Holy Spirit

HOLY SPIRIT: The Spirit As Distinct Divine Person, Part Three by Tom Smail

August 5, 2018

From The Giving Gift Proposal 2: The Spirit should be understood totally in terms of Christ. Here we are invited to regard the Spirit not as a third Trinitarian person with the Father and the Son but as the mode of action of the risen and ascended Christ in the church and in the world.  The one who acts when the Spirit acts is none other than the risen Jesus.  The word, Spirit, functions as an adverb rather than a noun; it is a description of how Jesus acts after his physical body is withdrawn.  To say that Jesus now acts through the Spirit is just to say that he now acts in a spiritual way.  One of the chief modern protagonists of this view is the Dutch theologian, Hendrikus Berkhof, in his important book, The Doctrine of the Holy [...]

HOLY SPIRIT: The Spirit As Distinct Divine Person, Part Two by Tom Smail

July 15, 2018

From The Giving Gift We turn now to our second question, which requires a longer answer.  Is the Spirit a distinct person from the Father and the Son?  When we call him the Spirit of God, do we mean that he is a source and center of personal action distinct from God the Father, or simply that he is the personal God in outgoing action towards his creation?  When we call him the Spirit of Christ, do we mean that he is another person who acts in the name of Christ after he himself has departed, or simply that he is none other than the ascended Christ acting now in a spiritual and invisible way?  In other words, is the Spirit an extension of the divine personalities of the Father and the Son, the means by which they extend their activity [...]

HOLY SPIRIT: The Spirit As Distinct Divine Person by Tom Smail

July 1, 2018

From The Giving Gift But none of these passages answers or even raises the question that is to be central to this chapter, Is the Holy Spirit a distinct, divine person?  The doctrine of the Trinity is that God is one divine substance in three distinct persons.  The passages we have quoted give good grounds for thinking of the Spirit as participating in the being of God; but, is there a New Testament basis for believing that the Holy Spirit is a third divine person in unity with, but also in distinction from the other two? Before we can tackle that question, we must clarify it and ask first what in this context we mean by speaking of a person.  To embark upon a history of that slippery term in Trinitarian theology would take us far out [...]

HOLY SPIRIT: The Person Without A Face by Tom Smail

June 24, 2018

From The Giving Gift Our title phrase is from the French theologian, Yves Congar.  It points to the elusiveness and anonymity of the Holy Spirit which are, as we shall see, among his defining characteristics, both in the New Testament and in subsequent Christian tradition.  “He will not draw attention to himself,” is a clear implication if not an actual translation of John 16:13. We know the Spirit, not because we have a face-to-face encounter with him, as we do with the Son and through him with the Father.  Rather we begin to know the Spirit when we begin to realize that our ability to recognize and respond to Christ and his Father does not have its source in us but is given to us from outside ourselves.  The Holy Spirit stands [...]

HOLY SPIRIT: Beginning With Mary—The Holy Spirit And Mary by Tom Smail

June 17, 2018

From The Giving Gift But if all this involves dynamic personal relationships, then it is to one of the most significant of these in all its particularity that we must now turn.  The place at which, according to Matthew and Luke and the creedal tradition of the church, the Holy Spirit begins to reveal himself in his New Testament fullness is in relation to Mary, the mother of Jesus. Of course when the creed brings the Holy Spirit and Mary together, the subject of the sentence is not either of them, but “Jesus Christ, his only Son our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary.”  If the Spirit works revealingly in Mary, it is not for her sake or yet for his own, but so that Jesus Christ can be formed in her [...]

HOLY SPIRIT: Beginning With Mary—Three Basic Affirmations by Tom Smail

June 10, 2018

From The Giving Gift 1.  To describe the Holy Spirit as Gift emphasizes that we are here in the realm of grace. Free giving is not by any  means the only kind of exchange that can take place between two parties.  A check can pass from me to you as a contracted payment of wages in return for services rendered.  It is then not a gift but a payment, a quid pro quo in which one party fulfills agreed conditions and the other party is in duty bound to pay the agreed reward. Some Christians have tended to understand God’s sending of the Holy Spirit in this contractual way.  God gives the Spirit when we fulfill the conditions that he has laid down.  This view has both a typically Roman Catholic and a typically Protestant form. In much [...]

