Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By F. K. Bartels

5/29/2012 (3 years ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

The gift of the Spirit constitutes in a real way an immediate entry into eternal life; for by virtue of the indwelling Spirit the Christian shares in God's own divine and eternal life.

"[God] gave himself to us through his Spirit. By the participation of the Spirit, we become communicants in the divine nature. . . . For this reason, those in whom the Spirit dwells are divinized" (St. Athanasius) Although it is true that the Holy Spirit can make his presence known through external signs and special gifts for the sake of unbelievers (1 Corinthians 12: 4-11), our personal Pentecost begins with the Sacrament of Baptism and is made deeper through the Sacrament of Confirmation.

Highlights

By F. K. Bartels

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

5/29/2012 (3 years ago)

Published in Living Faith

Keywords: Pentecost, gift of the Holy Spirit, Spirit, share in God's divine life, divinized, eternal life, divine family, crucify the flesh, self-mastery, F. K. Bartels


GLADE PARK, CO (Catholic Online) -- St. Cyril of Alexandria noted that after Christ's completion of his mission on earth it still remained necessary for us to become sharers in the divine nature of God. We have "to give up our own life," he wrote, "and be so transformed that we would begin to live an entirely new kind of life that would be pleasing to God. This was something we could do only by sharing in the Holy Spirit."

What does this entirely new kind of life entail? It is life in the Spirit; a life in which we are re-created anew, given a new purpose and perspective, and thus are joined to an astonishingly beautiful destiny: through the supreme gift of the Spirit, a divine and human kiss of intimate love, we are swept up into the divine life of the Holy Trinity, become members of the divine family, and immediately enter in a real way into life eternal -- not later, not "some day," but now and in the present. Although this entry into heavenly life is, of course, not yet fully realized here on earth, we are nonetheless drawn, through the indwelling Spirit whose love permeates the soul with supernatural radiance and light, into eternal life.

Calling our attention to Vatican IIs Lumen Gentium, which states that the "promised restoration which we are awaiting has already begun in Christ" (48), Benot-Dominique de La Soujeole writes of the nature of Christian life on earth: "Eternal life has already begun. After death, at the definitive entry into God's glory, it is not another life that will begin; rather, we will find the fulfillment of the life given us to live here on earth" (Vatican II: Renewal Within Tradition 44).

There is what might be termed a caveat, however. As St. Cyril noted, we "have to give up our own life." In loving God for his own sake, it is necessary to abandon inappropriate love of self in favor of love of the highest and greatest Good: God. Here we give ourselves over, completely and forever, to the Spirit: he becomes our true love. The indwelling Spirit is then cherished as our sustenance and energy and very life-source. In such an attentive gaze of love, we "walk by the Spirit," which means we are cautious not to "gratify the desires of the flesh," since the Spirit and the flesh are opposed to each other (Gal. 5:16). St. Paul is not, of course, suggesting that the human body is anything less than good; on the contrary, it is good because God made it. But it is crucial to understand the desires of the flesh are often set against the Spirit (Gal. 5:17). 

Further, St. Paul reminds us that those who belong to Christ "have crucified their flesh with its passions and desires" (Gal. 5:24). This is first understood in light of the sacrament of Baptism, in which Christians are incorporated into Christ and receive the gift of the Spirit, and therefore share in the saving death of Jesus. Yet there is another dimension to what Paul is saying: those who follow Christ and have received the gift of the Spirit are to make the flesh subordinate to the movements of the Spirit. That is, Christians are to "crucify" or put to death the disordered desires of the flesh which conflict with not only the divine impulses of the Spirit but with his infinite goodness and holiness as well.

It is crucial to analyze our familiarity with the war between flesh and Spirit. That is, have we walked on to the battlefield and taken up the sword? Or, on the other hand, does the field of battle remain an unknown land due to our constant lack of participation? If we have not answered the call to holiness, if we are unfamiliar with the difficulties involved in "crucifying" the flesh, perhaps we have refused to march on to the field. Perhaps, instead of taking up arms, we have fled from this serious and important engagement.

Practically speaking, what are some things Catholics and other Christians can do in order to foster greater control over the flesh, which is integral to a life of holiness? First, we must give ourselves over entirely to the Spirit and rely in hope on God. But that is not to suggest inaction or even prayer only. On the contrary, there are tasks set before us. It is crucial to enter fully into the womb of mother Church and lead a sacramental life in Christ, that we may receive the life-giving grace of the sacraments, especially the Eucharist. So important is receiving Christ's body, blood, soul and divinity in the Eucharist that our Savior himself said: "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you" (Jn 6:53).

