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"I believe in the Holy Spirit"

Catechesis by Pope John Paul II on the Holy Spirit
General Audience, Wednesday 26 April 1989 - in Italian & Spanish  

"1. "I believe in the Holy Spirit".

In our reflections on the Apostles' Creed, we now pass from the articles which concern Jesus Christ, the Son of God made man for our salvation, to the article in which we profess our faith in the Holy Spirit. The Christological cycle is followed by that which is called pneumatological. The Apostles' Creed expresses this concisely in the words: "I believe in the Holy Spirit."

The Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed develops this at greater length: "I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son. With the Father and the Son he is worshipped and glorified. He has spoken through the prophets."

2. The Creed, the profession of faith formulated by the Church, refers us back to the biblical sources where the truth about the Holy Spirit is presented in the context of the revelation of the Triune God. The Church's pneumatology is based on Sacred Scripture, especially on the New Testament, although to a certain extent the Old Testament foreshadows it.

The first source to which we can turn is a text from John's Gospel in Christ's farewell discourse to his disciples on the day before his passion and death on the cross. Jesus speaks of the coming of the Holy Spirit in connection with his own "departure," by announcing the coming (or descent) of the Spirit upon the apostles. "I tell you the truth; it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you" (Jn 16:7).

The content of this text may appear paradoxical. Jesus, who makes a point of emphasizing "I tell you the truth," presents his own "departure" (and therefore his passion and death on the cross) as an advantage: "It is to your advantage...." However, he explains immediately what the value of his death consists in. Since it is a redemptive death, it is the condition for the fulfillment of God's salvific plan which will be crowned by the coming of the Holy Spirit. It is therefore the condition of all that this coming will bring about for the apostles and for the future Church, as people will receive new life through the reception of the Spirit. The coming of the Spirit and all that will result therefrom in the world will be the fruit of Christ's redemption.

3. If Jesus' departure takes place through his death on the cross, one can understand how the evangelist John can already see in this death the power and glory of the crucified. However, Jesus' words also imply the ascension to the Father as the definitive departure (cf. Jn 16:10), according to what we read in the Acts of the Apostles: "Being exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit" (Acts 2:33).

The descent of the Holy Spirit occurred after the ascension into heaven. It is then that Christ's passion and redemptive death produce their full fruit. Jesus Christ, Son of Man, at the climax of his messianic mission, received the Holy Spirit from the Father, in the fullness in which this Spirit is to be given to the apostles and to the Church throughout all ages. Jesus foretold: "I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself" (Jn 12:32). This clearly indicates the universality of redemption both in the extensive sense of salvation for all humanity, and in the intensive sense of the totality of graces offered to the redeemed.

But this universal redemption must be realised by means of the Holy Spirit.

4. The Holy Spirit is he who comes as a result and by virtue of Christ's departure. The words of John 16:7 express a causal relationship. The Spirit is sent by virtue of the redemption effected by Christ: "If I go, I will send him to you" (cf. DV 8). Indeed, "according to the divine plan, Christ's 'departure' is an indispensable condition for the 'sending' and the coming of the Holy Spirit, but these words also say that what begins now is the new salvific self-giving of God, in the Holy Spirit" (DV 11).

Through his "elevation" on the cross, Jesus Christ will "draw all people to himself" (cf. Jn 12:32). In the light of the words spoken at the Last Supper we understand that that "drawing" is effected by the glorified Christ through the sending of the Holy Spirit. It is for this reason that Christ must go away. The Incarnation achieves its redemptive efficacy through the Holy Spirit. By departing from this world, Christ not only leaves his salvific message, but gives the Holy Spirit, and to that is linked the efficacy of the message and of redemption itself in all its fullness.

5. The Holy Spirit, as presented by Jesus especially in his farewell discourse in the upper room, is evidently a Person distinct from himself: "I will pray the Father, and he will give you another Counselor" (Jn 14:6). "But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you" (Jn 14:26). In speaking of the Holy Spirit, Jesus frequently uses the personal pronoun "he." "He will bear witness to me" (Jn 15:26). "He will convince the world of sin" (Jn 16:8). "When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth" (Jn 16:13). "He will glorify me" (Jn 16:14). From these texts it is evident that the Holy Spirit is a Person, and not merely an impersonal power issuing from Christ (cf. e.g., Lk 6:19: "Power came forth from him..."). As a Person, he has his own proper activity of a personal character. When speaking of the Holy Spirit, Jesus said to the apostles: "You know him, for he dwells in you, and will be in you" (Jn 14:7). "He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you" (Jn 14:26). "He will bear witness to me" (Jn 15:26). "He will guide you into all the truth." "Whatever he hears he will speak" (Jn 16:13). He "will glorify" Christ (cf. Jn 16:14), and "he will convince the world of sin" (Jn 16:8). The Apostle Paul, on his part, states that the Spirit "cries in our hearts" (Gal 4:6); "he apportions" his gifts "to each one individually as he wills" (1 Cor 12:11); "he intercedes for the saints" (Rom 8:27).

6. The Holy Spirit revealed by Jesus is therefore a personal being (the third Person of the Trinity) with his own personal activity. However, in the same farewell discourse, Jesus showed the bonds that unite the person of the Holy Spirit with the Father and the Son. He announced the descent of the Holy Spirit, and at the same time the definitive revelation of God as a Trinity of Persons.

Jesus told the apostles: "I will pray the Father, and he will give you another Counselor" (Jn 14:16), "the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father" (Jn 15:26), "whom the Father will send in my name" (Jn 14:26). The Holy Spirit is therefore a Person distinct from the Father and from the Son and, at the same time, intimately united with them. "He proceeds" from the Father, the Father "sends" him in the name of the Son and this is in consideration of the redemption effected by the Son through his self-offering on the cross. Therefore, Jesus Christ said: "If I go, I will send him to you" (Jn 16:7). "The Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father" is announced by Christ as the Counselor, whom "I shall send to you from the Father" (Jn 15:26).

7. John's text which narrates Jesus' discourse in the upper room contains the revelation of the salvific action of God as Trinity. I wrote in the encyclical Dominum et Vivificantem: "The Holy Spirit, being consubstantial with the Father and the Son in divinity, is love and uncreated gift from which derives as from its source (fons vivus) all giving of gifts vis-Ã -vis creatures (created gifts): the gift of existence to all things, through creation; the gift of grace to human beings through the whole economy of salvation" (n. 10).

The Holy Spirit reveals the depths of the divinity: the mystery of the Trinity in which the divine Persons subsist, but open to human beings to grant them life and salvation. St. Paul refers to that when he writes in the First Letter to the Corinthians that "the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God" (1 Cor 2:10).


After the Catechesis, Pope John Paul II greeted the pilgrims in various languages

Ai fedeli di lingua francese

Chers Frères et Sœurs,

J’ACCUEILLE CORDIALEMENT les pèlerins et les visiteurs de langue française venus à cette audience, en particulier les Oblats de Marie-Immaculée et les Frères des Ecoles chrétiennes, en session d’études à Rome. Chers Frères, dans quelques jours, j’aurai la joie de proclamer Bienheureux un fils spirituel de Saint Jean-Baptiste de La Salle: le Frère Scubilion. Puissiez-vous être des témoins du Christ, à son exemple!

* * *

JE SALUE également les membres de l’Association des Anciens Combattants du Corps expéditionnaire français en Italie ainsi que les personnes qui les accompagnent.

* * *

ENFIN, J’ADRESSE mes salutations cordiales à l’ensemble de flûtes à bec du Collège Romain-Rolland d’Erstein et je remercie les jeunes artistes de leur participation à cette audience.

Je voudrais recommander à vos prières mon prochain voyage pastoral africain, notamment mes étapes dans les pays francophones de Madagascar et de La Réunion, et je vous donne de grand cœur ma Bénédiction Apostolique.

Ai numerosi pellegrini di lingua inglese

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

IT AM PLEASED to greet those taking part in the Sixth International Seminar for the Catholic Chaplains of Civil Aviation, which is being held in Rome this week. Your pastoral care extends to the countless people of varied backgrounds who work in the world’s air terminals or use them as passengers. I encourage you in your efforts to promote human and Christian values in environments that can often appear unfamiliar and impersonal. May these days of reflection and prayer strengthen you in your resolve to bring Christ’s presence to all whom you serve.

* * *

I ALSO EXTEND a warm welcome to the Executive Board of the World Alliance of Young Men’s Christian Associations, who are visiting Rome this week. To the choirs from Sweden, Wales and the United States, to the group from Korea, and to all English-speaking visitors and pilgrims, I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing.

Ad un gruppo di non vedenti provenienti da varie regioni del Giappone

Sia lodato Gesù Cristo!

MI RIVOLGO ORA al gruppo di non vedenti che provengono da ogni parte del Giappone.

Domenica scorsa ho beatificato due sacerdoti martirizzati a Nagasaki. Come loro, anche voi, carissimi, potete offrire le vostre croci per amore di Dio e del prossimo.

Con questo augurio vi benedico di cuore.

Sia lodato Gesù Cristo.

Ai gruppi di lingua tedesca

Liebe Schwestern und Brüder!

MIT DIESEN AUSFÜHRUNGEN grüße ich alle Pilger und Besucher deutscher Sprache. Euch allen, Euren Angehörigen zuhause, besonders den Kranken und Kindern, sowie allen Hörerinnen und Hörern, die über Radio Vatikan mit uns verbunden sind, erteile ich von Herzen meinen Apostolischen Segen.

Ai pellegrini provenienti da aree di espressione spagnola

Amadísimos hermanos y hermanas,

DESEO AHORA dar mi más cordial bienvenida a esta audiencia a todas las personas, familias y grupos de lengua española. En particular, a la peregrinación de la parroquia de la Inmaculada, de La Carolina (Jaén), junto con los miembros de la Hermandad de San Juan de la Cruz.

A todos los peregrinos y visitantes provenientes de los diversos países de América Latina y de España imparto con afecto la Bendición Apostólica.

Ad alcuni gruppi di pellegrini di lingua portoghese

Caríssimos irmãos e irmãs de língua portuguesa,

SAÚDO CORDIALMENTE os presentes e ouvintes de língua portuguesa, com votos de todo o bem e de que Deus lhes conceda, como fruto da Páscoa de Cristo, a abundância dos dons do Espírito Santo!

Ai giovani studenti di Smolensk

RIVOLGO UN CORDIALE saluto a degli studenti di Smolensk. Dio benedica voi, le vostre famiglie e la vostra Patria.

Ai suoi connazionali polacchi:

POZDRAWlAM PlELGRZYMÓW Z Polski: Księży Biskupów z Radomia, z Siedlec i z Poznania. Pozdrawiam pielgrzymów z parafii św. Floriana z Krakowa; z parafii św Stanisława Kostki z Krakowa-Dębnik; z parafii św. Józefa z Warszawy-Ursusa; z parafii św. Stefana - również z Warzawy; siostry nazaretanki z Warszawy; pielgrzymkę z Gołąbekkoło Warszawy; pielgrzymów z parafii Niepokalanego Poczęcia Matki Boskiej z Rawy Mazowieckiej; pielgrzymów Komisji Episkopatu Polski do spraw Rodzin; z parafii Chrystusa Odkupiciela człowieka z Bielska-Białej; z parafii Matki Bożej Królowej Polski z Częstochowy-Blachowni; pielgrzymkę duszpasterstwa więźniów Maidanka; pielgrzymke przyiaciół sióstr nazaretanek z Elbląga, Gdańska i okolic; drugą pielgrzymkę z Gdańska; pielgrzymów z parafii św. Stanisława Biskupa i Meczennika w Rydzynie, w archidiecezji poznańskiej; z parafii Chrystusa Króla w Toruniu: grupę Almatur z Krakowa, ze statku “Estonia”; polską Orkiestrę Symfoniczną “Warmia”; oraz uczestników grup turystycznych, w szczególności Orbisu.

“Niech zstąpi Duch Twój i odnowi ziemię!”

W dniu dzisiejszym rozpoczęlismy cykl katechez o Duchu Swiętym.

Zwracając się do was, drodzy pielgrzymi z Polski, przypominam słowa, które wypowiedziałem w czasie pierwszej pielgrzymki do Ojczyzny w 1979 roku w Warszawie, na placu Zwycięstwa.

“Niech zstąpi Duch Twój i odnowi ziemię: tę ziemię”.

Wraz z Matką Jasnogórską i Swiętymi Patronami Polski: Stanisławem i Wojciechem, których uroczystości Kościół w Polsce w tym czasie obchodzi, powtarzam znów to wołanie do Ducha Swiętego o odnowę ziemi: o odnowę narodu, który żyie na naszej polskiej ziemi.

