Sunday, June 12, 2011

Who is This Holy Spirit?

My daughter asked me this question the other day after her little friend told her that Witnesses do not believe in the Trinity.  I told her what a priest once told me - that in every relationship, there is a third person, which is love.  So the Holy Spirit may be seen as the love between the Father and the Son.  Jesus also told the Apostles He would send them the Advocate, the Comforter,  the Holy Spirit by Whom they would be given what they were to say. So once again, despite what the Witnesses want to believe,  there is direct scriptural evidence for the Trinity.

She asked me why the dove is so often used to symbolize the Holy Spirit.  Again, there is scriptural reference to this.  In the Gospel accounts of the Baptism of the Lord, both Luke and Matthew talk about the spirit coming to rest upon Jesus in the form of a dove.

When I made my Confirmation, we spent weeks and months preparing.  The IHM nuns who taught us told us that we would be made soldiers of Christ on this day.  We would not be soldiers who carried guns, but warriors who carried the spirit of God's truth and enlightenment.  I think this was a pretty good analogy considering what happened to the Apostles after Pentecost.  In strictly human terms, I see the Easter season in stages.  The ecstasy of discovering that Jesus had indeed been raised from the tomb.  The sadness in having Him leave the disciples again to ascend to His Father.  And finally, the comfort and strength He promised them to carry out The Great Commission on the day He sent them the Holy Spirit.

In my own life, I can sit around feeling sorry for myself and pining for the day God calls me home, or I can get up off my duff and resolve to carry out His Will, whatever that may be.  It is the love that a Father had for His children that He sent His only-begotten Son to win salvation for us that helps me carry on.  It is the love that a Son had for His Father and for His Father's children that compelled Him to accept and carry the cross to Calvary.  It is the love the Father and the Son have for us that they know what trials we suffer here on earth that They sent Their Spirit to us to comfort us and fortify us for the battle.

When I see a wrong and refuse to take part  in it, I know that it is by the Grace of the Holy Spirit that I'm able to recognize this.  When I see a person who is down-trodden and in need of help and I drop what I'm doing to lend assistance, it is by the Grace of the Holy Spirit that I'm able to recognize Christ in the face of this hopeless person.  When I embrace suffering in my life rather than retreat from it, it is by the Grace of the Holy Spirit that I recognize this trial as having been sent directly from the Hand of God.  When I see my brothers and sisters destroying their bodies and souls by sexual promiscuity and depravity in the name of gay pride, it is by the Grace of the Holy Spirit that I have the courage to tell them they are sinning against God.

There will be no drama at Mass today with tongues of fire descending from the rafters (what a hazard that would be if the rafters are wood!) but we will be served an important and needed reminder that we are not in this alone, and that the courage and fortitude we need to carry out God's Will is there for the taking, if only we  ask.

We do not have a ceiling at church from which rose petals can be dropped upon us, so I was looking for something creative for children for Pentecost and came upon this adorable and aptly-named blog.  Check out the Tongues of Fire cupcakes!


  1. Joyce, what name did you take at Confirmation? I was so unaware of the significance of the Sacrament that I actually took my best friend Jean's name -- simply because she was my BF. Years later, I was grateful to find that Jean is a derivative of John. So now I think of the Beloved apostle as my patron. And of course, John of the Cross.

    When I became a secular Carmelite, I got it right though: Marie-Therese. : )

  2. Good question Patricia! I took the name Bernadette. My mother let me stay up "late" one Sunday evening to watch "Song of Bernadette" and that was that. Interestingly, my daughter Rebecca also chose that name after watching the movie and reading about the little visionary nun from Lourdes.

    In case you hadn't guessed, I love your Carmelite name :)

  3. Also on the dove, see John chapter 1, verse 32. John the Baptist sees the spirit come like a dove.


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