On the Work of the Holy Spirit

Here is the translation of the Holy Father’s weekly General Audience address in St. Peter’s Square where he continued the cycle of catechesis dedicated to the Year of Faith.

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Dear brothers and sisters,

Good morning! Today I would like to dwell on the action that the Holy Spirit performs in guiding the Church and each of us to the Truth. Jesus himself says to his disciples: the Holy Spirit “will guide you into all the truth” (Jn 16:13), being He himself “the Spirit of Truth (cf. Jn 14:17; 15:26; 16:13).
We live in an age in which people are rather sceptical towards the truth. Benedict XVI has spoken many times of relativism, of the tendency, that is, to believe that there is nothing definitive and to think that the truth comes from consent or from what we want. The question arises: does “the” truth really exist? What is “the” truth? Can we know it? Can we find it? Here I am reminded of the question of the Roman Procurator Pontius Pilate when Jesus reveals to him the profound meaning of his mission: “What is truth?” (Jn 18:37.38). Pilate fails to understand that “the” Truth is in front of him, he fails to see in Jesus the face of truth, which is the face of God. Yet, Jesus is just that: the Truth that, in the fullness of time, “became flesh” (Jn 1:1.14), that came among us so that we might we know it. The truth cannot be grasped like an object, the truth has to be encountered. It is not a possession; it is an encounter with a Person.

But who will allow us to recognize that Jesus is “the” Word of truth, the only begotten Son of God the Father? St. Paul teaches that “no one can say: ‘Jesus is Lord!’ except by the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 12:3). It is the Holy Spirit, the gift of the risen Christ, who makes us recognize the Truth. Jesus calls him the “Paraclete”, i.e., “he who comes to help,” who is on our side to support us on this journey of knowledge; and, during the Last Supper, Jesus assures his disciples that the Holy Spirit will teach them all things, reminding them of his words (cf. Jn 14:26).

What is then the action of the Holy Spirit in our lives and in the life of the Church to lead us to the truth? First of all, he reminds believers and imprints in their hearts the words that Jesus said, and, precisely through these words, God’s law – as the prophets of the Old Testament had announced – is inscribed in our hearts and becomes in us a principle for evaluating our choices and a guide in daily actions, it becomes the principle of life. The great prophecy of Ezekiel is fulfilled: “I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols, I will give you a new heart, I will put within you a new spirit … I will put my spirit within you and I will make you follow my statutes and be careful to observe my ordinances”(36:25-27).  In fact, it is from the depths of ourselves that our actions are born: it is the heart that must convert to God, and the Holy Spirit transforms it if we open ourselves to Him.

The Holy Spirit, then, as Jesus promised, guides us “into all the truth” (Jn 16:13); he helps us not only to encounter Jesus, the fullness of Truth, but also guides us “into” the Truth, makes us enter into an ever more profound communion with Jesus himself, giving us understanding of the things of God. And we cannot achieve this by our own strength. If God does not enlighten us inwardly, our being Christians will be superficial. The Tradition of the Church states that the Spirit of truth acts in our hearts by arousing that “sense of the faith (sensus fidei) through which, as the Second Vatican Council affirms, the People of God, under the guidance of the Magisterium, adheres indefectibly to the faith transmitted, deepens it with right judgment and applies it more fully in life (cf. Const. Dogm. Lumen Gentium, 12). Let us ask ourselves: am I open to the action of the Holy Spirit, do I pray for it to give me light, to make me more sensitive to the things of God? This is a prayer we must make every day: “Holy Spirit, make my heart be open to the Word of God, that my heart be open to good, that my heart be open to the beauty of God everyday”. I would like to ask you a question: how many of you pray to the Holy Spirit every day? Probably few, but we must satisfy this desire of Jesus and pray every day to the Holy Spirit, so that he opens our heart towards Jesus.

Let us think of Mary, who “kept all these things and pondered them in her heart “(Lk 2:19.51). The welcoming of the words and truths of faith in order that they may become life, happens and grows under the action of the Holy Spirit. In this sense we must learn from Mary, reliving her “Yes,” her total willingness to receive the Son of God in her life, which from that moment onwards is transformed. Through the Holy Spirit, the Father and the Son come to dwell in us: we live in God and of God. But is our life truly inspired by God? How many things do I put before God? 

