes in the following pages.
I hope that through this book people will become more aware of their invisible Friend and lifelong Companion and establish a relationship with him as I did. Then they too will be inclined to pray, “Come, Holy Spirit,” and experience the power of this precious Gift whom Jesus and the Father sent us. They will learn to “walk in the Spirit.”
• When do you pray to the Holy Spirit?
The hymn here is a good prayer for today when you interpret “this place” as the turbulent USA right now.