Should the Baptized say, “Come Holy Spirit”?

May 16, 2013

One of the song that I and my wife chose during our wedding day was “Veni Creator Spiritus” (Come Creator Spirit), believed to be written by Rabanus Maurus in the 9th century. And some of our friends asked why would one choose a song about the coming of the Holy Spirit for their wedding day. My response at that time was, “why not? we need the Holy Spirit in our marriage life”. I have to admit that it was an interesting question.  However, I have heard an even more interesting question, “why would you ask the coming of the Holy Spirit if you have been baptized, and the Holy Spirit is already IN you? We already have the Holy Spirit!” Well that makes a lot of sense. Why then? It is a question that I believe requires an answer as we approach the feast of Pentecost.

The funny thing that I realized is that, not only some people ask for the Holy Spirit to come. I would say even the Church continues to ask for the Holy Spirit to come. The song Veni Creator Spiritus was written in the 9th century and since then it has been one of the most loved traditional song sang in churches. People sing it during Easter vigil baptism ceremony. People sing it during ordination for priesthoods and bishops. People sing it during Pentecost. And people even sing it when they choose a Pope! In a word, the Church has been asking the Holy Spirit to come! Does that mean that the Church does not have the Holy Spirit all this while? Have you ever asked that question?

And I would say that the Church not only sing “Come Holy Spirit”. I believe the Church continues to pray for the coming of the Holy Spirit. And believe it or not, it is every time the Eucharist is being celebrated, that she prays for the coming of the Holy Spirit. In the second Eucharistic prayer we hear the epiclesis (Greek word for invocation or calling down from on high):

Make holy, therefore, these gifts, we pray

by sending down your Spirit upon them like the dewfall,

so that they may become for us

the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ.

And what are the gifts that the priest is praying for? They are surely the bread and wine. But what does the bread and wine symbolizes? It is our life offerings! The Eucharistic prayer follows the offering and it is these life offerings that are brought into the altar, so that just as the bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Christ, we too may become one body in Christ. Do we not receive Christ’s Spirit then when we receive His body?

Humbly we pray,

that, partaking of the Body and Blood of Christ

we may be gathered into one by the Holy Spirit.

So it seems to me that the Church never stops asking the Holy Spirit to come. And I strongly believe that the Church is filled with the Spirit. But then why she ever needs to ask for the Holy Spirit to come? Do we need to ask for the Holy Spirit to come then? Maybe we have been asking the wrong question. Maybe we should ask what does it mean when the Holy Spirit is coming?

Who Proceeds from the Father and the Son

St. Thomas Aquinas once argued in his Summa Theologica that

Gift, taken personally in God, is the proper name of the Holy Ghost

Gift is the proper name of the Holy Spirit? Maybe that helps us to understand the preaching of St. Peter on the Day of Pentecost when he says

Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 2:38)

Now what is interesting is that Peter used a singular for the word “gift” rather than the plural “gifts”. Peter was not talking about the seven messianic gifts or even any charismatic gifts. He was talking about the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the Gift.

The Catechism of the Catholic church paragraph 733 onwards has a heading titled “the Holy Spirit – God’s Gift”. It says that:

“God is Love” and love is his first gift, containing all others. “God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” (CCC 733)

The very reason why Gift is a proper name for the Holy Spirit is because Gift implies Love. Thomas Aquinas said that a gift is properly an unreturnable giving, quoting Aristotle. We do not expect any return when we give gifts (though some of us do these days). Now since giving gift does not expect any return, the only reason for this gratuitous donation is love. And so Thomas Aquinas said that love has the nature of first gift.

But we have not really answered our question on what it means by the coming of the Holy Spirit, haven’t we? Yes, we have not, but it gives us a glimpse about why the word “coming” is easily associated with the Holy Spirit. The reason is that the Holy Spirit is the Gift. The Holy Spirit is the Gift of the Father and the Son. It is through the Holy Spirit that God has loved us first.

