WHAT IS THE HOLY SPIRIT?

This Sunday, is the Feast of Pentecost, the Christian festival celebrating the descent of the Holy Spirit on the disciples of Jesus after his Ascension, celebrated on the seventh Sunday after Easter. It is also the Jewish festival called Shavuoth. We celebrate this feast not only to remember what happened at Pentecost, but to remind us that the Spirit has fallen on each of us baptized in the Church and like the apostles we too, are meant to go out and change the world. This feast is personal to me, because I was professed a Secular Franciscan and by that profession I am attempting to live out that Pentecostal call through my vocation and the roles I continue to take on in and out of the Church. But, I think it’s personal to each individual and everyone lives out that call in their own special way because, the Spirit connects us to our creator and showers us with different spiritual gifts making us unique as St. Paul describes in 1 Corinthians 12:1,4-6

 Now about the gifts of the Spirit, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed. There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.

gifts

We can see these different gifts at work all around us. You may have noticed that you are strong in one area and weak in another. You may even notice that someone else has a gift you don’t think you have. This is because, we each have something special and those special gifts are meant to be shared. If we all had the same gifts at the same time we wouldn’t need each other as much and life would be boring.

I do believe that we are given all 7 gifts of the Holy Spirit even though it doesn’t seem like it and some are stronger and some and weaker, depending on what we need at the time in our lives. I think this because, at my pentecostal profession, I was immediately submerged into a leadership role and began exuding gifts I didn’t realize I had before. That additional anointing of the Holy Spirit helped strengthened in me the gifts that I needed to carry out my role. Scripture eludes to this with King David, he was anointed as a child by Samuel to be the future king. His gifts helped prepare him and position him. Years later his elders anointed him again as king of all of Israel. To rule affectively  he needed certain gifts strengthened. You may be thinking to yourself, but Dawn he was anointed and the Holy Spirit, the Advocate, did not come yet, so how did the spirit work? That is a good question and I’m not sure I have the answer but, scripture tells us the Holy Spirit was in John the Baptist when he was in the womb, the Holy Spirit came to Mary at the Annunciation and it is found in some other Old Testament writings, suggesting to me, that since Jesus was with God from the beginning of time, He could send His spirit down to prepare for Jesus arrival but, after Jesus Ascension the Spirit is attached with an unseen anointing to complete Jesus’ mission making Pentecost more powerful. At least that is the interpretation of Dawn Rusinko. Understanding the Spirit as an anointing can be difficult and I thought this quote from The Catechism of the Catholic Church might help,

 Jesus is Christ, “anointed,” because the spirit is his anointing, and everything that occurs from the incarnation on derives from this fullness. When Christ is finally glorified, he can in turn send the Spirit from his place with the Father to those who believe in him: he communicates to them his glory, that is, the Holy Spirit who glorifies him. From that time on, 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:

The notion of anointing suggests…that there is no distance between the Son and the Spirit. Indeed, just as between the surface of the body and the anointing with oil neither reason nor sensation recognizes any intermediary, so the contact of the Son with the Spirit is immediate, so that anyone who would make contact with the Son by faith must first encounter the oil by contact. In fact there is no part that is not covered by the Holy Spirit. That is why the confession of the Son’s Lordship is made in the Holy Spirit by those who receive him, the Spirit coming from all sides to those who approach the Son in faith. [1]

anointing

This explains how and why the anointing works. It unites us and gives us life in Jesus and happens immediately covering us entirely with his anointing. If you really think about it, Jesus was anointed king and Lord which makes us a  part of his Lord/kingship so we are essentially baptized into royalty. When I am feeling down and in spiritual dryness, I imagine that I am wearing that invisible crown of royalty united to Him and His promises and my spirits are always lifted.

The Holy Spirit in the Hebrew language is defined: Neshamah meaning wind, spirit. Its translation into English is Ruach, meaning spirit and both words are equivalent to each other. This spirit is associated with breath and there are about 31 scripture verses that reference the breath of God. I will not list them all ( I can hear you sigh with relief) I will remind you though of Genesis where God creates all of the earth and life with his breath and in Ezekial 37:4-14 where breath gives life to dead bones.

holy-spirit-best-best

Rob Bell gives further insight into the power of God’s breath by the very definition of God’s name. On Mount Sinai God tells Moses His name is LORD, spelled with all capitals and mentioned in the scriptures 6,000 times. In Hebrew the name is four letters Y, H, V, H pronounced: “Yod, Heh, Vav, Heh.” Some pronounced it ‘Yahweh’ or ‘Yahveh,’ but in many traditions the name is considered so sacred and holy they don’t pronounce it at all. Ancient rabbis believed that these letters function as vowels in the Hebrew language and are a form of breathing sounds and unpronounceable. This traditional belief and custom makes a clear visual understanding of the connection between the breath of God and its all-powerful, transforming abilities and uniting them into us. This helps to understand the Trinity better.

On retreat, I was given this picture of a rare statue of the Annunciation. The angel Gabriel is breathing the breath of God into Mary creating the life of Jesus in her womb. This is one of my favorite pictures of the Annunciation and it expresses the Hebrew understanding of God’s spirit in the breath. It makes you think about the air we breath a little differently doesn’t it?

 

photo

I recently  found this picture with the similar concept by Fra angelico tempera on wood c.1432 museo diocesano, cortona

photo

 

In conclusion, this Feast Day means, that the baptized of the Church are to extend the mission of God. We are equipped and Jesus prepared us as disciples to bring the kingdom of God to all corners of the earth. We are not to leave our families and go on a crusade to become saints by being martyred although some may have that calling. Most of us are marked to be saints by breathing that Spirit of God like the angel Gabriel on our families, our co-workers, and leaders in governments, the poor, the sick and the widowed. In John 14:12 Jesus says,

 “I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father.

Pope Francis recently explained that Jesus goes to the Father with his wounds to remind Him of the price He paid for us, then God generously showers down the life force of the Holy Spirit to give us all that we need.  Sunday ask for another anointing of the Holy Spirit for your mission ahead of you. Refuel, recharge and renew those gifts and fan the flame.

For those of you interested in a Pentecostal Rally and Retreat Day with Bishop David M O’Connell, C.M., Fr. Bill Halbing, Fr. Jeff Kegley, Bob Bursley and many others on Saturday June 7th, there is still time http://www.dotccr.org/aimages/CR.pdf

fire and holy spirit

 

[1] Catechism of the Catholic Church, United States of America 1994, The Profession of Faith 1.THE JOINT MISSION OF THE SON AND THE SPIRIT 690

 

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4 Comments

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  1. Dorothy O'Reilly June 9, 2014 — 3:19 AM

    Congratulations, Dawn on your anniversary as a Secular Franciscan! Pax et bonum!

    Like

  2. Donata Cusano June 9, 2014 — 5:34 AM

    Dawn, congratulations on the birth of your granddaughter! I did not know until today. What a blessing!

    Like

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