The Holy Spirit is the breath of life - Cardinal Roger Etchegaray
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Cardinal Roger Etchegaray

The second year of immediate preparation for the Great Jubilee of the year 2000 with, as its central point the figure of the Holy Spirit, leads us to enter the heart of the Trinitarian dimension, the nucleus we might say, of that unfathomable and ineffable mystery from which comes – through the Incarnation of Jesus Christ, the only Son – the birth of Church and the origin of her apostolic mission. The most mysterious and hidden of the three divine Persons: this is how many theologians define the Holy Spirit, represented by symbols or images such as fire, a dove, light or oil.
But the Spirit, presented by symbols, is in fact present in the fullness of his power, visible in all things and found in the life which sustains the Church day after day. The Spirit’s field of action is the entire world, in a space which goes beyond the dimension of time. The Spirit is the breath of life, the soul which sustains the world, and which gives meaning to everything visible and concrete, retrieving it from the chaos and emptiness of purely mechanical activism. To reflect and ponder the work of the Spirit, as the Holy Father recommended on the path towards the Great Jubilee, means then to look deep into our own soul and at the same time open our eyes to the realities around us since it is in these realities that we see the Spirit at work.

To open our eyes to these realities and find therein the Spirit, to recognize his signs, to wonder at his unfathomable plans: it is through this "journey" of the soul, sustained by hope, that it is possible to disentangle ourselves– by contrasting them – from other journeys built instead on the treacherous terrain of non-hope and which apparently in the world find easy paths. It is not difficult to see in the world signs of contradiction: the absence of peace in too many regions of the world, the thirst for justice, the ever more intolerable unbalance between the poor and those who display their riches, the absence of brotherhood and solidarity are scandals for which we will be called to account. But another truth must be kept in mind: no form of man’s good-government will ever be able to solve problems of this type. It is not simply a matter of ordering the parameters of economies. Rather we must order the parameters of conscience. To allow the Spirit to find the roads made straight into the heart of every person.

And here we come to this great task which the Holy Father has assigned in particular to this second year of immediate preparation, namely «a renewed appreciation of the presence and activity of the Spirit who acts within the Church» (TMA n. 45). On the eve of the 2nd meeting, in the Vatican, of the representatives of the local Churches with the Central Committee of the Great Jubilee of 2000, the first thought can be none other than to verify, all together, not only – and no so much – what has been achieved or programmed, but how the Spirit is taking the lead in this journey towards the Holy Door, particularly during this liturgical year. In the magna charter of spirituality which the Holy Father consigned to us as the compass for the Jubilee pilgrimage, the Holy Spirit is called «the principal agent of new evangelization».

For a new proclamation of the Gospel to a world ever more thirsty – even unknowingly – for Christ, Pope John Paul II continues to devote all his inextinguishable missionary and apostolic zeal which is carrying him to the ends of the earth. The historical pilgrimage to the island of Cuba fits into a remarkable chapter of a new series of journeys once considered impossible. One thinks of Sarajevo, Lebanon. One thinks, looking ahead in view of the Great Jubilee of 2000, Jerusalem and the Holy Land.