“God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us” (Rm 5:5)
Each Sunday, during the Eucharistic celebration, we confess our faith in the words of the Creed.
What do we profess about the Holy Spirit?
“I believe on the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son. With the Father and the Son he is worshipped and glorified. He has spoken through the Prophets”.
The Holy Spirit, the third Person of the Holy Trinity, is the first Gift the believers received in the day of Pentecost, after Jesus had ascended to heaven.
Pentecost is regarded as the birth of the Church, which is baptised and sent all over the world to announce the Risen Lord, call to conversion and forgive sins.
“As the Father sent me, so am I sending you” (Jn 20:21).
Who is the Holy Spirit?
The Catechism of the Catholic Church helps us to find out something more about Him:
“The One whom the Father has sent into our hearts, the Spirit of his Son, is truly God. Consubstantial with the Father and the Son, the Spirit is inseparable from them, in both the inner life of the Trinity and his gift of love for the world. […] When the Father sends his Word, he always sends his Breath. In their joint mission, the Son and the Holy Spirit are distinct but inseparable. To be sure, it is Christ who is seen, the visible image of the invisible God, but it is the Spirit who reveals him” (CCC 689)
After the Last Supper Jesus told his disciples that, as soon as the Holy Spirit had been sent in their hearts, they would have been aware of his holy presence:
“I shall ask the Father and he will give you another Paraclete, to be with you forever, the Spirit of truth whom the world can never accept, since it neither sees nor knows him; but you know him, because he is with you, he is in you” (Jn 14: 16-17)
How can we recognise the presence of the Holy Spirit in us?
How does the Holy Spirit work in our life?
The Holy Scripture is full of the signs of the Holy Spirit, from the book of Genesis to the book of Revelation.
God’s Holy Spirit was already present, before the beginning of times, “sweeping over the waters” (Gen 1:2); He led the people of Israel from the Egyptian slavery to the freedom of the promised land, “by day in a pillar of cloud to show them the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light” (Ex 13:22; cfr. Ex 40: 36-38); He rested on Mount Sinai when Moses received the Ten Commandments; He spoke through the Prophets; John the Baptist was filled with the Holy Spirit even from his mother’s womb (cfr. Lk 1:15).
In Mary, the Holy Spirit fulfilled the plan of the Father’s loving goodness: through the Spirit, she conceived and gave birth to the Son of God (CCC 723).
The Holy Spirit accompanied the Lord’s mission from his baptism in the river Jordan on.
Jesus had promised his disciples to send the “Spirit of truth”, and after He was glorified He appeared to them and breathed the Holy Spirit on them (Jn 20:19-23).
St Cyril of Jerusalem depicts the Third Person of the Holy Trinity in a sublime way:
“His approach is gentle, his presence fragrant, his joke very light; rays of light and knowledge shine forth before him as He comes. He comes with the heart of a true protector; He comes to save, to heal, to teach, to admonish, to strengthen, to console, to enlighten the mind.”
While St Basil the Great uses the metaphor of the sunrays:
“Even as bright and shining bodies, once touched by a ray of light falling on them, become even more glorious and themselves cast another light, so too souls that carry the Spirit, and are enlightened by the Spirit, become spiritual themselves and send forth grace upon others”.
We are these bodies, shining of God’s light! As members of the body of Christ, we join the prayer of the Church in this ancient and beautiful “Sequence of the Holy Spirit”:
Holy Spirit, Lord of light,
From the clear celestial height,
Thy pure beaming radiance give:
Come, thou Father of the poor
Come, with treasures which endure,
Come, thou light of all that live!
Thou, of all consolers best,
Thou, the soul’s delightful guest
Dost refreshing peace bestow:
Thou in toil our comfort sweet;
Pleasant coolness in the heat;
Solace in the midst of woe.
Light immortal, light divine,
Visit Thou these hearts of thine,
And our inmost being fill.
If Thou take thy grace away,
Nothing pure in man will stay;
All his good is turned to ill.
Heal our wounds, our strength renew;
On our dryness pour thy dew;
Wash the stains of guilt away:
Bend the stubborn heart and will;
Melt the frozen, warm the chill;
Guide the steps that go astray.
Thou, on those who evermore
Thee confess and thee adore,
With thy sevenfold gifts descend.
Give us comfort when we die;
Give us life with thee on high;
Give us joys that never end.