Holy Spirit's Activity in the Believer

Cardinal Francis Arinze

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VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 2, 2002 (Zenit.org).- Here is another of the reflections presented during the June videoconference of theologians entitled “Pneumatology from the Second Vatican Council to Our Times.” The videoconference was sponsored by the Congregation for the Clergy.

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The Holy Spirit’s Activity in the Believer
Cardinal Francis Arinze

The real source of Christian sanctity consists in the dwelling of the Holy Spirit, because, according to the words spoken by John Henry Cardinal Newman, “Christ carries us to sanctity coming to us through his Spirit; and since his Spirit is saintly, we are saints, if we are in a state of grace. Christ is present in the hearts he visits with his grace.”

The reality of original sin is overcome by a new justice that comes from the Holy Spirit, so that our work, enacted in the Spirit of Christ, contains a principle of justification, which is the presence of the Spirit, who, once again quoting Cardinal Newman, “sanctifies those actions, that life, that obedience for which it is the original cause, and that he himself orders and defines.” In this perspective we are able to also reflect on the expression used by the Eastern Church, which calls the Holy Spirit “iconoplastes,” meaning he who moulds the image of the Son in mankind.

The Holy Spirit is the Gospel’s great promise: The Lord who had made himself manifest to his servants, dwells in their hearts: “He descended once more through and with his Spirit, and then the promise at last was kept.” Christ’s physical presence, which was limited in its location, had to be “exchanged with the Counselor’s multiple spiritual dwellings within us.”

The Spirit came so as to complete in us what Christ has completed within himself. The Spirit is entrusted with bestowing individually upon each of us all that Christ had done for all of us. Christ’s redemption reaches each of us through the Spirit. John Henry Newman says: “Everything that Christ did in flesh one thousand eight hundred years ago is really — typologically and similarly — enacted in us, one by one, until the end of time.”

In this sense the Spirit enacts within us, what the Son has achieved: “We too are led by the same Spirit through the temptations of this world; we too obey through the Spirit; we die through sin, we are resurrected in justice through the Spirit; and we are proclaimed children of God. Christ himself promises to repeat in each of us, figuratively and mysteriously, everything that he achieved and suffered in the flesh.”

The profoundness of the Spirit’s work in our person is manifest through prayer in a particular manner. This is the work of the Spirit who prays in us, and we in him: the Holy Spirit and our spirits address, in Christ, the one and same prayer: Abba, Father.

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