Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By F. K. Bartels

5/29/2012 (3 years ago)

Catholic Online (

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.


By F. K. Bartels

Catholic Online (

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


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

Copywriter 2015 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for October 2015
That human trafficking, the modern form of slavery, may be eradicated.
Evangelization: That with a missionary spirit the Christian communities of Asia may announce the Gospel to those who are still awaiting it.


More Living Faith

'I HAVE GIVEN YOU FULL WARNING.' Dark Days - Did Pope Francis just predict the END OF THE WORLD? Watch

Image of

By Marshall Connolly, Catholic Online (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Pope Francis has invoked Mark, Chapter 13 as a warning that we may be approaching the end times. He suggested that what he has seen appears to fit the end times as described by Jesus. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Pope Francis has warned that we could be in the ... continue reading

Unbelievable exorcisms: Why is everyone obsessed with them? Watch

Image of Sixty-eight percent of Americans believe in the presence of angels and demons (The Possession).


Despite the growing belief that religion is losing its influence, people continue to firmly believe in the necessity for exorcisms. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - According to a Pew Research Survey, 68 percent of Americans believe angels and demons exist on Earth. ... continue reading

Come together this Thanksgiving with a beautiful prayer Watch

Image of Each year thousands of families celebrate Thanksgiving, but make the food their priority. This year, make God and all He has given us your priority.


Each year, millions of people across the United States rush to grocery stores and prepare to visit their families in celebration of Thanksgiving. Visiting loved ones and enjoying a specially prepared meal are both wonderful parts of celebrating, but don't forget to ... continue reading

Pope Francis: Jesus is weeping over a WORLD AT WAR

Image of Pope Francis mourns a world at war.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Pope Francis has made it clear, Jesus is weeping over a world at war. It has become obvious that this is a time of extreme danger for all people around the globe. No population is safe from terror. The threats aren't just from terrorist organizations like ISIS and Al ... continue reading

Oxford to begin study of Catholic relics. Here are 5 macabre relics people venerate from around the world Watch

Image of The skull of St. Thomas Aquinas.


The veneration of relics in the Catholic Church has been one of the most debated practices in the faith. While such veneration is actually common in the human experience -even Communists did it with the body of Lenin, the veneration of relics in the Church is the ... continue reading

Nine bishops, one abbot, dine and dialogue with peace activists Watch

Image of

By Tony Magliano

During the recent U.S. Catholic bishops' fall assembly in Baltimore, several bishops and one abbot, decided to skip dinner at the downtown Marriott Waterfront hotel, and walked several blocks to an inner city parish to share a simple meal with about 30 peace ... continue reading

Woman turns her cancer over to Jesus Christ - survives, thrives Watch

Image of Heather King shares her struggles in her new memoir,

By Mary Rezac, CNA/EWTN News

Heather King never cared much for doctors. Los Angeles, CA (CNA) - It's an attitude she partly inherited from her mother, "who classified ginger ale as a medicine, considered Novocain a snobbish extravagance" and somehow managed to avoid a visit to the doctor's office ... continue reading

Top 5 ways to find joy Watch

Image of Find happiness in spite of the darkness.


It is easy to fall prey to depression and sadness with everything that has been going on in the world these days. The trick to maintaining a positive attitude and living in the joy God has for us is as easy as following five simple steps. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic ... continue reading

Want to lose the War on Christmas? Surrender Advent Watch

Image of What millions of Christians do a day after expressing thanks for what they already have.

By Marshall Connolly, Catholic Online (THE CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Want to lose the War on Christmas? Surrender Advent. We Christians have gone out of our minds, arguing about Starbucks cups and greeters who (correctly) say "Happy Holidays" in place of "Merry Christmas." In all the bustle of the season, we have forgotten that Advent ... continue reading

The one easy thing you can do everyday that will profit your faith

Image of Reading Catholic Online every day can provide you with the Catholic outlook on the world you need.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

There is one thing you can do every day that will profit you in many ways. It requires no work and the most minimal effort. It will inform you, inspire you, and ignite your passions. That thing is to visit Catholic Online every day. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - ... continue reading

All Living Faith News


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 Miracle Prayer HD Video
  • Heartbreaking true story of American allies in Iraq denied ...
  • 'I HAVE GIVEN YOU FULL WARNING.' Dark Days - Did Pope Francis just ...
  • Prayer For Courage HD Video
  • St. Eligius: Saint of the Day for Tuesday, December 01, 2015
  • Who's really dying? Tragic reports surface revealing Russia kills ...
  • Daily Readings for Tuesday, December 01, 2015

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Romans 10:9-18
9 that if you declare with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and if you ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 19:2-3, 4-5
2 day discourses of it to day, night to night hands on the ... Read More

Gospel, Matthew 4:18-22
18 As he was walking by the Lake of Galilee he saw two brothers, Simon, ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for November 30th, 2015 Image

St. Andrew
November 30: Andrew, like his brother Simon Peter, was a ... Read More