Conformity with Christ through the Action of the Holy Spirit
Presence of God – O Holy Spirit, make me conformable to Jesus, make me an “alter Christus,” another Christ.
The Holy Spirit is given to us to sanctify us, but how will He accomplish His mission? The Encyclical Mystici Corporis tells us that the divine Paraclete “is communicated to the Church … so that she and each of her members may become daily more and more like to our Savior.” The Holy Spirit comes into our souls to make us conformable, and even assimilated to Christ: this is the immediate end of His action in us, this is the way by which He will lead us to sanctity.
All the elect are predestined by God “to be made conformable to the image of His Son” (Rom 8:29): we shall be saints according to the degree of our resemblance to Christ. The Holy Spirit has been given to us that He may imprint in us the traits of this divine resemblance, and make us “daily more and more like to our Savior.” Oh! how necessary it is that no day should ever pass without some increase in this likeness! Sister Elizabeth of the Trinity, profoundly impressed by this truth, used to pray to the Holy Spirit to make of her “an added humanity wherein He may renew all His mystery” (Elizabeth of the Trinity, Elevation to the Most Holy Trinity). If Jesus is the model to whom we should all be conformed, there is no presumption in aspiring to become so like Him that our life may be a “prolongation” of His, and that He may continue in us His work of unceasing adoration and glorification of the Father, as well as that of the redemption of mankind.
Of ourselves, we are unable to reach such perfect conformity with Christ, but the divine Spirit is in us to bring it about. Christ is the Holy One par excellence. In order to make us like Him, the Holy Spirit initially communicates to us Christ’s sanctity by pouring grace into us; this grace penetrates our being, our activity, and our life in such a way that it makes of each one of us an alter Christus, another Christ. Let it be noted that the grace given to us by the Holy Spirit is identical in its nature with the grace that sanctifies the soul of Jesus: although it is given us in an infinitely lesser degree–Christ possessing it “without limit”–it is the same seed, the same principle of sanctity. This is why the full development of grace can really bring us to identification with Christ, to becoming other images of Him. To the degree of our transformation in Him corresponds the degree of our participation in His sanctity and also in His work. Christ will renew His mystery in us: in us, He will continue to glorify the Most Holy Trinity and to save souls.
“My beloved Jesus, I desire to follow with You the rule of love, the rule of the will of God, by which I can renew and spend my whole life in You. Place it in the care of Your Holy Spirit, so that at all times I shall be most prompt to keep Your commandments and fulfill all my duties. I am only a poor twig, planted by You. Of myself, I am nothing, and less than nothing, but You can make me flourish in the abundance of Your Spirit. What am I, O my God, life of my soul? Ah! how far away from You I am! I am like a speck of dust, raised and blown away by the wind. Oh! by virtue of Your charity, by the breath of the Holy Spirit, and at the pleasure of Your Providence, may the violent wind of Your omnipotent love cast me into You with such force that I may really begin to die to myself in order to live solely in You, my sweet love. Make me lose myself in You, abandoning myself so completely that no trace of self will remain in me, just as an invisible speck of dust disappears without being noticed. Transform me wholly in the tenderness of Your love, that, in You, all my imperfection will be reduced to nothingness and I shall have no life outside of You” (St. Gertrude).
“O consuming Fire, Spirit of Love! Come down into me and reproduce in me, as it were, an incarnation of the Word; that I may be to Him an added humanity, wherein He may renew all His mystery!” (Elizabeth of the Trinity, Elevation to the Most Holy Trinity).
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Art: Detail from The Holy Family with God the Father and the Holy Spirit, Carlo Dolci, circa 1630, JarektUploadBot, PD, Wikimedia Commons. Father Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, mirror from open source material.