A Jesuit priest once asked me if I ever prayed to the Holy Spirit. “No,” I said. “I’m surprised,” he replied, “because you’re a writer.” Ever since then I’ve turned to the Holy Spirit for help, especially when I need an idea. He or she does not disappoint. Suddenly an idea will float into my mind, or I’ll open a book and find just what I need. This week as we celebrate St. Patrick, besides the green cookies and parades, we might focus on the teaching he’s famous for: the Trinity—all three Persons.
Theologically speaking, the Father reflects on his perfect self and that gives rise to the Son. The love between these two persons results in the Holy Spirit. Remember when the Spirit was called the Holy Ghost? The name Spirit is less frightening and more suitable for love personified. The Spirit is the gift Jesus promised at the last supper. He called the Spirit our paraclete, which loosely translated means someone who walks with you, someone who has your back. At baptism the Spirit came to dwell in us, ready to be there for us in case of emergency and just during everyday life. The main task of the Spirit is to make all of us holy, more loving. Where the Father is the Creator and the Son is the Redeemer, the Holy Spirit is the Sanctifier.
What does the job description of this Third Person of the Trinity include? The Spirit helps us pray, brings about the change of the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Jesus, enlightens us about Scripture, gives us strength to withstand temptation, inspires us to do good, and, as every Catholic students knows, helps us to pass tests!
Right now, the Spirit is at work fulfilling a main responsibility: guiding the Church. As the cardinals meet to elect the next Holy Father, let us ask the Spirit of wisdom, knowledge, counsel, and understanding to blow through our Church, ridding it of cobwebs and dirt. Let us pray to the Spirit to set our hearts afire, purging them and forging them to face the future with courage, hope, and above all, Love.
St. Patrick supposedly drove snakes out of Ireland. We might also solicit this saint’s aid in driving out dangerous attitudes during the conclave. With his help our Church might experience a new spring when everything is green again!
When have you benefited from the Holy Spirit’s nudgings?
What are your hopes for the next pope?