Every Sunday at Mass we say the Nicene Creed. The Creed is a summary of all that we believe as Catholics. There is one line dedicated to the Holy Spirit:
“I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of Life”
This is the most important thing that the Church wants us to know about the Holy Spirit: that He is the Lord and Giver of Life.
One of the most common symbols and images we have for the Holy Spirit is Breath. The Holy Spirit is the Breath of God. He breathes life into all of Creation.
In the Scriptures, the Hebrew word Ruah is used whenever there is a story about God’s Spirit coming as the Breath of God:
Genesis 1: In the story of Creation, the Ruah of God hovers over the waters and creates the world when God speaks. When man was created, God breathed his Spirit into Adam to give him life.
Ezekiel 37:1-10: God leads the prophet Ezekiel to a valley filled with dry bones. When Ezekiel begins to prophesy, the Ruah of God comes and brings the bones back to life.
Luke 1:26-38: The angel Gabriel comes to Mary to tell her that she will give birth to Jesus. When Mary asks how this is possible, the angel tells her that the Holy Spirit will overshadow her and she will conceive the Son of God. The Holy Spirit breathes life into Mary.
The Holy Spirit continues to be the Giver of Life in our lives today
John 3:1-5: Jesus tells Nicodemus that no one can enter the Kingdom of God unless they are born again of water and Spirit
Through the waters of Baptism, we receive the Holy Spirit into our hearts. We are born again as children of God and we are capable of entering into the Kingdom of God. We can have eternal life because the Holy Spirit dwells in us.
Another Symbol for the Holy Spirit (other than Breath) is Water.
The Holy Spirit is the Living Water that the Father has poured into our hearts to satisfy that thirst we have for God. Through the Holy Spirit, God is not just in heaven or a friend that stands beside us, He has come to dwell within us.
Once we have been baptized, we are constantly in the presence of God because of the Holy Spirit’s presence within us.
John 4: 13-15 : “Jesus answered and said to her, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again; but whoever drinks the water I shall give will never thirst; the water I shall give will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I may not be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water.”
This is the story of Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well. We all understand the feeling of thirst- the need for water is one of the most basic human needs. Our bodies need water to survive. In this story, Jesus speaks about the Living Water for our souls. He tells us that when the Father gives us the Living Water our souls will not thirst again.
“The desire for God is written in the human heart, because man is created by God and for God; and God never ceases to draw man to himself. Only in God will he find the truth and happiness he never stops searching for.” (CCC 27)
Our souls thirst for a relationship with God because we were created by God for God. We can try and turn to other things in this world to satisfy that thirst, but nothing will truly satisfy us except for God.
“If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were created for another world.”
- C.S. Lewis, Christian Author