The word Gift also shows us the dynamics of God. As the Gift from the Father and the Son, the Holy Spirit comes forth from the Father and the Son to us. The Holy Spirit is the eternal Gift of God himself to us. Since the Holy Spirit is eternally the Gift, He eternally comes forth from the Father and the Son.

I think that answers partly of why the Church continuously ask for the coming of the Holy Spirit. The reason is that the very nature of the Holy Spirit is Love. This love actualizes in the Gift of God himself. God gives himself to us. I believe that the best gift a person can give is not chocolate, flower, or even money. The best gift a person can give to others is himself.  This is what God does through the Holy Spirit. Through the Holy Spirit, the Gift, God gives himself. This giving of God himself does not happen only once in awhile. This gift of God himself, through the Holy Spirit, is eternal. In fact, we can say that the very life of God is this giving up of himself to the other. By the way, that is what love is all about. The very life of the Holy Trinity is to love and to receive love (CCC 735).

The Holy Spirit always comes forth from and go to somewhere else. Love always flows out. Love is not static, it is dynamic. Love always flows out to someone else. And so the Holy Spirit always proceeds from the Father and the Son, because the Holy Spirit is Love.

And so now we can answer a little bit of what it means when we pray “Come Holy Spirit”. The Holy Spirit is God’s Gift, God’s outpouring of love. It is in this context of love that we ask the Holy Spirit to come. It is also in this context of love that Jesus speaks about the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in us.

If a man loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him (John 14:23)

In fact the Church Fathers see the “we” in this verse as referring to the Holy Spirit.

So what does it mean by the coming of the Holy Spirit? It is the outpouring of the love of God himself to us. It is the coming of God to dwell in us. But this indwelling is not something static but rather dynamics. Some people used to explain to me that we already have the Holy Spirit just like a milo which is already in a cup of water.  I don’t really think that the Holy Spirit is like a milo in a cup. I think the Holy Spirit is like a waterfall! The question is not about whether we have the Holy Spirit. The question is whether the Holy Spirit has us!

One of the most beautiful image that Jesus used when talking about the Holy Spirit is “living water” (John 4:10).  The word living water also reminds us that the Holy Spirit is not like any static water. The Holy Spirit is like a fountain, it flows out. The Holy Spirit comes forth from a source and flows out.  That is the reason why we said in our creed, the Holy Spirit who proceeds from the Father and the Son.

The Coming of the Holy Spirit

Let us now talk about the effect of the Coming of the Holy Spirit. It is only then, we can answer convincingly, yes, we need to pray “Come Holy Spirit”.

One of the earliest traces of the Holy Spirit in the Bible is in the book of Genesis. There we read,

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.  The earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the Spirit of God was moving over the face of the waters. (Gen 1:1)

If you have been following our argument of why we pray “Come Holy Spirit”, you will notice that the Spirit of God in this verse is associated with “moving over”. The Holy Spirit always comes forth from and go to somewhere else. But what is interesting is that in the beginning, there were darkness and disorder, but after creation, there is order and beauty and light. When the Holy Spirit comes, he creates. And not only just he creates any thing, but he creates something beautiful, something good, something orderly.  This is what happens when the Holy Spirit comes. In fact, one of a traditional prayer for the coming of the Holy Spirit says,

Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and enkindle in them the fire of Your Love. Send forth your Spirit, O Lord, and they shall be created, and you shall renew the face of the Earth.

The coming of the Holy Spirit is closely link to creation. Not just the creation of the first heaven and earth that we are living now, but also of the new heaven and the new earth that we are waiting for.  When the Holy Spirit comes, he renews and changes us, and not only us, but the whole of creation.

The idea of creation also links to the giving of new life. In Genesis chapter 2, we read,

then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being (Gen 2:7)

By the way, the Hebrew word for Spirit is the same as “breath”. The Holy Spirit gives us life. That is what the creed also reminds us, I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life. He not only gives us this physical life, but also our new life in Christ Jesus. It is in baptism that we receive our new life in Christ Jesus, and we receive that new life through the Holy Spirit. The water of baptism symbolizes the living water who is the Holy Spirit.

