The Holy Spirit is one of my favorite topics. Despite his huge significance, I think the Holy Spirit is often overlooked (reminder: you can't have a "Trinity" with only two persons) or misunderstood. By default, this also makes Pentecost one of my favorite liturgical seasons. The entire Church focuses on the beautiful gift that is the Holy Spirit, and we get to celebrate the profound ways in which he impacts the body of the faithful.
I think in some ways we have done ourselves a disservice by depicting the Holy Spirit as a cartoon dove with a tiny flame. Don't get me wrong ‐ there is much biblical significance behind all of the symbols of the Holy Spirit which I fully support (including the dove)! In fact, sections 694‐701 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church are dedicated to the explanation of these symbols.
However, I feel that in many people's experiences growing up, the way we learned about the Holy Spirit made him seem more like an afterthought of Jesus rather than the third person of the Holy Trinity. Yet in John chapters 14‐16, Jesus begins talking to his disciples about the Counselor, the Paraclete, his Advocate, the Spirit of Truth whom he will send after him.
He must have sounded like he was speaking in riddles. "Why is Jesus talking about leaving? Where is he going? Who is this counselor he's sending to us, and how will he know everything we are supposed to say? The parables were hard enough to understand, but now this?" On top of that, when the Holy Spirit did come, Scripture tells us it was "like the rush of a mighty wind, and it filled all the house" (Acts 2:2). The apostles then started speaking in different languages, astonishing multitudes of people, and thus began the mission of spreading of Christianity throughout the world. They began doing works that Jesus did and even "greater works than these" (John 14:12). How does one do greater works than Jesus himself? With God, of course.
More specifically God the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity. I don't know about you, but to me, that's no afterthought. And the Holy Spirit was not saved only for the apostles either. The most amazing, beautiful thing is that the Holy Spirit is still alive and at work today, constantly pouring out grace into our hearts, the Church.
Let me tell you something that I learned way too late in life: We are each called to a personal relationship with the Holy Spirit. Yes, that's right. We are not just called to a relationship with God the Father and God the Son, but God the Holy Spirit as well. If this is difficult for you, or you don't understand, or you're unsure how you feel about it, ask Our Lady to guide you and teach you. She was, after all, his spouse! You can't have one without the other.
There is way too much material on the Holy Spirit to do him justice in these blog posts, so I want to focus on the seven gifts of the Spirit from Isaiah 11:2‐3, as well as some practical tips on living life with the Spirit. Let us pray and ask Our Blessed Mother to open up our hearts. If we've never thought of the Holy Spirit much, if we just want to learn more, or even if we already have a love of him, let us ask for a greater openness and deepening of our relationship with him.
Other reading: Pope Leo XII ‐ Document on the Holy Spirit