The Holy Father | Encyclicals | Download
|Dominum et vivificantem|
Ioannes Paulus PP. II
1986 05 18
IntraText SC - Text
4. The Holy Spirit Strengthens the "Inner Man"
58. The mystery of the resurrection and of Pentecost is proclaimed and lived by the Church, which has inherited and which carries on the witness of the Apostles about the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. She is the perennial witness to this victory over death which revealed the power of the Holy Spirit and determined his new coming, his new presence in people and in the world. For in Christ's Resurrection the Holy Spirit-Paraclete revealed himself especially as he who gives life: "He who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit which dwells in you."247 In the name of the Resurrection of Christ the Church proclaims life, which manifested itself beyond the limits of death, the life which is stronger than death. At the same time, she proclaims him who gives this life: the Spirit, the Giver of Life; she proclaims him and cooperates with him in giving life. For "although your bodies are dead because of sin, your spirits are alive because of righteousness,"248 the righteousness accomplished by the Crucified and Risen Christ. And in the name of Christ's Resurrection the Church serves the life that comes from God himself, in close union with and humble service to the Spirit.
Precisely through this service man becomes in an ever new manner the "way of the Church," as I said in the Encyclical on Christ the Redeemer249 and as I now repeat in this present one on the Holy Spirit. United with the Spirit, the Church is supremely aware of the reality of the inner man, of what is deepest and most essential in man, because it is spiritual and incorruptible. At this level the Spirit grafts the "root of immortality,"250 from which the new life springs. This is man's life in God, which, as a fruit of God's salvific self- communication in the Holy Spirit, can develop and flourish only by the Spirit's action. Therefore St. Paul speaks to God on behalf of believers, to whom he declares "I bow my knees before the Father..., that he may grant you...to be strengthened with might through his Spirit in the inner man."251
Under the influence of the Holy Spirit this inner, "spiritual," man matures and grows strong. Thanks to the divine self- communication, the human spirit which "knows the secrets of man" meets the "Spirit who searches everything, even the depths of God."252 In this Spirit, who is the eternal gift, the Triune God opens himself to man, to the human spirit. The hidden breath of the divine Spirit enables the human spirit to open in its turn before the saving and sanctifying self-opening of God. Through the gift of grace, which comes from the Holy Spirit, man enters a "new life," is brought into the supernatural reality of the divine life itself and becomes a "dwelling-place of the Holy Spirit," a living temple of God.253 For through the Holy Spirit, the Father and the Son come to him and take up their abode with him.254 In the communion of grace with the Trinity, man's "living area" is broadened and raised up to the supernatural level of divine life. Man lives in God and by God: he lives "according to the Spirit," and "sets his mind on the things of the Spirit."
59. Man's intimate relationship with God in the Holy Spirit also enables him to understand himself, his own humanity, in a new way. Thus that image and likeness of God which man is from his very beginning is fully realized.255 This intimate truth of the human being has to be continually rediscovered in the light of Christ who is the prototype of the relationship with God. There also has to be rediscovered in Christ the reason for "full self-discovery through a sincere gift of himself" to others, as the Second Vatican Council writes: precisely by reason of this divine likeness which "shows that on earth man...is the only creature that God wishes for himself" in his dignity as a person, but as one open to integration and social communion.256 The effective knowledge and full implementation of this truth of his being come about only by the power of the Holy Spirit. Man learns this truth from Jesus Christ and puts it into practice in his own life by the power of the Spirit, whom Jesus himself has given to us.
Along this path-the path of such an inner maturity, which includes the full discovery of the meaning of humanity-God comes close to man, and permeates more and more completely the whole human world. The Triune God, who "exists" in himself as a transcendent reality of interpersonal gift, giving himself in the Holy Spirit as gift to man, transforms the human world from within, from inside hearts and minds. Along this path the world, made to share in the divine gift, becomes-as the Council teaches-"ever more human, ever more profoundly human," 257 while within the world, through people's hearts and minds, the Kingdom develops in which God will be definitively "all in all"258: as gift and love. Gift and love: this is the eternal power of the opening of the Triune God to an and the world, in the Holy Spirit.
