The Holy Spirit makes our souls or spirits holy by His grace. It is true that He does not do this separately or apart from the Father and the Son, for God is one, and all the three Persons of the Blessed Trinity do conjointly what each one is said to do. The many graces which Jesus Christ has merited for us by His Passion and Death are given to us by the Holy Spirit.
Today is the anniversary of the day when the same Holy Spirit, in tongues of fire, descended upon the apostles. From ignorant and dull of understanding they became suddenly enlightened with Divine Light, and filled with heavenly knowledge; from being weak and timid, so that they all fled away from our Lord when He was taken prisoner in the garden, they became in a moment heroic confessors of the Faith, ready to endure any torment, and death itself, for the Name of Jesus.
The seven precious gifts of the Holy Ghost are bestowed upon all who worthily receive the Sacrament of Confirmation, in the same way as the virtues of Faith, Hope and Charity are implanted in the soul by Baptism; their effects, however, are only visible according as circumstances require their special exercise. So that, for example, we should not be afraid if we were called upon, as our forefathers often were, to confess our Faith before persecutors, or even to suffer torments and death for Jesus Christ; since the Holy Spirit will always be ready to assist us to do and suffer what God requires of us.
Saint Arsenius, having become acquainted with an old man of obscure birth and no learning, chose him to be his counsellor. "What," said one of his brethren, "you, well versed in the learning of Athens and Rome, seeking the advice of that ignorant man!" "It may be," replied Arsenius, "that I know something of literature, but I do not yet possess the alphabet of the knowledge of that old man." And, indeed, void as he was of human learning, this old man had a more sublime learning, the knowledge of salvation which comes from the Holy Spirit. He had the art of following the road to heaven and of being able to show it to others; it was this knowledge, Arsenius wished to acquire.
The seven gifts of the Holy Spirit enlighten the understanding and strengthen the will of fallen man, thus repairing the injury inflicted by the sin of our first parents and our own manifold sins with those two great powers of the soul. The four gifts of Wisdom, Understanding, Counsel and Knowledge, all tend to remove from the soul that black cloud of ignorance with which sin has darkened our understanding, while the other three, Fortitude, Piety and the Fear of the Lord, serve to heal the wounds inflicted by sin in the human will, to extinguish the fire of concupiscence, and to enable us to walk with courage and fidelity in the way of the Divine Commandments. The lives of the saints, my dear boys and girls, furnish us with abundant examples of the admirable effects which the gifts of the Holy Ghost produce in the hearts and minds of God's faithful servants. Their heroic virtues, their charming and amiable qualities, all spring from the same source, and are the fruits of the abundant grace with which the Holy Ghost enriched their souls.
A Vendean, named Repoche, who during the French Revolution served in the royal army, having been taken prisoner by the revolutionary party was conducted by them to a place where a cross had been erected, and there he was thus accosted: "You have been taken with arms in your hands, and so your life is forfeited. There yonder is the cottage in which you were born; your father is still living there; now your life will be spared to you if you will do one thing. Take up that ax and at once cut down that cross." Repoche took up the ax; his fellow prisoners turned aside their heads and trembled, for they thought that Repoche was about abjuring his God. Repoche brandishing the ax over his head, sprung upon the pedestal of the cross, and uplifting his arm, cried out in tones loud enough to be heard by even those who were at a distance: "Death to him who shall insult the cross of Jesus Christ! I shall defend it from ignominy to my last breath." For some minutes he succeeded in warding off the sacrilegious soldiers, but soon he was overwhelmed by numbers, and though transfixed in every part of his body, he still clung fast to the cross, and in this position was put to death.
The Holy Spirit is sometimes called the Paraclete. This word means Advocate, that is to say, one who speaks or pleads for another. This the Holy Ghost does by assisting us in our prayers, for we can make no prayer that is good for anything to please God without the grace of the Holy Ghost. When the Holy Ghost helps us to pray, then our prayers cannot fail to be heard.
You see, my dear boys and girls, how much reason we have to love the Holy Ghost, to thank Him for His graces, and to seek His blessing and guidance in all our undertakings. We should often pray to the Holy Ghost, for which purpose we might repeat one of the beautiful hymns in His honor, to beg His grace to overcome temptation, keep the commandments, and know and accomplish the Divine Will in all things.
Source: Story Sermonettes for the Children's Mass, Imprimatur 1921