First Point.—The ministry of the Holy Spirit in the Church. Our divine Saviour attributes to Him three principal functions. He is the Consoler, and the Church calls Him "the best Consoler." Never has any one merited this title more than He. There is not among men a single one who has not fallen into misfortune. Where shall man turn for consolation? His very friends fly from him, even as the birds of passage depart at the approach of winter. If some should strive to console him, they can only exhort him to patience and speak of the necessity of suffering. This necessity is incontestible, without doubt, but it is truly disheartening when suffering is separated from religion; for then sufferings have neither principle, nor end, nor recompense. But, on the contrary, we find greatest consolation in suffering when it is viewed in the light of the Holy Spirit. And how does this happen? Because the Holy Spirit reveals to the unfortunate sufferers that the true cause of sorrow is in the sins which have been committed; because He makes sufferings glorious, since they give to him who suffers a trait of resemblance to Jesus; because sufferings may become a means of expiation for sin and, consequently, a means of attaining the happiness of heaven. It is the special office of the Holy Spirit to accord us these sublime consolations, and He only has the power to make us taste them.
The Holy Spirit is called by Jesus the Spirit of Truth. He merits this title because it is He who is the Author of all truth; it is He who propagates and spreads it; it is He who convinces the intelligence of man and makes him receive it. The law of Moses clearly pointed out the duty, but it did not afford strength to put this duty in practice. The world proclaims the eulogy of virtue, but this sterile admiration gives no aid to the heart, which is left to its own weakness. It belongs to the Holy Spirit only to reveal to us all truth, and to render it lovable and easy for us. See the apostles; think of their ignorance with regard to the mystery of the cross. It was for them an "unintelligible word," but hardly had they received the Holy Spirit than they understood the happiness of sufferings. They considered themselves happy to have endured ignominy for the name of Jesus. Had not Jesus already said: "Blessed are they who suffer persecutions for justice's sake"? These were new sentiments, which had
hitherto been unknown. This truth was too deep for the apostles—" You cannot bear it now." The Holy Spirit was necessary. It was His mission to enlighten their intelligence, and to make them taste the maxims which take away all the repugnances of nature. The same ignorance still exists. Carnal minds revolt at the obscurity of our mysteries; sinners do not see the abyss open at their feet; even many pious people do not understand Christian life. They all need the light of the Holy Spirit. If you wish to receive Him, correct in yourself every disposition which would render you unworthy of His holy communications. The Holy Spirit must give testimony to Jesus. He gives this testimony in a most splendid manner, in manifesting His divinity by countless prodigies.
On the very day when the Holy Spirit descended on the apostles they were transformed into other men. St. Peter preached his Master and his God before multitudes of different peoples whom the solemnity of the day had assembled at Jerusalem, and all heard him speak in their own native tongue. The most splendid miracles attest the divine mission of the apostles and the divinity of Him who sent them. These poof "fishermen, without the study of human sciences, without credit, without the art of eloquence, undertook the conversion of the world; and in spite of prejudices and persecutions, in spite of obstacles humanly insurmountable, the greatest success crowned their efforts. Legions of virgins triumphed over the corruption of the pagan world by their purity; millions of martyrs died in testimony of the divinity of the Christian faith. In spite of all the efforts of the mighty ones, all the resources of genius, all the artifices of sophistry, all the revolts of passion, the Church was established and developed, and continued her triumphant march along the ages. Behold how the Holy Spirit has rendered, and still renders, testimony to Jesus, the Saviour of the world.
Second Point.—The ministry of the Holy Spirit in the hearts of the faithful. He exercises three principal functions in us: He brings us forth to Christian life, He sanctifies us, and He gives us the pledge of our divine affiliation. He brings us forth to Christian life. At the beginning, God the Father called the world from nothingness; on the cross, the Incarnate Word reformed man by His blood; in the Church, the Holy Spirit creates this supernatural life, which absorbs in the Christian all that there
is there of the old Adam, even to his name of man, and makes of him a creature wholly new. The Church proclaims these admirable effects of the Holy Spirit by her enthusiastic chants: "Come, Spirit Creator—send Thy Holy Spirit and renew the face of the earth." But where is this new creation wrought? At first in Baptism, and then, if we should lose this precious life, in the Sacrament of Penance, when the Holy Spirit returns it to us by His grace. The Holy Spirit sanctifies us. He is the love which unites the Father and the Son; He personifies, in a manner, the love of God for us. He it is who is the Source of all graces, or, rather, He is grace itself. In the same manner as the just man who rejoices in grace is the living temple of the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit dwells in him as a lovable guest
-- dulcis hospes animce. It is from Him good inspirations come which prompt us to good works, and those holy inspirations which keep us from evil. It is His strength which sustains us in combats, and His light which removes our doubts. It is His charity which encourages the Christian to practice the most heroic virtues, and it is by Him that the just attain the most sublime perfection.
The sanctification of man is attributed to the Holy Spirit particularly, as the creation is attributed to the Father, and the redemption to the Son. And thus it is that the august Trinity is wholly engaged in procuring our happiness. The Holy Spirit gives us a pledge of our divine affiliation. This is the very teaching of St. Paul. Listen to his admirable words, and then you can comprehend the nobility which your vocation to the faith gives you. He writes to the faithful at Ephesus: "You have been marked by the Holy Spirit, who is the seal of the promise and the pledge of the heavenly inheritance. Never forget that you are the temples of God and that the Holy Spirit dwells in you" (Acts). And read what he writes to the Romans: "You have not received the spirit of bondage again in fear, but you have received the spirit of adoption of sons, whereby we cry, My Father. For the Spirit Himself gives testimony to our spirit, that we are the sons of God." And if we are sons, we are also heirs, yes, heirs of God and co-heirs of Jesus. See, therefore, what magnificent destinies await us. Pray to the Holy Spirit that He may render you worthy, not only to see Him, but to realize Him fully.
Source: Short Instructions on the Feasts of the Year, Imprimatur 1897