By Ronald W. Novotny, Ph.D., S.T.L.
It is very appropriate to begin every religious discussion by mentioning the Holy Spirit. Some believe that the feast of Pentecost is the only appropriate time to concentrate on God’s Holy Spirit and what he did on Pentecost. The truth is that the Holy Spirit sanctifies the newly baptized Christians at the very core of their personalities. Through the Spirit we are brought into the life of the Trinity, baptized into our glorified savior. We become a new creature in God. The Lord of the Resurrection now shares his own self with the Christian. We are sanctified through this new indwelling of the Holy Spirit. We truly are clothed with a power from on high. How difficult it was for those early Christian converts from Judaism to put aside the Torah and all its laws that had served as their means to sanctification. The Law had always been the essence of God’s will for them. Now Jesus and his followers state that he himself, not the Law, was the way to salvation. We believe this in faith. Faith is a gift of God and it helps us to be open to God, his demands and concerns for our lives. God is always at least one step ahead of us. He sends the grace first which allows us to believe His words, His call, and His voice as spoken by His Church. God makes every person hungry for Him and that is another gift. Since God lives in us through grace and as St. Augustine said, “God is nearer to us than we are to our self,” we must turn to him who is dwelling in us through grace. This intimacy of God and creature is beyond human understanding, but the Church and its saints have taught this from the beginning. It is His Holy Spirit that teaches this, who prompts us to believe the truth and who fills our mouths with praise for all of it. We can feel the presence most often when we pray which makes sense because we are in the midst of the Trinity at prayer. When you pray you become aware of God’s presence with you. Take a few moments after reading this theological reflection and ask God to show you in His way the truth of having the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete, the Helper within you. Then expect to be surprised by the God of surprises whose Spirit blows where He wills. Give him permission to do what he sees fit. Our faith in Him unlocks his hands. Hand over your obedience to Him who is obedience itself. The original surprise in our conversion story is when Jesus breaks into our lives. Soon after that we begin to wonder who among the persons of the Trinity is causing us to pray, praise, pray for healing. Three persons in one God is a mystery above mysteries so it is best to relax in that knowledge that the Three Persons act as one and it is the three persons loving us, unfolding us and blessing our feeble efforts. Relaxing in the knowledge and not questioning who is the active person in certain events, allows us to picture God – all three persons dancing and twirling around just like the early Church Fathers described God engaging in a dance, perichoresis. From our Baptismal day until this very moment we are invited to join the dance. All glory be the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit for all ages to come.
Past Theological Reflections: