Holy Spirit Prayer Ministry
August 11, 2015
Readings: (cited within the transcript)
by Bishop Arturo Bastes, SVD, D.D.
Let me recall what I know about the Holy Spirit. First of all, the Holy Spirit is the creator. In the beginning of the Bible, we read in the Book of Genesis, in the original Hebrew:
|בְּרֵאשִׁית בָּרָא אֱלֹהִים אֵת הַשָּׁמַיִם וְאֵת הָאָרֶץ||1:1 B’rëshiyt Bärä élohiym ët haSHämayim w’ët hääretz||1:1 ¶ In the beginning God created heaven and earth.|
|וְהָאָרֶץ הָיְתָה תֹהוּ וָבֹהוּ וְחֹשֶׁ עַל־פְּנֵי תְהוֹם וְרוּחַ אֱלֹהִים מְרַחֶפֶת עַל־פְּנֵי הַמָּיִם||1:2 w’hääretz häy’täh tohû wävohû w’choshekh’ al–P’nëy t’hôm w’rûªch élohiym m’rachefet al–P’nëy haMäyim||1:2 And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness [was] upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.|
|וַיֹּאמֶר אֱלֹהִים יְהִי אוֹר וַיְהִי־אוֹר||1:3 waYomer élohiym y’hiy ôr way’hiy–ôr||1:3 And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.|
|וַיַּרְא אֱלֹהִים אֶת־הָאוֹר כִּי־טוֹב וַיַּבְדֵּל||1:4 waYar’ élohiym et–häôr Kiy–†ôv waYav’Dël||1:4 And God saw the light, that [it was] good:|
Those are the first verses of Genesis: “In the beginning God created heaven and earth. And the earth was tohû wävohû, meaning to say “without any order,” disorder, like the room of a bachelor. But what happened? The Holy Spirit came: w’rûªch élohiym m’rachefet al-P’nëy haMäyim. In Hebrew, the words can mean “hurricane” or a strong typhoon, in the Philippines. But I don’t think the sacred writer was referring to a strong typhoon over the waters. It means the spirit of God: w’rûªch élohiym. And the spirit of God was hovering over the waters. What happened next is that creatures came out.
Now, according to the Hebrews, what are counted as alive are those living things that can move. Plants, trees, and grains are not alive, because they don’t have blood. For the Hebrews, only those animals and fish that have blood and that can move are really alive. It’s only Genesis 1:20 when true life came out. How did it come out? The spirit of God was hovering over the waters. That means that water is a symbol of the womb of a mother. And by the power of the Spirit from the water of the mother, the womb, creatures, living creatures came out.
Therefore, for the Hebrews, a very important principle is this: The Spirit of God on the water. Now this is a very, very common understanding among the Hebrews. It appears again in the Book of Kings [2 Kgs 5:1-14]. Remember Naaman the leper? Naaman the leper wanted to be cured. Now, he had a servant who said: “Well, if you want to be cured, there is a prophet in Israel, Elisha, who can do something for you.” And so they went to Elisha. “Elisha, what shall I do?” Elisha said: “Take a bath in the river Jordan, and if you do it seven times, you will be cured of your leprosy.” At this, Naaman said: “That is an insult. The Jordan River is dirty. We have cleaner rivers in Syria. Why should I not take a bath in Syria?” But his servant prevailed over him: “If the prophet told you, better obey.”
OK, so he went. He humbled himself and went to the Jordan and took a bath seven times. After the seventh bath, his flesh became cured, like a little baby boy. He was born again. Why? Because of the water and the Spirit. The Spirit is symbolized by seven times. Remember? Seven gifts of the Holy Spirit.
Therefore, our Lord Jesus, being a Hebrew, took up this principle, that the principle of life is water and the Spirit. Therefore, in John, chapter 3, one night He visited an eminent Jew called Nicodemus [Jn 3: 1-21]. He had a long conversation about new birth. But he said to Nicodemus: “Nicodemus, amen amen I say to you. Unless a human being is born again of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of heaven.”
This is a very important text, one of the texts that was dogmatically defined by a council, the Council of Trent, stating that this text refers to baptism. That in order for someone to go to the kingdom of heaven, he must be baptized with water, and the Holy Spirit is there. If you have the original Greek, the water and the Spirit have a cohesive action. The Spirit cannot act without the water, and the water cannot act without the Spirit.
Therefore, they cooperate in bringing about new life. When you are baptized, you are an absolutely new human being, no longer a human but divine, because of the water and the Spirit. And Nicodemus understood it, because he was a Hebrew. “Be reborn in water and the Spirit.” Therefore, to become children of God, we must be baptized.
