To Imitate Christ, We Need the Holy Spirit

Bishop Thomas J. Tobin

Especially before and during Pentecost, but on other special occasions as well, our churches echo with the sound of the beautiful and enchanting hymn, Veni, Creator Spiritus. “Come Holy Spirit, Creator blest, and in our souls take up thy rest; come with thy grace and heavenly aid, to fill the hearts which thou hast made,” the first verse reads.

And the invocation is certainly timely. It’s clear that the Church, badly battered and bruised by her earthly pilgrimage, needs the Holy Spirit if she is to fulfill her divine destiny; if she is to become all that the Lord created her to be; if she is to be a safe haven for her children as well as a sacrament of salvation for the world.

Pope Paul VI took up this theme in his impassioned reflection: “What does the Church need? The Church needs the Spirit, the Holy Spirit. The Church needs her perennial Pentecost. She needs fire in her heart, words on her lips, and prophecy in her outlook. She needs to be the Temple of the Holy Spirit.”

And what is true of the Church at large is certainly true for us as individual Christians as we make our way in the world. How do we overcome our own sinfulness? How do we tame our inordinate passions? How do we conquer our pride, our greed, our anger and divisions? How do we survive the discouragements and disappointments that come our way? How can we experience the hope, peace and joy the Risen Lord really wants us to know?

All of this is possible only through the gift and the power of the Holy Spirit.

It is the Holy Spirit who changed the Apostles from weak, timid and fearful men into courageous witnesses of Jesus Christ, willing to live, and even suffer and die for him. And it is the Holy Spirit who can change us, lifting us from the apathy of our sinful, imperfect ways to become faithful disciples of the Lord striving to grow in the imitation of Christ every day. It is the Holy Spirit who helps us to grow in personal holiness, strengthens our bonds with the Church, and sends us into the world to be witnesses of Christ. And so we pray: Veni, Creator Spiritus!

Something to think about: Whatever your personal or spiritual needs might be, don’t go it alone, but pray to the Holy Spirit.