Tag Archives: Holy Spirit

How truth regarding Jesus’ birth affects us today

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.” — John 3:16

During this wondrous season, while Christians around the world proclaim the most significant event in human history, that Jesus, the Word made flesh, was “conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary,” its real significance is often missed.

Have you ever stopped to think about the deeper meaning of the Incarnation and Nativity of Jesus? His birth was the birth of the most unique Person in history – the incarnation of God Himself, the mingling of God with humanity. As the greatest testimony of His love, the Father has His only Son become man to heal us from everything that separates us from Him – to save us from our sins. In this way, Jesus merits for us the dignity of becoming children of God, allowing us to cry out, Abba Father.

This great love story is retold every year and portrayed in the Christmas creche, which focuses our reflection, contemplation, and gratitude upon the wonder and beauty of our Savior’s birth. It is hard to imagine Christmas without this humble scene and its profound teaching of the heavenly Father’s love for His children.

The origin of the Christmas creche rests with St. Francis of Assisi. It is said that St. Francis lived daily with great joy the wonder and awe of the Incarnation of the Son of God and His blessed and humble birth. The meek saint would often shed tears of heartfelt gratitude, praising the divine Son who took upon Himself our human nature to reveal His Father and to reconcile all things and destroy the power of sin and death forever.

This event is the central moment in human history, which has changed forever our understanding of earthly realities. One reality is how we look upon the sanctity of human life. Jesus’ body was formed in the womb of Mary: “And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us, and we saw his glory, the glory as of the Father’s only Son, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). The eternal Son of God came into the world in the womb of the Blessed Virgin, thus blessing the womb of every woman and the precious life of every child. The ministry of Jesus didn’t begin at His birth but at His conception.

Despite this, life at every stage – from conception to natural death – is under siege. We cry and protest for the children who are impeded from being born, for the millions of children born and left to die from hunger and sickness, for the poor, the elderly, the sick, the disadvantaged, the marginalized, and the disabled. Yet, amid our weary struggle with these injustices, Pope Benedict XVI reminds us of the wonder of the Incarnation, its significance, and its power to tranform:

“The action of God, in fact, is not limited to words, indeed we might say he is not content only to speak but is immersed in our history and takes on the fatigue and weight of human life.”

The unapproachable God became approachable and is fully expressed – a God of love, mercy, righteousness, holiness, compassion, and glory. If we lose perspective on the essential truths that are bound up in the Incarnation and Nativity of the Lord Jesus, we lose sight of the Gospel and its revealed truth about life, the human person, and our eternal destiny.

FATHER SHENAN J. BOQUET is the president of Human Life International www.hli.org and a priest of the Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux, LA.

Amazed by God’s Grace

Larry Oney
The Word Among Us Press
148 pages

“As a black man, I can speak from experience about the realities of injustice, poverty, and struggle, but I can also speak from experience about the power of God’s triumphant love and the amazing grace that he gives us throughout our lives,” writes Legate Larry Oney in the introduction to his inspiring spiritual autobiography. His book intersperses scenes depicting the joys and challenges of his own life — from his days growing up in a large sharecropping family to his conversion to Catholicism and ordination as a permanent deacon — with personal reflections on God’s mercy, justice, and the power of forgiveness and healing. It’s a compelling testimony.

Order: Amazon

Does the Holy Spirit lead your business?

Does the Holy Spirit guide your personal life, your family life and your business? One CEO expressed his approach to the role of the Holy Spirit in his life as “I look for signs, I look for things I should be doing,” he said. “I want to live my life doing what God wants me to do.” That was not always the case prior to this decision. There was a time he was so focused on his business, it almost cost him his marriage and led to a crisis of faith. Reflecting on that time in his life, he said, “As you get pretty successful, you start to think it’s all you and that you’re something special.”

Bishop Sam Jacobs

Around that time he made a retreat, which began the transformation. He then decided to make more time for his family and for community service, with his public roles becoming increasingly altruistic.

And he learned an important lesson. A true disciple and business leader cannot live a contradictory double life. In the words of Jesus, a disciple cannot serve God and money. Instead, integrity must be a fundamental virtue of the Christian business man or woman. There can be no split between faith and daily business practice.

What makes the difference between a truly Christian business and one that is basically secular in nature is the role of Jesus and his teachings. The former does not have just a Christian front, while interiorly being secular, but is truly Christian, founded on solid moral principles and virtues.

The Christian business belongs to the Lord – because the leader has invited Jesus to be the Lord of his or her life. Like Jesus the Christian business leader seeks the will of the Father in every aspect of life, family and business.

On the other hand, the secular business follows a different code, where profit is more important than relationships or integrity. The bottom line becomes like a self-made god to which everything is sacrificed. It becomes the lord that is at the center of every decision.

