Understanding Who the Holy Spirit is and His Role in our Soul and our Sanctification

Elizabeth Kindelmann prayed this prayer: “Spirit of understanding, of strength, of wisdom, descend upon me and take possession of me.” Our Lord told Elizabeth that he wanted all to have this exceptionally close relationship with the Holy Spirit: “I will pour out upon all of you My extraordinary graces.”

Father Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen (“Divine Intimacy”) reminds us: “Because the Holy Spirit is the effusion of divine love, He is called ‘Spirit’, according to the Latin sense of the word, which means air, respiration, the vital breath…It is in this sense that the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity is called the ‘Spirit of the Father and Son’… that is the ‘breath’ of divine love… Let us invoke the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of love, so that He may come to enkindle in our hearts the flame of Charity. “ (Note how similar this language is to Elizabeth Kindelmann’s messages).

Father Gabriel goes on to explain the Church’s teaching: “This, the work of sanctification, which is a work of love, is especially attributed to the Holy Spirit, who is the breath of divine love.” Father Gabriel then makes a critical point that we must understand and contemplate in Sacred Scripture: “The Holy Spirit is often called the “Spirit of Christ”… We know … that the Divine Paraclete, with the Father and Son, dwells in every soul that is in the state of grace…and the higher degree of grace He finds in the soul, the greater His delight … This is why the Holy Spirit took such great complacency in the soul of the Blessed Virgin … yet the grace possessed by Mary was but a pale reflection of the grace which filled the soul of Jesus, grace which theologians call “infinite”… the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Christ and dwells in Him as in His divine temple… When we speak of Christ, however, we do not speak of Him as God only, but also, and especially, as Man, that is, the Incarnate Word. In this sense… it can be said that the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Christ.”

Why is it so important to understand this? Because we must realize that we can not imitate Christ Jesus, we can not become holy as we must, unless we understand the critical importance of how we become holy. It is only through the Holy Spirit (first by Baptism and then by Confirmation) and by continuing to receive His Grace in ever increasing amounts (while avoiding any serious sin or habitual venial sin that we refuse to give up) that we become holy. Most Catholics have only a vague understanding of the Holy Spirit, and sadly some Catholics believe that those who do have a personal relationship with the Holy Spirit are a little wacky or subject to emotionalism with no basis in the Church. Oh, how Satan has blinded us! Nothing could be further from the Truth, and all we need to do is read the Catechism and the Church documents to see the need for a loving, personal relationship with the Holy Spirit! Without knowing and desiring a mature, intimate relationship with the Holy Spirit, we cannot be as holy as God desires for us.

Father Gabriel continues: “The Holy Spirit was in Christ completely, but the Father wanted to draw our attention to how Jesus perfectly fulfilled the will of the Father. St. John describes the Baptism of Jesus when the Holy Spirit “descended in a bodily shape, as a dove upon Him,” and then St. John adds: “Jesus, being full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the desert.” Father Gabriel explains: “This is an explicit statement of the immeasurable plentitude with which the Holy Spirit dwelt in the soul of Jesus; without doubt, this plentitude existed from the first moment of the Savior’s life, but God wished to make it sensibly manifest in the time of His baptism. It is also a striking example of the unceasing operation of the Holy Spirit in Jesus’ soul, inspiring all His actions and guiding Him to the accomplishment of His redemptive mission.”

So, because Jesus has a human soul due to His human nature (in His divinity He is Pure Spirit), the Holy Spirit filled His soul completely, and this is the goal of each of us who seeks to fulfill our duty of holiness. We must constantly desire and call upon the Holy Spirit and seek every opportunity for Grace in the Sacraments and through prayer and acts of charity; so that the Holy Spirit will inspire all our thoughts, emotions, words and actions, just as He did the human nature of Jesus. We must understand, recognize and acknowledge the Holy Spirit present in our soul as a Divine Person if we are to advance in our duty of holiness. We must speak with Him daily and develop an intimate relationship of love with Him.

Father Gabriel asks us to contemplate a critical insight: … “If the Holy Spirit’s role is to sanctify us, why do we not all become saints? … (Because) He respects our liberty … He will not act … unless we give Him free access. It is an example of the great principle in which St. Teresa (of Avila) liked to insist: ‘God does not force anyone, He takes what we give Him; but He does not give Himself wholly to us, until we give ourselves wholly to Him.’ “

This is why the life of Elizabeth Kindelmann is so valuable. She clearly has shown us this example of what it looks like day to day to give ourselves completely to the Spirit of Christ, in a family situation with all the normal duties of a family. However, her example is one of suffering and the Cross. Father Gabriel explicitly reminds us that Elizabeth is not an exception: “Jesus is Jesus the Crucified; therefore there can be no conformity to Him except by the Cross … yes, conformity to Jesus Crucified has more value and importance than all mystical graces! … The more we share in the Cross, the more (the Holy Spirit can mold us) … to resemble Him and cooperate in the work of redemption.”

Our Lord told Elizabeth over and over that this is our purpose: “to cooperate in the work of redemption.” We cannot cooperate completely unless we give ourselves completely to the Holy Spirit as Elizabeth did. Let us read and learn everything we can about the Holy Spirit. A terrific resource is “Your Life in the Holy Spirit” by Alan Schreck. Let us write down this truth and look at it every day: “God will not give Himself wholly to us, until we give ourselves wholly to Him.” Let us pray each day with Elizabeth: “Holy Spirit descend upon me and take possession of me”.


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