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On the Holy Spirit and the Church

“The Church Is Unceasingly Formed and Guided by the Spirit of the Lord”

VATICAN CITY, MAY 31, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today before praying the midday Regina Caeli in St. Peter’s Square.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters!

The Church throughout the world relives to today the Solemnity of Pentecost, the mystery of her own birth, of her own “baptism” in the Holy Spirit (cf. Acts 1:5), which took place in Jerusalem, 50 days after Easter, precisely on the Jewish feast of Pentecost. The risen Jesus told his disciples: “Remain in the city until you are given power from on high” (Luke 24:49). This happened in a perceptible way in the Cenacle, while they were gathered together with Mary, the Virgin Mother, in prayer. As we read in the Acts of the Apostles, suddenly that place was invaded by a strong driving wind, and tongues like fire came to rest on the heads of all those present. The Apostles went out then and began to proclaim in different languages that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, dead and risen (cf. Acts 2:1-4). The Holy Spirit, who with the Father and the Son created the universe, guided the history of the people of Israel and spoke through the prophets, who in the fullness of time cooperated in our redemption, who at Pentecost descended upon the nascent Church and made it missionary, sending it to proclaim to all peoples the victory of divine love over sin and death.

The Holy Spirit is the soul of the Church. Without him to what would it be reduced? It would certainly be a great historical movement, a complex and solid social institution, perhaps a kind of humanitarian agency. And in truth this is how it is considered by those who look upon it from outside the perspective of faith. In reality, however, in its true nature and also in its most authentic historical presence, the Church is unceasingly formed and guided by the Spirit of the Lord. It is a living body, whose vitality is precisely the invisible divine Spirit.

Dear friends, this year Pentecost falls on the last day of the month of May on which the beautiful Marian Feast of the Visitation is usually celebrated. This fact invites us to let ourselves be inspired and taught by the Virgin Mary, who was a protagonist in both events. In Nazareth she received the annunciation of her singular maternity and, immediately after she conceived Jesus by the working of the Holy Spirit, was moved by the same Spirit of love to go to help her elderly relative Elizabeth, who was in the sixth month of a similarly miraculous pregnancy. The young Mary, who carried Jesus in her womb and, forgetting herself, goes to help her neighbor, is a stupendous icon of the Church in the perennial youth of the Spirit, of the missionary Church of the Incarnate Word, called to bring [this Word] to the world and to testify to him especially in the service of charity. We invoke the intercession of Mary Most Holy, that the Church in our time may be powerfully strengthened by the Holy Spirit. The comforting presence of the Holy Spirit is felt in a special way by the ecclesial communities that suffer persecution for Christ’s name, because, participating in his sufferings, they receive the Holy Spirit in the abundance of glory (cf. 1 Peter 4:13-14).

[After praying the Regina Caeli, the Holy Father said:]

In these days the youth of Abruzzo are gathering many people around the World Youth Day Cross. It was carried to their region by a group of volunteers sent by the San Lorenzo International Youth Center in Rome. In communion with that region, hard hit by the earthquake, we ask Christ dead and risen to pour put his Spirit of consolation and hope upon them. I extend my greeting to the young Italians who today, in the various dioceses, have come together to conclude, with their bishops, the third and final year of the “Agora dei Giovani.” I recall with joy the unforgettable events that marked this three year project: the meeting at Loreto, in September 2007 and the World Youth Day in Sydney last July. Dear young people of Italy, with the power of the Holy Spirit, be witnesses of the risen Lord!

[Translation by Joseph G. Trabbic] [The Pope greeted the pilgrims in various languages. In English, he said:]

I am pleased to welcome all the English-speaking pilgrims to today’s Regina Caeli. On this Pentecost Sunday, we rejoice in the Lord’s gift of the Holy Spirit. Saint Paul reminds us that if we live in the Spirit, we must also follow the Spirit by putting aside all conceit, anger, envy and everything that divides us (cfr Gal5,26). My dear friends, having received God’s precious gift, may you abound in his fruits of love, peace, patience, kindness and all that bears witness to the Kingdom of God in our midst! Praised be Jesus Christ!

© Copyright 2009 — Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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