HOLY SPIRIT: Beginning With Mary—The Spirit As Giving Gift by Tom Smail

June 3, 2018

From The Giving Gift We shall therefore be asking how the distinctive work of the Spirit in salvation and creation is to be understood in its connection with and distinction from the work of the Father and the Son and how therefore the person of the Spirit is to be understood in its connection with and distinction from the persons of the Father and the Son.  Put more simply: How does what he does relate to what they do, and how does who he is relate to who they are? We may give a preliminary answer to both these questions in terms of our title by saying that the Holy Spirit is the Giving Gift.  First question: What does the Holy Spirit do within the God-man relationship?  Answer: He gives the things of God and the things of Christ to [...]

HOLY SPIRIT: Beginning With Mary—Introduction by Tom Smail

May 27, 2018

From The Giving Gift A Hymn for the Baptism of Jesus Father, behold your Son made man To baptism comes in Jordan’s stream, And thus fulfills your ancient plan All Adam’s children to redeem. Your voice from Heaven your will attests, “My Son, on whom my favor rests.” Blest Spirit, who in Mary’s womb The new humanity began, Who soon from Joseph’s darkened tomb Will bring to life the Son of Man, The baptized Christ with gifts endow, Anoint the new Messiah now. Lord Jesus Christ, now Son proclaimed, Baptized with Holy Spirit’s powers, Unsullied Lamb of God now named, The sins you bear, not yours but ours, Go forth the Devil’s wrath to face Live, die and rise to save our race. O Triune God, your people claim, The Father’s [...]

PRAYER: The Flaming Dove by Hildegard of Bingen

May 21, 2018

I beg you, O God, to reveal to me the mystery of your love.  Let your love be to me a new dawn at the end of a long night of gloom.  Let your love be to me a new plan, showing the way of spiritual slavery.  And let that plan be so simple that I can understand and follow it.  Your love is like a white dove with orange flames bursting from its wings.  The dove brings the promise of peace to my troubled soul, and the flames promise joy to my miserable heart. [...]

THE HOLY SPIRIT: Water And Thirsty Soil by Raniero Cantalamessa

March 9, 2018

From: Come, Creator Spirit Now, to apply what we have seen in a practical way, let’s call again to our help the symbol of “Sister Water.”  Water is something that always runs down, never up.  It is always trying to find the lowest place.  So it is with the Holy Spirit: the Spirit loves to visit and fill the lowly, the humble, those who know their own emptiness.  Francis of Assisi, in his Canticle of Brother Sun, makes water a symbol of humility: “Praised be you, my Lord, through Sister Water, / who is very useful and humble and precious and chaste.” One of the most disquieting phenomena of the physical world in our time is the creeping menace of desertification.  Scientists calculate that hundreds of thousands of hectares of [...]

THE HOLY SPIRIT: The Life Of The Spirit by Raniero Cantalamessa

March 2, 2018

From: Come, Creator Spirit Now all that the reading of certain texts of the New Testament will tell us about the Spirit “who gives life” will afford us a better understanding of what we have seen so far.  Paul writes: “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.  For the law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death,” (Romans 8:1-2). Let us leave aside for the present the theme of the “new law,” as we will be considering it at another time.  The principal point that we gather from the text is this: The Spirit is the Spirit of Life, and the life that the Spirit gives is none other than life in Christ, the life that flows from his paschal mystery.  To [...]

THE HOLY SPIRIT: Supernatural Life, or Natural Super-Life? by Raniero Cantalamessa

February 23, 2018

From: Come, Creator Spirit In the course of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries something changed in the significance given to this aspect of Christian life, following the emergence of a philosophy that exalted the notion of vitalism.  In various forms, this philosophy was the central message of biological evolutionists like Darwin, of the positivists, of the historicists, of the pragmatists and of intuitionists like Bergson with his seductive theory of the “élan vital.”  But it was Nietzsche who made a religion of this vitalism.  He put forward the theory of a superior form of well-being as the essential means by which the course of history, as he conceived it, would be realized.  He spoke of Christians as [...]

