Q: I don't really 'get' the Holy Spirit — I’m more comfortable praying to Jesus or the Father. How can I make the Holy Spirit more a part of my life?
A: This is a very common issue. Western Christianity has historically focused more on the study of Jesus (Christology) than the Holy Spirit (Pneumatology), due largely to the particular early heresies confronted in the West.
Nonetheless, the Holy Spirit is an essential part of Christian experience, and no one can go to the Father except through Jesus in the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the gift of God that unites us with Jesus, the Head, as members of his body, the church. It is only through the Holy Spirit that we can have access to the mind of Christ so that we can know the will of God and do it.
The work of the Holy Spirit is so important that Jesus expects us to pray for the Spirit as our primary prayer intention (Luke 11:13). We can better receive and respond to the grace of the Holy Spirit when we understand how the Spirit functions.
The Holy Spirit counsels us and inspires us to know and follow God’s will (John 15:26).
The Holy Spirit intercedes on our behalf and defends us in time of distress as our “Advocate” or “Paraclete” (John 14:16-17, 26).
The Holy Spirit heals the divisions of sin and restores lost relationships with God and one another (Acts 2:2-4).
There are many other biblical references to the Holy Spirit attesting to the manifold work of the Spirit in our life and world.
The Holy Spirit is the source of sanctification and agent of divine transformation, as is evident in the life of Mary at the Annunciation and the apostles at Pentecost. For this reason, we call down the Holy Spirit (epiclesis) upon the gifts of bread and wine on the altar so they may be sanctified and transformed into the body and blood of Jesus. So, too, the Holy Spirit is offered to us in the same way.
In our baptism we are consecrated as a temple of the Holy Spirit, and in confirmation we receive the full indwelling gift of the Spirit. God gives us the presence of the Holy Spirit so that we will be drawn more deeply into the abiding relationship Jesus has with the Father. It is the Holy Spirit, then, who leads us to the place Jesus has prepared for us (John 14:2-3). This is not just an eternal dwelling we inherit when our earthly life is completed. Rather, Jesus wants us to share now in the intimate relationship of life and love that he enjoys with the Father. The Holy Spirit is the one who unites us with the Son and leads us to the Father.
Pray for the Holy Spirit especially during this holy Easter season. Jesus wants nothing more than to answer that prayer!
Read the Spanish version of this column.
Northwest Catholic - May 2020