‘When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth’ (Jn. 16:13). ⧾
With the glorious Feast of Pentecost the seven weeks of Easter come to an end and Christ Our Lord’s Passover is fulfilled in the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, manifested, given and communicated as a divine person: of his fullness, Christ, our Lord, pours out the Spirit in abundance (The Catechism of the Catholic Church, 731). The gift of the Holy Spirit begun at Pentecost never ceases. Today, this Mystery is re-presented for us, for our benefit and that of the whole world. Though most Catholics cannot attend Holy Mass today, those who can must all the more pray in the awareness that we stand before God for all and that in the in the intimacy of our own personal, private prayer we remember that to each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good (1 Cor. 12:7). A true disciple of Christ is always aware of the communion in Christ that unites us to one another in the sacred and prayerful union of faith, hope, and charity.
Life in Christ by the power and presence of the Holy Spirit is a holy life, a life defined by fruits of the Holy Spirit, listed for us by St. Paul in his Epistle to the Galatians: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Gal. 5:22-23). To these we add chastity, goodness and modesty and we have the traditional twelve fruits of the Holy Spirit. These fruits that manifest the Holy Spirit’s presence in our life are not simply infused into our souls. They require effort on our part and cooperation with the grace that God gives us. The Holy Spirit who was given to us sacramentally at Baptism and at Confirmation and whose outpouring we receive anew on this Pentecost Sunday dwells in us through grace, gently leading us and guiding us into all the truth’ (Jn. 16:13).
The truth that we are led to is God Himself, and no less, the truth of who and what we are as sons and daughters of God. To live in the awareness of this dignity is the foundation of a good and holy life. St. Basil the Great explains: The Spirit is the source of holiness, a spiritual light, and he offers his own light to every mind in its search for truth. By nature the Spirit is beyond the reach of our mind, but we can know him by his goodness. The power of the Spirit fills the whole universe, but he gives himself only to those who are worthy, acting in each according to the measure of his faith (From the treatise on the Holy Spirit by St. Basil the Great, Bishop, The Liturgy of the Hours, Vol. II, p. 975). Today in all earnestness we ask that our faith may deepen so that we may be worthy to be witnesses to the truth, reflecting its splendour.
Truth is more than a human value or category. It is not uncommon to hear people in our day say that we each have our own truth, especially in situations where one is contending with a difference of opinion or even of conflict. In many cases, this fallacy has become a quick way of dismissing legitimate concerns. Unlike other human values perhaps, truth is not indefinitely postponable, because truth is of God Himself; indeed, God is Truth and God will not be mocked (Gal. 6:7). We who have received the truth must bear witness to it, whatever the cost, for we cannot live by lies. Ever since that first Pentecost, Christians have borne witness to the truth especially in the face of the world’s lies. Every ruler, every ideology, every regime that has attempted to usurp the primacy of God’s truth has been opposed by Christians; and ultimately in their turn, all these usurpers have been defeated by the power of God’s truth. The attempt to impose a health dictatorship in our day will also ultimately fail, but in the meantime, what is required of us is to live not by lies and both actively and passively to oppose all efforts that would have us collude in deadly fictions. If we remain steadfast in the truth, then evil will not be allowed to advance to a point which for many will be a point of no return. At the risk of exaggeration, we face a challenge like no other before us because it appears that so many of the world’s priests and bishops have become willing collaborators of this global fiction. Our struggle is not [simply] against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this ark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms (Eph. 6:12).
It is an undeniable reality that we who believe in the primacy of the truth revealed to us by God are now engaged in a direct confrontation with the greater culture which denies the existence of objective truth and has made common cause with those who wish to deprive us of our God-given freedom. The evidence of this denial is all around us but it is perhaps most evident because of the near total collapse of the value of human life. What was once a feature of totalitarian, communist tyrannies has now sadly become a feature of so-called free societies. The contemporary revolt against truth is not simply a refusal to accept metaphysical contentions; the rebellion of our times rejects even the witness of empirical proof. Such is the folly of transgenderism, to give but one example.
‘When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth’ (Jn. 16:13). What can we say of this truth of the Lord? For one, it is objective and eternal. In other words, truth is not a matter of consensus. We don’t fashion truth to suit our opinions or desires. Rather, we conform to the objective truths revealed to us by God; and if we are humble and strive to be faithful, then the Holy Spirit will gently lead us and transform us into God’s own likeness, making us, good, pure, modest, loving, joyful, patient, kind, gentle, faithful, temperate. Again, St. Basil explains: As clear, transparent substances become very bright when sunlight falls on them and shine on them with a new radiance, so also souls in whom the Spirit dwells, and who are enlightened by the Spirit, become spiritual themselves and a source of grace for others.
Although the closure of our churches again this year is a source of sorrow, especially on a Feast such as Pentecost, today we must remember that at that first Pentecost those who received the Holy Spirit’s gifts began a work of transformation that, amidst the ebbs and flows of human history, has benefitted the whole world. Both they in their time and we in ours did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into slavery, but the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry ‘Abba! Father!’ (Rom. 8:15). Like the saints before us, we too desire to receive the outpouring of the Holy Spirit anew today; and in the certitude of our adoption as children of God, we carry on in the joy of the Lord (Cf. Neh. 8:10) praying and working, and so becoming in our turn a source of grace for others. With full confidence in the power of God’s truth and love we therefore pray: Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created. And You shall renew the face of the earth. ⧾