Posts filed under: spirit

Happy the man whose words issue from the Holy Spirit and not from himself.

— Saint Anthony of Padua

What is the Catholic view on speaking in tongues? - Anonymous

St. Paul is the one who spelled it out for us, most notably in 1 Corinthians 12 and 14. Essentially it’s a real phenomenon and a way the Holy Spirit can speak through people, though there are many other gifts to ask for that are far more important.

The principle “Ask (insistently and with faith) and you will receive” applies here, as it does in most things in the spiritual life. So it’s no surprise that these extraordinary gifts flower today most commonly in the communities where they are sought most ardently: the charismatic communities, both Catholic and Protestant.

That said, the extraordinary and impressive nature of tongues and gifts like them can easily trigger the less edifying elements of the human psyche, so psychological suggestion and outright fraud can give rise to things that look like the Spirit’s action but aren’t. 

Still, the genuine article is found more often than you might think. There are many ways in we “hear what the Spirit says to the churches” (Revelation 2:7): this isn’t the primary one (Church teaching through Spirit-guided Magisterium is) but it’s a very real one. It’s messy and hard to manage (the Spirit’s action always is) and it’s only ever at the service of charity and it’s not for everyone, but it’s real. Check this out if you want to go (a lot) deeper.

God bless you!

- Father Shane

O souls who in spiritual matters desire to walk in security and consolation! If you but knew how much it behooves you to suffer in order to reach this security and consolation, and how without suffering you cannot attain to your desire but rather turn back, in no way would you look for comfort either from God or from creatures. You would instead carry the cross and, placed on it, desire to drink the pure gall and vinegar. You would consider it good fortune that, dying to this world and to yourselves, you would live to God in the delights of the spirit, and patiently and faithfully suffering exterior trials, which are small, you would merit that God fix his eyes on you and purge you more profoundly through deeper spiritual trials in order to give you more interior blessings.

— St. John of the Cross

It’s a mind-blowing concept that the God who created the Universe might be looking for company, a real relationship with people, but the thing that keeps me on my knees is the difference between Grace and Karma. At the center of all religions is the idea of Karma. You know, what you put out comes back to you: an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, or in physics—in physical laws—every action is met by an equal or an opposite one. And yet, along comes this idea called Grace to upend all that… . Love interrupts, if you like, the consequences of your actions, which in my case is very good news indeed, because I’ve done a lot of stupid stuff. I’d be in big trouble if Karma was going to finally be my judge. It doesn’t excuse my mistakes, but I’m holding out for Grace. I’m holding out that Jesus took my sins onto the Cross, because I know who I am, and I hope I don’t have to depend on my own religiosity.

— Bono

Why do you believe in god? - Anonymous

"Why do I believe in God?" Folks tend to think that the answer will be something like the answer to "Why do you believe that helium nuclei are made of 2 protons and 2 neutrons?" 

But it’s not that at all. It’s more like the answer to “Why do you love your wife?” Nobody is going to give you “logical” answers to that one. It’s going to be more like “I don’t know how to say this, but…”

I think it’s really the same thing. I didn’t start believing in God because I did some sort of philosophical-theological calculation in middle school, but because I heard about God and then little by little I got to know him.

What we hear about God from the Church is not just “God exists (and give us $$),” but this: “God loves you and he wanted to tell you about it; this is his message that has been passed down from generation to generation, but talk to him yourself too.”

So it’s like what Augustine wrote: “You have made us for yourself, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.” Why are so many people who claim to be atheists so bothered by the God Question? Because their hearts are restless and they’re out of place… they can’t find the total happiness their hearts seek in whatever combination of wealth/health/sex/pleasure/fame that they think will make heaven on earth for them.

So it’s natural for us to seek God… we’re made by him, for him. It’s also natural for us to want to flee him somehow… we tend towards selfishness, don’t we? But we’ll never be happy on our own. And that’s why people are so happy when they get married to that wife. The fact that we need relationships points us to the greater fact that we need a Relationship. Because our hearts are restless.

Here’s something related that I wrote earlier, in case it helps you understand where I’m coming from.

And then if you start to accept that and discover God’s presence and love in prayer, everything else starts to make sense in life. The beauty and the order and the wonder of the universe that surrounds us. The meaning of suffering and the fact of conscience and the desire for truth and the point of God’s revelation of himself in Christ, etc., etc.

Hope it helps! 

God bless you.

- Father Shane

Father, is there really such a thing as a guardian angel? does each person have one? - Anonymous

Yes! The Biblical basis for that is Matthew 18:10.

See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven always look upon the face of my heavenly Father.

The Catechism doesn’t discuss angels a great deal, in part since though the Bible says a lot about their existence and action, they’re not the core of our belief. Actually, “worship of angels” (see Colossians 2:18) was one of the serious problems that motivated Saint Paul to write his letter to the community of Colossae.

