During recent the months I’ve had the opportunity to reflect on the power of the Holy Spirit in my life, and the lives of those whom I love. My eldest son received the Sacrament of Confirmation a few weeks ago, and this year of preparation has offered our family the opportunity to focus more deeply upon the real, abiding presence of the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity in our lives. Kenny was graced with the ability of joining a Confirmation class that seriously undertook the task of catechesis. They worked diligently through not only portions of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, but also delved into Thomistic study. As a parent, I was required to follow along, and read the same weekly texts as my son. Watching the Holy Spirit bring His gifts of wisdom, understanding, fortitude, piety, knowledge, fear of the Lord, and counsel and heap them measure by measure upon my offspring was a delight. Thus, this year, as I prepare for Pentecost, I feel a unique gratitude to the Holy Spirit.
As a matter of faith, we believe that the Holy Spirit is truly the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity, distinct, yet consubstantial, coequal and coeternal with the Father and the Son. Likewise, as Catholics, we believe that the Holy Spirit is fully and truly God, and is thus not generated, but rather proceeds from the Father and the Son by a single spiration.
God is Love (1 John 4:8). Yes, indeed, in a very real way God is truly Love Itself. Aquinas viewed the Trinity as the very heart of Christian teaching. St. Thomas believed that one could use reason to arrive at and defend the concept of the existence of God. However, the concept of Trinity is one that must be revealed. It is thus, through the teachings of Jesus Christ, One in Being with the Father, that we arrive at the concept of the Blessed Trinity.
God is both unity and diversity. God is unity in the sense not only of solidarity of purpose, but also an accord – or oneness of nature. God is one God, yet three distinct Persons. Scripture clearly tells us that God is God alone. Deuteronomy 6:4 states: “Hear O Israel, the Lord Your God Is One.” Likewise: “I am the first and I am the last, and there is no God besides Me (Isaiah 44: 6).” While God is unity, He also exists as diversity in the sense that we can distinguish the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit as discrete Persons. For the Angelic Doctor, St. Thomas Aquinas, the Trinity is a reflection of the relationship of Love and Self-Knowledge within the Being of God. God the Son emanates from God the Father as a reflection of His self-knowledge; in turn God the Holy Spirit proceeds from God the Father and God the Son as the Love that exists between them.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches:
On the day of Pentecost when seven weeks of Easter had come to an end, Christ’s Passover is fulfilled in the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, manifested, given, and communicated as a Divine Person: of His fullness, Christ the Lord, pours out the Spirit in abundance (731).
On that day, the Holy Trinity is fully revealed. Since that day, the Kingdom announced by Christ has been open to those who believe in: the humility of the flesh and in faith they share in the communion of the Holy Trinity (732).
As we anticipate the great feast of Pentecost, perhaps you might wish to join me in praying the novena to the Holy Spirit that is being recited each day after Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of Mary Help of Christians at Holy Hill.
Each day the Preparatory prayer is:
O Holy Spirit, Divine Consoler!
I adore You as my Triune God.
I bless You by uniting myself to the praises You receive from the angels and saints.
I offer You my whole heart, and I render You heartfelt thanks for all the benefits You have bestowed and unceasingly bestow upon the world. You are the author of all supernatural gifts and Who did enrich with immense favors the soul of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, I beseech You to visit me by Your Grace and Your Love, and grant me the favor I so earnestly seek in this novena. . . .(state your request here). O Holy Spirit, Spirit of all Truth, come into our hearts: shed the brightness of your light on all nations, that they may be of one faith and pleasing to You. Amen.
Come, O Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful, and kindle in them the fire of Your Love.
(Recite the prayer of the appropriate day)
O Holy Spirit, bestow upon us Your seven gifts.
Enlighten our understanding that we may know You. Give us Wisdom that Your Will might be clear to us and that we might accept it. Grant us the Gift of Counsel that we may always perceive what is right. Fortify us that we may always be capable of fulfilling Your Divine Will. Inspire us with the Spirit of Learning that we might be able to penetrate more deeply into the truths that You have revealed. Let our hearts be steeped in the Spirit of Childlikeness that we may bring You joy. Let us have proper fear of God that we may never grieve You or wander from the path of goodness. Give us the fullness of Your gifts that we may glorify You. Amen.
Look with compassion upon us, O Holy Spirit, and grant us the favor we seek in this novena. . . . (state your request here) if it be in accordance with Your Will.
May God the Holy Spirit bring you His many gifts and give You His peace,
Ad Jesum per Mariam,