Back in 1997, “I Believe in the Holy Spirit” by Yves Congar (1904-1995) was released. Congar was a brilliant Dominican theologian who was named a cardinal by Pope John Paul in 1985 in recognition of his contributions to Catholic thought.
Here are three passages from “I Believe in the Holy Spirit” that might help us to appreciate more deeply various aspects of the Holy Spirit, the gift given on this feast of Pentecost.
“Through his breath-spirit, God will be the principle of faithful life and holy life for Israel” (9).
Is it possible on this human journey to be faithful and holy? We find it so difficult to love those who are different from us. But we need not become discouraged. We have a source of power to believe and to a love that is freely given by our God: the gift of the Holy Spirit.
In our reading from Acts we hear that “All were filled with the Holy Spirit.” Through baptism, confirmation and Eucharist, each of us is invited to receive the power and wisdom of God’s Spirit. Our task is to be open and responsive to that gift.
“The whole of the liturgy expresses and brings about a movement of God toward us and of us toward God. This movement passes from the Father through the Son in the Spirit and returns in the Spirit through the Son to the glory of the Father, who takes us, as his children, into communion with him. The Spirit is therefore invoked in every liturgical action, to be active and present in the liturgy” (104).
St. Paul reminds us that though there are different gifts, everyone has been given to drink of the one Spirit. It is this Spirit that is present in the Eucharist, wherein God draws near to us and we to the Lord. The two prepositions “through” and “in” are central to our understanding and experiencing the Lord’s Supper. It is through Jesus and in the Spirit that communion with the Father is accomplished. Ours is a Trinitarian spirituality.
“The Holy Spirit is active in history and causes new and sometimes very confusing things to take place in it” (115).
Two major realms in which the Holy Spirit is operative are creation and history. Whenever world events result in truth and charity, in freedom and justice, we can be assured that the Holy Spirit is the principal agent of those happenings. Such events as the Emancipation Proclamation, the apostolic work of Mother Teresa’s community in Calcutta and liberation of the oppressed are all aspects of the Kingdom of God being realized.
One last comment from Cardinal Yves Congar on the Holy Spirit: “The Spirit then, is unique and present everywhere, transcendent and inside all things, subtle and sovereign, able to respect freedom and to inspire it.” It is this Holy Spirit that is God’s gift to humankind.
Questions for reflection
1. What is your relationship to the Holy Spirit?
2. How have you experienced the Holy Spirit operative in history?
3. What gifts of the Holy Spirit have you been given?
Bishop Morneau is the auxiliary bishop of the Green Bay Diocese and pastor of Resurrection Parish in Allouez.