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May 7: Monday of the Sixth Week of Easter

Reading Acts 16:11-15
Gospel John 15:26—16:4

“When the Advocate comes whom I will send you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify to me.”

Today Jesus—still addressing us from the Cenacle, at the Last Supper—proclaims the coming of the Holy Spirit. We note from Jesus’ words that—as we profess in the Church’s Creed—the Holy Spirit proceeds from both the God the Father and God the Son. Jesus Himself describes God the Holy Spirit as the One “whom I will send you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father”.

In the Creed of the First Council of Constantinople (in A.D. 431), the first ecumenical council to describe at any length the nature of God the Holy Spirit, the council Fathers stated that the Holy Spirit is “the Lord, the Giver of Life [and] proceeds from the Father….” This council did not state that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son. The phrase “and the Son” (in Latin, filioque) was added by the Church to the Creed later. Controversy continues to this day as to the propriety of this addition.

Christians of the West accept the dogma of the Holy Spirit’s procession from both the Father and the Son. We see in the doctrine an expression of the closeness of the Father and the Son, while maintaining their distinction as divine Persons. God the Holy Spirit proceeds from both the Father and the Son because the Holy Spirit is the Love of the Father and the Son both for each other (not merely the love of one for the other). Saint Augustine explores the meaning of this great teaching in his very long, profound, and difficult work “On the Trinity” (De Trinitate). Pray for the Holy Spirit to enter your life more fully, and towards this end, plan to begin a novena to God the Holy Spirit this Thursday.