Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Holy Spirit: Third Person of the Trinity

1) Someone recently sent me the link to the video that the Washington Times produced during the DC ‘Hood (basketball team of priests and seminarians of Washington) game at Verizon Center ’08. It is very well done! Many thanks to the Times, especially the videographer, Barbara Salisbury. Please check out the video by clicking on today's title.

2) Next DC ‘Hood game: Sun., Aug. 16, 4 pm vs. Sacred Heart, LaPlata, at Archbishop Neale school (104 Port Tobacco Road, La Plata, MD 20646). Go ‘Hood!!

3)Anon posted the following:

“I have a hard time understanding the Holy Spirit as the third “person” of the Trinity. I understand Jesus as fully God and fully man, but I’m fuzzy on my understanding of the Holy Spirit. In the Bible the Spirit comes as fire, wind, clouds, dove, etc. It conjures up the image if the Spirit being something akin to a force (reminds me of Star Wars). St. Paul calls us to be in fellowship and communion with the Holy Spirit, but I don’t quite know how to understand that happens.”

Thanks for your comment, Anon. The following article from catholic.com addresses your points in an excellent way:

Third Person of the Trinity
By James Akin

Jehovah's Witnesses deny that Christ is God. When they go door-knocking they're usually well-coached on how to discuss their views on this matter. That's why, when they knock on my door, I talk about something they're less prepared to discuss-the Personhood of the Holy Spirit.

You see, they also deny that the Holy Spirit is God. In fact, they deny that he is even a Person, claiming instead that he is "God's active force by which he accomplishes his purpose and executes his will" (Insight on the Scriptures, 2:1019). Official WatchTower publications even compare the Holy Spirit to impersonal forces such as radio waves (ibid., 2:1020).

But for someone who makes an unbiased reading of the Scriptures, references to the Holy Spirit's Personhood leap off the page. For example, Paul speaks of it being possible to grieve the Holy Spirit: "And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, in whom you were sealed for the day of redemption" (Eph. 4:30). Of course, it is not possible to offend or displease impersonal forces.

Paul speaks of the Holy Spirit as knowing the thoughts of God-indicating that the Spirit has an intellect: "For what person knows a man's thoughts except the spirit of the man which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God" (1 Cor. 2:11).

He also speaks of the Holy Spirit exercising the faculty of will, as in the distribution of spiritual gifts: "All these are inspired by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills" (1 Cor. 12:11).

Scripture also teaches that the Holy Spirit serves as a Paraclete (Greek parakletos) on our behalf. This term, often translated as "Comforter," "Counselor," "Advocate," or "Helper," refers to a person who is called or summoned to aid one, especially in legal settings, where he serves as an advisor, or advocate for the accused.

Jesus repeatedly speaks of the Holy Spirit as a Paraclete whom he will send to help us: "The Advocate [parakletos], the Holy Spirit that the Father will send in my name-he will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you" (John 14:26; cf. 15:26, 16:7-8).

A facet of the Greek text not obvious in translation is that in the three verses just mentioned (and others), Jesus applies the masculine pronoun ekeinos to the Holy Spirit. The personal character of a paraclete is further illustrated by the fact that Jesus also serves as our Paraclete before the Father: "My little children, I am writing this to you so that you may not sin; but if any one does sin, we have an Advocate [parakletos] with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous" (1 John 2:1)

There are also many passages in Scripture that refer to the Holy Spirit communicating with us-again, something an impersonal force cannot do. For example, when testifying before the Sanhedrin, the apostles refer to the Holy Spirit as their co-witness: "And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey him" (Acts 5:32). Later in Acts, Paul states that the Holy Spirit testifies: "The Holy Spirit testifies to me in every city that imprisonment and afflictions await me" (Acts 20:23).

This testimony sometimes came from the mouths of New Testament prophets who attributed the words directly to the Holy Spirit: "And coming to us he took Paul's girdle and bound his own feet and hands, and said, 'Thus says the Holy Spirit, "So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man who owns this girdle and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles"'" (Acts 21:11; cf. 1 Tim. 4:1). Note the formula "Thus says the Holy Spirit" is modeled on the frequent prophetic formula "Thus says the Lord"-indicating not only the Spirit's Personhood but also directly equating him with Yahweh.

Sometimes even the biblical books' narrative directly quotes the Holy Spirit. In Revelation we read, "And I heard a voice from heaven saying, 'Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord henceforth.' 'Blessed indeed,' says the Spirit, 'that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!'" (Rev. 14:13).

If it were objected that this quotation is found in a book of prophecy, which often uses figurative language, the topper is Acts 13:2:"While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, 'Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.'"

The doctrinal force of this passage is unavoidable. Here we have a direct quotation of the Holy Spirit-not in a prophetic book, not in the mouth of a prophet, not in a parable, not told by a character in a historical book. We have the Holy Spirit directly quoted by the narrative of a historical book-just like the other real persons who speak in the book. And the same thing happens in Acts 8:29 and 10:19.

Even if one tried to explain away all of Scripture's other personal references to the Holy Spirit as somehow being symbols or figures of speech, the direct quotation of an individual in the narrative of a historical book unmistakably shows that the individual in question is a real, literal person, not just a force or symbol.


At 1:47 PM, Anonymous mindy said...

