"The earth is filled with you Spirit, Lord"
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Theologico-Historical Commission


«In 1998, the "second year" of the preparatory phase, will be dedicated in a particular way to the Holy Spirit and to his sanctifying presence within the Community of Christ's disciples» (Tertio Millennio Adveniente 44). That is what John Paul II writes, referring to the immediate preparation of the Jubilee. A year dedicated to the Spirit seems absolutely necessary because, as the same Pontiff affirms, «the Church cannot prepare itself for the deadline of the millennium in any other way, if not in the Holy Spirit» (DeV 51). The Great Jubilee, in fact, does not just have a Christological connotation, but «it has a "pneumatolocial profile", since the mystery of the incarnation happened "by virtue of the Holy Spirit"» (DeV 50). For this reason «it falls into the main priorities of the preparation for the Jubilee, a renewed appreciation of the presence and activity of the Spirit, who acts within the Church both in the Sacraments, especially in Confirmation, and in the variety of charisms, roles and ministries which he inspires for the good of the Church» (Tertio Millennio Adveniente 45).

The current Magisterium «aims to increase a sensitivity to all that the Spirit is saying to the Church and to Churches (cf. Ap 2, 7s), just as to the individual persons, through the charisms which are meant to serve the whole community. The purpose is to emphasize that the Spirit is suggesting to the different communities, from the smallest ones, like the family, up to the largest ones, like nations and international organizations, taking into account cultures, societies and sound traditions. Despite appearances, humanity continues to await the revelations of the children of God and lives by this hope, like a mother in labor, to use the image employed so powerfully by Saint Paul in his Letter to the Romans (cf. 8,19-22)» (Tertio Millennio Adveniente 23).

The aim of the following pages is that of offering a path of reflection and a deepening of the teaching of the Holy Father, more than just presenting a complete doctrine on the Holy Spirit. They intend to be only an instrument of mediation and, at the same time, a help for the chatechesis. Speaking of the Holy Spirit, we know, is not easy. While, in fact, the terms "Father" and "Son" applied to the first two People of the Holy Trinity, recall something "personal" and very familiar, the word "Spirit," instead, alludes, mostly the biblical language, to the "puff" and to the "wind."

It is said, and it can be seen in these pages, that the Spirit reveals the profundity of God, but, with regards to its nature it remains hidden. It is it which reveals, and yet it remains in the shadows; it strengthens the Word, but remains absolutely something else; it historicizes the plan of God, but it does not make history; it renders the incarnation of the Word possible, but remains absolutely "Lord" It is in the heart of every creature and livens every being, but remains "Spirit." Its nature is so hidden, that of Him we can only speak indirectly, starting from its action and in the measure in which it experiments in its effects. Actually, it can be said that we cannot speak of the Spirit if not in the Spirit itself, without running the risk of considering it as a simple "force" of God. It is a "Person" distinct from the Father and the Son.

For this reason, more than worrying ourselves with saying "who" is the Holy Spirit, we should instead ask "what does He do for us." We will attempt to explicate the central themes of the Christian doctrine, beginning with the experience of the Spirit, that is as a "discussion in virtue of the Spirit."

In presenting the mystery of the divine Third Person, not only do we fall back on the biblical revelation and the documents of the Magesterium, but we want to draw in full upon the teaching of the Fathers of the Church, who, having had a unique and unrepeatable experience of the Spirit, have spoken about it in an unsurpassable way. Throughout the period of our reflection, the Fathers of the Oriental traditions were mostly present, without forgetting the Latin: that is because the Greek Fathers, found themselves with the necessity of being occupied more with the Spirit. And this is also an "ecumenical" choice, in the sense that the doctrine of the Holy Spirit took into account the footsteps of the Christian brothers of the Orient, up until the hymn to the Spirit is elevated to the unison of the Orient and the West.

This text, for now, intends to be an instrument of reflection and prayer, until the gift of the Spirit penetrates the life of every believer. According to the words of Jesus in fact, if the terrestrial father grants the prayers of his own children «how much more the Father in Heaven will give the Spirit to those who pray to him» (Lk 11, 13). Prayer is so important for the gift of the Spirit that there exists a variation of the Our Father, followed by many Fathers of the Church, where, at the point of the invocation «May your Kingdom come - we read - may your Spirit come unto us and purify us» (cf. Gregorio of Nissa, Homily on the Our Father, III, 6). It is in this prospective that we can understand, then, the words of a Russian saint of the last century, Serafino of Sarov (1833): «The true end of Christian life is the acquisition of the Holy Spirit. Prayer, fasting, vigils, charity, these are only means to acquire the Holy Spirit».

The Great Jubilee will absolve its function only if it will be totally impregnated by the presence and the action of the Spirit. Of the rest, "the year of grace" does not have any other aim than to create the most favorable conditions for the Church, body of Christ, until the Spirit, yet again renews it and purifies it, recreating in that time of jubilee that work of liberation and of healing which it had started through the Person of Jesus of Nazareth 20 centuries ago: «The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release of the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord» (Luke 4, 18-19).