Open to the Holy Spirit
What we celebrate this season is God coming to be with us – to be one of us – walking with us, saving us and sharing divine life with us. Yet while we joyfully await the coming of Jesus at Christmas, we know also that in a few months, the Church will recall his crucifixion, resurrection and ascension into heaven.
So, since he is no longer walking among us, how is it that Christ’s work of salvation and sharing divine life continues in the world today? The answer is God’s gracious gift of the Holy Spirit.
This gift of the Spirit is a matter of the utmost importance, but many people today are confused about, or even unaware of, this third Person of the Trinity. Even among those who profess in the Creed a belief in the Holy Spirit, he is for many the great unknown. For this reason, I have written a book entitled, Open to the Holy Spirit: Living the Gospel with Wisdom and Power. It is my hope that this book will help people in their awareness and understanding of the Spirit to enliven their faith and so that they can then share him with the world and thus share Jesus Christ.
If we do not know the Spirit, then our knowledge of Jesus is also incomplete. It is only in the Spirit that we can participate in Jesus’ saving work among us.
Through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, Christians become more Christ-like. This is what the Spirit gives us – the life of God become man. We become partakers of the divine life, but we also come to share in Jesus’ perfect human life. We live not merely with our own meager merits, but with the virtues of Jesus himself. With the Spirit, we receive what we need to live our waking hours as the saints we are called to be.
If we neglect the Spirit, then we impoverish our own lives and we remain unknown and unknowable even to ourselves. It is vital that we understand this. While it is unlikely that one small book can remedy what is an age-old deficiency, perhaps Open to the Holy Spirit can be a starting place for those who choose to meet him in its pages.
In the opening chapters, the scriptural, doctrinal and theological foundations of the Church’s faith in the Holy Spirit are examined. Those basic principles are then applied in later chapters to our spiritual and devotional life – the life in the Spirit we live as individuals and share in communion with the Church. Finally, I discuss the Spirit’s role in our witness and in our friendships, in short, in the work of the New Evangelization.
By renewing and deepening our relationship with the Holy Spirit, we are prepared to be the Spirit-filled missionary disciples that Pope Francis has spoken of. In this work to which we are called, in sharing the perfect gift of Jesus with others, we might feel inarticulate, that we are not up to the task. While admitting that this mission cannot be achieved without some degree of difficulty, we do not need to be anxious. The work we do is not our own and we do not act alone, but with the Holy Spirit.
God wants to reach everyone on earth with his saving message. With the Spirit, we are given the grace to facilitate that in our occupations and in our daily lives. The Spirit works within us and works with us in all our uniqueness and weaknesses so that we can bear witness to the Lord in culture, art, music, literature, film, theater, law, medicine, science, education and news, and in our interactions with the people we meet every day. Everything we do can be done for God’s glory and for the salvation of others.
The time is right to come to know the Holy Spirit. Though we live in a time of great material wealth, so many people are anxious and impoverished. They need the comfort and guidance of the Spirit. Nothing less will do.