Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The Linchpin

Photo Credit: Bill Barber via Compfight (cc)
Paraclete, Advocate, Comforter, Sustainer, Fire, Dove, Wind, Breath—all different words used to describe the Holy Spirit. I would like to propose another: the Linchpin.

There’s no coincidence that in the Creed we profess our faith in the Church right after we profess our faith in the Holy Spirit.

The Church is the body of Christ. Christ continues to act and minister through the Church.  When the Pope, the vicar of Christ speaks on matters of faith and morals, Christ is speaking through him.  How?

When we profess our faith in the Holy Spirit in the Creed, just after we profess our faith in Christ and before we profess our faith in the Church we are actually professing another important reality.  The Spirit is the linchpin—the piece that keeps the two distinct parts united as a single whole.

Another analogy for the mission of the Holy Spirit I heard in a homily on the Vine and Branches discourse in John’s Gospel: “I am the donut; you are the sprinkles. But sprinkles need something to make them stick to the donut. We’ll call that the icing of the Holy Spirit.” The Holy Spirit is literally the divine “glue” that keeps us grafted to the vine of Christ.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church makes clear that wherever the Son is so is the Spirit and vice versa:
When the Father sends his Word, he always sends his Breath. In their joint mission, the Son and the Holy Spirit are distinct but inseparable. To be sure, it is Christ who is seen, the visible image of the invisible God, but it is the Spirit who reveals him… this joint mission will be manifested in the children adopted by the Father in the Body of his Son: the mission of the Spirit of adoption is to unite them to Christ and make them live in him. (CCC 689, 690)

The Sacraments are one example of this truth. In every Sacrament the priest acts in persona Christi or in the “person of Christ.” How? By the work of the Holy Spirit. Every sacrament includes an epiclesis, a calling on the Holy Spirit (e.g. “Make holy, therefore, these gifts, we pray, by sending down your spirit upon them like the dewfall.” Eucharistic Prayer II).

We need to let the Spirit work.  If we don’t trust the work of the Spirit in the Church then it all falls apart.  Either the Church is guided by the Holy Spirit or it is not.  If we deny the Spirit working in Church we deny our connection to Christ.

What are some other ways you understand and know the Holy Spirit?

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