Sacred Heart

Catholic Church

Imlay City, Michigan  Tel: (810) 724-1135

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Homily
Fr. Paul Ward

Sat., & Sun., May 14 & 15, 2016
Pentecost Sunday, Cycle C

God the Holy Spirit:
A Contemplation with St. Basil

 

1.    

   Today the Catholic Church celebrates Pentecost. The Holy Spirit came down on the Apostles, giving them a wisdom and power of word in preaching the Gospel. From the upper room, where they were in Mary’s company, they went out to the ends of the earth to bear witness to Jesus, the Son of God, incarnated, crucified and resurrected.

   Today many theories abound about the Holy Spirit, especially as many have disturbed the Church with their so-called “charismatic” doctrines. Listening to them, one might think that Jesus was one God and the Spirit was another, and one had to pick which God to worship; or again, that if one listens to the Spirit, then there is no way one could really live a life of Catholic sacraments or disciplines. These ideas are as false as they are dangerous.

   In the ancient Church, several Church Fathers wrote about the Holy Spirit in especially noteworthy ways, most especially St. Ambrose and St. Basil. St. Basil wrote a treatise on the Holy Spirit only a few years before St. Ambrose did. Basil was bishop of Caesarea. There were many men in those time who belonged to the sect that embraced the heresy of Arianism, that said that Jesus was not God, that he was less than God, that there was a time when the Son did not exist, and that he was only a creature. The Church argued strongly against the heretics that Jesus was God, and these debates led to the council of Nicea, which largely composed the Creed we pray every Sunday.

   In all of this, some began to ask, “What about the Holy Spirit?” A similar heresy arose, denying that the Holy Spirit was God. St. Basil produced a long reply, affirming the Church’s faith that the one God is Father and Son and Holy Spirit, and that the denial that any of the three Divine Persons was God was erroneous and false.

   In his treatise, at one point, he provides a beautiful description of God the Holy Spirit. I’d like to read that to you this day, being Pentecost, and a week before the Confirmation celebration of the youth of our parish, as this glorious text may help us know, love and be docile to the Holy Spirit. St. Basil of Caesarea wrote:

 

[Hearing of God the Holy Spirit,] we are compelled to advance in our conceptions to the highest, and to think of an intelligent essence, in power infinite, in magnitude unlimited, unmeasured by times or ages, generous of His good gifts, to whom turn all things needing sanctification, after whom reach all things that live in virtue, as being watered by His inspiration and helped on toward their natural and proper end; perfecting all other things, but Himself in nothing lacking; living not as needing restoration, but as Supplier of life; not growing by additions; but straightway full, self-established, omnipresent, origin of sanctification, light perceptible to the mind, supplying, as it were, through Himself, illumination to every faculty in the search for truth; by nature unapproachable, apprehended by reason of goodness, filling all things with His power, but communicated only to the worthy; not shared in one measure, but distributing His energy according to ‘the proportion of faith’ (Rom 12:6); in essence simple, in powers various, wholly present in each and being wholly everywhere; impassively divided, shared without loss of ceasing to be entire, after the likeness of the sunbeam, whose kindly light falls on him who enjoys it as though it shone for him alone, yet illumines land and sea and mingles with the air. So, too, is the Spirit to everyone who receives Him, as though given to him alone, and yet He sends forth grace sufficient and full for all mankind, and is enjoyed by all who share Him, according to the capacity, not of His power, but of their nature.” (n. 22)

 

   So St. Basil on the Holy Spirit. See how he says that the Holy Spirit “perfects all other things.” We aspire to imitate Jesus the Son of God more and more every day, for which we ask the Holy Spirit, as the perfecting cause, to grow to perfection in this imitation. This and every grace we ask through Mary’s intercession. Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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