The Holy Spirit: The Loving Presence Of God
As members of a society steeped in material realities, we often miss things that cannot be seen or touched. For western culture, the significance of the Holy Spirit of God can be diminished in comparison to the more concrete images of God as Father and as a human person in Jesus. Even though delving into the mystery of the Spirit of God may take a little more effort, the richness of this person of the Trinity of God can nourish us daily.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church provides many references to the Holy Spirit and reminds us that “the One whom the Father has sent into our hearts, the Spirit of his Son, is truly God” (CCC 689). The Holy Spirit is the presence of God that is the breath of life within us, within the Church and in the world. Just as the Holy Spirit descended on the praying group at Pentecost and enlivened the faith of the disciples, so too, we believe that the Holy Spirit comes to us individually and as a community to strengthen us.
The diocesan lifelong faith formation guidelines, “Forming a People of Faith,”identify three specific areas regarding an understanding of the Holy Spirit. Adult Catholics should not only have knowledge of the Holy Spirit, but they should demonstrate this knowledge in their lives.
First, we make evident our faith in the Holy Spirit as the Spirit of God who reveals God and makes Christ known to us. How do we do this? Our eyes, ears and hearts must be open to discern the movement of the Spirit. We become aware of the reality of the presence of the Spirit in people around us and in the world. In the teaching, caring, and healing ministries of the Church and of community groups, the presence of the Spirit at work can be almost tangible.
Second, as adult Catholics, we know the Holy Spirit as the one who awakens us to faith. We believe the gifts of the Spirit are given through our baptism and the witness of others’ baptisms. As we strive to live out our baptismal calling, we explore the role of the Holy Spirit in our own growth in faith. What is our faith story? How do we share our faith, the presence of God within us? What are we to do with the spiritual gifts we have received? It is the Holy Spirit who helps us to understand God’s activity in our lives and who awakens in us a desire to be like the disciples at Pentecost.
Third, the guidelines call adult Catholics to believe in the Holy Spirit as the vibrant presence of God in the church and in the world. Our faith gives us the vision to see the working of the Spirit in all the happenings of the world—even in the midst of apparent disasters. If we open our hearts and our minds, we will see the goodness and creativeness of Life in the workplace, in family, in Scripture study groups, in St. Vincent de Paul organizations, in the prayers of Christians throughout the world. Belief in the Holy Spirit keeps us from despair and gives us hope and joy.
The Spirit of God speaks to our innermost being, opens us to the reality of God’s presence, and makes meaningful the deeds and words of Jesus. Jesus promised the disciples that they would not be left alone. The Holy Spirit came to them, and the Spirit comes to us. Where was the Spirit of God apparent for you today?