Niech te pierwsze kroki, które zostały podjęte - i przyęte - “zastaną nas czuwającymi” (jak kiedyś Pan Jezus powiedział w przypowieści).

Wszystkim potrzeba odwagi i roztropności.

Wiele okoliczności pracówało na to, aby społeczeństwo, zwłaszcza młode pokolenie, uległy zwątpieniu. Aby przestały widzieć dla siebie przyszłość na ojczystej ziemi.

Razem z wszystkimi modlę się o przezwycięzenie polskiçh kryzysów: moralnych i ekonomicznych. W szczególności kryzysu zaufania. Modlę się o męstwo i roztropność.

Niech zstąpi Duch Prawdy i Mocy. Niech odnowi!

Ai numerosi pellegrinaggi italiani

Desidero ora rivolgere il mio cordiale saluto ai gruppi italiani presenti. Comincio con quello delle Suore della Provvidenza, riunite a convegno in Roma per alcuni giorni di spiritualità. Vi auguro, care sorelle, che dai vostri incontri possiate trarre forza per rinnovati propositi sulla via della perfezione evangelica nel servizio di Dio e dei fratelli.

* * *

Abbiamo poi tra noi gli Allievi dell’ultimo anno di corso della Scuola militare “Nunziatella” di Napoli. Grazie, cari giovani, per la vostra presenza. Possa la formazione che avete ricevuto giovarvi per servire con fedeltà la Patria e per far progredire il bene comune. Un cordiale pensiero anche ai vostri comandanti, docenti e familiari.

* * *

Il mio pensiero si volge anche ai pellegrini dei Lions Club di Foligno e di Cervia-Cesenatico. Grazie anche a voi per la vostra visita. Il mio augurio è che il vostro sodalizio sappia rafforzare il suo impegno culturale e civile, e faccia progredire la società alla luce dei sani principi di giustizia e solidarietà. Il vostro sforzo morale e spirituale sia sempre illuminato dalla forza di ideali trascendenti, nei quali si possono trovare le ragioni supreme dell’agire e del vivere umano.

* * *

Sono pure lieto di rendere omaggio allo sport nelle persone di un gruppo composto da due squadre ciclistiche con ben noti rappresentanti di varie nazionalità. So che vi state preparando al prossimo giro d’Italia. Mi auguro che questa gara, che appassiona piccoli e grandi, costituisca un momento di sollievo per tutti.

A tutti imparto la mia Benedizione, che estendo ai vostri cari.

* * *

Desidero ora rivolgere il mio saluto ai giovani, ai malati ed alle coppie di sposi novelli presenti a questa Udienza.

Carissimi, mi è caro rivolgervi oggi, con le parole del Salmo, l’augurio di percorrere il cammino del tempo pasquale così che in voi cresca il vigore spirituale (cf. Sal 84,8).

Il vigore della fede per voi giovani, che aprendovi a Gesù, maestro ed amico, siete chiamati a diventare persone cristiane mature, capaci di condurre un’esistenza ispirata alla logica del dono. Il vigore della speranza per voi malati, che dalla vicinanza amorevole del Risorto traete conforto nella prospettiva della definitiva vittoria su ogni sorta di male. Il vigore della carità per voi sposi novelli, che avendo posto a fondamento del vostro nucleo familiare l’amore santificato da Cristo potete e dovete testimoniare l’eterna Alleanza divina.

Nell’auspicare che tutti voi che credete, sperate e amate, partecipiate al compito della Chiesa di far conoscere il Salvatore, recando a quanti incontrate la sua luce e la sua vita, benedico tutti di cuore.

Durante l’udienza generale il Santo Padre vuole ricordare la celebrazione della Pasqua, che per le Chiese ortodosse e per alcune comunità cattoliche di rito orientale, ricorre domenica prossima. Queste le sue parole. 

Domenica prossima le Chiese ortodosse e alcune comunità cattoliche orientali celebrano la Pasqua.

Esse, assieme a noi, che l’abbiamo celebrata un mese fa, annunciano l’identico avvenimento della Risurrezione dell’unico Signore, Gesù Cristo, e proclamano di fronte al mondo la stessa fede e la comune speranza.

Nella gioia del Risorto, ricordiamo queste Chiese, i loro pastori e tutti i loro fedeli e li salutiamo con affetto: “Il Signore è veramente risorto” (Lc 24, 34).

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