"Startled" by ...

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

This morning after praying the Liturgy of the Hours, Morning Prayer, with my husband, I was about to close my book when my eye caught sight of the reading for Evening Prayer for today - Tuesday of the Seventh Week after Easter. Here is the Reading; what “startled” me is underlined:

READING Romans 8:26-27

The Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit itself intercedes with inexpressible groanings. And the one who searches hearts knows what is the intention of the Spirit, because it intercedes for the holy ones according to God’s will.

The words of verse 27 especially “startled” me because while I’ve thought often of Mary’s intercession and Jesus’ interceding for us before the Father, I do not think I’ve ever thought or heard the Holy Spirit “intercedes for the holy ones according to God’s will”. What good news!

Mary our Mother and Model was infused with Sanctifying Grace and the Indwelling Trinity, at her conception; she experienced the intercession of the Holy Spirit for many years within her. Pondering her prayer with the disciples waiting for His coming with power from on high, I’m in awe of the sublime faith, hope and love she practiced in her union with God. I’m in awe of what the Holy Spirit does, and desires to do in us and in the entire Body of Christ.

Mary, Mother of the Church, now eternally united with God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, continue to pray with us as we await His special coming this Pentecost.

Come Holy Spirit, kindle anew in all of us the Fire of Your Love!

Now that I think of it, even more than some of the Marian beliefs, I have a hard time understanding Who the Holy Spirit is.

He is consubstantial with the Father and the Son…yet He is less perceptible to our rational mind and senses.

Jesus became one of us and prayed to the Father. It’s hard to know how to think of the Holy Spirit other than a fiery depiction of a dove.

Is He a Person as much as Jesus or a personification of Divine love?

How do we address the Spirit if we want to pray?

He must be so sad with all the sins I commit…

Dear EIF5A,

Thanks for your reply. It is understandable that the Holy Spirit is more of a Mystery to us than Mary and Jesus.

Mary is a completely human person, so we can identify with her even though she was uniquely conceived without Original Sin. We can identify because she is a human mother and when we hear God’s revelation of her in the Gospel we can picture her doing ordinary household chores, for instance. Jesus gave her to us as Mother and Model.

Jesus is a Divine Person, and the Father and the Holy Spirit are each distinct Divine Persons in the Trinity, but only the Son of God became incarnate, assuming a human nature. This Mystery of two natures in One Divine Person is called the hypostatic union and is a tremendous Mystery, yet we can still relate to Jesus the God Man because in His human nature, he was like us in all things except sin.

The Holy Spirit is not easy to relate to because He is a Divine Person and pure Spirit. He is the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity: Three Persons in One God – the highest of all mysteries! Our finite human intellects can never completely understand God Who is Infinite. We can learn some things about the Trinity, however, from what God has revealed in Scripture, Tradition and the Magisterium of the Catholic Church. If you have a copy of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, that is a good way to begin learning more about the Holy Spirit, Whom Jesus promised to His disciples. ( See: Chapter Three “I Believe in the Holy Spirit” paragraphs 683-741), Reading the Gospels of St. John and St. Luke can also help us to learn how The Holy Spirit has been revealed by Jesus.

The Holy Spirit appeared as a dove at the Baptism of Jesus, and so we often see Him depicted that way. CCC 694 - 701 explain the symbols of the Holy Spirit, but I think we can let go of the symbolism when we pray and realize we really cannot “picture God” as the Trinity of Three Divine Persons in One God, because God is a Spiritual Being and we will need to wait until heaven to see Him as He is. The Holy Spirit is a Divine Person just as Father and Son are Divine Persons. He is called the Spirit of Love because He is the Love of the Father and the Son.

When I pray to the Holy Spirit, I simply address Him as “Dear Holy Spirit”. There are some prayers which address Him as Paraclete, or Advocate. The Church prays often “Come, Holy Spirit”. The Catechism states in Paragraph 691 “Holy Spirit” is the proper name of the One whom we adore and glorify with the Father and the Son.

Yes, God – all Three Persons – are sad when we sin. We are sad too because sin does not bring happiness. May we all, by God’s Grace, turn from sin toward God to receive his Love and forgiveness – therein lies our true happiness now and for eternity. Hope this helps a bit.

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