Originally posted in June of 2011. Reposted for new readers.
"I will sprinkle clean water upon you to cleanse you from all your impurities, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. I will give you a new heart and place a new spirit within you, taking from your bodies your stony hearts and giving you natural hearts." (Ezekiel 36:25-26)
Our Lord Jesus knew that the mere observance of His laws and the imitation of His virtues would not be enough for our happiness. Indeed, he knew that a copy of his life would not satisfy the human heart.
Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to be our helper and intimate friend so that we could share in his very life. Through the Holy Spirit, we participate in the same power, the same wisdom and the same love that animated Jesus for thirty-three years. This is why we can say with St. Paul, "For to me life is Christ."
From our Lord’s Incarnation to his Ascension, the Holy Spirit was there with Jesus- sanctifying every thought, word, and deed.
As for us, we are baptized into the life, death and resurrection of Christ. By receiving the same Spirit at baptism, we can live the same life that Christ lived. As such, Jesus raised the moral law to new heights. He said, "Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect."
In his encyclical, On the Holy Spirit, Pope Leo XIII said the Holy Spirit enters the soul and makes it like unto Himself. And he does this by exciting in our minds secret warnings and invitations. Even more, he inspires in our hearts the sweetness of paternal love. Leo XIII concludes that without the Holy Spirit’s help, there is no progress and no arriving at eternal salvation.
In the affairs of everyday life the Holy Spirit helps us to discern those values that build-up relationships. He helps us to see that sacrifice and self-denial are absolutely necessary for happiness. And He further helps us to see the world as it really is.
As for those laws of Christ that are unpopular and least understood by our culture, his Spirit generously reveals their value to us. What once seemed absurd and confounding in years past, now begins to make sense. We thus realize how important all the teachings of Christ are for our happiness.
Amidst adversity too, the Holy Spirit helps us to keep our eyes fixed on heaven; filling us with hope and putting our life in a better context. Because He is our helper and intimate friend, he can use us in ways we once thought were impossible. And remarkably, it even dawns on us that living the life of a Saint is actually within reach!
St. Cyprian, a Father of Church and a martyr in the third-century, was one such person who thought that the standards of the Christian life were impossible- something that just couldn't be done. That's right! He said that in the darkness of his life he despaired of better things. But he saw something in the lives of the Christians that drew him irresistibly to Divine Love. After he accepted Jesus as his Lord and Savior, the Holy Spirit went to work.
In a letter to Donatus, St. Cyprian wrote:
"By the agency of the Spirit breathed from heaven, a second birth had restored me to a new man, then, in a wondrous manner, doubtful things at once began to assure themselves to me, hidden things to be revealed, dark things to be enlightened, what before had seemed difficult began to suggest a means of accomplishment, and what had been thought impossible, was capable of being achieved."
What God did for St. Cyprian in the third-century he can do for us in the twenty-first century. We too can live the life of Christ! We too can begin to enjoy eternal happiness; thanks to the Holy Spirit- our helper and intimate friend.