Pope Benedict XVI- General Audiences
Paul's Teaching on the Holy Spirit
"Analyzes His Presence in the Life of the Christian"
H.H. Benedict XVI
November 15, 2006
Dear Brothers and Sisters:
Today, as in the two preceding catecheses, we again speak of St. Paul
and his thought. We are before a giant, not only at the level of the
concrete apostolate, but also at the level of theological doctrine,
extraordinarily profound and stimulating. After having meditated on the
last occasion on what Paul wrote about the central place that Jesus
Christ occupies in our life of faith, let us see today what he tells us
about the Holy Spirit and his presence in us, as in this also the
Apostle has something very important to teach us.
We know what St. Luke tells us about the Holy Spirit in the Acts of the
Apostles, on describing the event of Pentecost. The Pentecostal Spirit
imprints a vigorous drive to assume the commitment of the mission to
witness the Gospel on the paths of the world. In fact, the book of the
Acts of the Apostles recounts a whole series of missions carried out by
the apostles, first in Samaria, then in the strip of the coast of
Palestine, as I already recalled in a previous Wednesday meeting.
However, in his letters St. Paul also speaks to us of the Spirit from
another point of view. He does not limit himself to illustrate only the
dynamic and operative dimension of the Third Person of the Most Holy
Trinity, but also analyzes his presence in the life of the Christian,
whose identity is marked by him. That is, Paul reflects on the Spirit
showing his influence not only on the Christian's action but over his
very being. In fact, he says that the Spirit of God dwells in us (cf.
Romans 8:9; 2 Corinthians 3:16) and that "God has sent the Spirit of his
Son into our hearts" (Galatians 4:6).
For Paul, therefore, the Spirit penetrates our most intimate personal
depths. In this connection, these words have a relevant meaning: "For
the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus has freed you from the law
of sin and death. ... For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to
fall back into fear, but you received a spirit of adoption, through
which we cry, 'Abba, Father!'" (Romans 8:2,15), given that we are
children, we can call God "Father."
We can see, therefore, that the Christian, even before acting, already
possesses a rich and fecund interiority, which has been given to him in
the sacraments of baptism and confirmation, an interiority that
introduces him in an objective and original relationship of being a
child of God. Our great dignity consists in this: We are not only images
but children of God. And this constitutes an invitation to live our
filiation, to be ever more conscious that we are adoptive children in
the great family of God. It is an invitation to transform this objective
gift into a subjective reality, determinant for our way of thinking, for
our acting, for our being. God considers us his children, as he has
raised us to a similar, though not equal, dignity to that of Jesus
himself, the only one who is fully true Son. In him we are given or
restored the filial condition and trusting freedom in our relationship
with the Father.
In this way we discover that for the Christian the Spirit is no longer
the "Spirit of God," as is usually said in the Old Testament and as
Christian language repeats (cf. Genesis 41:38; Exodus 31:3; 1
Corinthians 2:11.12; Philippians 3:3; etc.). And he is not just a "Holy
Spirit," understood generically according to the manner of expression of
the Old Testament (cf. Isaiah 63:10,11; Psalm 51:13), and of Judaism
itself in its writings (Qumran, rabbinism).
Proper to the Christian faith is the confession of a participation of
this Spirit in the Risen Lord, who himself has become the "life-giving
Spirit" (1 Corinthians 15:45). Precisely for this reason St. Paul speaks
directly of the "Spirit of Christ" (Romans 8:9), of the "Spirit of his
Son" (Galatians 4:6) or of the "Spirit of Jesus Christ" (Philippians
1:19). It seems as if he wished to say that not only God the Father is
visible in the Son (cf. John 14:9), but also the Spirit of God is
expressed in the life and action of the crucified and risen Lord.
Paul also teaches us another important thing. He says that there can be
no authentic prayer without the presence of the Spirit in us. In fact,
he writes: "In the same way, the Spirit too comes to the aid of our
weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit
itself intercedes with inexpressible groanings. And the one who searches
hearts knows what is the intention of the Spirit, because it intercedes
for the holy ones according to God's will" (Romans 8:26-27).
