Year of God the Holy Spirit (Hope)

holy_spirit_as_dove_detailThe theme of the second year of preparation points to the fact that the mystery of the Incarnation was brought about by the Holy Spirit. This can be called its “pneumatological aspect.”

Luke 1:35  And the angel said to her in reply, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God.”

The Holy Spirit is the Person-Gift, the Person-love within the Trinity, the uncreated Gift who is the source of every gift. In the fullness of time the Spirit brought about the Incarnation of the Eternal Word. Just as Mary conceived in the Spirit, the Church must prepare for the Jubilee in the Spirit.

Among the themes to guide the Church in this year the Holy Father mentions
– a renewed appreciation of the presence and activity of the Holy Spirit in the Sacraments, esp. Confirmation, as well as,
–  the variety of charisms, roles, and ministries which He inspires for the good of the Church
– the Spirit as the principal agent of the New Evangelisation, the One who builds up the Kingdom until it is fully realised at the end of time
– a new appreciation of that Hope which encourages the Christian not to lose sight of the final goal.  Christians should renew their hope in the definite coming of Jesus Christ [an article of the Creed since the 4th century]
– unity as the fruit of the Spirit’s activity. He calls to awareness of our responsibilities in this regard.
– Mary as a Model of those who entrust themselves to God, she who conceived “by the power of the Holy Spirit”

So this year, 1998, is to be the year of the Holy Spirit. How might we celebrate that? What might we do to make 1998, for ourselves and the world, a year of the Holy Spirit?

Thomas Aquinas once defined the Holy Spirit as “the love between the Father and the Son.” That definition is valuable, though more theologically than spiritually and pastorally. In terms of appropriating the Holy Spirit more personally, the biblical definition of the Holy Spirit is, I feel, more helpful.

Biblically, the Holy Spirit is more described than defined and there are various ways, all of them rich, in which the Spirit is described in scripture.

For example, St. Paul, in his letter to the Galatians, tells us that there are two kinds of spirit, the spirit of the sarx (a spirit that opposes God) and the spirit of God, the Holy Spirit. The former is the spirit of envy, anger, gossip, factionalism, idolatry, impurity, self-centredness, and bitterness. This spirit, he tells us in simple language, brings division and unhappiness. Conversely, there is the Holy Spirit, the spirit of charity, joy, peace, patience, goodness, long-suffering, mildness, faith, fidelity, and chastity. This latter spirit, he assures us, brings unity and happiness into our lives.

Hence, in terms of personal renewal, one of the things we might do to make 1998 more a year of the Holy Spirit is to stop deluding ourselves about what spirit we often live within. If my life habitually contains more envy than admiration, anger than joy, gossip than praise, factionalism than community, impurity than chastity, and impatience than perseverance, then I am not living in the Holy Spirit, irrespective of whatever religious or liturgical activities I am involved in and might feel good about. But that is the Holy Spirit at one level.

John, in his Gospel, describes the Holy Spirit as a paraclete, an advocate … a lawyer for the poor. What an interesting concept! John tells us that the crucifixion of Jesus will set free the paraclete and that it will convict the world of its wrongness in crucifying an innocent person, Jesus. Among other things then, the Holy Spirit in John is the defender of the accused, of the victim, of the scapegoat, of anyone whom society deems expendable for the sake of the culture. To live in the Holy Spirit, therefore, is to be an advocate, a lawyer, for the poor and for those who are being victimised and scapegoated by the culture.

Biblically the Holy Spirit is the person and the principle both of private renewal and of social justice. By living in the Holy Spirit we come to selflessness and joy in our lives and we become, as well, advocates for the poor.

Let us  make 1998 a year of joy and of advocacy.

John Paul II’s Prayer to the Holy Spirit

Holy Spirit, most welcome guest of our hearts,
reveal to us the profound meaning of the Great Jubilee
and prepare our hearts to celebrate it with faith,
in the hope which does not disappoint,
in the love which seeks nothing in return.

Spirit of truth, you who search the depths of God,
memory and prophecy in the Church,
lead mankind to recognise in Jesus of Nazareth
the Lord of glory, the Saviour of the world,
the supreme fulfilment of history.

Come, Spirit of love and peace!

Creator Spirit, hidden builder of the Kingdom,
by the power of your holy gifts guide the Church
to cross with courage the threshold of the new millennium
and to carry to the coming generations
the light of the Word who brings salvation.

Spirit of holiness, divine breath which moves the universe,
come and renew the face of the earth.
Awaken in Christians a desire for full unity,
that they may be for the world an effective sign and instrument
of intimate union with God and of the unity of the whole human race.

Come, Spirit of love and peace!

Spirit of communion, soul and strength of the Church,
grant that wealth of charisms and ministries
may contribute to the unity of the Body of Christ;
grant that laity, consecrated persons and ordained ministers
may work together in harmony to build the one Kingdom of God.

Spirit of consolation, unfailing source of joy and peace,
inspire solidarity with the poor,
grant the sick the strength they need,
pour our trust and hope upon those experiencing trials,
awaken in all hearts a commitment to a better future.

Come, Spirit of love and peace!

Spirit of wisdom, inspiration of minds and hearts,
direct science and technology
to the service of life, justice and peace.
Render fruitful our dialogue with the followers of other religions,
lead the different cultures to appreciate the values of the Gospel.

Spirit of life, by whose power the Word was made flesh
in the womb of the Virgin Mary, the woman of attentive silence,
make us docile to the promptings of your love
and ever ready to accept the signs of the times
which you place along the paths of history.

Come, Spirit of love and peace!

To you, Spirit of love,
with the Almighty Father and the Only-Begotten Son,
be praise, honour and glory
for ever and ever. Amen

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