But given Jesus’ clarity and centuries of theological reflection, the Catechism does say this:

From its beginning until death, human life is surrounded by their [angels’] watchful care and intercession. “Beside each believer stands an angel as protector and shepherd leading him to life.” Already here on earth the Christian life shares by faith in the blessed company of angels and men united in God. (#336)

So yes you do have a guardian angel. Here’s a prayer that has been traditional for centuries:

Angel sent by God to guide me,
be my light and walk beside me.
Be my guardian and protect me,
on the paths of life direct me. Amen.

 God bless you!

- Father Shane

The unforgivable sin is to reject the Holy Spirit, right? Therefore, wouldnt nontrinitarian christians (like mormons, jehova's witnesses, and oneness pentecostals) not be saved? or do they accept the holy spirit in a different way? are they really christians? - Anonymous

Well, thanks be to God, I’m not the one who decides if anyone gets saved or not! We would all be in trouble. :-)

But we can clearly and objectively say that those who reject the truth of the Trinity as expressed in the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed (the one we recite at Sunday Mass) are placing themselves outside of orthodoxy in doctrine as expressed unanimously by the early Church having pored over the Scriptures under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

So if you reject that — as well as the doctrine held by the vast majority of those who claim to be Christians — then you had better have a really good reason for it! I really don’t see how the groups you mention can really have any claim to a more legitimate understanding than that of the first Christians.

The exact meaning of Mark 3:29 is open to such an amazingly wide range of interpretations, given its context, that we need to be circumspect about application to any specific group of persons, I think personally.

God bless you!

- Father Shane

How ‘bout that. Since this is floating around Tumblr, maybe it’s worth mentioning that it’s almost completely theologically accurate.
I’ve sometimes said something similar in homilies… “The answer to all the most important questions in life is always the same: love.” At least if we agree that God is love as he tells us in 1 John 4:8, then it’s pretty clear that at least questions #1/3/4 of our theologian Depp are square on. #2 isn’t quite correct, but of course we’re made in God’s image, so it’s not entirely off-base.
Of course, with this sort of thing, you never really know if Johnny Depp said it, just because the Internet says so…

How ‘bout that. Since this is floating around Tumblr, maybe it’s worth mentioning that it’s almost completely theologically accurate.

I’ve sometimes said something similar in homilies… “The answer to all the most important questions in life is always the same: love.” At least if we agree that God is love as he tells us in 1 John 4:8, then it’s pretty clear that at least questions #1/3/4 of our theologian Depp are square on. #2 isn’t quite correct, but of course we’re made in God’s image, so it’s not entirely off-base.

Of course, with this sort of thing, you never really know if Johnny Depp said it, just because the Internet says so…

Hi Father,
I was at a Catholic youth group meeting a few weeks ago and something came up that I did not really understand. The discussion topic for the whole year is Pope John Paul II's Theology of the Body which is a good thing to be studying, but anyway this is the question that was asked: “Human beings are created ‘in the image of God.’ This refers to a) soul only, or b) soul and body.”
Now, the answer that was given was b) a soul and a body. These two CCC paragraphs were cited:

364 The human body shares in the dignity of "the image of God": it is a human body precisely because it is animated by a spiritual soul, and it is the whole human person that is intended to become, in the body of Christ, a temple of the Spirit.232

1004 In expectation of that day, the believer's body and soul already participate in the dignity of belonging to Christ. This dignity entails the demand that he should treat with respect his own body, but also the body of every other person, especially the suffering.

It is obvious that the human body is different from any other animal's body, but how could it possibly be made in God's image when He has no body? It seems to me that the catechism is saying that because humans have a soul their bodies are also made in God's image, which just doesn't make sense. All animals are animated by something spiritual, whether or not it is formally called a soul; when any animal dies the body stays but something leaves, the life-giving element that cannot be seen. Is it because humans have a rational soul that their bodies are in the image of God? If all animals are body-soul composites then there must be a distinguishing feature of the human soul for that to be the case.

The catechism says something else about how humans are made for God (I suppose the animals and plants are made for man?) and this makes both the human body and soul made in God's image. Could this be because God's essence and existence are identical, that is to say that His only reason for existing is Himself and the only way He can exist is in Himself? In a similar way the only reason we humans exist is because of God and for Him. I had just always thought that being made in God's image meant having an intellect and free will and had nothing to do with the body, so this was quite a curveball.
- Anonymous

Wow, that’s a really intelligent question. Thanks be to God, another professor here where I live just gave a course on the idea of the “image of God,” so I asked him how he would respond. Here’s his take:

The human person (man) is made in the image of God. This is from the Bible. 

I would say that the image of God lies primarily in the spiritual soul (intelligent and free), as your reader says. This is from sound theological and philosophical tradition. 

When the Catechism says the image of God lies also in the human body, it is because the human body, animated by an intelligent and free soul, is the human person. It does not mean to say that God has a body, or that the human body copies its material dimensions or characteristics from God. 

The Catechism says the human body shares in the dignity of the image of God. Thus what one does to a living body, is not being done to a mass of organic tissue, but to a person, and thus must be according to personal dignity (in particular, one cannot use someone’s body as a means).

In heaven, the resurrected human body will share in the dignity of the glorified soul. 

In sum, human persons are soul-and-body unities, and human persons are created in the image of God. 

Make sense? God bless you!

- Father Shane

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