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The Spirit: dwelling in individuals

Catechesis by Pope John Paul II on the Holy Spirit
General Audience, Wednesday 20 March 1991 - in Italian & Spanish  

"1. In a preceding catechesis I announced that we would return to the topic of the Holy Spirit's presence and action in the soul. Based on theology and rich in spirituality, these themes exert a certain attraction and, one could say, a supernatural fascination for those who desire an interior life. They attract those who are docile and attentive to the voice of the one who dwells in them as in a temple and who enlightens them from within and sustains them on paths consistent with the Gospel. It was these people whom my predecessor Leo XIII had in mind when he wrote the Encyclical Divinum Illud on the Holy Spirit (May 9, l897) and later the letter Ad Fovendum on the devotion of the Christian people to the Spirit's divine Person (April 18, l902), establishing the celebration of a specific novena in his honor, especially aimed at obtaining the good of Christian unity ( ad maturandum Christianae unitatis bonum ). The Pope of Rerum Novarum was also the Pope of devotion to the Holy Spirit. He knew from what source it was necessary to draw the energy to bring about true good on the social level also. I wanted to call the attention of the Christians of our day to that same source with the Encyclical Dominum et Vivificantem (May 18, l986), and I shall now dedicate the concluding part of our pneumatological catechesis to it.

2. We can say that, on the basis of a Christian life characterized by interiority, prayer and union with God, there is a truth which—like all theology and pneumatological catechesis—derives from the texts of Sacred Scripture and especially from the words of Christ and the apostles: that of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit as a divine guest in the souls of the just.

The Apostle Paul asks in his First Letter to the Corinthians (3:16): "Do you not know that...the Spirit of God dwells in you?" Of course, the Holy Spirit is present and at work in the whole Church, as we have seen in preceding catecheses. But the concrete fulfillment of his presence and action comes about in relationship with the human person, with the soul of the just person in whom he establishes his dwelling and pours out the gift which Christ obtained through the redemption. The action of the Holy Spirit penetrates the depths of the person, the hearts of the faithful, and pours out upon them the light and grace which gives life. This is what we ask in the sequence of the Mass of Pentecost: "O most blessed light divine, shine within these hearts."

3. The Apostle Peter, in turn, in his discourse on Pentecost, after having urged his listeners to convert and be baptized, added the promise: "You will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit" (Acts 2:38). From this context we see that the promise personally concerns every person who converts and is baptized. Peter expressly addressed "each one" of those present (cf. 2:38). Later, when Simon the magician asked the apostles to give him the sacramental power, he said: "Give me this power, too, so that anyone upon whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit" (8:19). The gift of the Holy Spirit is understood as a gift given to individual persons. This same affirmation can be verified in the episode of the conversion of Cornelius and his household. While Peter was explaining the mystery of Christ to them, "the Holy Spirit fell upon all who were listening" (10:44). The apostle therefore recognized that "God gave them the same gift he gave to us" (11:17). According to Peter, the descent of the Holy Spirit signifies his presence in those to whom he communicates himself.

4. In regard to this presence of the Holy Spirit in the person, we must recall the successive ways in which we find the divine presence in salvation history. In the old covenant, God is present and manifests his presence first in the "tent" in the desert, then later in the "Holy of Holies" in the Temple in Jerusalem. In the new covenant, his presence is fulfilled in and identified with the Incarnation of the Word. God is present among people in his eternal Son through the human nature he assumed in unity of person with his divine nature. By this visible presence in Christ, God prepares a new presence through him, an invisible one that is fulfilled in the coming of the Holy Spirit.

Indeed, Christ's presence "in the midst" of people opens up the path for the presence of the Holy Spirit, which is an inner presence, a presence in human hearts. Thus Ezekiel's prophecy is fulfilled (36:26-27): "I will give you a new heart and place a new spirit within you.... I will put my spirit within you."

5. On the night before his departure from this world to return to the Father through his cross and ascension into heaven, Jesus himself announced the coming of the Holy Spirit to the apostles: "I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to be with you always, the Spirit of truth.... He will be in you" (Jn 14:16-17). But Christ himself said that this presence of the Holy Spirit, his indwelling in human hearts which also infers the indwelling of the Father and Son, has a condition, that of love: "Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him" (Jn 14:23).

