A Catholic Monthly Magazine

A great friend! One whose love never falters for us

By Fr Tony King sm

God the Holy Spirit

To be loved is the greatest need of the human heart. Human beings, however, are sometimes changeable. Have you ever felt let down in a difficult situation by the response of a friend whose love you cherished?

The one whose love for each of us is quite unchangeable is God. As St John declares in his first letter, God IS love! Hence, God the Father loves us, God the Son loves us, and God the Holy Spirit loves us – each one of us.

God the Holy Spirit is also sometimes called Personal Love, in the Godhead. Let’s try to shed a little light on this so that the Holy Spirit may become an ever more approachable friend for us.

When a person loves someone, or something, the one loving is borne towards the one loved, an impulse arises, bending him or her towards the other. St Augustine speaks of the ‘weight of love’ towards the one loved. In our loving, the person loving is distinct from the love and from the ‘weight’ of love; the love is in the person. The love can change or even be lost, but the person remains the same person; for example, Mary Jones loves Bill Smith, but if she lost her love for him, she still would remain Mary Jones. Her person and her love are not the same. She is not Personal Love; not love in her very personhood.

However, when the one loving is God, the impulse of love within God is a personal impulse of love, a ‘weight’ of love which is one with the very person. That divine person is God the Holy Spirit. He is Personal Love.

Like every impulse of love, the Holy Spirit ‘looks’ towards, is inclined towards, the ones loved. Who are the ones to whom He looks and is inclined? Yes, of course, God the Father and God the Son first of all; and then – you and me.

Yes, the Holy Spirit in His very Personhood is inclined in love towards each one of us.

In God the Holy Spirit, by that divine impulse of love that He is, not only is He the bond between Father and Son, but He is ever seeking to draw us ever more fully into the wondrous unity of life which He has with the Father and the Son.

That love for us is unchanging, never growing dim, never increasing because always at a maximum, not even affected by our own shortcomings.

Our growing awareness and realisation of the Holy Spirit’s personal love and concern for each of us, can, hopefully, increase our desire and give a boost to our efforts to live as true disciples of Jesus – loving one another.

Like Jesus, the Holy Spirit is so approachable. We can engage with Him with great confidence, quite simply, just with our own words – of thanks, praise or petition. Or with a prayer to Him that we, each one, selects and makes his or her own prayer to Him.

Any prayer! One beautiful prayer, however, is the Sequence to the Holy Spirit from the Mass for Pentecost Sunday. It is rather long, but just a small part of this Sequence can be a quite beautiful, confident, personal prayer. That is my experience.

The Pentecost Sunday Sequence

Holy Spirit, Lord of light,
From the clear celestial height
Thy pure beaming radiance give.

Come thou Father of the poor,
Come with treasures which endure;
Come, thou light of all that live!

Thou, of all consolers best,
Thou, the soul’s delightful guest,
Dost refreshing peace bestow;

Thou in toil art comfort sweet;
Pleasant coolness in the heat;
Solace in the midst of woe.

Light immortal, light divine,
Visit thou these hearts of thine,
And our inmost being fill:

If thou take thy grace away,
Nothing pure in us will stay;
All our good is turned to ill.

Heal our wounds, our strength renew;
On our dryness pour thy dew;
Wash the stains of guilt away:

Bend the stubborn heart and will;
Melt the frozen, warm the chill;
Guide the steps that go astray.

Thou, on us who evermore
Thee confess and thee adore,
With thy sevenfold gifts descend:

Give us comfort when we die;
Give us life with thee on high;
Give us joys that never end.

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