Christmas is a time to reflect upon what we believe. If someone were to ask us what we believe, most of us would likely use one of the four creeds as the basis for our response. Of the four creedsCreed of Pius IV, (published 1564 in a papal bull Iniunctum nobis), Athanasian Creed (7th Century Council of Autun), Apostle Creed (Used by the Apostles in the early Church at the baptism of adults. See Acts 8:37.), and Nicene Creed (Council of Nicaea AD 315)the Nicene Creed (Creed of the Trinity) is probably the one most of us would use. Since it is also the Creed of the Mass, it is the one most familiar.
If someone asked, "Who is God?" Most of us would answer by referring to God the Father and to Jesus Christ. A few might even talk of God as Mother. Hardly anyone would answer, "the Holy Spirit." God the Holy Spirit is the forgotten God among Catholics. It a fact that more Catholics pray to Mary for intercession than to the Holy Spirit who is the giver of life, and present among us. This is about to change as Pope John Paul II has called the Church to the Holy Spirit in 1998 in preparation for the new millennium.
Christmas is also a celebration of the power of the Holy Spirit. By the action of the Holy Spirit in Mary, the Father gives the world Emmanuel, "God with-us" (Mt 1:23). While Mary is important as the mother of Jesus, it was by the power of the Holy Spirit Jesus was born of her (Luke 1:35). Catholic doctrine concerning the Trinity holds that the Holy Spirit is the Love eternally proceeding from the Father and the Son. "To believe in the Holy Spirit is to profess that the Holy Spirit is one of the persons of the Holy Trinity, consubstantial with the Father and the Son: "With the Father and the Son he is worshipped and glorified." (Catechism 685) The Holy Spirit is the reason we are alive: "the giver of Life." He is the cause of all that is good in the world. "The Holy Spirit is at work with the Father and the Son from the beginning to the completion of the plan for our salvation" (Catechism 686).
While adoring the Holy Trinity, life-giving, consubstantial, and indivisible, the Churchs teaching also professes the distinction of the persons. When the Father sends his Word, he always sends his Breath. In their joint mission, the son and the Holy Spirit are distinct but inseparable. "To be sure, it is Christ who is seen, the visible image of the invisible God, but it is the Spirit who reveals him" (Catechism (689). It is this Holy Spirit living in us and in whom we live, who enables us to call God our Father, to proclaim that Jesus is Lord, and to put an end to our "living in the flesh" of the body (Rom 8:13). It is the Holy Spirit who enables us to understand the wisdom of God (1 Cor 2:10), who supports us in our weakness and when we do not know what to say, he even prays for us (Rom 8:26).
The term "spirit" translates the Hebrew word ruah which, in its primary sense, means breath, air, or wind. Besides the proper name of "Holy Spirit," which is most frequently used in the Acts of the Apostles and in the Epistles, we also find in St. Paul the titles: the Spirit of the promise, the Spirit of adoption, the Spirit of Christ, the Spirit of the Lord, and the Spirit of God. In St. Peter, we find the title "the Spirit of glory" (Catechism 693). The Holy Spirit, by whatever name we choose, is whom the Father through Christ the head of the Church pours out on us, his members, builds, animates, and sanctifies the Church. "She is the sacrament of the Holy Trinitys communion with men." (Catechism 747)
In the New Year, the Church will direct many opportunities to learn about the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit working through the faith-sharing communities of Renewal 2000 will cause a revival in the land. We can prepare by praying to the Holy Spirit. The Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words (Rom 8:23).
In the New Year, we can prepare for a spiritual enlightenment by the Spirit by remembering that the Holy Spirit is the cause of all that is good in the world. To see the Holy Spirit and feel his presence, we need only look around us. Yes, there is still evil, but there is far more that is good, honorable, and beautiful in ourselves and in others that make this Christmas a time for rejoicing and a New Year filled with the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Veni Creator!
Father Joe Landi is a Parochial Vicar at St. Cecilias Parish, San Francisco, the Archbishops Liaison to the Charismatic Renewal, the Board Chair of Sierra Point Credit Union, South San Francisco, and is the Editor of the San Francisco Charismatics. ©1997 The San Francisco Charismatics. All Rights Reserved.
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