THE HOLY SPIRIT: What Life? by Raniero Cantalamessa

February 16, 2018

From: Come, Creator Spirit But now it is time to ask ourselves about what kind of life are we speaking when we say that the Spirit gives life.  The faith of the church has never had any hesitation or doubt in answering this question.  We are talking of divine life, that is to say, the life that has its source in God the Father, which in Christ “was made visible,” (1 John 1:2), and in baptism is given to the believer.  Between this life and the natural life that we have from our human birth there is no real opposition (both come from God who is the absolute master of all life, physical as well as spiritual); yet the two are diverse and in contrast on the moral level, as we see in the well-known antitheses: nature / grace, flesh / [...]

THE HOLY SPIRIT: Water, Life, And The Spirit by Raniero Cantalamessa

February 3, 2018

From: Come, Creator Spirit If we can say, by analogy, that the whole of creation is sacrament, that is, sign of God, we can also see that certain elements of creation have become sacramental signs of the Holy Spirit also in a stricter sense: water in baptism as a sign of rebirth in the Spirit; oil and chrism in confirmation as signs of the Spirit anointing.  Water, then, is more than a mere symbol of the Spirit; it is an efficacious sign of the Spirit: it not only calls the Spirit to mind, but renders the Spirit present and active. From what source is the title of the Holy Spirit, “living fountain,” derived, and what does it signify?  The author of the hymn tells us, in another of his writings: The Holy Spirit was called water in the [...]

THE HOLY SPIRIT: The Holy Spirit Communicates The Divine Life To Us by Raniero Cantalamessa

January 26, 2018

From: Come, Creator Spirit God is revealed to us in two ways: by means of things and by means of words, in creation and in the Bible.  Saint Augustine says that these are like two books: Let your book be the divine page to which you ought to listen; let your book be the universe that you ought to observe.  Only those who know how to read and write can read the pages of scripture, while everyone, including the unlettered, can read out of the book of the universe. There is no question of there being two “books,” separate and distinct and without connection, because the Bible itself very often listens to and reflects the voice of things, interpreting it and using it as a vehicle for its own more explicit revelations. In the voice of [...]

THE HOLY SPIRIT: The Holy Spirit Gives New Life To The Mutual Self-Giving Of Husband And Wife by Raniero Cantalamessa

January 19, 2018

From: Come, Creator Spirit All that we have said about the Holy Spirit as gift takes on a very special importance for those who are married.  Marriage is a state of life that occupies a singularly important place in the great processes of creation, “creatures flowing forth from God,” and then, “creatures returning to God.”  For that reason, the Holy Spirit occupies a very special place in marriage. What makes a marriage a marriage is the reciprocal self-giving of the spouses, the gift of their bodies to each other that, in Biblical language, means the gift of their whole selves.  And so it is that, as analogously in any act of donation, the one who has given is no longer master or owner of what is given.  It is no longer the [...]

THE HOLY SPIRIT: Make Yourself Gift by Raniero Cantalamessa

January 12, 2018

From: Come, Creator Spirit This truth has direct impact on our life.  If the Holy Spirit is the one who, so to say, makes the act of self-giving of the Three-In-One God present in our world and prolongs it in our history, it must follow that he is the only one who can help us to make a gift of our own life and live it as a “living sacrifice.”  This one truth gathers together and sums up the entire scope of the Christian life and purpose; it is, for Saint Paul, the only adequate response to Christ’s Passover: “I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship,” (Romans 12:1). The Old Testament laid down [...]

THE HOLY SPIRIT: The Holy Spirit, God’s “Gift” and God’s “Self-Giving” by Raniero Cantalamessa

December 23, 2017

From: Come, Creator Spirit This is the rich significance contained in the line that defines the Holy Spirit as “most high gift of God.”  Rhabanus Maurus uses expressions taken word-for-word from Augustine to explain the title, “gift of God.”  In fact, he calls the Holy Spirit, “giver of the gift and gift of the giver,” and, “ineffable communion of Father and Son.”  He too says that “gift of God” is the title that “expresses his relationship.” But tradition and progress did not come to a halt when the hymn was written.  The church does not lose the ability to carry on pondering what is revealed, and to find less and less inadequate ways to express it.  What has subsequent reflection been able to bring us [...]

THE HOLY SPIRIT: The Holy Spirit’s Very Own Name by Raniero Cantalamessa

December 15, 2017

From: Come, Creator Spirit This meditation will focus on the title of the Holy Spirit that, as we have it in the version of the hymn now in common use, is “gift of God most high,” (donum Dei altissimi).  I think, however, that a copyist’s error has crept in at this point in the text: the original would probably have read donum Dei altissimum, that is, “Most high gift of God.” The difference is not insignificant.  In the phrase, “gift of God most high,” the adjective, “most high,” in the specific context of this hymn, would appear superfluous if it is to be taken simply as referring to God, or else it would seem to be a kind of “filler” tucked in to pad out the meter.  Now, in a hymn every word of which has been [...]

HOLY SPIRIT: God’s Gift To You by Luis M. Martinez

December 9, 2017

From True Devotion to the Holy Spirit Not only to possess us does the Holy Spirit live in us, but also to be possessed by us, to be ours.  For love must possess, as well as be possessed.  He is the Gift of God Most High – Donum Dei Altissimi.  Now, the gift that belonged to the giver becomes the possession of the one who receives it.  The Gift of God is ours through the stupendous prodigy of love. Almost every time that sacred scripture speaks to the mission of the Holy Spirit in our souls, we find the word, give.  “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate.”  “In this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit.”  “For the Spirit had not yet been given, since Jesus [...]

THE HOLY SPIRIT: Be Paracletes by Raniero Cantalamessa

December 1, 2017

From: Come, Creator Spirit So it is that in the term Paraclete we reach in a certain sense to the apex of revelation concerning the Holy Spirit.  He is not merely “something,” but “Someone.”  The Spirit is one who dwells in us, a presence, one who speaks on our behalf, a defender, a friend, a consoler, the “sweet guest of the soul,” as the Sequence for Pentecost says.  The Spirit was the “inseparable companion” of Jesus during his Earthly life, and now wants to be just that to each one of us.  All that one person might hope for of another, of what is best and of what is delightful, we can find, and infinitely more, in the Spirit.  What “Paraclete” conveys to us opens up for us an inexhaustible field for our [...]

PRAYER: Four Prayers by Frances Caryll Houselander

November 13, 2017

Descend, Holy Spirit of Life! Come down into our hearts, that we may live. Descend into emptiness, that emptiness may be filled. Descend into the dust, that the dust may flower. Descend into the dark, that the light may shine in the darkness. Amen. Be born in us, Incarnate Love. Take our flesh and blood, and give us your humanity; take our eyes, and give us your vision; take our minds, and give us your pure thought; take our feet and set them in your path; take our hands, and fold them in your prayer; take our hearts and give them your will to love. Amen. By your heaviness and fear in Gethsemane, comfort the oppressed and those who are afraid By your loneliness, facing the Passion while the Apostles slept, comfort those who face evil alone [...]

THE HOLY SPIRIT: The Paraclete, A “Person” by Raniero Cantalamessa

November 10, 2017

From: Come, Creator Spirit “Paraclete” is the title that most clearly expresses the personal character of the Holy Spirit.  Using that title, the author of the hymn takes us a decisive step forward in contemplating the Holy Spirit.  If by the term, “Creator,” he affirmed that the Spirit was by nature divine, now by the term “Paraclete” he affirms that the Spirit is also a divine person.  The other titles and symbols of the Spirit – water, fire, love, and the very name Spirit  – might of themselves at the very most convince us that there is “something divine” about the Holy Spirit.  Paraclete, however, is in itself a personal title: it can be attributed only to a person, because it implies both intellect and [...]

