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The Holy Spirit: the Holy Trinity’s hype man

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Pope Francis arrives for an audience with members of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal in 2019. Photo: CNS, Vatican Media handout via Reuters

By Fr Dan McCaughan

One of the many, great joys of being a priest is to celebrate weddings. This is especially so when the bride and groom place Christ at the centre of their ceremony.

When Jesus is made the guest of honour at the wedding feast, the miracle of Cana happens again. The finest wine of holy joy overflows, long after the bar tab has run out.

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The best man plays a special role at the wedding. His job is to sing the groom’s praises and in an often humorous way, demonstrate why he is a great man.

In short, the best man’s love for the groom is expressed by using his most public moment so that others will come to know and love the groom even more.

In the Holy Trinity we see this same dynamic in infinite perfection. At Pentecost, the Holy Spirit descended on the apostles, cowering in the upper room.

His appearance under the form of wind and tongues of fire ignited the faith, hope and love locked in their frightened hearts and pushed them to boldly proclaim the resurrection of Jesus.

While the Holy Spirit’s arrival at Pentecost was spectacular, it was completely at the service of making Christ known. In this we get an insight into who the Spirit is.

He is equally God with the Father and the Son but all he wants is that the Son be known and loved, because if that happens then the Father will be known and loved.

The Holy Spirit, traditionally depicted as a dove, is pictured in a stained-glass window. It is the Spirit to which the Plenary Council must especially look in its reflections, prayer and decisions. Photo: CNS, Michael Alexander, Georgia Bulletin

Like many Catholics I grew up not relating as much to the Holy Spirit as I did the Father and the Son.

It wasn’t until I made some wonderful friends who were involved in the Catholic charismatic renewal that I came to see the power and necessity of a devotion to the third person of the Trinity.

There is nothing we do in the spiritual life that the Holy Spirit is not behind. There are two words however that unmask the Spirit’s presence in any given moment: “Thank you.”

These two simple words illuminate the beauty of life for a Christian. There is no moment where the Holy Spirit is not present and active, whether that moment be happy or sad, easy or difficult.

When I say, “thank you,” my joy is increased and my sorrow is lessened or more importantly, it is given hope and a purpose. I realise I am never alone and I am never without love.

There is another powerful prayer to this mysterious Person of the Trinity that has aided me immensely as a priest. It goes like this: “Holy Spirit, help!”

This prayer has been my aid many times in tricky pastoral situations where I haven’t known what to say or do. Even if I still feel I am making a mess of things, such urgent abandonment of a situation to his grace has always seen good come about.

As we approach the solemnity of Pentecost, we should ask the Holy Spirit for a greater awareness of his presence and try and foster conversation with him.

We will find that this will always seem to lead us back to Jesus and the Father.

Fr Dan McCaughan is parish priest at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, Sutherland

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