This was taken up by the sacred writers. St. Paul, in his letter to Titus, chapter 3, verse 4 and following, said: “When the grace of God appeared, we were saved. But we were not saved by ourselves. We were saved by the Holy Spirit, who cleansed us and gave us a new bath.” [Titus 3:4-7] What is the bath? Baptism. And the Holy Spirit is giving to us abundantly. And because He has given to us abundantly, we must live by the light of the Spirit and reject the life of the flesh, which is sin. And that passage is read on Christmas Day. It’s the second reading of Christmas, apparuit gracia Dei (the grace of God has appeared) [Titus 2:11]. This is to honor the Holy Spirit for a new life on Christmas because of the incarnation of Christ. The new life is with us.
The fathers of the Church also wrote about baptism. For example, Tertullian said: The water in baptism is activated by the Holy Spirit, just as at the beginning of Genesis, when the Holy Spirit was active on the waters that produced new life. In the same way, in Baptism the Holy Spirit is active in producing new life. The Holy Spirit is ever acting, always on the waters. There are similar writings from St. Cyprian.
Now, a still deeper reflection, one that is a very good thing for us, especially as Catholics. This is from St. Leo the Great. And the sermon is found in the Office for reading on Christmas. He said: “Just as the Holy Spirit was active in the womb of the Virgin Mary and produced Our Lord Jesus Christ, so at the same time the Holy Spirit is active in Baptism. Because the Lord Jesus Christ is the head of the Church, and Mary is the mother of the Church, we are brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ. Therefore, we are related to Christ as brothers and sisters, and to Mary as a mother. St. Leo the Great said that the waters of baptism are a symbol of the womb of the Virgin Mary. So when we are baptized, like Christ we are born into the womb of the Virgin Mary by the action of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, when you look at the baptismal font, there look at Mary, your your patroness at Holy Name of Mary. Mary has a part, according to St. Leo, in the act of baptism. And she is the mother of God.
Remember, at the very end, when Jesus was about to die, his great mission was to make Mary our mother. And Mary, our mother, is related to the Holy Spirit. Also, in the Annunciation, how did Mary conceive the Son of God? Not by any human being. Joseph was assured: “Joseph, take Mary as your wife, because the son that is borne in her womb comes from the power of the Holy Spirit overshadowing Mary.” [Matthew 1:20] And with that, the Son of God was born incarnate into the world.
Understand that the body of God’s son is the body of the Church. Brothers and sisters, something important happened on Good Friday. Remember the important scene when Our Lord was about to die? [Jn 19:25-27] At the foot of the cross was Mary, His mother, and John, the favorite disciple, who is the symbol of all of us. And some other women, like Mary Magdalene, and Mary Clopas.
His last will was this: He called Mary by an important title, Woman. That is really the translation of the Greek, γυνή (gynai). But for me, it is better to translate it as Lady, because γυνή is the counterpart of the Greek word κύριος (kurios), which is Lord. Jesus became Lord, a Κυρίου, on the cross, and so the Lord called Mary γυνή, the Lady. Literally, a woman, but more polite is the Lady. That’s why we call Mary Our Lady of Fatima, Our Lady of Lourdes, Our Lady of Peñafrancia; not the Woman of Fatima, the Woman of Lourdes, the γυνή.
And He said: “Γυναί, Lady, behold your son.” And St. John is the symbol of us all, the loved disciple. And he addressed John: “John, behold your mother.” You see, Mary became the mother, not only of Jesus, but the mother of the whole Church. And if you read it in the original Greek, when our Lord died, he simply did not give up his breath, but in Greek it is παρέδωκεν τò πνεũμα (paredkoken to pneuma) [Jn 19:30]. He gave up the Spirit, meaning the Holy Spirit, because the Holy Spirit was with Jesus when he was doing His ministry.
Remember, during the baptism of our Lord, when John baptized Him, the Father said: “This is my beloved Son in whom I’m well pleased.” And the Holy Spirit came to anoint Him. And with that, He became powerful and was able to proclaim the kingdom of God, to do healing. It was the Spirit who empowered the man Jesus to do that. Jesus worked with the Spirit the whole time.
As bishops, we give the Holy Spirit in Confirmation, to make every Christian as active as our Lord. And you have been baptized and confirmed. You have the Spirit and are supposed to be as active as the Lord in proclaiming the gospel.