THE HOLY SPIRIT: Advocate, Consoler, And Spirit Of Truth by Raniero Cantalamessa

October 27, 2017

From: Come, Creator Spirit If we take account of the various contexts in which the word is used, in the Bible and elsewhere, Paraclete can mean intercessor or advocate (as when it is applied to Christ in 1 John 2:1), or else consoler, as is clear from the verb and the corresponding noun that in fact means to console and consolation: “Console [parakaleite] my people, console them, says your God,” (Isaiah 40:1). Tradition has accepted the polyvalence of the term, its multifaceted meaning, and interpreted Paraclete sometimes as advocate and sometimes consoler.  This becomes clearer when we move to the Latin world, where the translators, tackling the Greek word, had to pick one meaning or the other.  Some translated [...]

THE HOLY SPIRIT: A Name Born Of Experience by Raniero Cantalamessa

October 20, 2017

From: Come, Creator Spirit We come right away to the first line of this verse and to the first title: “You whom we name the Paraclete,” (Qui Paracletus diceris).  For those who have any familiarity with a computer, it provides a comparison that may help to grasp what happens at the simple mention of the name Paraclete.  I am thinking of what we call a file, or the name we give a document, and what that represents.  I sit at the computer and write a whole book, this one, let us say, on the Veni Creator, and I put it into memory, giving it a name of no more than eight characters.  In this case, the eight-letter name was in fact “paraclet.”  The whole book is there, stored in the computer’s memory, but [...]

THE HOLY SPIRIT: The Sanctifying Work Of The Spirit by Raniero Cantalamessa

October 13, 2017

From: Come, Creator Spirit Saint Seraphim of Sarov said to one of his disciples: We need to keep praying up to the moment when the Holy Spirit comes down upon us and grants us Heavenly grace in a measure known only to him.  As soon as he visits us, we should stop calling upon him to come.  For indeed, what purpose could it serve to keep on pleading, “Come, you who are goodness itself, make your dwelling in us, purify us of every stain and save our souls,” if he has already come? To behave differently would be like inviting someone to your house, and when he arrives meeting him at the door and letting him stand there while you repeat over and over with monotonous insistence, “Do please come and visit me!”  People [...]

HOLY SPIRIT: Your Soul’s Supreme Director by Luis M. Martinez

October 6, 2017

From True Devotion to the Holy Spirit The soul’s delightful Guest does not remain idle in his intimate sanctuary.  Being, as the church calls him, fire and light.  He hardly takes possession of the soul before his beneficent influence extends itself to the whole being and begins with divine activity its work of transformation. The Holy Spirit lives in the center of the soul, in that profound region of the will where he himself has diffused charity.  And from that center, he pours himself out, so to speak, over the whole man with a divine unction, like the sacred perfume of which the scriptures speak, which descended from the head of Aaron down his flowing beard and over his vestment to the tassel of his mantle. Like the victor [...]

POETRY: The Holy Ghost by John Donne

October 4, 2017

O Holy Ghost, whose temple I Am, but of mud walls, and condensèd dust, And being sacrilegiously Half wasted with youth’s fires, of pride and lust, Must with new storms be weather-beat; Double in my heart Thy flame, Which let devout sad tears intend; and let (Though this glass lanthorn, flesh, do suffer maim) Fire, Sacrifice, Priest, Altar be the [...]

THE HOLY SPIRIT: Come, Visit, Fill! by Raniero Cantalamessa

September 29, 2017

From: Come, Creator Spirit What do we individually need to make it possible for each one of us to experience Pentecost in this way?  First we need to ask the Father, consistently and persistently, to send us the Holy Spirit in the name of Jesus, and actually to expect the Father to answer!  We need expectant faith, a faith full of expectancy!  Saint Bonaventure asks, to whom does the Holy Spirit come?  And he answers, with his usual preciseness, “He comes to the ones who love him, who invite him, who eagerly await him.”  It is not possible to count the immense number of people who, in the twentieth century, have felt the thrill of the Spirit in their soul when, joined together with others, they plead for the Spirit’s [...]