This idea of a new life is also seen the vision of the prophet Ezekiel. Ezekiel saw a valley full of dry bones, and God ask him to prophesy to the dry bones.

Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, Thus says the Lord GOD: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live.” (Ez 37:9)

Of course the dry bones in this context was Israel who felt abandoned, dried up, and lost hope.  But I believe the Word of God applies even for us today. God is able to give us hope and new life. He is able to heal us from our brokenness and sins. It is when the Holy Spirit comes into our lives that we receive this newness of life and hope in Christ Jesus.  When the Holy Spirit comes, he restores us to life!

There are many other things that we can see from the Scripture on the action of the Holy Spirit in our lives. But let me just conclude this article with one more reflection from the words “Come, Holy Spirit”.

Many people, out of their good intentions, think that they do not need to call for the Holy Spirit to come as they already have the Holy Spirit in their lives. But the very words of this prayer “Come Holy Spirit” reminds us that we are always in need of the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit is first and foremost a Gift. We do not deserve it and maybe we can never contain him fully in a way a cup of water can contain milo.  The Holy Spirit is this living fountain that continues to be poured out for you and for me, and this brings us to the other point of this reflection.  When the Holy Spirit is poured out to us, and dwells in us, he does not dwell in a way like any static or still water. When the Holy Spirit dwells in us, he continues to spring up and flow out.  The Holy Spirit is God’s Love, and Love always flows out from the lover to the beloved. And so it is appropriate that Jesus say

He who believes in me, as the scripture has said, `Out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water.'” (John 7:38)

We, who believes in Jesus and baptized, have received the Holy Spirit. It is about us that Jesus says, “out of his hearts shall flow rivers of living water”.  The Holy Spirit does not dwell in us idle and dead.  The Holy Spirit moves us to be a new fountain where other people can taste and drink, and where other people can receive God’s life as well.

It is no wonder, then, that on the day of Pentecost, the church began her evangelization mission.  We simply cannot contain the Holy Spirit! As the Holy Spirit is being poured into the Church, the Church is moved to go out and share the good news.  That is what should happen in our lives as well.  When we say that the we have the Holy Spirit, one of the authentic signs of this indwelling in us is that we become a spring of living water for other people.  

Now if you remember your science lessons in schools about the cycle of water, I am sure you will see the similarities between water and the Holy Spirit.  In this cycle, we see that rains fall from heaven to earth and gives life to earth, and the earth will bear fruits.  But the story does not stop here, the water continues to flow and at the end go up again to heaven.  This cycle between heaven and earth is what sustain life on earth. Similarly, we can see the Holy Spirit who comes forth from the Father is being poured to us and gives us life.  But it should not stop there.  We should bear fruits and our love should flow back to God.  This cycle of love between heaven and earth is also what sustain our lives. This is the ecosystem of our spiritual lives.

Let me conclude with a beautiful image of living water from the book of Ezekiel chapter 47.  Ezekiel saw a river flowing from the temple and an angle of the Lord ask him to measure the depths of the river.  As Ezekiel followed the river outside the temple, the water got deeper and deeper, until the water was too deep.  The spring had become a big river. And this is what the angel said to Ezekiel,

And wherever the river goes every living creature which swarms will live, and there will be very many fish; for this water goes there, that the waters of the sea may become fresh; so everything will live where the river goes. (verse 9)

And on the banks, on both sides of the river, there will grow all kinds of trees for food. Their leaves will not wither nor their fruit fail, but they will bear fresh fruit every month, because the water for them flows from the sanctuary. Their fruit will be for food, and their leaves for healing.” (verse 12)

