Emmitsburg Council of Churches

Division or Divinization?

Father John J. Lombardi

Jesus says: "Everything that the Father has is mine for this reason I told you- He (the Holy Spirit) will take from what is mine and declare it to you" (Jn 16:15).

Prayer: "Come Holy Ghost, Creator blest, and in our hearts, take up Thy rest. Come with Thy grace, and Heavenly aid, to fill the hearts, which Thou hast made"

I. Today is the "birthday of the Church"-Pentecost--a holy celebration of the outpouring of Divine grace upon the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Apostles, by the Holy Spirit. According to today's first reading (Acts 2:10ff) the Spirit came as "Tongues of Fire" upon those gathered in the upper room to "inaugurate the Church." Ever since then, no matter how many, or how awful, individual sinners have been in our Holy Catholic Church--Jesus Christ's Bride which He died for-it has never sinned or taught error because of the protection and inspiration of the Holy Spirit (see Eph 5:23, 25: "For.  Christ is the Head of the Church, He Himself the Savior of the Body.  as Christ loved the Church and handed Himself over for her"). So, today, and all days, let us rejoice that we have such a faithful Bride in our Catholic Faith. All are invited to Jesus' Unity of Faith, to 'wed" to her so as to receive new and more graces thru the Holy Spirit.

But, now, you may ask. 

Q. Who is the Holy Spirit?

A. He is the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity. He is the "Bond of the Love" between the Father and the Son. He "proceeds from the Father and the Son as from a single spiration". The Holy Spirit does not come only from the Father (as Eastern Orthodox Christians believe), but from both the Father and the Son; and He is a "spiration" -an "Eternal Procession"-- from these two Divine Persons (He radiates from the Them).

The Holy Spirit is God, as is the Father and the Son- in one single, divine, uncreated Essence. Theologians speculate that the "Source" of the Holy Spirit's spiration refers to the Will of God, because spiration/spirit designates a movement from this Divine faculty-the Will--which "inclines " to, or "results" in an "object "-the Holy Spirit. This Third Person is the eternal manifestation of that Divine Love. Just as our human wills are directed toward an object or goal, resulting in an action or "desire", so the Spirit is the manifestation of this "driving love of God".

So, as Jesus, the Son, is generated from the intellect of the Father (He is the perfect image of the Father's "thinking faculty"-cf. Col. 1:12ff), the Holy Spirit is seen as a perfect ex-pression, or "pressing-out" of the Father's Will, and willing. Though the generation (of Jesus) and spiration (the Holy Spirit) seem to occur in our linear, finite time, as we see it, like a human baby's "birth" or "creation" of some object by an artist-these "processions" do not, in fact, take place in time; these "eternal processions" are, rather, without beginning or end, always dynamically happening in a succesionless "now" of God's timelessness, outside and above any finite conception of time or place, ungraspable by our finite intellects.

All this theologizing is like a human attempt to "spiritually picture" and describe God-as-He-Is-in-Himself (called the "Godhead,' before creation) . We also know God, though, as He manifests Himself in the world (called His missions). Following are some qualities of the Holy Spirit to help us to know and love Him-and the whole Blessed Trinity-- more (sources adapted from: "The NSRV Concordance": Zondervan: 1991).

Nature-the Spirit's Divine Nature: called God in Lk. 1:32,35; He is united with the Father and Son- Mt. 28:19.  As a Person: The Holy Spirit is Eternal- Heb 9:14; Omnipresent- Ps 139:7-10.  All knowing- I Cor 2:10-11.  The Holy Spirit dwells in the Church: 1 Cor 3:16ff; Eph 2:22.  Appoints officers for Church: Acts 20:28.  Assists the Church towards Truth-Jn 16:13.  He sanctifies us- Rm 15:16.  We are commanded to be filled with the Holy Spirit-as Paul was in his conversion- Acts 9:17; and as are all Christians-Eph 5:18. The Holy Spirit makes us realize God's love-Rm 5:5.  He gives us power to witness-Act 1:8.

So, we see that the Holy Spirit is a Divine Person, He helps us grow in holiness and that He guides our Catholic Church, challenged and presented with newer issues and problems, to Truth. We are, then, as disciples in today's sometimes chaotic world, not merely left to "find our own truth" or go out searching by "intellectually bumping in the dark" for God and answers. No, the Spirit-God--leads us: He is the infinite extensionality of God (the Spirit stretching us toward God and His ways) in our world to preserve and guard the Catholic Unity as a "ship thru troubled waters"

Mediation: How can you form a more intimate and knowledgeable union with the Holy Spirit? How can you pray to Him more?...How can you find His truths in the Catholic Unity which Jesus promised would be enlightened and protected? As you may relate to the Father for His power, and to the Son for His compassion, can you relate to the Spirit for His wisdom, and gifts, fruits and "inspirations"? .  

II. We have seen the Holy Sprit Is, because of the Father's and Son's endless embrace and "outpouring" within the Divine Trinity. But the Holy Spirit also Is, to give us gifts to link us to that Divine Reality, and to guide us in this world. So, you may ask: Q. What are these Gifts of the Holy Spirit? A:. They are listed in Isaiah 11:2-3. (And the following is an excellent examination of them, from: A. Tanquerey, "The Spiritual Life"-make a thorough mediation upon these).