Dear brothers and sisters,

We need to allow ourselves to be overwhelmed by the light of the Holy Spirit, so that he may bring us into the Truth of God, who is the only Lord of our lives. In this Year of Faith let us ask ourselves if we have taken any concrete steps to know more about Christ and the truth of the faith, by reading and meditating on the Scripture, studying the Catechism, approaching the Sacraments with constancy. But let us ask ourselves at the same time, what steps are we taking so that faith may guide all our existence. One isn’t a Christian “part time”, at certain moments, in certain circumstances, in some choices. One cannot be a Christian like this. One is a Christian at all times!  Totally! The truth of Christ, which the Holy Spirit teaches us and gives us, forever and totally affects our daily lives. Let us invoke him more often so that he may guide us on the road of the disciples of Christ. Let us invoke him every day. I make this proposal to you: let us invoke the Holy Spirit every day, thus Holy Spirit will draw us close to Jesus Christ. Thank you!

[Translation by Peter Waymel]

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Dear Brothers and Sisters:

In our catechesis on the Creed, we have been considering the person and work of the Holy Spirit, whom Jesus calls “the Spirit of Truth” (cf. Jn 16:13). In an age skeptical of truth, we believe not only that truth exists, but that it is found through faith in Jesus Christ, the incarnate Son of God. The Holy Spirit brings us to Jesus; he guides the whole Church into the fullness of truth. As the “Paraclete”, the Helper sent by the Risen Lord, he reminds us of Christ’s words and convinces us of their saving truth. As the source of our new life in Christ, he awakens in our hearts that supernatural “sense of the faith” by which we hold fast to God’s word, come to a deeper understanding of its meaning, and apply it in our daily lives. Let us ask ourselves: am I truly open, like the Virgin Mary, to the power of the Holy Spirit? Even now, with the Father and the Son, the Spirit dwells in our hearts. Let us ask him to guide us into all truth and to help us grow in friendship with Christ through daily prayer, reading of the Scriptures and the celebration of the sacraments.

Holy Father (in Italian):

I am pleased to greet the many English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present at today’s Audience, including those from England, Scotland, Sweden, Australia, India, Vietnam, Canada and the United States. As the Church prepares to celebrate the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, I pray that his gifts of wisdom, joy and peace will accompany you and your families along the path of authentic Christian discipleship. God bless you all!

© Copyright 2012 – Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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I extend a cordial welcome to the many Italian-speaking pilgrims. I greet with affection the parish communities with their priests, associations, groups and individuals. In particular, i greet the faithful of the Diocese of Arezzo-Cortona-San Sepolcro, Chieti-Vasto, Pitigliano-Sovana-Orbetello, accompanied by their pastors and I urge them to be eloquent signs of God’s love and peace in every environment, even the most difficult ones. A special thought goes out to the bishops, priests and faithful from S
ardinia; Dear friends, thank you for your presence and I commend you and your communities to the maternal intercession of the Holy Virgin who is venerated with the title of “Our Lady of Bonaria”. In this regard, I would like to announce to you that I wish visit the Sanctuary in Cagliari – almost certainly in September – because between the city of Buenos Aires and Cagliari there is brotherhood because of an old story. At the very moment of the Foundation of the city of Buenos Aires, its founder wanted to name it “City of the Holy Trinity, but the sailors who had brought him down there were Sardegnians and they wanted to call it “City of Our Lady of Bonaria”. There was a dispute between them and eventually they found a compromise, as a result of which the name of the city became a long one: “City of the Holy Trinity and Port of Our Lady of Bonaria”. But being so long, what remained are the last two words: Bonaria, Buenos Aires, in remembrance of your icon of our Lady of Bonaria.

I greet with affection all the students, especially those of numerous Catholic schools. The Catholic school constitutes a precious reality for the entire society, especially on account of the educational service it carries out, in cooperation with families, and it is good for this role to be recognized appropriately.

Lastly, I greet the young people, the sick and newlyweds. During this month of May, dear young people, strive to imitate the young girl of Nazareth, Mary. She will help you to be simple, pure in heart and bring a ray of happiness where there is sadness and loneliness. For you, dear sick ones, I wish for you to live out, with the help of Mary, your situation with confident abandonment to the Lord, God of all consolation. And you, dear newlyweds, may you always find joy and support in your mutual fidelity.

[Translation by Peter Waymel]
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