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Through Christ, the Spirit Guides Us to the Father

Catechesis by Pope John Paul II on God the Father
General Audience, Wednesday, 13 November 1985 - in Italian & Spanish  

"1. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son. With the Father and the Son he is worshipped and glorified. He has spoken through the prophets."

Today we begin our catechesis on the Holy Spirit. As we did when speaking of the Father and of the Son, we make use of the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed according to the usage established in the Latin liturgy.

The Councils of Nicaea (325) and Constantinople (381) in the fourth century contributed to the clarification of the concepts generally employed to present the doctrine of the Most Holy Trinity—one God who is, in the unity of the divinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The formulation of the doctrine on the Holy Spirit comes particularly from the above-mentioned Council of Constantinople.

2. The Church confesses her faith in the Holy Spirit in the words quoted above. Faith is the response to God's self-revelation. He has made himself known "by the prophets, and in these last a Son" (Heb 1:1). The Son, who has revealed the Father to us, has also made known the Holy Spirit. The Quicumque Creed of the fifth century proclaims: "Such as the Father is, such likewise is the Son, and such also is the Holy Spirit. That "such" is explained by the words of the Quicumque which follow, and is taken as meaning: "uncreated, immense, eternal, omnipotent...not three omnipotents, but only one omnipotent: thus God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit.... There do not exist three Gods, but only one God."

3. It is well to begin with an explanation of the name Spirit-Holy Spirit. The word "spirit" appears in the very first pages of the Bible. We read in the description of creation: "And the Spirit of God was moving over the face of the waters" (Gen 1:2). Spirit is the translation of the Hebrew word, "ruah," which is equivalent to breath, puff of air, wind. It is translated in Greek as "pneuma" from "pneo," and in Latin as "spiritus" from "spiro," (and also in Polish as "duch," tchnac, tchienie). Etymology is important because as we shall see, it helps to explain the meaning of dogma and suggests the way in which it is to be understood.

Spirituality is an essential attribute of the divinity. Christ said in his conversation with the Samaritan woman: "God is Spirit..." (Jn 4:24). In one of the previous catecheses we spoke of God as an infinitely perfect spirit. In God "spirituality" implies not only supreme and absolute immateriality, but also a pure and eternal act of knowledge and love.

4. The Bible, and especially the New Testament, in speaking of the Holy Spirit, does not refer to God's Being itself, but to One who is in a special relationship with the Father and the Son. Many texts, especially in St. John's Gospel, make this fact evident, especially the passages of Christ's farewell discourse on the Thursday before the Pasch, during the Last Supper.

In the perspective of his leave-taking of the apostles, Jesus announced to them the coming of "another Counselor." He said: "I will pray the Father, and he will give you another Counselor, to be with you forever, the Spirit of Truth..." (Jn 14:16). "But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things" (Jn 14:26). The Holy Spirit, whom Jesus here calls the Counselor, will be sent by the Father in the name of the Son. This sending is gradually made more explicit by Jesus himself: "When the Counselor comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness to me..." (Jn 15:26).

The Holy Spirit, then, who proceeds from the Father, will be sent to the apostles and to the Church both by the Father in the name of the Son, and by the Son himself once he has returned to the Father.

Jesus also said: "He (the Spirit of truth) will glorify me for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you" (Jn 16:14-15).

5. All these words are extremely important for understanding the economy of salvation, as are the other texts we find in the New Testament. They tell us who the Holy Spirit is in relation to the Father and the Son. They have a trinitarian significance. They tell us not only that the Holy Spirit is "sent" by the Father and the Son, but also that he "proceeds" from the Father.

Here we touch questions which have a key importance in the Church's teaching on the Most Holy Trinity. The Holy Spirit is sent by the Father and the Son after the Son, on the completion of his redemptive mission, has entered into his glory (cf. Jn 7:39; 16:7). These missions (missiones) are decisive for the whole economy of salvation in the history of humanity.

These "missions" involve and reveal the "processions" in God himself. The Son proceeds eternally from the Father as begotten from him and has assumed in time a human nature for our salvation. The Holy Spirit, who proceeds from the Father and the Son, is manifested first of all in the baptism and Transfiguration of Jesus, and then on the day of Pentecost in his disciples. He dwells in the hearts of the faithful through the gift of charity.

Let us hearken then to the warning of the Apostle Paul: "Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, in whom you were sealed for the day of redemption" (Eph 4:30). Let us be guided by him. He guides us on the "way" which is Christ to the blissful meeting with the Father."

