The Spirit Is No Longer The Holy Ghost
by Veronica Szczygiel
If each member of the Trinity had his own Facebook page, the Holy Spirit would have the least number of “friends.”
This is a brute statement, perhaps, but it highlights a discomforting truth. Out of the three persons of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit does not garner nearly as much attention or study as God the Father or God the Son.
When we ask ourselves who the Father is, we immediately think of words like creator, protector, omniscient, omnipotent. And when we think of the Son, we conjure up the rich stories that weave together the tapestry of Jesus’ simultaneous humanity and divinity. We think of His death and resurrection. We think of our salvation.
But when we think about the Holy Spirit, we often draw a blank. The Holy Spirit, to me, is so mysterious and ethereal that I have a hard time comprehending exactly how it works within the Trinity.
My students at Marymount were just confirmed by New York Auxiliary Bishop Walsh at St. Ignatius Loyola Church in Manhattan. I began their sacramental curriculum by asking: Who is the Holy Spirit, and what is its role in the Trinity?
They found that one of the easiest ways to try to comprehend the Trinity’s divine mystery is to make metaphors. Of course, they spoke of the shamrock popularized by St. Patrick. But my students also created their own analogies. One girl said the Trinity was like an actress who had three roles in a play. She could play a cat, a rock and a tree, but she is still one actress. Another student said the Trinity was like a water molecule: It could be in a liquid, solid or gaseous state, but it is still, in all three modes, a water molecule. And yet another student suggested that the Trinity was like a triangle: one shape but with three points, just like one God with Three Persons.
These examples were so deep and so intuitive, they prompted me to reexamine my own relationship with the Spirit. As a writer, I did so by perusing through the Bible.
The Spirit, in fact, is inextricably present throughout Scripture. The Spirit is “moving over the water” as God creates the universe in Genesis (Gen 1:2). The Spirit speaks through Old Testament kings and prophets, and, later, it incarnates God the Son through Mary. And the Spirit shows itself when Jesus is being baptized by John in the Jordan River (Matthew 3:13-17).
On Pentecost, the Apostles felt the presence of the Holy Spirit and were empowered with the ability to speak in various tongues. This event started the Church’s ministry and outreach to all people, making it truly a catholic (universal) Church.
Let us use Pentecost as an opportunity to rethink our definition of the Holy Spirit and renew our relationship with it. Like a point on a triangle, the Holy Spirit is just as equally necessary as the Father and the Son to make up the wholeness of our one God.
Veronica Szczygiel is a member of St. Anthony-St. Alphonsus parish, Greenpoint.