Posts Tagged ‘Symbols of the Holy Spirit’

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Looking 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:

D744 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.

D744

This coming Sunday, we celebrate Pentecost, the feast of the descent of the Holy Spirit, also called the “Birthday of the Church”.

But this third, and in a certain sense omnipresent member of the Holy Trinity can sometimes be almost incomprehensible – as Giuseppe D’Amore, permanent deacon and active member of the Charismatic Renewal movement explains in the new CTS booklet, Symbols of the Holy Spirit:

“The Holy Spirit is perhaps the most mysterious and hidden of the three persons of the Holy Trinity. We can have some idea about the Father from the descriptions given by Jesus. The Father’s characteristics can be compared to those we recognise in human paternity. The Son became flesh sharing in our complete human nature, being perfectly present to us in his incarnation; he is like us in everything but sin. For the Holy Spirit, however, we have no complete representation.”

How to enter into a relationship with a Person of the Trinity we do not know? We can see only something of His mystery through signs and images given to us in Sacred Scripture and in the tradition of the Church. Some of these, like the image of the dove, are well known, while others are less obvious; but D’Amore is quick to remind us at the outset of his exploration that even these symbols are just that, symbols, and they serve a higher purpose.

“Our aim will be to move from the symbol to the reality, or as blessed John Henry Newman put it, ‘From shadows or images, to the truth.’ “

Often, elemental images have been used to better understand the Holy Spirit – such as water, which is vital for life and purification, and fire, which burns and transforms:

“The fire of the Spirit renders us malleable. Iron placed in the fire, freed of its impurities, becomes incandescent; it can be shaped at will by the blacksmith who can transform it into a work of art. Such a Spirit, as molten lava, can shape and make life the masterpiece foretold in eternity by the creative mind of the Word.”

This more thought-out understanding of the symbols that one finds in Scripture can help us to see how much we need this Spirit and how it has always been there. Pentecost in Judaism was the feast of the giving of the Torah, and through the words of that Torah, we can see how God prepared his people to receive His greatest Word, from those formerly frightened men who burst from their upper room.

Symbols of the Holy Spirit is available from CTS priced 1.95


Of related interest:

D744 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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