It is a mistake to attempt to embark on a life of holiness while in disregard of the Church who Christ himself instituted as the sacrament of salvation, and in whose nourishing womb we receive the words of truth and the sacraments of life, for to knowingly do so is to some degree an attempt to rely upon ourselves rather than on what God himself has given us by his good favor. It is not unlike saying to the Spirit: "I want your gifts, but not all of them." Here we come face to face with the fact that, while salvation is a free gift from God, we must appropriate the salvific sacrifice of Christ on the cross to ourselves by responding to the Spirit and following Christ: this entails governing our way of life and actions according to what God has revealed. And God most certainly has revealed the necessity of the Church.

The sacramental life in the Church is a life of unceasing prayer in the Spirit, in which one relies in trusting hope upon Christ's unfailing mercy. Although it is true that the Holy Spirit can make his presence known through external signs and special gifts for the sake of unbelievers (1 Corinthians 12: 4-11), our personal Pentecost begins with the Sacrament of Baptism and is made deeper through the Sacrament of Confirmation. And there is more. In order to conquer the flesh, it is important to engage in voluntary and innocent acts of suffering for Christ. After all, that is what Christ himself did for our sake, when, in an incomparable display of love, he subjected himself to unimaginable brutality and suffering in his Passion and Death on the cross for the redemption of humankind. Jesus said: "Whoever serves me must follow me" (Jn 12:26). Words from God himself which we must apply to our lives.

There are innumerable ways in which we can engage in voluntary and innocent suffering. While these might at first seem trivial, never mind that, it is important to start small: if you like butter on your toast, forgo it; if you prefer a long, hot shower, keep it brief instead. Want to greatly enhance the effects? Have it cold! Praying the Rosary on one's knees, fasting, abstaining from pleasures, serving the poor and consoling the outcast; all of these strengthen the human spirit and will, fostering our ability to force the flesh into subordination to the Spirit. It is all about training in self-mastery: an imperative exercise which is inseparable from the life of holiness to which every Christian is called.

As the Church reminds us, "everyone whether belonging to the hierarchy, or being cared for by it, is called to holiness, according to the saying of the Apostle: 'For this is the will of God, your sanctification'" (LG 39; 1 Thess. 4:3; Cf. Eph. 1:4). The Christian life of holiness is made possible by the Spirit, whose transformative and regenerative love, unsurpassed in greatness and glory, elevates men beyond their own nature and grants them a share in God's own divine life.

"If we have given up our worldly way of life and submitted once for all to the laws of the Spirit, it must surely be obvious to everyone that by repudiating, in a sense, our own life, and taking on the supernatural likeness of the Holy Spirit, who is united to us, our nature is transformed so that we are no longer merely men, but also sons of God, spiritual men, by reason of the share we have received in the divine nature" -- St. Cyril of Alexandria

-----

F. K. Bartels is a Catholic writer who knows his Catholic Faith is one of the greatest gifts a man could ever receive. He is a contributing writer for Catholic Online. Visit him also at catholicpathways.com

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


Copyright 2016 - Distributed by THE CALIFORNIA NETWORK

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for May 2016
Universal:
Respect for Women: That in every country of the world, women may be honored and respected and that their essential contribution to society may be highly esteemed.
Evangelization: Holy Rosary: That families, communities, and groups may pray the Holy Rosary for evangelization and peace.



Comments


More Living Faith

'We have done little for women...': Pope Francis dedicates May prayer video to the dignity of women Watch

Image of Pope Francis asks the world to respect women (Pinterest).

By Elise Harris (CNA/EWTN News)

In his May prayer video Pope Francis issued a global petition that women in all countries would be respected and valued, asking rhetorically if the mere recognition of their role is enough, or if more can be done. Vatican City, Rome (CNA/EWTN News) - "The contribution ... continue reading


Religious freedoms endangered around the world Watch

Image of Religious freedoms started their rapid decline in 2015 (Pinterest).