I think this is a beautiful image of the Holy Spirit.  The river comes forth from the temple and flows out and gives life to every living creature.  I cannot resist the temptation to compare this image with our Eucharistic gathering every Sunday.  It is there from the altar that we receive the body and blood of Christ. And whenever we receive his body, we too receive his Spirit. And if only we hear carefully the call to go out after every Eucharistic celebration and can see the church from above, we will see people flowing out of the Church to go to their houses, families, friends, and work places.  We see a living water flowing out from the temple of God.  And this living water grows into a big river that gives life to every creature.  When we say, “Come Holy Spirit”, it is just a humble prayer asking the Holy Spirit to flow over us and gives us life, so that at the end we too may give life to others.  The question we should ask to ourselves is whether our lives give life others.  Can other people drink from us and be refreshed? Or have our lives bring bitterness and sickness to those who drink from us? So, when someone ask whether the baptized should say, “Come Holy Spirit” I would say, “Why not?”

Come Creator Spirit

Come, O Creator Spirit, come,

and make within out heart thy home;

to us thy grace celestial give,

who of thy breathing move and live.


O Comforter, that name is thine,

of God most high the gift divine;

the well of life, the fire of love,

our souls’ anointing from above.


Thou dost appear in sevenfold dower

the sign of God’s almighty power;

the Father’s promise, making rich

with saving truth our earthly speech.


Our senses with thy light inflame,

our hearts to heavenly love reclaim;

our bodies’ poor infirmity

with strength perpetual fortify.


Our mortal foes afar repel,

grant us henceforth in peace to dwell;

and so to us, with thee for guide,

no ill shall come, no harm betide.


May we by thee the Father learn,

and know the Son, and thee discern,

who art of both; and thus adore

in perfect faith for evermore.


On Christian Love

January 16, 2013

We all know about love, and so why would one rather discuss about Christian love? What is a Christian love? That’s the question that I would like to reflect on this article. I remember a story that was told by Thomas Smith. He told a story of a man who was going to propose a woman during a pilgrimage to Holy Land. Everyone knew about the plan except the girl, of course. When they arrived at Cana, everyone was so excited and waited for the man to propose the girl. It was just the right place as Jesus did his first sign in a wedding. But the man did not. So the people were surprised and questioned whether the man will ever propose the girl during that pilgrimage. It turned out he did. But not at Cana, it was at Golgotha. He put the ring in a hole where the cross was thought to be erected, and ask the girl to put her hand inside it to find the ring, and the this is what he said, “As Jesus laid down his life for us, I too want to lay down my life for you. Will you marry me?” What is love? And maybe to be more precise what is love in our Christian understanding? How we as Christians should love?


The Gospel of John speaks a lot about Jesus commandment to love. For this reflection, I would like to start from John 15:12-17.

“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.