Now what is death? Jesus gave up his spirit, and the Spirit descended then on Mary and John. At that moment, the Church was born. When they pierced His side, water and blood came out. That is a symbol of the Church and the most important sacraments: water of Baptism and the blood of the Holy Eucharist. Therefore, the Church was born on Good Friday.
But it’s a pity that only Mary and John and the saintly ladies were there. So Jesus had to give the Spirit, the same Spirit, on Easter Sunday to the apostles, who were afraid. He said: “Peace be unto you. Shalom aleichem. As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” [Jn 20: 19-23] That’s the church. He breathed on them: “Receive the Holy Spirit.” And the apostles, the twelve apostles received the Spirit on Easter Sunday.
And remember, it is the Spirit that gives life. The creator. You have to remember in Genesis, when God formed man from the earth, it was not alive. What was needed to breathe was the w’rûªch, the Spirit. The mud became Adam, became a man that is alive.
And remember the passage of Ezekiel, the dry bones [Ez 37:1-14]. God said to Ezekiel: “Cry out to the winds from all the four corners,” and when the wind, the spirit of God, the w’rûªch élohiym came to him, the dry bones became alive, for it is the Spirit that vivifies.
So the Church was born first Good Friday, second on Easter Sunday, when the Holy Spirit was there, but still, only the twelve apostles were there. St. Luke dramatized it. Why he did that is because, according to theology, the Paschal Mystery is one whole mystery: the death of Jesus, the resurrection, the ascension, and the giving of the Holy Spirit, all one single event. But these are separate occurrences which we celebrate as one mystery. Therefore, St. Luke, a dramatist, said: We’ll try to separate these things. He said the Lord ascended to heaven only after forty days. When Our Lord ascended into heaven He said: “Wait. Before you preach to the world, you must receive the Holy Spirit. You cannot do that by yourself. Pray.”
So, they prayed. They prayed the first novena, a prayer for nine days, together with Mary, our mother. They prayed for the coming of the Holy Spirit. Now the novena is very popular, especially among Filipinos. The first novena is the disciples waiting for the coming of the Spirit.
Forty plus nine, forty-nine; on the fiftieth day, Pentecost. The Holy Spirit descended, not only on the twelve apostles and Mary, but all the disciples. There, it was a public creation of Holy Mother Church.
So my brothers and sisters, this is the time of the Holy Spirit. I’m so happy that we have a prayer group centered on the Holy Spirit. With you and the Holy Spirit, you can save America and the whole world. You know the whole world today has plenty of troubles, coming from satanic forces. It’s terrible. Terrible. The bishop of Springfield, this in the news, has said that what happened in the fall of the Roman Empire is happening today. Before the fall of the Roman Empire, they had abortion. They had all kinds of sexual sins, like is happening today. And such terrible things, even fetuses are being sold. Terrible.
How to counteract that? Pray to the Holy Spirit to enlighten the people with truth. Jesus said: I’m happy to leave this world, because the Holy Spirit will come to take my place as the Paraclete.
Paraclete means advocate. If you have a court case, you can’t do that without a lawyer. It is like the Holy Spirit lawyering for you, teaching you what to say, making you understand the revelation of God. God’s revelation was finished in biblical times, but that revelation has to be understood by the light of the Holy Spirit. So the Church is the creation of the Holy Spirit.
Patriarch Athenagoras, an orthodox patriarch, attended the Second Vatican Council as a guest, and he had very good words about the Holy Spirit. He said: “Brothers and sisters, without the Holy Spirit, the Holy Bible is like a classic book like Shakespeare. Without the Holy Spirit, the Church is like a club of people. Without the Holy Spirit, Jesus is distant from us. But with the Holy Spirit, the Bible is the Word of God. With the Holy Spirit, the Church is a communion in the Body of Christ. And with the Holy Spirit, Christ is near to us.” Amen.
- What can you tell us about today’s revelation, today’s movement of the Holy Spirit, and how it’s being felt in the Church today? Why it’s so prevalent today and what’s going on.
- That movement is a very good thing, because there is a Holy Spirit and there’s an evil spirit. In the apocalypse, according to the sacred scripture, the bad spirit is allowed to be active in the world. That is why so many bad things are happening, even making a travesty the teachings of God.
Now, the Holy Spirit will counteract the evil spirit. That is why I’m very glad that so many groups all over the world, Christians, whether Catholics or non-Catholics, are devoted to the Holy Spirit, to guide the world into all truth, because one of the functions of the Holy Spirit is to teach all people the truth. God has told the truth in divine revelation, but to understand how it applies to situations, the culture, the conditions of this day, we need the Holy Spirit, because our modern times are very different from the times of the biblical period. Different from the times of the Roman Empire. Different from the Middle Ages. Different from the Age of Enlightenment.
