Life in the Spirit
Recently, a blogger wrote, "At some point could you post something on the church's teaching regarding the Trinity. It was a discussion in one of Fr. Mike's classes, and I have a better understanding but still have a point of confusion. I understand that Catholics believe that the Father, the Son, and the Spirit are three divine persons who are one divine being (God). In school I remember being taught to pray to the Father through the Son and in the Holy Spirit. The 'in the Holy Spirit' part is something that causes me pause. I conceptually have a difficult time in understanding the Holy Spirit. I can understand the others, for those roles are familiar- Father and Son. It's something I often think about when making a sign of the cross."
We continue to put our seminarian, Jim, to work. He offers this:
"A quick answer is that the Holy Spirit is the love that flows between the Father and the Son, the love they have for each other. When we 'pray in the Holy Spirit,' we are participating in that same love.
St. Paul, in the letter to the Romans Chapter 8, says 'In the same way, the Spirit too comes to the aid of our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit itself intercedes with inexpressible groanings. And the one who searches hearts knows what is the intention of the Spirit, because that intercedes for the holy ones according to God's will.' The Catechism, at number 2736, states 'our Father knows what we need before we ask him, but he awaits our petition because the dignity of his children lies in their freedom. We must pray, then, with his Spirit of freedom, to be able truly to know what he wants.'
Praying in the Spirit in this context means letting the Spirit of God pray to the Father for us, and we join our hearts in that same prayer. Instead of directing the Father to supply our wants, we trust Him to supply our needs, what is truly good for us. And this is accomplished in praying in the Spirit."
Also, we just heard from St. Paul in yesterday's second reading (Gal 5:1, 13-18) about living in the Spirit. He opposes this with living according to the flesh, "for the flesh has desires against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; these are opposed to each other..." In basic terms, to live according to the flesh means to live for the things of this world only; to live in the Spirit is to live for the Kingdom of God. The Spirit not only helps us to pray properly, but also helps us to live out what we pray. We pray and live in the Spirit, and, thus, we enter into God's love.
How do we know if we are living in the Spirit or according to the flesh? In his letter to the Galatians, St. Paul helps us by laying out the works of the flesh as opposed to the fruits of the Spirit in chapter 5, verses 16 through 26.