After the Catechesis, Pope John Paul II greeted the pilgrims in various languages

Ai fedeli di lingua francese

Chers Frères et Sœurs,

Je salue tous ceux qui ont tenu à être présents à cette audience. J J’ai noté, entre autres, les marins français du bâtiment de la Marine nationale “L’Agenais”, de passage auprès de Rome; puis les membres du groupe de recherche archéologique “Via Aurelia” de Nice-Antibes, à la recherche de vestiges étrusques dans cette région. Je sais que vous en profiterez aussi pour mieux connaître les témoignages merveilleux de l’art et de la foi chrétienne.

A tous les pèlerins et à leurs proches, je donne de grand cœur ma Bénédiction Apostolique.

Ai pellegrini di lingua inglese

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I wish to offer a special welcome to the students and teachers of the Loyola University Rome Center. I also extend cordial greetings to the group of Knights and Ladies of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, praying that the Lord will sustain them in all the generous efforts of their important ecclesial apostolate.

* * *

Is a joy to welcome the group of formation personnel of the Missionaries of Our Lady of La Salette. You are known for your special love of Mary, the Mother of God. I pray that, like Our Lady, you will always be attentive to God’s word and eager to bring it to fruition in your hearts and in your service to others.

* * *

I also wish to greet the participants in the Fifty-ninth Session of the Executive Committee of Caritas Internationalis. The contribution which Caritas is making in the Church today richly deserves recognition and praise. The work of charity and fraternal service is a vital part of the Church’s mission of proclaiming the Gospel. And Caritas carries out a most important role in this mission by encouraging and animating the many programmes and organizations of charity in the Church, particularly those on the diocesan level. Be assured of my pastoral interest and prayerful support in all your hopes and endeavours. As the Psalmist prays: “May the Lord prosper the work of your hands”.

To all the English-speaking visitors and pilgrims goes my special Apostolic Blessing.

Ai fedeli di lingua tedesca

Liebe Brüder und Schwestern!

Herzlich grüße ich mit dieser kurzen Betrachtung alle anwesenden deutschsprachigen Pilger und Besucher; unter ihnen besonders die Teilnehmer der Romreise der Fischerchöre und die Gruppe von Lesern der Zeitschrift ”Funk Uhr“. Mit der Bitte um reiche Gaben des Heiligen Geistes erteile ich euch allen von Herzen meinen besonderen Apostolischen Segen.

Ai fedeli di lingua spagnoli

Queridos hermanos y hermanas,

Deseo saludar ahora a los peregrinos de lengua española, venidos de España y de América Latina. De modo especial, a las Religiosas de María Inmaculada, que están realizando en Roma un curso de renovación. Que vuestra permanencia junto a la Sede de Pedro os ayude a vivir la universalidad de la Iglesia y a testimoniarla allí donde seáis enviadas a ejercer vuestro apostolado.

* * *

Saludo igualmente a la delegación de Oficiales y Suboficiales de la Armada de Venezuela. Vuestra presencia me hace recordar con vivo aprecio la visita pastoral a vuestro País; os aliento a servirlo con respeto total a cada uno de sus ciudadanos.

* * *

No puede faltar mi saludo al grupo mexicano aquí presente, acompañado por un conjunto folklórico: llevad el afecto del Papa y su recuerdo en la oración a vuestros hermanos de México, especialmente a los que tanto han sufrido y todavía sufren las consecuencias del reciente terremoto.

A todos vosotros, peregrinos de lengua española, os imparto de corazón la Bendición Apostólica.

Ai fedeli polacchi

Pozdrawiam serdecznie wszystkich rodaków, poczynając od księży biskupów: ks. bpa Groblickiego, ks. bpa Mazura, ks. bpa Wosińskiego, ks. bpa Domina, ks. bpa Szymeckiego. Wszystkich serdecznie pozdrawiam. Z kolei pielgrzymów z parafii Biały Prądnik w Krakowie; z parafii Narodzenia Matki Bożej w Żywcu; pielgrzymkę katedralną z Tarnowa; z parafii św. Jacka z Piotrkowa Trybunalskiego, diecezja łódzka; pielgrzymów z diecezji siedleckiej, podlaskiej, z księdzem Biskupem Ordynariuszem; kapłanów archidiecezji gnieźnieńskiej; prócz tego grupy kolejarzy z Wrocławia i Częstochowy; członków Towarzystwa Przyjaźni Polski-Indyjskiej; alpinistów z Klubu Turystyki Górskiej wracających z Himalajów; raz jeszcze kolejarzy z Lublina, Łaz koło Zawiercia oraz Mińska Mazowieckiego i Warszawy (Bogu dzięki, kolejarze są częstymi gośćmi papieskimi): wreszcie uczestników grup turystycznych PTTK, Amicizia i Turysty . . . Raz jeszcze pozdrawiam pielgrzymów przybyłych z mojej Ojczyzny, równocześnie za waszym pośrednictwem wszystkich w Ojczyźnie i gdziekolwiek znajdują się na świecie: wasze rodziny, wasze parafie, wasze diecezje, wszystkie wspólnoty, w których żyiecie i pracujecie.