The reference to the Father and the Son contained in Jesus' discourse includes the Holy Spirit. St. Paul and patristic and theological tradition attributes the trinitarian indwelling to the Spirit because he is the Person-Love, and besides, this inner presence is necessarily spiritual. The presence of the Father and Son comes about through love, and therefore in the Holy Spirit. It is in the Holy Spirit that God, in his trinitarian unity, communicates himself to the spirit of each person.

St. Thomas Aquinas says that it is only in the spirit of the human person (and of an angel) that this manner of divine presence is possible (through indwelling) because only a rational creature is capable of being raised to knowledge, conscious love and enjoyment of God as an inner guest. This takes place through the Holy Spirit, who, therefore, is the first and most basic gift (Summa Theol., I, q. 38, a. 1).

6. Through this indwelling, however, people become "temples of God" (of the triune God) because it is "the Spirit of God [who] dwells in" them, as the Apostle reminds the Corinthians (1 Cor 3:16). God is holy and makes holy. Paul points out shortly after this: "Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God?" (1 Cor 6:19). Therefore the indwelling of the Holy Spirit implies a particular consecration of the whole human person (whose bodily dimension Paul emphasizes) similar to a temple. This consecration is sanctifying. It is the very essence of the saving grace through which the person is able to participate in God's trinitarian life. Thus an internal source of holiness opens up within the person, from which comes life "according to the Spirit," as Paul says in the Letter to the Romans (8:9): "You are not in the flesh; on the contrary, you are in the Spirit, if only the Spirit of God dwells in you." Here is the basis for the hope of bodily resurrection because "if the Spirit of the one who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, the one who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also, through his Spirit that dwells in you" (Rom 8:11).

7. We must take note that the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, who sanctifies the entire person, body and soul, bestows a greater dignity on the human person. It gives new value to interpersonal relations, bodily ones too, as St. Paul notes in the text we quoted from the First Letter to the Corinthians (6:19).

Therefore, through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, the Christian is placed in a particular relationship with God, which also extends to all interpersonal relationships, in the family and in society too. When the Apostle says "not to grieve the Holy Spirit" (Eph 4:30), he is speaking on the basis of this revealed truth: the personal presence of an interior guest who can be "grieved" by sin—by every sin—because sin is always contrary to love. He himself, as the Person-Love dwelling in the human being, creates in the soul an inner demand to live in love. St. Paul suggests this when he writes to the Romans that "the love of God" (that is, the powerful stream of love which comes from God) "has been poured into your hearts by the power of the Holy Spirit who has been given to us" (Rom 5:5).

After the Catechesis, Papa Giovanni Paolo II greeted the pilgrims in various languages

Ai fedeli di lingua tedesca

Liebe Schwestern und Brüder!

Mit dieser kurzen Betrachtung grüße ich alle deutschsprachigen Pilger und Besucher sehr herzlich. Ein besonderer Willkommensgruß gilt dem Männerchor ”Chorsänger 1791“ aus der Pfarrei Geinsheim sowie der Blasmusikkapelle der Pfarreien Kreuzerhöhung in Pamhagen und St. Matthäus in Wallern. Mögen die Tage Eures Aufenthaltes in Rom Euch auch Hilfe sein zu einem tieferen Verständer der geheimnisvollen Kraft des Heiligen Geistes und Euch hinführen zur fruchtbaren Mitfeier der bevorstehenden Tage von Leiden, Tod und Auferstehung unseres Herrn.

Dazu erteile ich Euch, Euren lieben Angehörigen daheim sowie allen Gläbigen, die uns über Ründfunk und Fernsehen verbunden sind, von Herzen meinen Apostolischen Segen.

Ai fedeli di lingua francese

Chers Frères et Sœurs,

Je salue cordialement les personnes de langue française présentes ce matin. En particulier j’adresse mes encouragements aux élèves de l’Institution Madeleine Daniélou à Rueil-Malmaison, et aux autres jeunes venus à Rome à l’approche de Pâques. Que l’Esprit fortifie votre fidélité au Christ Sauveur dans son Eglise!

