As we proceed in our quest to internalize all these insights on the Holy Spirit so that they are embedded in our thoughts, words and actions, we beg The Father and the Son to send us the Holy Spirit as our dearest Friend, so we may know His Presence deeply each moment.
Our Lord explained to Elizabeth Kindelmann (www.flameoflove.us) the power of the Holy Spirit to help us in every way to grow in holiness, especially in making decisions and in speaking or acting, since it is our emotions, thoughts, words and actions which must be controlled in order to become holy. On one particular occasion, when Elizabeth was about to encounter and speak with a priest in a very stressful situation, she stated: “…my whole body shook, but the Holy Spirit was helping me.” Note how she was aware of His Presence, despite the fact that she was so nervous that her body shook!
In growing into an intimate, personal relationship with the Holy Spirit, we must overcome two key problems that our frail human nature causes related to how to think and relate to the Holy Spirit. The first is to understand the image used of a dove. The Holy Spirit is not to be thought of as an animal nor a bird. The image was used by the God in Scripture along with many others (tongues of fire, wind, cloud, oil etc.) solely to help us associate certain properties or attributes which we appropriate to the Third Person in His role to sanctify us. St. John describes the Holy Spirit at the Baptism of Jesus as “like” a dove. Why did God choose this image in this context? There are important reasons to sear into our minds. It began at the flood at the time of Noah, the symbol or foreshadowing of Baptism, where sincere repentance and the water (the”living water” of God’s Grace or share in His Divine Life) save us from eternal death and make us children of God. God through Noah sent out a raven and a dove to see if the waters had receded. The raven, opposite to the dove in many ways, did not come back. The dove not only came back, but came back with an olive leaf in its mouth as a symbol of the peace and forgiveness which God’s Spirit brings when we are open to Him.
The dove also represents the Holy Spirit’s main Attributes. First, whiteness for purity and holiness. Second, gentleness as the dove is so gentle that it will not retaliate but cries out as the Spirit does within us with “groans” of love. Finally, love…especially in the form of caring caresses and words. A dove often strokes its children and coos at them more than most any other creature. So, when we think of the Holy Spirit, we think of Purity, Gentleness/Meekness and Loving tenderness all leading to Peace with God and our neighbor! So, when we see the image of a dove, we should immediately think of these attributes appropriated to the Holy Spirit within us as our Great Sanctifier leading us to imitate Jesus in His Purity, Meekness and Love. The Holy Spirt has a very special role in convicting us of our sin, especially the hidden sin, which we must come to see, acknowledge and give up with His help so we may indeed be Pure!
The next element is to understand the word Paraclete. This word does not mean dove or bird. It actually means one who stands beside us as a wise counselor especially in matters of extreme importance (our salvation and sanctification!). The Holy Spirit will come to our aid in all circumstances and decisions as we call upon Him each day and grow in our relationship with Him. Slowing down and asking for His Counsel is a critical habit we must develop through prayer. Most Catholics spend virtually no time speaking with and praying to the Holy Spirit, but this a necessary part of our duty of holiness. If we think of our soul as a true temple…a magnificent structure of God…and that the Holy Spirit dwells there each moment we are in a state of Grace…we can begin to see the need to acknowledge Him as a Person and speak with Him! How can we have a divine guest, our greatest friend, in our soul constantly and ignore Him? Would that not be the height of impoliteness or lack of charity now that we know the Truth!
Dr. Alan Shreck has this wise advice: “Our conversations with the Holy Spirit do not have to be lengthy or involved. As well as expressing the beautiful formal prayers of the Church to the Holy Spirit, we may simply use short ‘aspirations’ such as ‘Come Holy Spirit’ or ‘Holy Spirit guide me and give me Wisdom’…”. The Holy Spirit is the one who best teaches us to pray, so let us ask Him…”Holy Spirit teach me to pray as You desire,”…since St. Paul reminds us in Romans 8: “Likewise 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 groans too deeps for words.”
Let us commit through God’s Divine Mercy to read all we can about the Holy Spirit and apply this to our quest with Elizabeth to be transformed into Christ through His Spirit so we can fully participate in the “work of Redemption.” How? By suffering, especially fasting from food or something else, with Jesus and offered together with His merits, for the salvation of as many souls as He will permit; and for His consolation that there are those who will love Him as Elizabeth did…through pain as He Himself experienced out of Love…until He makes the pain a joy now and forever. Our dear Mother is there each day in our Rosary to help us grow in our relationship with the Holy Spirit, her Spouse. Let us consciously ask her in our Rosary intentions to accelerate this process through the “Extraordinary Grace” God has given her to pour out on us at this time in salvation history! Fiat!