Angelus of Pope Francis. Photo: Vatican Media

The Holy Spirit, The Devil and The Pope: Sunday’s Address from the Vatican

The Pope urged all Catholics to invoke the Holy Spirit more frequently and not to forget his presence.

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(ZENIT News / Vatican City, 05.14.2023).- Some 25,000 people recited the Regina Coeli Marian prayer with the Holy Father on Sunday, May 14, in Saint Peter’s Square. On the Sixth Sunday of Easter, the Pontiff’s address focused on two aspects of the Holy Spirit: His closeness and His aid against the One who accuse us. In his final greetings Pope Francis noted that it was Mother’s Day, so he congratulated mothers. 

Here is the text of the Pope’s address, translated from the Italian original by the Holy See. 

* * *

The Gospel for today, the Sixth Sunday of Easter, speaks to us about the Holy Spirit, whom Jesus calls the Paraclete (cf. John 14:15-17). Paraclete is a word that comes from Greek, which means both consoler and advocate [editor’s note: the word also means ‘lawyer’ in Italian] at the same time. This means that the Holy Spirit never leaves us alone, He is near to us, like an advocate who assists the accused person, standing by his or her side. And He suggests to us how to defend ourselves from the One who accuses us. Let us recall that the great accuser is always the devil, who puts sin inside of you, the desire to sin, wickedness. Let us reflect on these two aspects: His closeness to us, and His assistance against the One who accuses us.

[1st His Closeness]

His closeness: the Holy Spirit, Jesus says, “dwells with you and will be in you” (cf. v. 17). He never abandons us. The Holy Spirit wants to stay with us: He is not a passing guest who comes to pay us a courtesy visit. He is a companion for life, a stable presence. He is Spirit and desires to dwell in our spirits. He is patient and stays with us even when we fall. He remains because He truly loves us; He does not pretend to love us, and then leave us alone when things get difficult. No. He is faithful, He is transparent, He is authentic.

On the contrary! If we find ourselves in a moment of trial, the Holy Spirit consoles us, bringing us God’s pardon and strength. And when He places our errors before us and corrects us, He does so gently — there is always the timbre of tenderness and the warmth of love in His voice that speaks to the heart. Certainly, the Spirit, the Paraclete, is demanding, because He is a true, faithful friend, who does not hide anything, who suggests what needs to change and where growth needs to take place. But when He corrects us, He never humiliates us, and never instils distrust. Rather, He conveys the certainty that with God, we can always make it. This is His closeness. This is a beautiful certainty.

[2nd Our Advocate: He Who Defends Us]

The Spirit as Paraclete is the second aspect. He is our advocate and He defends us. He defends us from the One who accuse us: [also] from ourselves when we do not appreciate and forgive ourselves, when we go so far as perhaps saying to ourselves that we have failed, that we are good for nothing; from the world that discards those who do not fit into to its dictates and patterns; from the devil who is the “accuser” par excellence and the divider (cf. Revelation 12:10), and does everything to make us feel incapable and unhappy.

In the face of all these accusing thoughts, the Holy Spirit suggests to us how to respond. How? The Paraclete, Jesus says, is the One who “reminds us of everything Jesus told us” (cf. John 14:26). He reminds us, therefore, of the words of the Gospel, and thus enables us to respond to the accusing devil, not with our own words, but with the Lord’s own words. He reminds us, above all, that Jesus always spoke of the Father who is in Heaven, He made the Father known to us, and revealed the Father’s love for us, that we are His children. If we call on the Spirit, we will learn to embrace and recall the most important truth of life that protects us from the accusations of the Evil One. And what is the most important truth in life? That we are beloved children of God. We are God’s beloved children: this is the most important truth, and the Spirit reminds us of this.

Brothers and sisters, let us ask ourselves today: Do we call on the Holy Spirit? Do we pray to Him often? Let us not forget about the One who is close to us, or rather, is within us! Then: Do we listen to His voice, both when He encourages us and when He corrects us? Do we respond with Jesus’s words to the accusations from the Evil One, to the “tribunals” of life? Do we remember that we are beloved children of God? 

May Mary make us docile to the voice of the Holy Spirit and sensitive to His presence.

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