Christ and the Confidence that Comes from the Holy Spirit
Christ baptizes in the power of the Holy Spirit and his fire animates the Christian life with hope. The Holy Spirit who moved over the waters of creation, who overshadowed the Virgin Mary, who descended on Christ at his Baptism, who carried the Crucified’s last wordless cry for our sake from the depths of His heart and into the Heart of the Father, who animates the Risen Body of Christ and who burns in the hearts of the apostles and the martyrs; He is the source of a hope so great no power in the heavens above or on the earth below can overcome it.
This hope conceived by the Holy Spirit makes sense of all the questions that riddle the effort to really live. It spouts in the face that restless longing which can find no lasting peace in this world. It rises against the burden of guilt that weighs down in shackles of all kinds of self preoccupation and escapism. It stands firm before the doom of death which hangs over all that is good, noble and true in frail humanity. This hope is rooted in the truth about the mystery of man because it is rooted in the mystery of the Son of God become the son of Mary. He who freely gave Himself for our sake reveals the truth about human dignity and the greatness of the calling with which it is entrusted.
The primordial riddles running through this present moment are all of them answered anew by the risen presence of Word made Flesh who is the source of the Holy Spirit. The Fire of God, who is the Light that shines in our darkness communicates and produces a superhuman confidence which does not fear conversion. The soil of our humanity is cultivated with supernatural power and our mortal existence made to flower with the fruit of divine life.
Christ was born in the flesh so that we might born in the Holy Spirit to live life to the full. The Fountain of Life from whom the Lord and Giver of Life flows, He longs for the Father’s work of love begun in us to be brought to completion. His Spirit-baptizing presence–born into our lowliness, crucified by our misery, and raising our humanity on high by the power of God–mysteriously opens up the freedom needed to fully give one’s life as a gift to God, to fill every moment of it with as much love as possible.
Trials, hardship, persecutions, renunciations, temptations, and sacrifices only extend and deepen the unfolding frontiers of this holy freedom, this fullness of life, this life lived by love. Such is the invincible God-given confidence of the baptized. They who have received the Gift of the Holy Spirit are continually invited to manifest this supernatural trust in God in ever more profound ways even in the face of death itself. When they welcome the Holy Spirit and obediently avail themselves to the work He accomplishes in them, they become living signs of what total trust in the Lord’s presence can do and they bear witness that not even death can steal the life that is given for the sake of God.
Art: Christ the King Catholic Church (Ann Arbor, Michigan) – interior Holy Spirit window, Nheyob, 5 August 2013, CCA-SA 3.0 Unported, Wikimedia Commons.
Editor’s Note: For more of Anthony’s insights on prayer, don’t miss his book, Hidden Mountain Secret Garden, an experience like no other. Anthony has an unusually profound understanding of mystical theology and lives a life of deep prayer. Among his many accomplishments and responsibilities, Dr. Lilles now teaches theology for the Avila Institute.