Ai fedeli di lingua italiana

Rivolgo un cordiale pensiero ai fedeli di lingua italiana e in particolare porgo un affettuoso saluto al gruppo di sacerdoti provenienti da varie parti d’Italia per partecipare ad un corso di esercizi spirituali presso il movimento Fac “Centro Nazareth” di Roma.

Carissimi, vi auguro che questa vostra importante pausa di preghiera e di riflessione sia feconda di stimoli per approfondire sempre il significato autentico del carisma e del ministero sacerdotale e per vivere in maniera sempre più degna e generosa la grazia della vostra vocazione.

Avvaloro di cuore questi miei voti con la mia preghiera e con una speciale benedizione.

* * *

Un particolare saluto desidero porgere anche ai numerosi fedeli della parrocchia di Maria Santissima del Rosario in Rocca di Capri Leone, diocesi di Patti, che sono venuti in pellegrinaggio a Roma per chiedere la benedizione del Papa sul progetto della loro nuova chiesa parrocchiale.

Rivolgo il mio saluto al vostro zelante Vescovo, e a voi tutti che siete qui presenti in rappresentanza di tutti i fedeli di Rocca di Capri Leone. Auspico di cuore che la nuova chiesa sia il simbolo e il segno della vostra fede cristiana, sincera e coerente.

Vi accompagna la mia benedizione apostolica.

Ai giovani

Desidero rivolgere ora, come di consueto, il mio speciale saluto e il mio affettuoso incoraggiamento a tutti i ragazzi e i giovani che rallegrano con la loro esuberante giovinezza questo incontro.

Carissimi, vi ringrazio per questa vostra significativa presenza, con la quale volete testimoniare le vostre aspirazioni e vivere secondo i principi della fede cristiana. So che molti di voi sono studenti che hanno già ripreso in pieno l’attività scolastica: siate alunni diligenti e impegnatevi a fondo nel vostro lavoro, che è molto prezioso perché vi prepara alla vita. Il vostro sforzo miri non solo al necessario sapere umano, ma anche alla crescita della dottrina della fede, cioè dell’istruzione religiosa, delle cose necessarie all’anima. In questo campo il maestro è Gesù, il quale per mezzo del Vangelo e dei sacerdoti che vi educano alla fede parla al vostro cuore e vi istruisce alle verità eterne. Mettetevi alla scuola del Signore con grande docilità ed egli farà di voi dei veri discepoli del regno di Dio. Con questi voti nel cuore vi benedico.

Agli ammalati

Anche a voi ammalati giunga la mia particolare parola di benevolenza e di predilezione. So benissimo che la vostra vita non è facile, né confortata da consolazioni umane. Tutto questo però non deve essere motivo di scoraggiamento e di avvilimento, perché le cose di questo mondo sono passeggere, mentre quelle spirituali sono eterne: col vostro dolore voi guadagnate frutti per l’eternità e contribuite alla grande causa della salvezza degli uomini, per i quali Cristo è morto sulla croce. Il vostro sacrificio quindi non è vano, ma è fonte di meriti davanti a Dio. Sappiate abbracciare con questa fede il vostro patire e il Signore non vi farà mancare la forza e la ricompensa celeste. Anch’io vi sarò sempre vicino con la mia preghiera e con la mia benedizione.

Agli sposi novelli

Un saluto cordiale porgo pure agli sposi novelli, ai quali esprimo il mio ringraziamento per aver voluto dare inizio alla loro vita familiare con la benedizione del Papa. È questo un nobile atto che merita apprezzamento perché rivela sentimenti cristiani.

Cari sposi, vi assicuro la mia preghiera affinché le vostre nuove famiglie siano sempre aperte ai valori dello spirito. In tal modo il vostro amore non invecchierà giammai, ma rimarrà sempre giovane, schietto e forte. Vi accompagni la mia benevolenza e la mia benedizione.

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