The Holy Spirit at Work in the Church – Part 2

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Editor's Note: Today we resume with Fr. Mitch Pacwa's “The Holy Spirit at Work in the Church”.  Yesterday, in Part 1, Fr. Mitch identified 3 ways the Spirit is working in and through the Church for our good:  The Holy Spirit 1) makes us members of the Body of Christ, 2) enables us to recognize and accept the Trinity, and 3) leads the Church to all truth.  Read all of Part 1 here.

 

The role of the Holy Spirit continues in the Church in various ways, according to the New Testament.

4.)  The Holy Spirit bestows various gifts for the good of the whole Church and its mission to the world:

Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of working, but it is the same God who inspires them all in every one. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are inspired by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.”[1]

Keep in mind that this is not an exhaustive list of the gifts of the Holy Spirit!  St. Paul adds “helpers” and “administrators” to the list[2] in his letter to the Corinthians, and in another letter to the Romans, he includes service, teaching, exhortation, generosity and mercy,[3] and finally, to the Ephesians, he includes evangelists and pastors.[4] These gifts are not given for the sake of the recipient or to promote his or her career or status. Rather, the gifts are given to build up the Church and to promote evangelization.

5)  The Holy Spirit directs Christians in the development of their spiritual life. A hint of this appears in Zechariah, “I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of compassion and supplication, so that, when they look on me whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a first-born.”[5] Most translations say they will look on him whom they have pierced, but the Hebrew clearly says on me, referring to the Lord who is speaking this oracle. This verse is later quoted in John after the soldier had pierced Jesus’ side with his lance.[6]  The Holy Spirit is the one who gives compassion and prayer at the sight of God being pierced by a lance as he hangs dead on the cross, working in the interior life of the believer.

The New Testament also teaches that the Holy Spirit works inside the soul of the believer:  “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words.  And he who searches the hearts of men knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.”[7]  This indicates that the Holy Spirit works from the inside so as to direct a person to Jesus, and through Jesus, to the Father. The life of prayer is, therefore, not some technique or gimmick, but a relationship of love that the Holy Spirit directs from within the heart, mind and soul.

6)  The Spirit grows and develops virtue in the soul of the believer.  St. Paul describes the works of the flesh as “fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, anger, selfishness, dissension, party spirit, envy, drunkenness, carousing and the like[8]  And then he contrasts those with the fruits of the Spirit, “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.”[9]  Unlike the gifts which are given to serve the Church in various actions, the fruits of the Spirit grow slowly and ripen and sweeten over time. They may begin with an aromatic blossom at the discovering of such virtue, but the blossom falls away leaving a bitter green nub. Virtue may seem difficult to live, but one can trust that the Holy Spirit is giving the growth and development of these virtues over time deep within the soil of the soul. They acquire their sweetness over time, and those who continually turn to the Holy Spirit for help will find that the peace and joy of the virtues has turned them into a saint. At that point, one realizes that these changes depended more on God’s grace than one’s own effort.

Let us continually turn to the Holy Spirit to permit all of these six actions to stir within us, making us mature Christians for the greater glory of God.



[1] 1 Corinthians 12:4-11

[2] 1 Corinthians 12:28-29

[3] Romans 12:4-8

[4] Ephesians 4:11

[5] Zechariah 12:10

[6] John 19:37

[7] Romans 8:26-27

[8] Galatians 5:19-22

[9] Galatians 5:22-23

 
Fr. Mitch Pacwa, S.J.

About Fr. Mitch Pacwa, S.J.

Father Mitch Pacwa, S.J. is a respected Scripture Scholar, Author, and popular EWTN Television and Radio Host, as well as the founder and President of IGNATIUS PRODUCTIONS - a teaching and media apostolate. He received his B.A. in Philosophy and Theology from the University of Detroit, summa cum laude. He was ordained a Jesuit Catholic priest in 1976 with the Society of Jesus and then continued his studies. He received his Master of Divinity and S.T.B. from the Jesuit School of Theology of Loyola University, magna cum laude. At Vanderbilt University, he received his Master of Arts, Ph.D. in Old Testament. He has taught at the high school, university, and seminary levels. He has lectured at hundreds of conferences and churches around the world and is best known for his appearances on EWTN - The Global Catholic Television Network www.ewtn.com. He is fluent in twelve languages and has a unique understanding of the peoples and cultures of the Middle East and is respected for his knowledge on Islam and the Qur'an. Father Pacwa serves as Senior Fellow of the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology and has led thousands of pilgrims to holy sites around the world. He is also has the privilege of being bi-ritual, which means he can also celebrate the Maronite Mass of the Eastern Catholic Church.