By Matt Hadro (CNA/EWTN News)

The right to exercise religion came under sustained assault around the world in 2015, according to a new report from a bipartisan United States commission, affecting Christians, Muslims, Jews, among others. Washington D.C. (CNA/EWTN News) - "By any measure, religious ... continue reading


HAPPENING NOW: Incredible 90-hour Bible Reading Marathon outside U.S. Capitol Watch

Image of The 90-hour Bible Reading Marathon started May 1, 2016 (Faith & Action).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

The 27th annual 90-hour Bible Reading Marathon at the U.S. Capitol began Sunday evening and will continue through May fifth. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The event was launched with a hymn and prayer, then Reverend Rob Schenck, the president of the National ... continue reading


Catholic Bishop abducted, attacked and assaulted before release Watch

Image of Bishop Prasad Gallela was abducted on his way home from mass (CNS).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Catholic bishop Prasad Gallela was on his way home from Mass on April 25, when two vehicles pulled up to him. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Bishop Gallela concluded Mass at Karunagiri Shrine in southern India then headed home.When the vehicles stopped, ... continue reading


Quick! What is the most quoted book of the Bible? This celeb knows! Watch

Image of Bono with Eugene Peterson have teamed up to make a short documentary about the Psalms.

By Marshall Connolly, Catholic Online (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

What is the most popular book of the Bible? There's one book that people enjoy more than any other and it's also the most frequently referenced in our culture. Now, Fuller Theological Seminary has asked two very famous people to help spread the word about this ... continue reading


Pope Francis spreads words of love Watch

Image of Pope Francis speaks of reconciling with God (Pinterest).

By Elise Harris (CNA/EWTN News)

Reconciliation is an essential aspect of God's mercy, Pope Francis said Saturday, explaining that when we distance ourselves from the Lord through sin, it takes much more than our own effort to get back to him. Vatican City, Rome (CNA/EWTN News) - Referencing St. ... continue reading


5 tips for Catholics to stay positive Watch

Image of Stay positive by following five simple tips (WikiMedia Commons).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Do you - or someone you know - struggle with maintaining a positive attitude? Are people less inclined to spend time with you due to your poor attitude? Are you tired of wallowing in negativity? Try these simple tips to change the course of your life forever! LOS ... continue reading


Why are these transparent wires being put up in cities around the world? Watch

Image of Eruv lines are set up in cities around the world to make life easier for Orthodox Jews.

By Marshall Connolly (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Members of an ultra-conservative religious denomination are stringing transparent wires around many urban neighborhoods, all for religious reasons. These nearly invisible wires form webs in cities such as New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles. What are these wires and ... continue reading


'[D]on't ignore us:' Pope Francis explains the difference between knowledge and real love Watch

Image of Knowing about God is not the same as loving Him (Vanvick/Wordpress).

By Elise Harris (CNA/EWTN News)

On Wednesday Pope Francis said that just because someone is an expert in God's law and a strict adherent to the rules doesn't necessarily mean they know how to love and serve others. Vatican City, Rome (CNA/EWTN News) - "It's not automatic that whoever frequents the ... continue reading


Miracle in the Philippines: Tribe converted to Christianity after hearing Gospel and watching 'Passion of the Christ' Watch

Image of Manobo tribe embraces Jesus (tikbo).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

The Manobo tribe of the Philippines were taught the Gospel and viewed Mel Gibson's "Passion of the Christ" film, which led several to convert to Christianity. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - According to missionaries from Christian Aid Mission, nearly the entire ... continue reading


All Living Faith News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Subscribe to Catholic OnlineYouTube Channel

the FEED
by Catholic Online

  • The Feast of the Ascension is the Portal to Eternity
  • Daily Readings for Thursday, May 05, 2016
  • St. Hilary of Arles: Saint of the Day for Thursday, May 05, 2016
  • Fatima Prayer HD Video
  • Top 10 mothers from the Bible
  • Too little too late: $75.5 million anti-Trump ads not enough
  • St. Mary Magdalene HD Video

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Acts 1:1-11
1 In my earlier work, Theophilus, I dealt with everything Jesus had done ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 47:2-3, 6-7, 8-9
2 For Yahweh, the Most High, is glorious, the great king over all the ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 24:46-53
46 and he said to them, 'So it is written that the Christ would suffer ... Read More

Reading 2, Ephesians 1:17-23
17 May the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, give you a ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for May 5th, 2016 Image

St. Hilary of Arles
May 5: Bishop of Arles, France, and friend and relative ... Read More