Pentecost Sunday marks the end of the Easter Season and is also commemorated as the birthday of the Church. Jesus tells us that He will send His Spirit, who will bring His presence and love among and within us, individually and collectively, as His Church. But how do we explain who this Holy Spirit is?
One way that we could explain who the Holy Spirit is to look at His name. For example, the name Jesus means “God saves.” The archangel Gabriel explains to Mary that our Lord will be named Jesus because He will save us from our sins.
Similarly, when Moses meets God in the burning bush, God reveals His name, “I am who am.” God’s name tells us that He existed from all time. He is the uncreated one who always has been and always will be.
In the Scriptures, there are a variety of ways the Holy Spirit is referred to which can help our understanding of how the Holy Spirit works in our lives. I will briefly look at three.
The Holy Spirit is our Advocate. The Holy Spirit dwells within us and constantly works to defend us against anything that tries to demean our inherent dignity as Children of God. The Holy Spirit works to direct our actions in this world through our conscience, and counsels us to follow the law of the Lord. When we are unsure of the paths to take in this life, the Holy Spirit, our Advocate, will be there to help.
Another title for the Holy Spirit is the Comforter. Although we are certain to face sorrows during our life on earth, the Holy Spirit is here to console us. The greatest consolation the Holy Spirit provides is the truth of who we are and what we are called to be. The Holy Spirit comforts us not with the pleasures of the world, but rather with the truth. The truth that we are all called to something greater. We are called to holiness. God loves us and wants us to be saints and rejoice in His love for all eternity.
The Holy Spirit is also our Sanctifier. I would like to quote Bishop Edward Cullen’s 2017 reflection “Lord God Holy Spirit, Sanctifier” to describe this aspect of the Holy Spirit:
“Once we are fully knowledgeable about our Baptismal graces, we become convinced that one of the essential aspects of the Holy Spirit’s mission is becoming involved with the particulars of our life by personally fostering our sanctification. As Sanctifier, the Holy Spirit assists us as disciples of Christ to experience deeply in our soul the same divine guidance Jesus experienced in His human nature while living out his mission as our Savior. Since through Baptism the Holy Spirit actually dwells within our soul, we can say that God’s presence is, in a sense, portable, that is, the Holy Spirit is with us wherever we go. This indwelling presence enables us to be reminded continually of the Father’s love for us, just as the apostles were continuously reminded by Jesus of His Father’s caring love for them” (Ch. 1, p. 14-15).
There are so many ways to refer to the Holy Spirit, but this beautiful prayer of St. Augustine shows how all the actions of the Holy Spirit are designed for one important mission.
“Breathe into me, Holy Spirit, that my thoughts may all be holy. Move in me, Holy Spirit, that my work, too, may be holy. Attract my heart, Holy Spirit, that I may love only what is holy. Strengthen me, Holy Spirit, that I may defend all that is holy. Protect me Holy Spirit, that I may always be holy.”
By Father Stanley Moczydlowski, pastor of St. Elizabeth of Hungary, Whitehall.