Paraclete – Jesus’ name for the Holy Spirit, and why it matters

D744Looking at some of the different images used to represent the Holy Spirit in preparation for Pentecost this Sunday, we come across one in particular that we need to focus on because it was given by Jesus himself.

In St John’s Gospel, Jesus speaks about sending the ‘Paraclete’.  Here, we move beyond the natural symbols we looked at yesterday – fire, water and others – to begin to understand what the Holy Spirit is and does for us.

As Giuseppe D’Amore explains in Symbols of the Holy Spirit:

“The word literally means the one who is invoked (from para-kalein, meaning to call upon for help). Therefore it is helpful to translate it as advocate (ad-vocatus, called to someone), or defender, or even mediator, in that the function of the Spirit is as helper and intercessor. The Grreek name paraclete translated into our language becomes even more beautiful: consoler, joy-giver, ‘he who is close to us’ – as the Fathers of the Church put it. We hear it in the beautiful Sequence of Pentecost: ‘Thou in toil art comfort sweet; pleasant coolness in the heat; solace in the midst of woe.’  How true and beautiful are these words that traditionally comprise the evangelical name: Paraclete!”

Our helper, consoler, the source of our joy, this is what is offered to us this weekend. A defender that as Christ said, “Will teach you everything and remind you of all I have said to you” (John 14:26).

This feast day is also a great opportunity to remember and foster Christian unity. All those who follow Christ can trace their roots back to that Upper Room, and the Church calls us to remember those Christians who are suffering for the sake of their faith. Because as D’Amore points out:

“The Holy Spirit is in particular, the helper and defender of the Apostles and of Christians when they will have to face adversity and persecution. It is the Paraclete that will help them to teach ‘because when the time comes the Holy Spirit will teach you what you must say’ (Luke 12:12).”

The celebration shows us that it was the Holy Spirit that made the announcement of the Good News possible, so we can celebrate the fact that he has been working so tirelessly for 2000 years, and long may he continue to do so.

Symbols of the Holy Spirit is available from CTS priced £1.95.

Of related interest:

LF53 Novena for Pentecost Leaflet – The Novena, prayed for the unity of Christianity, starts the day after Ascension Thursday and finishes on the eve of Pentecost, and invites us to pray, daily, for the coming of the Holy Spirit. The specific daily themes can be prayed in any way that suits, and may include spontaneous prayers, praying in the Spirit, prayers of repentance, thanksgiving and blessing.
SP27 7 Gifts of the Holy Spirit – Every Christian who has been confirmed has received the fullness of the seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit. This booklet explains what these gifts are, the effect they can have on the life of the person who accepts them and what a life truly led by the Spirit should look like.
DO693 Dominum et Vivificantem – Already setting the Church’s sights on the great Jubilee of the year 2000, marking ‘the passage from the second to the third Christian Millennium’, Pope John Paul reflects on the Holy Spirit, as the one who is at the centre of the Christian faith and is the source and dynamic power of the Church’s renewal.

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