“Lord, send out your spirit and renew the face of the earth,” like many of the faithful, I can’t read those words without finding myself doing so along with the familiar tune of the Responsorial Psalm. In addition to the song filling my ears, an image also formulates within the heart of my imagination. As I read these words, I can almost feel the mighty rushing wind and see the tongues of fire descending and then dispersing outward to all the earth —animating, maintaining, and inspiring all of creation with the Spirit of the God.
Holy Spirit, the one sent down from heaven on Pentecost after Jesus ascended, bestows seven gifts — wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord. In Confirmation, we have sealed with the Holy Spirit the completion of our Baptism. In addition, our cooperation with and our living in the Holy Spirit bears spiritual fruit in us. According to the tradition of the Catholic Church, there are twelve fruits of the Spirit: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self -control” (Galatians 5:22-23, CCC 1832). If there is an absence of these fruits (virtues) in our lives, we have been offered a wonderful gift from God to pray and invite the Holy Spirit to increase them within us. Cooperating with this grace, these gifts and fruits at work through the Spirit, we can go forth and bring the Good News to others, commissioned just like the Apostles, receiving the same Spirit which descended upon them at Pentecost.
The Holy Spirit does so much in our lives, today’s readings remind us of the many ways he acts in our lives. He confers the graces received in the seven Sacraments. Grace can be thought of as that freely given yet underserved gift from God that helps us be holy. God asks us to be holy because He is holy (Matthew 5:48). This Sacramental grace transforms us, heals us, and grows us in faith.
The Spirit prepares the faithful with a grace that draws them closer to Christ, reveals the Risen Lord to them, and recalls the Word of God — opening their hearts and minds to understand these teachings so they may be embraced, lived, and brought to others.
The Holy Spirit appears in many forms, as illuminated in the teaching of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Although considered unseen, the Holy Spirit once manifested in these symbols, can be perceived. One symbol is water, especially present at the sacrament of Baptism. The Spirit is also present in the living water, Christ, the source of eternal life. At the well, Jesus told the woman that whoever drank this water would never thirst again. The Spirit brings hope and a promise of eternal life.
Probably the most familiar symbol of the Holy Spirit is that of fire, which came as tongues above the Apostles’ heads during Pentecost. With this fire came great gifts of prophecy, healing, discernment, and tongues, among others. Fire can also be an agent of refinement, a transformation of the original to a new, more purified form — as with gold. This infusion of the Holy Spirit within us, purifying and shaping us, brings with it new life and understanding of the gifts God grants us. We are each given our own gifts so that we may play an essential yet unique role in his good and perfect plan for us.
The Holy Spirit, the Paraclete, guides and directs us, empowers and motivates us, dwelling within, branded upon our souls as we experience our daily Pentecost. The life of a disciple requires continual prayerful discernment of how God calls each of us to use the gifts bestowed through the Spirit in serving the community of believers and the whole world. We have a share in the redemptive mission. God doesn’t need us in this mission, as He has already accomplished it through His Son, but in His great love for us empowers us to be sharers in His work upon this earth. He empowers, guides, and allows us to not only embrace a faith more deeply found through the Spirit for ourselves, but incredibly also gives us the opportunity to bring this Good News to others so they too can experience the indwelling of the Triune God.BACK TO LIST