In fact, two chapters before, during the last supper, Jesus has mentioned this commandment.
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.
This is the new commandment that Jesus gave us, that is to love one another. But what is so new about this commandment? Isn’t that this commandment to love one’s neighbour has been there, even in the Old Testament (Lev 19:18)?
I believe that the newness of this commandment is in the second part, that is we are to love “as I have loved you”. In the Old Testament we are expected to love our neighnour as we love our selves, but in the New Testament, we are called to love as God loves. That is divine!
We may then ask, how does God love us? Coming back to our scripture passage, Jesus said it clearly,
Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
Jesus set the example. He laid down his life for us. He himself said that he is the Good Shepherd, and a Good Shepherd lay down his life for his sheep. And he really did that. He laid down his life on the Cross for you and for me. And not only that, he even continue to lay down his life on the altar in every Eucharistic feast. It is as if God is not content just to say “I love you”, he came down and died for us. And as if it is not enough for him to die for us, he gave us his flesh and blood, and poured out his spirit for us in the bread and wine that we receive every Sunday. In short, God gives all. His love is total, and unreserved. He loves us fully up to the point of giving himself as food for us.
Not only his love is total, but his love is also unconditional. St. Paul said that Jesus laid down his life for us, he died for us, while we were sinners. God did not wait for us to love him, believe in him, and only then he will love us. He did not wait for us to know him or to repent. No. He loved us first. He gave himself totally for us, regardless of our response. His love is without condition. God’s love is unconditional.
It is just right at this moment that we should stop and reflect. We as christians, how do we love? Do we love totally? Do we love unconditionally? It is so easy to love others for the sake of being loved. It is so easy to be calculative in our love. And yet it is our call, and our vocation, to love as God loves.
How will that be possible? How can we love as God loves? Don’t you think that the request is just impossible? And yet, the Good News is that we believe that Jesus will help us to do what he commands us to do. In a few verses before the passage that we are reflecting, Jesus gave the answer on how we will be able to love as he loves us.
Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.
The key is in abiding in Jesus. Unless we abide in Jesus and Jesus in us, it is just impossible. But if we do, then Jesus said we will bear fruit. The same fruit that the vine will produce. The same love that God loves.
I remember a story of Mother Teresa and her Missionary of Charity sisters. They always have a Eucharistic celebration in the morning before they go out to the streets and serve the poor. There was one day when the priest who was supposed to celebrate the Eucharist came late. When the priest arrived, he expected to see no one as he assumed that the sisters would have gone to the streets. But he was wrong. All the sisters were waiting for him to come. So he asked Mother Teresa why she didn’t go to the streets that day. And Mother Teresa simply say, “how can we love the poor without Jesus in our hearts?”.
The key is in abiding in Jesus, and I think that is why Jesus move on to talk about his disciples as his friends in the next few verses. A friend knows. A friend has relationship with the other.
No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.
There was an Old Testament character that God calls as his friend. One of them is Moses. Moses used to enter the tent of meeting to speak to God. And this is what is written about him.
Thus the LORD used to speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend.
There is intimacy between Moses and God. And that intimacy is shown clearly in the lives of Jesus. During his life on earth, Jesus shows his intimacy with the Father. And this is his source of life.
And so Jesus gave us the key to to love as He loves, and that is in our relationship with him. The more we abide in Him and He in us, the more we will be more like him. Just as the wood in the fire will be transformed, so are we as we abide in Jesus. We will be more like Jesus.
And Jesus told us that as we abide in Him, and He in us, we will bear fruit. In fact, in our passage, Jesus also mentioned about this fruit.
You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide;
What is this fruit? Why did Jesus use the image of fruit in loving one another? I believe there are some characteristics of a fruit that should be the characteristics of our love to others.
One thing that we can see is that a fruit is tangible. We can even know the tree from its fruit. It is so tangible that animals passing can grab and eat it. And that fruit gives life. So it must be the same with our love. Our love must be tangible! It is not enough for us just to say “I love you”, our love must be shown in action. And it must give life to others. In fact this is what St. John said in his letters (1 John 3:16-18).
By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.
But if any one has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?
Little children, let us not love in word or speech but in deed and in truth.
Let us not love in word or speech, but in deed and in truth. Our love must be tangible, and it must gives life to others. I find it interesting that John gave an example of real love by giving to the poor and the needy. How many of us gives to the poor and the needy?
But there is another aspect of a fruit. A fruit is an image of an offering. In our Eucharistic liturgy, we found this beautiful prayer said by the priest.
Blessed are you, Lord God of all
creation, for through your
goodness we have received the
bread we offer you: fruit of the
earth and work of human
hands, it will become for us the
bread of life.

Blessed are you, Lord God of all
creation,for through your
goodness we have received
the wine we offer you: fruit of
the vine and work of human
hands it will become our
spiritual drink.