As the year 2000 since the birth of Christ draws near, it is a question of ensuring that an ever greater number of people "may fully find themselves...through a sincere gift of self," according to the expression of the Council already quoted. Through the action of the Spirit-Paraclete, may there be accomplished in our world a process of true growth in humanity, in both individual and community life. In this regard Jesus himself "when he prayed to the Father, 'that all may be one...as we are one' (Jn 17:21-22)...implied a certain likeness between the union of the divine persons and the union of the children of God in truth and charity."259 The Council repeats this truth about man, and the Church sees in it a particularly strong and conclusive indication of her own apostolic tasks. For if man is the way of the Church, this way passes through the whole mystery of Christ, as man's divine model. Along this way the Holy Spirit, strengthening in each of us "the inner man," enables man ever more "fully to find himself through a sincere gift of self." These words of the Pastoral Constitution of the Council can be said to sum up the whole of Christian anthropology: that theory and practice, based on the Gospel, in which man discovers himself as belonging to Christ and discovers that in Christ he is raised to the status of a child of God, and so understands better his own dignity as man, precisely because he is the subject of God's approach and presence, the subject of the divine condescension, which contains the prospect and the very root of definitive glorification. Thus it can truly be said that "the glory of God is the living man, yet man's life is the vision of God" 260: man, living a divine life, is the glory of God, and the Holy Spirit is the hidden dispenser of this life and this glory. The Holy Spirit-says the great Basil- "while simple in essence and manifold in his virtues...extends himself without undergoing any diminishing, is present in each subject capable of receiving him as if he were the only one, and gives grace which is sufficient for all."261
60. When, under the influence of the Paraclete, people discover this divine dimension of their being and life, both as individuals and as a community, they are able to free themselves from the various determinisms which derive mainly from the materialistic bases of thought, practice and related modes of action. In our age these factors have succeeded in penetrating into man's inmost being, into that sanctuary of the conscience where the Holy Spirit continuously radiates the light and strength of new life in the "freedom of the children of God." Man's growth in this life is hindered by the conditionings and pressures exerted upon him by dominating structures and mechanisms in the various spheres of society. It can be said that in many cases social factors, instead of fostering the development and expansion of the human spirit, ultimately deprive the human spirit of the genuine truth of its being and life-over which the Holy Spirit keeps vigil-in order to subject it to the "prince of this world."
The great Jubilee of the year 2000 thus contains a message of liberation by the power of the Spirit, who alone can help individuals and communities to free themselves from the old and new determinisms, by guiding them with the "law of the Spirit, which gives life in Christ Jesus,"262 and thereby discovering and accomplishing the full measure of man's true freedom. For, as St. Paul writes, "Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom."263 This revelation of freedom and hence of man's true dignity acquires a particular eloquence for Christians and for the Church in a state of persecution-both in ancient times and in the present-because the witnesses to divine Truth then become a living proof of the action of the Spirit of truth present in the hearts and minds of the faithful, and they often mark with their own death by martyrdom the supreme glorification of human dignity.
Also in the ordinary conditions of society, Christians, as witnesses to man's authentic dignity, by their obedience to the Holy Spirit contribute to the manifold "renewal of the face of the earth," working together with their brothers and sisters in order to achieve and put to good use everything that is good, noble and beautiful in the modern progress of civilization, culture, science, technology and the other areas of thought and human activity.264 They do this as disciples of Christ who-as the Council writes-"appointed Lord by his Resurrection...is now at work in the hearts of men through the power of his Spirit. He arouses not only a desire for the age to come but by that very fact, he animates, purifies and strengthens those noble longings too by which the human family strives to make its life more humane and to render the earth submissive to this goal."265 Thus they affirm still more strongly the greatness of man, made in the image and likeness of God, a greatness shown by the mystery of the Incarnation of the Son of God, who "in the fullness of time," by the power of the Holy Spirit, entered into history and manifested himself as true man, he who was begotten before every creature, "through whom are all things and through whom we exist"266