Redemptoris Missio 29bc: The Holy Spirit, Christ, and the Church

As we come to the end of discussing “The Spirit Is Present and Active in Every Time and Place,” Pope John Paul II looks first to how the Christian views the Persons of the Trinity. The citations are from Vatican II and after:

This is the same Spirit who was at work in the Incarnation and in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, and who is at work in the Church. He is therefore not an alternative to Christ, nor does he fill a sort of void which is sometimes suggested as existing between Christ and the Logos. Whatever the Spirit brings about in human hearts and in the history of peoples, in cultures and religions serves as a preparation for the Gospel (Cf. Lumen Gentium 16) and can only be understood in reference to Christ, the Word who took flesh by the power of the Spirit” so that as perfectly human he would save all human beings and sum up all things.”(Gaudium et Spes 45; cf. Dominum et Vivificantem 54)

The Spirit and the Church cannot be differentiated in terms of activity:

Moreover, the universal activity of the Spirit is not to be separated from his particular activity within the body of Christ, which is the Church. Indeed, it is always the Spirit who is at work, both when he gives life to the Church and impels her to proclaim Christ, and when he implants and develops his gifts in all individuals and peoples, guiding the Church to discover these gifts, to foster them and to receive them through dialogue.

This makes sense to me. It’s not so much that human believers “control” or “dispense” the Spirit on our initiative, but that the Church opens itself to cooperation with God’s plan.

A last note:

Every form of the Spirit’s presence is to be welcomed with respect and gratitude, but the discernment of this presence is the responsibility of the Church, to which Christ gave his Spirit in order to guide her into all the truth (cf. Jn 16:13).

He doesn’t do more than suggest it, but the institution of the Church shares this responsibility across a wide swath of believers: bishops and theologians, yes, but also pastors, spiritual directors, parents, godparents and sponsors, and others involved in the Church’s various activities. I should also mention that not every believer is prepared as a self-proclaimed individual to offer authentic discernment.

The document is available online here and is © Copyright – Libreria Editrice Vaticana


About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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