Pentecost and The Gift of The Spirit: Be Transformed, Recreated, and Elevated Into Eternal Life
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
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
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
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