Do you remember when we called the Third Person of the Trinity the Holy Ghost? Because “ghost” conjures up a spooky Halloween figure, this Person was renamed Holy Spirit. This name is better because it conveys that this Person doesn’t have a material body but is pure spirit. Because we are approaching the feast of Pentecost, the coming of the Holy Spirit upon the early Church, our Gospel readings have been about Jesus promising to send this Helper of ours.
At the outset of Jesus’s public ministry, his baptism, the Holy Spirit came down on him in the form of a dove. Aided by this Spirit, Jesus worked miracles, healed, preached, and endured his passion and death.
The Holy Spirit came down upon you too at your Baptism and more fully at your Confirmation. He brought along gifts that you probably memorized before you were confirmed: wisdom, understanding, knowledge, fortitude, counsel, piety, and fear of the Lord (awe). The Spirit dwells within you right now, ready to encourage, inspire, and assist you as you carry out your ministry, whatever that may be. St. Paul wrote, “Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God?” (1 Cor. 6:19)
For good reason we’ve had the practice of appealing to the Holy Spirit before reading the Bible and before taking a test (Holy Spirit, Lord of Light, help me chose the one that’s right). As a writer, I depend on this Person to give me ideas for my books and talks. He doesn’t disappoint. I also pray to the Holy Spirit before making a serious phone call and before a job interview.
The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Jesus, a way that he remains with us always. We believe that the Holy Spirit has guided the Church over the past 2,000 years and is still at work, leading us to new understandings and new practices. When I became editor of the Christ Our Life religion series, deacons and the single life had to be added to the vocation chapter. Drinking from the cup at Mass was an innovation as well as girl altar servers. Who knows what else the Holy Spirit has in store for us?
The Bible introduces the Holy Spirit active in creation in its very first verses: “The earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while the spirit of God [or mighty wind] swept over the face of the waters” (Genesis 1:2). Now that our Earth is threatened in so many ways, it would make sense to turn to the Spirit for help.
Theologically speaking, the Holy Spirit is the Love between God the Father and God the Son. When we are filled with and animated by this Love, love overflows to other people. We cherish and care for not only our family, but the wider family of the human race: refugees, the people in the Ukraine, as well as the irritating neighbor next door.
Here is an inspiring hymn to the Holy Spirit that was new to me. You need to click on the link to go to it on youTube.
• When might you pray to the Holy Spirit?