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Happy Birthday, it’s Pentecost, the Birthday of the Church!  How important is the Holy Spirit?  No Holy Spirit, no Church.  It is the Holy Spirit that pours out a faith born from the love of God.  This sort of faith is no mere humanly contrived understanding of the nature of things,  the sort that originates from thinking long and hard enough.  Rather, it is pure gift and not just any gift.  Infused faith conceives God’s own life within us.  The Holy Spirit comes down upon the Apostles at Pentecost and the Church, the family of God, is born.  New members of this family are born when Divine life is conceived at baptism.  

Divine faith or infused faith deserves a great deal of attention and reflection.  Often times people think about faith in terms of being convinced of the existence of God.  In other words, if enough explanation, logic and signs converge to support God’s existence then a person believes.  However, this is not the faith that the Holy Spirit conceives in our soul.  Theologians distinguish between acquired faith and infused faith.  Acquired faith originates from us.  Accordingly, if I see signs and miracles or other historical evidence of Christ’s existence then I am motivated to believe in God.  Such faith would not require God’s grace to exist.  This sort of faith was condemned in the early Church as a heresy known as Pelagianism.  The priest Pelagius held that grace and the infusion of faith wasn’t necessary to be saved, albeit they certainly made it easier to acquire salvation.  St. Thomas states that even the devil had this type of faith as he acquired it by seeing the miracles and signs of Jesus.

The infused faith that was poured out onto the Apostles on Pentecost originates in the love of God and is poured into our hearts and minds.  It inspires the person to love God and to love God more than one’s own self.  The disciples of Jesus experienced first hand the contrast between “acquired faith” and “infused faith.”  In the Gospel of John, “The disciples said to Jesus, ‘Now you are talking plainly and not in any figure of speech.  Now we realize that you know everything and that you do not need to have anyone question you.  Because of this we believe that you came from God.’  Jesus answered them, ‘Do you believe now?  Behold the hour is coming and has arrived when each of you will be scattered to his own home and you will leave me alone.’”

The Disciples had “acquired” faith by considering and comprehending Jesus’ plain talk, but as we see, there was no power in such faith.  Compare the inner life of the Apostles before and after Pentecost.  They are now ready to die for Jesus Christ.  The faith poured out by the Holy Spirit into our souls does not require a degree in theology or an exceptional intelligence.  It requires the openness of a humble heart and mind to receive God’s gift of faith.  The following prayer to the Holy Spirit would be a great one to memorize and repeat each day.

Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful, kindle in them the fire of your love.  Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created.  And you shall renew the face of the earth.  O, God, by the light of the Holy Spirit, did instruct the hearts of your faithful, grant that by the same Holy Spirit we may be truly wise and ever enjoy his consolations, through Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Ad majorem Dei gloriam,

Rev. John F. Jirak

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