Je vous bénis de tout cœur.

Ai pellegrini di espressione inglese

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

My cordial greeting goes to all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present at today’s Audience. As Lent draws to its close and the Church prepares to celebrate Christ’s Passion, Death and Resurrection, I pray that you will experience ever more deeply the power of God’s forgiveness and love. Upon you and your dear ones I willingly invoke God’s abundant blessings of grace and peace.

Ad un gruppo di ammalati venuti dal Giappone e dalla Corea

Sia lodato Gesù Cristo!

Saluto il gruppo di pellegrini ammalati che provengono congiuntamente dal Giappone e dalla Corea. È imminente ormai la solennità della Pasqua. Noi sappiamo che, per giungere alla sua Pasqua, Gesù ha percorso la “via della Croce”. Anche voi, con la vostra sofferenza, siete in cammino dietro a Gesù e aspirate alla gioia della risurrezione con Lui. Egli sia la vostra forza e la vostra speranza.

Desidero, inoltre, manifestare il mio apprezzamento per l’impegno che il vostro gruppo sta realizzando tra il Giappone e la Corea nel settore ecumenico.

Augurando a tutti voi una santa Pasqua nel Signore, vi benedico di cuore.

Sia lodato Gesù Cristo!

Ai fedeli di lingua spagnola

Amadísimos hermanos y hermanas,

Presento ahora mi afectuoso saludo a todos los peregrinos y visitantes de lengua española. En particular, a las Hermanas Hospitalarias del Sagrado Corazón de Jesús, que realizan en Roma un curso de renovación.

Mi cordial bienvenida a todos los grupos de jóvenes aquí presentes, a quienes aliento a prepararse adecuadamente para la celebración de la gran fiesta de nuestra fe: la resurrección de Nuestro Señor Jesucristo.

A todas las personas, familias y grupos procedentes de los diversos Países de América Latina y de España imparto de corazón la Bendición Apostólica.

Ai fedeli venuti dalla Polonia

Wtym czasie wielkopostnym, w okresie rekolekcyjnym stajemy przed Tobą, Pani Jasnogórska, biorąc do ręki tekst o pokucie i pojednaniu, owoc Synodu, “Reconciliatio et Paenitentia”. Niech nam pomaga w rachunku sumienia, w żalu za grzechy, w mocnym postanowieniu poprawy, w spowiedzi, w zadośćuczynieniu.

Oto tekst: “Kościół, gdy mówi c sytuacjach grzechu lub gdy piętnuje jako grzechy społeczne pewne sytuacje czy pewne zachowania zbiorowe poszczególnych grup społecznych (większych lub mniejszych - także całych narodów i bloków narodów), wie i głosi, że takie wypadki grzechu społecznego sa jednocześnie owocem, nagromadzeniem i zbiorem wielu grzechów osobistych. Chodzi o grzechy najbardziej osobiste: tego, kto powoduje lub popiera nieprawość albo też czerpie z niej korzyści; tego, kto mogąc coś uczynić dla uniknięcia, usunięcia czy przynajmniej ograniczenia pewnych form zła społecznego, nie czyni tego z lenistwa, z lęku czy też w wyniku zmowy milczenia lub zamaskowanego udziału w złu, albo z obojętności; tego, kto zasłania się twierdzeniem o niemożności zmiany świata; i również tego, kto usiłuje wymówić się od trudu czy ofiary, podając różne racje.  . . .

Na dnie każdej sytuacji grzechu znajdują się zawsze osoby, które grzech popełniają”.

Jest to długi cytat. Brzemienny treścią. Również naszą rodzinną treścią polskiej przeszłości, a zarazem dnia dzisiejszego.

Nie trzeba jednak uciekać od tych słów. Nie można chować głowy w piasek. Nie można zamykać przed nimi żadnego sumienia. Nie można tego nie przypominać wszystkim - jako społeczeństwu. Chodzi o właściwe znaczenie “grzechu społecznego”.