"The gift of counsel perfects the virtue of prudence by making us judge promptly and rightly as by a sort of supernatural intuition what must be done, esp. in difficult cases. Piety perfects the virtue of religion.  by begetting in our hearts a filial affection for God.  Fortitude is a gift which imparts in the will an impulse and an energy which enable it to do great things joyfully and fearlessly despite all obstacles.  Fear is a gift which inclines our will to a filial respect for God, removes us from sin and displeasing Him and gives us hope in the power of His help.  The gift of knowledge, by the illuminating action of the Holy Spirit, gives us a knowledge of created things in their relations to God.  Understanding is a gift which, under enlightening action of the Holy Spirit gives a deep insight into the revealed truths, without giving a comprehension of the mysteries themselves.

Wisdom perfects virtue of charity by enabling us to discern God and divine principles in their origin and by giving us a relish for them.  The Holy Sprit dwells in our soul and infuse, besides habitual grace, supernatural habits which perfect out faculties and enable them to perform supernatural acts under the impulse of actual grace."

Mediation: What Gifts of the Holy Spirit are you "strong" in?-Thank God and use them for His glory. Notice the biblical counsel of "divine linkage": "No one can receive anything except what has been given him from above" (Jn. 3:27)-therefore: Practice gratefulness...What Gifts do you need to develop under the Holy Spirit's help?-Remember: "If you don't use it you lose it." Intensify gifts and blessings which are lukewarm; stimulate those Gifts-piety, fear, wisdom-which are latent and immature, by prayer, serving and fasting and sacrificing.   Do you really try to know the Holy Spirit by growing in wisdom? -You learn something by practicing it, and the more you practice piety, holy fear and wisdom, the more you gain in knowledge of these Gifts. Bowing-physically and spiritually, to God and He will raise you.  Are you wasting any graces given by the Spirit? Floss those clogged "spiritual arteries" of your soul so God can use you-and not only some other person!--as an instrument of His Love. The Virgin Mary appeared to St Catherine Laboure, in part, to show how many graces are lost by souls not cooperating with Divine Love. "The Holy Spirit says, 'O that today you would hear His voice'.  " (Heb 2:4).

"With the Gifts come the Fruits of the Holy Spirit which correspond to and complete them-acts of virtue which reach a certain degree of perfection and fill the soul with holy joy . The Fruits of the Holy Spirit are, according to Galatians 5:22: charity, joy, peace, patience, benignity, goodness, faith, mildness, temperance."

In essence, the Fruits of the Holy Spirit are a result of the Gifts we have received and cultivated. Remember: "Now we have received not the spirit of the world but the Spirit of God" ( I Cor. 2:12).

III. Where do we need the Holy Spirit's work today?

We humans can either choose life outside the Holy Spirit---which makes for division-or we can live life thru, with, and in Him-which means He will come to us, heal and divinize us-make us divine-like. We spend lots of time evading the Spirit, thinking we can be happier without Him. When we are "begotten from above" (Jn. 3:3), and undergo a conversion (many of them are needed) we realize we absolutely need the Holy Spirit to unite us to God's Mind, Will and Providence. In today's First Reading the Holy Spirit unites disparate human voices and makes a reversal of the division of the Tower of Babel (Gn 11:9).   What "reversals" and conversions can you ask for and allow the Holy Spirit to turn in your life?

Following are some ways of Division or Divinization in today's world-how can you help?...

Agnosticism means denying any possibility of knowledge about God or His ways. Many more Americans are choosing this lifestyle-philosophy which divides them from God by negating the Holy Spirit's infused-knowledge to help know about God, and thus love Him more. Thus, Basic Principle 101: we love what we know. What we don't know we divide from. Therefore know God more to love Him more. You may be able to help an agnostic co-worker or friend by introducing them to simple, basic truths of the Faith: God loves us; when we sin we hurt Him; He-Jesus died for us and our sins-and we should live for Him; the Catholic Church is His love in time and place now; the Holy Spirit gives us the Sacraments-"Lifelines to God".

Later on, you may share a Bible verse or Catechism lesson-both expressed at simple levels--with them. Remember John 16:13-where Jesus says of the Spirit: "He will lead you into all truth". As we and those we speak to gradually provide more room in our souls for the Spirit to dwell, we will become more like God and some of that knowledge will, simply, naturally, "spin off" of us unto others. Remember the counsel: if you are one with the Spirit, "the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God" (I Cor 2:10). Further, the Holy Spirit unveils delusions of mind which prevent us from knowing God or gaining proper knowledge about Him. St James describes a confused person as a " man of two minds unstable in all his ways" (1:8). The Holy Spirit, however will pacify and empower us, and will link us to God (Rm. 8:14).

The Holy Spirit helps us to call Jesus God, and recognize His authorship over us" and so help us to help others recognize that there is One True God, the Blessed Trinity, the God of revelation. Agnosticism opposes belief and true Faith in God; our Faith, by the Holy Spirit's indwelling, proposes enlightened knowledge of God (Eph. 1:18) and love of Him (I Jn 4:2-"By this you know the spirit of God"). Pray for this inner enlightenment and gaining of knowledge.

