Aleteia

Pope Francis: Hey Christians, the Holy Spirit is more than a dove

Patrice THEBAULT/CIRIC
January, 2011: Melkite's monastery of the Visitation, Tazert, Morocco.
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Francis urges a daily examination, so we can see what spirit is moving in our hearts

An episode recounted in the Acts of the Apostles tells of how Paul arrived to Ephesus, where there were disciples of John the Baptist. When Paul asked them if they had already received the Holy Spirit, they replied, “We have never even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” (This is one of the biblical mentions of the sacrament of Confirmation, found in the beginning of Acts 19.)

Pope Francis drew on that account in his homily at Casa Santa Marta, saying that even today, there are Christians who don’t understand the Holy Spirit.

How many Christians still today identify the Holy Spirit only with a dove and don’t realize that he is what brings us to abide in the Lord, the pope said. “He is the guarantee, the strength to abide in the Lord.”

We should ask for the Holy Spirit, the pope said, explaining that even if we are surrounded by a lot of sin, if we have the Holy Spirit in our hearts, we are able to remain in the Lord.

But, we must be able to discern what is God’s spirit, and what is the spirit of the world, the pope continued.

He noted the Apostle John’s exhortation (1 John 4:1), to not believe every spirit, that is, every sentiment, every inspiration, every idea, but “test the spirits to see whether they are of God.” We do this by evaluating each idea or desire to see if it is God’s spirit or a worldly spirit, he said.

Many Christians, the pope lamented, “live without knowing what’s happening in their hearts.” This testing of the spirits brings us to know our hearts, he continued.

Many Christians have their hearts like a road, and they don’t know who’s coming and who’s going, what’s coming and what’s going. Because they don’t know how to examine what’s going on in their interior. That’s why I recommend that every day, you take a time before going to bed, or at midday — whenever you want — and you ask yourself, “What has happened today in my heart? What did I want to do, to think? What spirit has moved in my heart? The Spirit of God, the Gift of God, the Holy Spirit that always leads me to an encounter with the Lord, or the spirit of the world that smoothly, slowly separates me form the Lord? It’s a slow, slow, slow sliding away ….

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