Friday, May 21, 2010
The Holy Spirit is "The Lord Giver of Life" as the Creed states. When we think of death, the Holy Spirit gives us light of life eternal. The Father sent his Son to save the world and the Son sent the Holy Spirit to sanctify the world. All graces are free gifts from God that come to us through the Holy Spirit. It is in Him that saints die to the self and the world. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God who urges us to repent and commit ourselves to God. This is why St. Augustine interpreted "blasphemy against the Holy Spirit" in the sense of stubbornly refusing to repent until the last moment of life. Death in light of the Holy Spirit is seen as only a transition to the fullness of life which is to see God "face to face." Who could see God face to face in this earthly life but Christ alone? Even Moses the great messenger of the Old Covenant was told by God "No one sees me and lives." Why Christ alone could see God? Because Christ is God, one with the Father who lives the fullness of love from eternity.
If God is Love, then he could not love himself in loneliness. From eternity, He must love another - His image, His Son. The Father loves the Son so much that he empties himself and gives his divinity unconditionally to the Son. The Son receives this love and in turn returns the divinity in self-emptying love to the Father. The dynamism that binds the Father and the Son in their eternal love is the Holy Spirit who is Love. In Karl Rahner and Joseph Ratzinger, God is not a person but a relatedness of persons (i.e. a relationship). It is impossible to comprehend God. But we can know God in our experience of love. The more we love others the more we love God and know Him. The Holy Spirit gives us the power to love unconditionally. Did not He say "Even if a mother forgets her infant, I will not forget you"? Augustine in the same vein says "Love and do what you will," because he deeply knew that true self-emptying love is the essence of God. He knew God. Knowledge never meant a mere literalist objective understanding, but also a subjective experience of the other.
Since today, May 22, is the feast of St. Rita of Cascia, it is good to recall that she was a mother and a wife who loved God, loved her unfaithful husband and her two sons in a beautiful way. When her husband was killed in a vendetta, she prayed that her sons never avenge the death of their father. In an extraordinary answer to prayer, God allowed her sons to die before committing an act of vengeance. Rita, a widow after 18 years of suffering, spent the rest of her life in a convent helping the sick. The Oxford Dictionary of Saints recounts "By constant prayer and mortification, accompanied by meditation on the Passion of Christ were so intense that a wound appeared in her forehead as though pierced by a crown of of thorns, she became a mystic" (The Oxford Dictionary of Saints, p. 371). An example of real martyrdom, Rita is credited with the intercession of many miracles after her death. Her incorrupt body remains in an elaborate tomb until this day. She is called "Saint of the Impossible Cases." This is an example of the gifts of the Holy Spirit greatly actualized in the lives of people when they cooperate with His will for the salvation of the world.