Amoralism: this means a person does not believe in morals, or at least foundations for morals like the Bible, Religion, or some other trustworthy source. The world and Devil divide people from God this way by attracting them with all kinds of worldly lures. A "living answer" in this situation is your example-how you talk, work and live. Your friend will notice if you have Fruits and Gifts of the Spirit-love, joy, peace. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you demonstrate basic principles of the Faith in moral situations. Many are looking for "moral answers" to difficult questions-will you be the counter-cultural exception, the Spirit filled example? And remember: "Live by the Spirit and do not gratify the desires of the flesh" (Gal 5:16). Senator Rick Santorum described the division in Catholics who divorce their faith from decisions---moral, political and social-- thereby causing moral chaos. By the Holy Spirit, how will you be a rebel, a radical against the popular culture? (see under "Briefly Noted" and Rm 12:2!).

Anxiousness: everyone gets nervous, at least for some small or passing time. This state of mind divides any disciple from the Divine Mind, with bad, evil, cutting and pre-occupying thoughts which hamper peace and joy within. The Holy Spirit, rather, brings us the Peace of God--"Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness" (Rm. 26). But we must participate with His "anointings," and call constantly on the Lord-immediately and repeatedly--when any anxious, dark, sinful thoughts appear. "If we live by the Spirit let us also be guided by the Spirit" (Gal 5:25). Let Him be your inner, loving guide for all thoughts and inner life. Train your mind with His peace. "Set your mind on the Spirit which is life and peace" (Rm 8:6).

Culture of Death vs. Culture of Life: When people want to kill, destroy or slaughter, they are dividing true Life from God. This is the goal of the Devil. His name comes from dia bolos, which means to "throw across". Abortion, euthanasia and pornography, drugs and rampant materialism all distort and eventually destroy the body-soul of a person, gradually fashioning people into things and possessions rather than children and saints of God. Rather than dividing our souls we should remember we are God's heirs, because He is "putting His seal on us and giving us His spirit" (2 Cor 1:22). Who will rescue babies from death?; women from abuse of dark pornography?; families from ravaging popular culture?; the elderly from loneliness and despairing death; the poor from powerlessness? God will help us: "The Spirit He poured on us richly" (Tit. 3:6).

Conclusion: We must rely on the Holy Spirit to link us-and keep us united-- to God, to teach us truths, so we can overcome the divisions of our world, Church, and those even within ourselves. What will you do to foster greater devotion to the Holy Sprit on a regular basis?...This meditation by the Polish priest and convert, Angelus Silesius., may help you. The Holy Spirit-as a "spiritual fire"-cauterizes and heals our wounded sinful nature (concupiscence). Pray for spiritual liberation.  

"If you want to be wise, God within comprehend; You must first burn away Your own concupiscence."

Briefly Noted

President Bush on the Pope: Speaking in Krakow, Poland recently, the President , described the Holy Father's "transition" from there to Rome "In 1978 a Polish cardinal began his journey to a conclave in Rome, and entered history as Pope John Paul II-one of the greatest moral leaders of our time." Pray for our leaders !

Senator Rick Santorum on Catholics today-from Commencement Address at Christendom College: "For many generations, Catholics were viewed with suspicion. For Catholics in America, my family included, the breakthrough came with the election of the presidency of John F. Kennedy. But at what price did we earn this break? President Kennedy promised that his faith would have no effect -- would have NO effect -- on his decisions as president. In effect, what he was saying was that his decisions would be unguided by his conscience. Only now, two generations later, all Americans of faith see how grave, grave a price was paid. For now our popular culture discourages religion and moral convictions from even being discussed in the public square.

Our founders feared the establishment of a religion. What we are left with today is an establishment of moral nihilism. Not surprisingly, our government, being of the people, is following suit. While much of our culture is removing moral guideposts, so too is the government. Now this is where you come in. I believe of all the great gifts God has given to the young, the greatest of these are energy, idealism and rebelliousness -- that's your parents laughing. As we have seen, these gifts, like all gifts, can be used for good or for evil and as we've seen over the past 30 years, they can be used, shall we say, sparingly by our young people.  I want to challenge each and every one of you to be a radical, to be a rebel, to rebel against the popular culture. Your task will not be an easy. ..You must overcome the temptation of silence; the temptation of silence in the face of frequent hostile common opinion. As Catholics you must summon the courage of your convictions, which must be continually nourished by prayer, Mass and spiritual direction, and to speak and to live the Truth."

Bible Readings: Acts 2:1-11; I Cor. 12:3-13; Jn. 15: 26-27; 16: 12-15. Jesus will "declare"-give, bestow-to us, Gifts of God and God's very Life, which is grace and the indwelling Trinity. It is your choice-division from Him by your self-centered life, or Divinization by Him and with the "seal of the promised Holy Spirit" (Eph. 1:13). The Gift of the Holy Spirit restores us back to Friendship with God-we are no longer rebels but receivers; no more divided, but divinized from above: Come, Holy Ghost!

Read other reflections by Father John J. Lombardi