In the Eucharistic prayer, the priest pray on the fruit of the earth, and the fruit of the vine, which are the bread and wine that lay on the altar. And so our little acts of love can be a pleasing offering to God. And so it just right that as we celebrate the Eucharist every Sunday, every time the offering of bread and wine is brought to the altar, we should remember our fruit, we should offer up our little acts of love day to day. That is our prayer, that is our offering.
I know someone whom I see living this Christian love. That is my mom. Last year, my dad was diagnosed with a cancer and he had his surgery. But since then, he still has pain in his stomach, and so even in the middle of the night he would wake up and needs to eat something to relieve the comfort. And through out this period when my dad was sick, my mom has always been loving my dad faithfully. She is serving the food, taking the medication, etc. Even in the middle of the night, she would wake up for every couple of hours to serve something for my dad. And there was time when she got sick, maybe because she was too tired. And yet, she never complained and continue to serve my dad, even in the middle of the night. In her, I see how love can be tangible and gives life. I have never heard her say “I love you” to my dad. But I believe she has loved him in deed and in truth.
So what is Christian love? Jesus himself told us, that he calls us to love one another as he himself has loved us. And he showed us the way to love, by laying down his life for us. And we too are called to lay down our life for others, to love totally and unconditionally. We are called to bear fruit, a fruit that abides. We are called to love in deed and in truth, and allow that fruit of love to give life to others. And he told us the key to be divine, and that is to abide in him, to be his friends, to love him everyday. It is only then, we can love as he loves.

Explaining the Trinity

November 29, 2012

Francis: Dad, what is this doctrine of the trinity? How is it that God is one but three persons? So do we have one God or three gods?

Daddy: Wow, you have so many questions! Maybe we should answer it one by one.

Francis: Ok, well I have a friend who is a Jehovah Witness and he asked me these things. I told him that it is a mystery of God, so I can’t explain it. Do we have to understand this trinity or can we just brush it off? It seems to me that it is for the theologian to explain it and not us ordinary people.

Daddy: It is true that it is a mystery. God is always bigger than us and we won’t be able to comprehend him completely. But it doesn’t mean that we can’t understand it or should not explain it to other people.

Francis: But like you said, God is bigger, how can we understand it?

Daddy: Maybe because God chose to reveal it to us? On our own effort, it might not be possible to comprehend it. But because God reveals it to us, then he helps us to understand this mystery though within our many limitations.

Francis: So we can explain the trinity to other people?

Daddy: In a way, yes. But that doesn’t mean that the other people will accept it.

Francis: why not?

Daddy: Because this involves faith. Faith is the light that helps us to understand it. It will be difficult if the person does not have faith in Jesus. St. Augustine said, “I believe in order to understand, and understand the better to believe”. There is this interlink between faith and understanding.

Francis: So, how should I explain the trinity to my friend?

Daddy: We can start with this question: What do you know about God?

Francis: Well, God is love.

Daddy: True. And love is a relationship isn’t it?

Francis: Yes.

Daddy: Don’t you agree, then, that a relationship always involves at least two persons?

Francis: Well, I suppose so. It doesn’t really make sense to have a relationship with self. We have a relationship with other people.

Daddy: If God is love, and love is a relationship, and a relationship must at least involves two persons, then doesn’t it make sense that our God must at least involves two persons?

Francis: ehm. Ok. But I thought the trinity is three persons, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit?

Daddy: Yes it is. What we say was that a relationship must at least involves two persons. We did not say it is only two persons. And that is what Jesus reveals to us. God the Father loves the Son eternally and gives himself fully to the Son. And Jesus, the Son, receives that loves and loves the Father back in return eternally, so he gives himself fully to the Father. This love between the Father and the Son is the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the love between the Father and the Son eternally.

Francis: If the Holy Spirit is that love relationship between the Father and the Son, why did we say that the Holy Spirit is a person? A relationship is not a person right? It is just a relationship between persons.

Daddy: Not necessarily. Maybe our ultimate destiny as a person is to be a relationship.

Francis: Ha?

Daddy: Never mind. I will explain it some other time. Well, a simple analogy is this, my love to your mom does indeed expresses itself in another person. That is you! You are the fruit of the love between your dad and your mom. And that love, which is the relationship between two persons, has its own existence. And it is clearly seen in you. You have your own characters and personality. But you are not just the fruit of our love, you also sustain our love.

Francis: Does it mean that the Holy Spirit is the fruit of Father and the Son? Is He created by the Father and the Son?