However, where Jesus is Lord, the Holy Spirit is invoked and attended to in formulating the direction of the company. Being the Spirit of truth, the Holy Spirit, in His perfect timing, will guide the owner one step at a time in accomplishing God’s plan for the business. What is needed is trust in God’s divine purpose. At times it may seem odd to follow what God is asking you to do. While the lead of the Spirit, properly discerned, may sound implausible or even impossible, following it will prove beneficial in the long run.

This paradigm shift to the Lordship of Jesus and the lead of the Holy Spirit will result in becoming the leader Jesus desires you to be, following his example. It is the leadership of service, what God has modeled for the greater common good. Because the Christian business leader is a committed servant of the Lord, he or she is conscious of the accountability that must be given. To whom much is given, much is expected.

From Baptism and Confirmation, the Christian is filled with the Holy Spirit and with the various spiritual gifts of the Spirit. What would happen if a Christian business leader would begin to employ these gifts for the good of the business enterprise? Would decisions be different? Would discernment enable better decisions?

Would managing conflicts be handled differently if the Holy Spirit had been invoked from the beginning? Whenever you have human beings working together, there will be misunderstandings, drama and differing points of view. Jesus experienced this often in His life and the early Church did as well. The first step is to pray for the Holy Spirit’s guidance. Following His lead, there is the need to hear both sides. When a decision is made, all parties must accept the decision and move on; or not accept the decision and find another job. That may sound harsh, but if one of the parties cannot move forward, then that party will continue to cause problems.

A Christian business leader can lean on personal wisdom, strength and other natural gifts or can lean on the presence, power and plan of the Holy Spirit, Who in turn will provide the various fruits needed for the business to be effective. The choice comes down to following God’s plan or one’s own plan.

Retired in 2013, BISHOP SAM G. JACOBS is Bishop Emeritus of the Houma-Thibodaux Diocese. In 2014 he celebrated 50 years as a priest and 25 years of episcopacy (bishop).

Why should a person be confirmed?

While not absolutely necessary for salvation, Confirmation is strongly recommended by the Church for all Catholics. First, it concludes the sacraments of initiation — Baptism, Communion, and, of course, Confirmation.

Fr. John Trigilio

Second, the sacrament couldn’t come at a better time. While it’s true that we receive the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit at Baptism, they’re strengthened at Confirmation. It’s like receiving a Vitamin B12 shot in order to boost one’s immune system to fight off disease.

Baptism inoculates us from original sin, but we still deal with the residue of that sin known as concupiscence — a state of a weakened will, a darkened intellect, and capitulation to the passions. It sometimes takes a lifetime to overcome, or at least subdue, concupiscence. We have to study and learn in order to grow from ignorance and prejudice.

We have to constantly conform our wills to God’s will, for it’s in following God’s will that we are most happy. Sometimes it takes a lifetime to realize this. We conform our will to God’s by practicing the virtues; it takes a lot of work to keep our passions and vices in check.

At the age of puberty, everything seems to go weak in the knees. We sometimes rebel against our parents, God, and the Church. We have to deal with new temptations. Confirmation then strengthens the gifts of the Holy Spirit we received at Baptism. Like at any sacrament, God gives us grace. Yet we have to cooperate with these graces in order for the sacrament to work in our lives. Think of the gifts of the Holy Spirit as wrapped presents. In order for us to enjoy the gifts and use them, we have to unwrap the box and open it.

Wisdom gives a person common sense in the natural world in order to figure out right from wrong. Understanding is a gift that helps us in the supernatural world in areas of faith and morals. Counsel creates unity of mind and heart, while fortitude gives us courage in times of trial. Knowledge in the areas of God and what he wants for us helps us to follow his will. Piety, our outlook on life, prepares us to be with God for all eternity.

Finally, fear of the Lord is a gift of holy reverence to revere God as creator, redeemer and sanctifier. These gifts all need a special boost during puberty — as well as when we become adults. There are many temptations, false prophets, and misleading voices. The gifts of the Holy Spirit give us a discerning spirit.

FATHER JOHN TRIGILIO JR. is an author, theologian and president of the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy. This article is reprinted with permission from The Catholicism Answer Book: The 300 Most Frequently Asked Questions, which he authored with Fr. Kenneth D. Brighenti.

Catechism 101

Like Baptism which it completes, Confirmation is given only once, for it too imprints on the soul an indelible spiritual mark, the “character,” which is the sign that Jesus Christ has marked a Christian with the seal of his Spirit by clothing him with power from on high so that he may be his witness. This “character” perfects the common priesthood of the faithful, received in Baptism, and the confirmed person receives the power to profess faith in Christ publicly and, as it were, officially (quasi ex officio).

Catechism of the Catholic Church, #1304-1305