Once every two weeks I attend my CLC Prayer Meeting. Christian Life Community is the world’s oldest international Catholic prayer group. CLC participants are dedicated to “the service of faith and the promotion of justice” that an Ignatian spiritual life demands. My CLC prayer group consists of eight people, two white men, two white women, one black woman, two Filipino ladies, and me. At the beginning of our prayer session last time, someone suggested beginning the prayer session with an old hymn ‘Veni Creator Spiritus’. It is one of my favorite Gregorian Chants that reminded me of my childhood. ‘Veni Creator Spiritus’ means ‘Come, Holy Spirit’ in English.
Who is the Holy Spirit? Catholic baby boomers may remember we used to call Him the Holy Ghost decades ago. It certainly is hard to love a ghost. Today we call Him the Holy Spirit. The Scripture presents His image in different ways – dove, tongues of fire, wind, breath, rivers of living water, etc. By our faith we know this third person of the Holy Trinity is the Father’s and the Son’s greatest gift to us, and to the Church.
What does the Holy Spirit do to us as individuals and to the Church? In 1986, Pope John Paul II wrote an encyclical ‘Dominum et Vivificantem’ which means ‘Lord and Giver of Life’. As the Apostle St. Paul wrote, “God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit which has been given to us.” (Romans 5:5) First and foremost, the Holy Spirit is the ‘Lord and Giver of Life’. In the year 381, The Nicene Creed began to include the important teaching that the Holy Spirit is the Lord and Giver of Life as part of our Catholic faith. The Holy Spirit has continuously been the Giver of Life through the seven sacraments. The late Pope reminded us that the Holy Spirit has continued to grant us life in this very hurting world which has predominantly embraced the culture of death – not just death from the threats of war, nuclear weapons, pollution, etc., but also moral death, such as jealousy, hatred, discrimination, revenge, etc.
Another Pope, Pope Leo XIII, called The Holy Spirit the ‘soul’ of the Church. In 1897, he said, “If Christ is the Head of the Church, the Holy Spirit is her soul.” For about two thousand years, the Holy Spirit has played the role of the soul of the Church by teaching us and leading us into all Catholic truths. The Church is infallible because she is guided by the Holy Spirit. This truth has reminded us that the Catholic Church is not only a human organization but an organism. Just like an organism, the Catholic Church has a life because she is kept alive by the power of the Holy Spirit which has been working through each and every member.
Through the power of the Holy Spirit, each and every one of the member of the Church has been given a special gift, or talent, for the good of the whole Church. With these talents, although sometimes hidden, which all of us have and we should make use of it to contribute to the good of the Church, or our diocese, or our parish. (1 Corinthians 12) Ask yourself what talent has the Holy Spirit given you? Have you already or will you be ready to make use of it to help building the Church?
The Holy Spirit is the source of strength. On the Pentecost Sunday, the first day of the Catholic Church, He used His power of strength to change the timid apostles into fearless witnesses of Christ. By the same power of the Holy Spirit, we too were changed when we received the Sacrament of Baptism, and especially when we received the Sacrament of Confirmation. We too can become modern witnesses to God’s teachings in this world which has mostly rejected God and His teachings. We can be powerful witnesses of the sacredness of human life that it begins at the moment of conception and ends at a natural death in the face of those who advocate abortion, euthanasia, and suicide. We can be powerful witnesses of the holiness of sex in this modern world which advocates the gratification of carnal desires outside marriage. We can tell the world, with the power of the Holy Spirit, that our human body is meant to be the temple of the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit unifies us individually and unifies the whole Catholic Church. The Holy Spirit is our teacher and our guide. He guides us through our conscience. He puts the basic moral concept of right and wrong in our conscience. He helps us to form our conscience every day to help us be more sensitive to the presence of God. In this way He has given us hope.
Come, Holy Spirit, Creator blest, and in our hearts take up your rest. Come with your grace and heavenly aid, to fill the hearts which you have made, to fill the hearts which you have made.