Since the wonderful moment of our Baptism, the Holy Spirit has been dwelling within us, loving us and giving Himself to us. How blessed our life becomes when we draw close to the Holy Spirit, responding with all of our love to the Divine Person whose very name is Love. (Summa Theologiae I.37.2)
The Person of Love
“God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us” (Rom. 5:5). As St. Augustine reflected on this beautiful passage from St. Paul, he found in our own experience of love a precious intimation of who the Holy Spirit is at the heart of the Trinity. There is always a “threeness” in our love: we who love, our beloved, and the bond of love between us. In this mystery of created love, Augustine found a tender reflection of the deepest love of all, the Divine Persons’ infinite love for one another. As he contemplated the exquisite mystery of the Father’s eternal self-giving to His Son, and the Son’s ecstatic returning of His Father’s love, Augustine was inspired to glorify the Holy Spirit as Their infinitely sweet “Embrace,” Their exquisite “Delight,” Their most intimate Bond of Love.
All three Persons of the Trinity are love by nature, but only the Holy Spirit, the Father’s and Son’s living Love for one another, is the Divine Person whose distinct personal identity and name are “Love.” Even the precious name that we most often use for the Third Divine Person, “Holy Spirit,” alludes to this mystery of Love that the Holy Spirit is. The beautiful word spirit can mean “breath” or “impulse,” and one kind of gentle “breath” is the impulse of love that draws us to our beloved. The Father’s and Son’s “Impulse of Love” drawing Them eternally to one another, Their mutual “Breath of Love,” is the Third Divine Person, the Holy Spirit, whose intimate, personal name is Love.
St. Bernard of Clairvaux calls the Holy Spirit not only the Father’s and Son’s living “Breath of Love,” but also Their sweet “Embrace” and tender “Kiss” of Love (Song of Sol. 1:2). The Lord Jesus kissed His apostles with this living “Kiss” when, after His Resurrection, He “breathed” on them His wondrous Holy Spirit (John 20:22). Through the Trinity’s intimate love for us, we ourselves are blessed beyond all measure to receive the Father’s and Son’s own “Kiss of Love” at our Baptism, and then to receive the unrestrained fullness of Their eternal, intimate “Kiss” at our Confirmation. Wonderful mystery of love! The Holy Spirit, the Father’s and Son’s exquisite “Kiss of love” now dwells intimately within us, loving us tenderly, delighting in us, and inviting our own response of love in return.
Our Gift to Possess and Enjoy
We know that love itself is, above all else, a cherished gift. When we give our love to someone, we bestow it freely and not because it is owed. When we give a gift to someone dear to us, it is not because it is demanded; in our gift we are freely giving our love. Our experience is a reflection of the exquisite mystery of the Holy Spirit, the Divine Person of Love, whose very name is not only “Love” but also precious “Gift” (Acts 2:38). At our Baptism, all Three Divine Persons give Themselves completely to us as gift, so that we may possess Them, enjoy Them, delight in Them. The Holy Spirit, however, is infinite Gift in a unique way. As the Father’s and Son’s own intimate Love for one another, the Holy Spirit is also Their exquisite Gift of Love, the living Gift who also gives Himself to us, to be truly ours to possess and enjoy and belong to us forever.
The Holy Spirit gives Himself completely to us, not because we are worthy but because He is the most tender “Father of the Poor.” What a consoling name! What gentle miracles of love we experience when we pray to the Holy Spirit using this beautiful, powerful name! In all of our needs, when we feel helpless, when everything seems hopeless, let us cry out to the Holy Spirit, “Father of the Poor, help me!” St. Paul assures us that “God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit,” who “has been given to us” (Rom. 5:5). These beautiful words show us how unreserved is the Holy Spirit’s self-giving to us who are utterly poor, who have nothing to draw the Holy Spirit’s love to us except our helplessness.
The Lord reminds us of how tenderly we ourselves give good gifts to our children, who do absolutely nothing to “deserve” our love. We simply love to give them our love; the more helpless they are, the more we love to help them and give good gifts to them. How much more does our Father in Heaven love to “give the Holy Spirit to those who ask” (Luke 11:13). In our every need, let us simply ask the Father to flood our souls with His precious Gift of the Holy Spirit, the Person of Love who is everything good we could want for ourselves and our loved ones. In every situation, when we are happy and when we are troubled; when we are content and when we feel empty and distressed; when our hearts are at peace and when they are broken, let us turn to the Person of Love: “Father of the Poor, O Love, Beloved of my soul, give me Your love, Your joy. Satisfy my heart with Yourself.”
This article is adapted from a chapter in Drawing Close to the Holy Spirit by Sr. Mary Ann Fatula, O.P., which is available from Sophia Institute Press.
Art for this post: Cover and featured image used with permission.