It is as if saying that the Holy Spirit, namely, the Spirit of the
Father and of the Son, becomes the soul of our soul, the most secret
part of our being, from which rises incessantly to God a movement of
prayer, of which we cannot even specify the terms. The Spirit, in fact,
ever awake in us, makes up for our deficiencies and offers the Father
our adoration, along with our most profound aspirations. Obviously this
calls for a level of great vital communion with the Spirit. It is an
invitation to be ever more sensitive, more attentive to this presence of
the Spirit in us, to transform it into prayer, to experience this
presence and to learn in this way to pray, to speak with the Father as
children in the Holy Spirit.
There is, moreover, another typical aspect of the Spirit that St. Paul
has taught us: his relationship with love. The Apostle writes thus:
"Hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out
into our hearts through the holy Spirit that has been given to us"
(Romans 5:5). In my encyclical letter, "Deus Caritas Est," I quoted a
highly eloquent phrase of St. Augustine: "If you see charity, you see
the Trinity" (No. 19), and then I explained: "The Spirit […] is that
interior power which harmonizes their [believers'] hearts with Christ's
heart and moves them to love their brethren as Christ loved them"
The Spirit places us in the very rhythm of divine life, which is a life
of love, making us participate personally in the relations that exist
between the Father and the Son. It is highly significant that Paul, when
he enumerates the different elements of the fruits of the Spirit,
mentions love first: " the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace,"
etc. (Galatians 5:22). And, given that by definition love unifies, the
Spirit is above all creator of communion within the Christian community,
as we say at the beginning of the Mass with an expression of St. Paul
"... the communion of the Holy Spirit [namely, that by which he acts] be
with you all" (2 Corinthians 13:13).
However, moreover, it is also true that the Spirit stimulates us to
engage in relationships of charity with all people. In this way, when we
love we make room for the Spirit, we allow him to express himself in
fullness. Thus we understand the reason why Paul unites these two
exhortations on the same page of the Letter to the Romans: "Be fervent
in spirit" and "Do not repay anyone evil for evil" (Romans 12:11,17).
Finally, according to St. Paul, the Spirit is a generous pledge which
God himself has given us ahead of time and at the same time guarantee of
our future inheritance (cf. 2 Corinthians 1:22; 5:5; Ephesians 1:13-14).
Thus let us learn from Paul that the action of the Spirit orients our
life toward the great values of love, joy, communion and hope. It is for
us to experience this every day, seconding the interior suggestions of
the Spirit, helped in discernment by the illuminating guidance of the
[Translation by ZENIT]
[At the end of the audience, the Pope greeted pilgrims in several
languages. In English, he said:]
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Continuing our reflections on the Apostle Paul, we now turn to his
teaching on the Holy Spirit. Saint Paul not only presents the Holy
Spirit as the driving force of the Church's mission, he also speaks of
the Spirit's presence and activity in the life of each individual
Christian. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of the Risen Lord, the Spirit
of adoption poured into our hearts (cf. Galatians 4:6), by which we
become, in Christ, sons and daughters of the Father. True prayer is thus
the fruit of the Spirit's presence within us.
As the Spirit of the Father and the Son, he helps us in our weakness and
constantly intercedes for us before the Father. The Spirit is also the
Spirit of love (Romans 5:5): he gives us a share in God's own life;
enables us to love others with Christ's own love; and strengthens the
bonds of communion within the Church. Finally, Paul teaches us that the
Holy Spirit is the pledge and guarantee of the inheritance awaiting us
in heaven (cf. 2 Corinthians 1:11; 5:5). May Saint Paul's example and
insight inspire us to treasure the Holy Spirit's presence in our lives
and to follow his promptings with hope-filled joy and generous love!
I welcome all the English-speaking pilgrims here today, including
members of the World Union of Catholic Women's Organizations and members
of "Jesus Youth International" from India. May your visit to Rome be a
time of joyful spiritual enrichment. Upon all of you, I invoke God's
Look at the One they
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