Niech dopełni tego jeden jeszcze cytat: “Mówiąc o grzechu społecznym trzeba przede wszystkim uznać to, iż ze względu na ludzką solidarność . . . grzech każdego człowieka w jakiś sposób dotyka innych. Jest to drugie oblicze owej solidarności, która  . . . rozwija się w . . . tajemnicy wspólnoty świętych . . ., dzięki której "każda dusza, która się podnosi, dźwiga świat". Temu prawu wstępowania odpowiada, niestety, prawo zstępowania”.

Pani Jasnogórska! Prosimy Cię, aby ten wielkopostny czas dał zdecydowany początek prawu wstępowania w nas samych, w naszych wspólnotach. W naszym narodzie. A nie na odwrót.

Pozdrawiam następujące grupy: pielgrzymkę nauczycieli i uczniów XV Liceum Ogólnokształcącego w Krakowie; pielgrzymów z parafii św. Marcina z Radziechowej; pielgrzymkę z archidiecezji krakowskiej; pielgrzymkę byłych więźniów obozów koncentracyjnych w Ravensbrück, Mauthausen i Oświęcimiu; pielgrzymkę z dekanatu Głuchołazy w diecezji opolskiej; Caritas z Gniezna; studentów II i III roku Architektury Politechniki Krakowskiej; grupę Almabus z Wrocławia; grupę Impuls - Sport z Wrocławia; grupę Sigma-Travel z Warszawy; grupę PTTK z Krakowa; innych pielgrzymów indywidualnych z kraju czy z emigracji nie objętych tymi grupami oraz zespół muzyczny “Rodzinny Kwartet Smyczkowy Christopher” ze Stanów Zjednoczonych.

Ai vari gruppi di fedeli presenti nell’Aula Paolo VI

Il mio saluto va ora ai pellegrini di lingua italiana, e anzitutto alle educatrici, agli alunni e ai familiari dell’Istituto Maestre Pie Filippini di Montefiascone, in diocesi di Viterbo, i quali sono accompagnati dal loro Vescovo, Monsignor Fiorino Tagliaferri. Esprimo il mio apprezzamento per l’opera educativa di codesta comunità, nata dalla premurosa iniziativa del Cardinale Marco Antonio Barbarigo. Vi esorto a continuare nella via tracciata da quel grande educatore, i cui insegnamenti rimangono tuttora validi nel campo dell’educazione della gioventù.

Saluto, poi, i giovani provenienti da vari Paesi in via di sviluppo, i quali, su iniziativa del Ministero per gli Affari Esteri d’Italia, frequentano un corso di programmazione per dirigenti e docenti di istituti per la formazione professionale. A tutti il mio augurio per un proficuo soggiorno a Roma e per un generoso e valido servizio, poi, nei rispettivi Paesi.

Ringrazio il direttore e i membri del coro “Abete rosso” di Bedollo di Piné, in diocesi di Trento, per la loro partecipazione a questo incontro ed il loro canto, mentre li invito tutti a lodare il Signore in letizia, cantando le lodi di Dio secondo le antiche e nobili tradizioni del Trentino.

Il mio pensiero va poi ai fedeli della Parrocchia Maria Santissima del Rosario di Cinquevie, in diocesi di Nola. Mi compiaccio con loro per l’impegno nel sostenere l’opera della Chiesa Missionaria in Oriente; li incoraggio in ogni loro iniziativa per la promozione della nuova evangelizzazione.

Ai giovani, agli ammalati e agli sposi novelli

Come di consueto, saluto voi, carissimi Giovani, Ammalati e Sposi novelli.

Siamo quasi giunti, dopo l’impegnativo itinerario quaresimale, ai piedi del Golgota, dove si compie il mistero della redenzione, il dramma della Croce, che riconcilia cielo e terra. Non abbiate timore, amatissimi giovani, di seguire Gesù sino al momento supremo del suo sacrificio redentore: solo lì potrete trovare il vero senso dell’esistenza, la realizzazione che state cercando; e voi, cari ammalati, come Gesù sulla croce, potete offrire le vostre sofferenze per la salvezza del mondo; infine, voi, sposi novelli, siate segno vivo della fedeltà e dell’amore infinito di Dio che comporta anche la rinuncia quando si ama veramente.

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