The video was cool and my daughter was so excited she was in it. I'm not sure where she thiks this video will be seen, but she's calculated she has another 14 point something seconds of fame left.

Thanks for posting it.

At 2:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

“And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, in whom you were sealed for the day of redemption"

I wonder, what would be the signs that one had done so? I’ve also heard the term to “quench the Holy Spirit.” Wouldn’t that mean to kind of extinguish Him? That term perplexes me because doesn’t being “sealed” imply forever?

There were times when I felt alone (emotionally, physically, spiritually), and I wondered why in those difficult times, when I turned to Him, I felt so alone. I did wonder if I had offended God or actually extinguished Him from my life. I know that’s not true, but it took a while- and a lot of help.

At 2:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I’m sorry, but I’ve another question- how can one actually “grieve the Holy Spirit?” I can’t imagine the word "grieve" means that we make Him displeased, or wouldn’t that mean that man has some power over God’s happiness? God is Omniscient. He needs nothing, lacks nothing and is completely self-sufficient- or so I was taught. So, I don’t understand what grieve means here.

At 5:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have one more question- why is a Catholic “sealed” several times in different sacraments? We are marked at Baptism, again at Confirmation and, for some, for Holy Orders. I understood the word “sealed” to mean “marked”, kind of like a cattle being branded. God marks us as His own. So, while Graces are bestowed for each sacrament, why the need for “re-sealing?”

At 10:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What is the charismatic movement?

At 11:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry for all the posts on this, but this is a topic I haven't understood for some time and I'm grateful to be able to put all my ?'s out there. If even one gets answered, I'll be better for it.

I guess what is so challenging in understanding the Holy Spirit as the Third Person of the Trinity is because He is described in much more detail in impersonal ways- like being "poured out." So, I have wondered if the Holy Spirit is a person (not human being) or is He personified in a literary sense?

One homily, FM describe the Trinity like this-

The sun is God, the panes of glass through which the rays pass is Christ and the rays we feel on our skin are the Spirit.

That added to my confusion, for- again, the Spirit is described as a force of sorts- like a product of God's power and goodsness, but I guess this post is saying He's more like an agent of God's power.

At 12:24 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Neat video clip. I hope some kids watch it so they can see the fun you guys really have. On another note, my condolences on the picture that comes up when you click on the title of your post. That wouldn't by chance be the pic you'll choose to post next to the introduction of yourself on the "Who We Are" section of the Newman's Center's website, would it?!

God is good – he knows how to keep us humble and make us laugh, at ourselves! Way to go. I hope the 'DC 'Hood team continues to receive some media coverage to spread the good news of religious vocations.

At 12:39 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wasn't raised with a whole lot of deep religious theory, so my thinking is kind of simple, but, here it is. If God needs nothing, lacks nothing and is completely self-sufficient, why the whole Bible story? If God needs nothing, why did he make the earth, people, snow, rain, love, and the list goes on? Somehow I can't believe the whole Bible is for naught, that the Bible is just some big fancy story, with a history dating back some 2,000 years.

When you say God needs nothing, lacks nothing and is completely self sufficient, it seems like you're trying to define God – to confine him to something our human mind can understand. God really can't be defined. he simply is "…I am who am"…(Ex 3:14) – a hard concept to grasp, a concept that I'm not sure we can grasp in our finite life here on earth. God can go on without us, but, he'll keep trying and hoping to have us join him in his perfect state of love and peace. How long can he hang on doing this? Forever, another one of those open ended terms that is hard for us to understand. So, as I see it, God needs us - but he will survive if we turn our back to him. He'll simply keep on being the patient and loving God he is, waiting for us to join him and share in his peace.
I don't know if any of this helped clarify any of your questions, but, it helped me as I thought my responses through. Thanks!

At 8:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I’m having a hard time lately. I had been doing really well, then with each doctor added to my life and all these new courses of medicine- I feel less like me. Without going into detail, I was prescribed a low dose of an antidepressant. It was working well for me with one exception. My hormone cycle reacted to the drug and put my adrenal glands on hyper speed. For the past three months I’ve been in and out of the hospital with major episodes of panic disorder. After each episode, a new doctor was brought into the mix. After each doctor’s evaluation and course of action, I feel less and less like me. I went from being a high energy, kind of over-the-top person to someone else.

I’m staring to feel really awful. I don’t want to go to church. I haven’t been to Confession. My mind wanders during Adoration. It’s like my body and brain is so out of sync, and it’s as if this is supposed to be “normal.” If this is normal, I’d rather be my old self, even if that is a bit crazy.

I don’t even know what to pray about.

At 8:40 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm sory anom 8:34; if you would like to sit w/me @ Adoration I would love to pray with you. Health can be like a domino affect; but God is there and He adores us.

i sit to the right by the third pillar (i'm a creature of habit).
Why dont you meet me for Mass @ six 8/2/09. (you can find me in my Adoration spot - it actually started as my Mass spot :).

If i may i would like to share one of the kindest act of random kindness that occured this past Friday after Adoration. I rushed straigt from work to Adoration with nothing to eat (litterally) all day. Anyhows, i stayed a little after to pray and when i went to leave there was a "Bible" breakfast bar next to my keys.
... And the Holy Spirit urged an act of charity. thank you for showing me that prayer can be sung from actions. it means a lot to my heart.

PSS: thank you Fr. Greg for keeping this going.


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