Today’s world is becoming more and more complicated. The more complicated a thing is, the more we need the Holy Spirit to teach us. The Holy Spirit does not teach only religious things, but also scientific things. These men who invent so many things, these men are geniuses. Where did they get the knowledge? The Holy Spirit. The laws of nature are there. The secrets of nature are there, all created by God, but discovered by a certain human being, a group of them. It is because of the aid of the Holy Spirit. Thank God that we have email, we have cellphones, we have everything, the Internet, God has done all of this through the light of the Holy Spirit. Also modern medicines, airplanes, even atomic bombs.
So that’s the way the Holy Spirit is active in everything. But we have to assure that everything that we have knowledge of is for the glory of God. In the Bible, the knowledge that you have here is for our salvation. Eternal salvation. Because the aim of our Lord and the apostles is not to promote the human order in this passing and evil world. Their task is to promote the kingdom of God and the age of glory. And that is our task, with the Holy Spirit.
The evil spirit tells us that the world is only here. Material things. Pleasure. Vices. Sins. The seven capital sins. Everything. It is the act of the Holy Spirit to remind us: No, we are for the kingdom of God. You are for the age of glory. That’s why I’m happy that more groups of people have a special devotion to the Holy Spirit. We need the influence of the Holy Spirit today.
- I experience a lot of peace and joy and a feeling of love when I’m in nature, and then when I come back to town, it just seems to go away and I don’t know how to get it back. I feel like God’s presence is there or with me in spirit, and I’m very filled and very peaceful, but once I come back in the world, it goes away. What is that?
- The Holy Spirit is ever ready to be with us. My experience is this: I belong to the Society of the Divine Word (Societas Verbi Divini), and our founder, who’s now a saint, Arnold Janssen, had a great devotion to the Holy Spirit. Therefore, I, being in SVD, I sing the Hymn of the Holy Spirit every day. Veni Creator Spiritus, all in Latin. “♪ Veni Creator Spiritus ♪” And it seems that, if I do that, I am guaranteed that He will come. And then it seems, when there is some trouble, some enlightenment will be there. And when I preach, the Holy Spirit is there.
If you are with the Holy Spirit all the time, I think God will protect you. And I would make a conscious effort, because we are related to the Blessed Trinity as a person. God is a person of three divine persons. The Father loved the Son. And in that love is the Holy Spirit. The relationship is love. So we must also, we must have a personal relationship with the Holy Trinity. If you love the Father and the Son, the Holy Spirit is with you.
And not only that, there is a very important thing that we have forgotten: that in our heart, the Holy Spirit, the Holy Trinity, is dwelling in us. That is why, when you are baptized, you are baptized in the Holy Trinity: “In the name of the Father, the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” The life of the Trinity is with us already. It’s just a matter of being conscious.
I would like you to be missionaries, filled with the Holy Spirit. At home, if you have children and grandchildren, please inspire them. Teach them that we’re guided by the Holy Spirit. And that some people are not guided by Him. If you have time in the office, be missionaries. They’ll experience how happy we are as a Catholic, as a Christian, to be filled with the Holy Spirit. I am sure many conversions have taken place in this way, even through witness by non-Catholics.
This is the last story that will tell. It’s a true one. I was flying, I think from America to the Philippines, or vice versa. And one of my co-passengers noted that I was wearing a clerical collar, and wondered “Who are you?” “I am a Catholic priest.” And he was very interested. Why? “Father, before, I was full of vices. Name it, and I had it. I had all kinds of sexual sins. I took alcohol. I took drugs. Everything that you can imagine. I was not happy. Then one day, I went into the church. I heard someone talking about the Holy Spirit: that the Holy Spirit has the strength to make you holy and to conquer all vices. I really prayed and really, Father, I overcame all those vices. And do you know what I do? I go to all kinds of groups, like Alcoholics Anonymous, and groups that deal with other drug-related problems of people, and I tell them my experience about the power of the Holy Spirit.” Nothing is hopeless in this world, if we invoke God Himself, the Holy Spirit, the Creator, the Sanctifier, the Paraclete, the Teacher. He is forgotten by many, but He is within us, within our reach, especially if you receive Holy Communion, because Jesus’ glorified body was glorified by the power of the Holy Spirit.