Can't Give What You Don't Have, Pontiff Recalls

Urges Christians to Stay Close to Holy Spirit

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BRESSANONE, Italy, AUG. 18, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI says that Christians have to stay close to the Holy Spirit if they want to be able to transmit him to others.



The Pope affirmed this Aug. 6 when he met with priests, deacons and seminarians of the Diocese of Bolzano-Bressanone and answered six questions they asked him. The Holy Father was on vacation in the Dolomites, where he stayed at the major seminary of Bressanone.

The first question, posed by a seminarian, Michael Horrer, regarded living the gifts of the Holy Spirit in one's daily life.

Horrer recalled his experience at July's World Youth Day in Sydney, led by Benedict XVI, and dedicated to the theme of the Holy Spirit.

"Holy Father, how can we live the gifts of the Holy Spirit in practice, here in our country and in our daily lives, in such a way that our relatives, friends and acquaintances feel and experience his power, and how can we exercise our mission as Christ's witnesses?" the seminarian asked.

The Pope answered by recalling that participants and spectators at the Sydney event saw "that faith today is a force that is present, a force that can give people the right orientation. This is why there was a moment in which we truly felt the breath of the Holy Spirit who sweeps away prejudices, who makes people understand that yes, here we find what closely affects us; this is the direction in which we must go; and in this way we can live, in this way the future unfolds."

Benedict XVI acknowledged, however, that in daily life, "it is far more difficult in practice to perceive the action of the Holy Spirit."

"In the end, it is the Lord who helps us but we must be available as instruments," he continued. "I would say simply: No one can give what he does not personally possess; in other words we cannot pass on the Holy Spirit effectively or make him perceptible to others unless we ourselves are close to him."

The Holy Father went on to encourage his listeners to remain "within the radius of the Holy Spirit's breath, in contact with him. Only if we are continually touched within by the Holy Spirit, if he dwells in us, will it be possible for us to pass him on to others."

He said that the Holy Spirit can be considered the breath of Christ, and "we, in a certain sense, must ask Christ to breathe on us always, so that his breath will become alive and strong and work upon the world. This means that we must keep close to Christ."

Word of God

The Pontiff said the secret to staying close to Christ is meditating on his word. Recalling an expression he used in Sydney, the Pontiff proposed that speaking with God through his word is "as if we were to find ourselves strolling in the garden of the Holy Spirit; we talk to him and he talks to us."

"And then, naturally, this listening, walking in the environment of the word must be transformed into a response, a response in prayer, in contact with Christ," he added, recommending time spent with the Eucharist and the frequenting of the sacrament of penance.

The Bishop of Rome affirmed such a relationship with Christ and the Holy Spirit would give shape to daily life, structuring it in such a way that "God has access to us all the time. […] We are in continuous contact with Christ and […] we are continuously receiving the breath of the Holy Spirit."

"If we do this, if we are not too lazy, undisciplined or sluggish, then something happens to us: The day acquires a form, and in it, our life itself acquires a form and this light will shine from us without us having to give it much thought," he said.

Human success

Benedict XVI then considered another consequence of faith: the rebuilding of man.

"Faith does not only involve a supernatural aspect," he said. "It rebuilds man, bringing him back to his humanity."

The Pope contended that "human virtues show that faith is truly present, that we are truly with Christ -- and I believe that we should pay great attention to this, also regarding ourselves: to develop an authentic humanity in ourselves because faith involves the complete fulfillment of the human being, of humanity."

"We should pay attention to carrying out human tasks well and correctly, also in our profession, in respect for our neighbor, in being concerned about our neighbor, which is the best way to be concerned about ourselves," he continued, "In fact, 'existing' for our neighbor is the best way of 'existing' for ourselves."