Daddy: No, no. I think this is where the analogy fails. In our analogy, there was a moment in time when I have not loved your mother yet. Similarly with her. There was time when she did not love me, and only then she loved me. But this is not the case with God. God the Father eternally loves the Son. There has never been a moment when God the Father did not love the Son, and vice versa. Their love is eternal. So the Holy Spirit is eternal.

Francis: So the analogy is not true.

Daddy: The analogy explains it in a certain sense, but every analogy does not explain things exactly. It will fail at some point. That’s why it is called analogy. But in a certain sense, the analogy does help. Maybe in our analogy, the child, which is the fruit of the love between the parents, points more to the Church. Just as the love of the Father and the Son flows out to creation and gives birth to the Church. So it is the love of the parents is the one that gives birth to the child. But it doesn’t mean that the love of the parents does not exist when the child was not born yet. Similarly, it does not mean that the Holy Spirit does not exist when the Church was not born yet.

Francis: Maybe, that’s why on the day of Pentecost, we celebrate the birthday of the Church?

Daddy: Exactly. On the day of the Pentecost. The Spirit is poured out and gives birth to the Church, just as the love of the parents gives life to the child. The church is dead without the Holy Spirit, just as the child is dead without the love and the life that flows from the parents. And that is why in our creed we say that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son. It flows out from the Father and the Son. I think this is an important characteristic of love. Love always flows out.

Francis: Love always flows out?

Daddy: Yes, love always flows out. It is always giving out. The Father gives himself to the Son, and the Son gives himself to the Father. And their love, which is the Holy Spirit, flows out to creation.

Francis: Ok, but then, doesn’t it mean that we have three gods?

Daddy: Nope. Remember you said that God is love?

Francis: Yes.

Daddy: There is only One Love between the Father and the Son. And that one Love is the one that is poured out into creation and gives birth to the Church. There is only one Love. So there is only one God, because God is love.

Francis: But then, does it mean that the Holy Spirit, which is The Love, is the One God? but not the Father and the Son?

Daddy: The love between the Father and the Son does not exist if there is no Father and Son. If I say to your Mom, “Love”. She would be confused and ask me “what do you mean?”. It has meaning only if I say “I love you”. Love does not exist on its own. It exists only with the “I” and the “You”. There is no love if there are no lovers. So the Holy Spirit does not exist if there is no God the Father and God the Son.

Francis: I noticed that there are three words in that one sentence “I love you”.

Daddy: You are right. Three in one, indeed.

Francis: I see. But aren’t we just playing with words?

Daddy: There is nothing wrong with words. Words can have meanings, reasons, and logic. In fact, the bible said, “in the beginning was the Word”.

Francis: But are you sure this is biblical, Dad?

Daddy: Yes, I am sure. What was the first question that I asked you?

Francis: What do you know about God?

Daddy: What was your answer?

Francis: God is love.

Daddy: Right. Google those words, and you will find it in the Bible.

Francis: Ok. But then don’t you think that we as ordinary Christians do not need to know all these? That all these are for the theologians to discuss and debate?

Daddy: Well, I believe we need to know this. Because Jesus told us to Love God above all else. And you can’t love someone whom you do not know. And still, I believe, that the doctrine of the Trinity, reveals to us not just about God, but also about our calling and vocation as human persons.

Francis: What do you mean?

Daddy: Maybe we should discuss it some other time. It’s rather late.

Francis: ok, I will chase you for this.

Daddy: My pleasure.

When we kneel before the tabernacle

October 31, 2010

Catholics often speaks a different language all together. They have these not-so-common words such as transubstantiation, Eucharist, canonization, etc.  One of them is tabernacle. It’s a little box that is usually placed on the altar with a little lamp besides it to host the Eucharistic bread, the real presence of our Lord Jesus Christ. When catholics enter the Church, and before they sit on the pew, they will kneel before the tabernacle. And that they did for a good reason.

The Mystery of God’s Solidarity

Tabernacle comes from a Hebrew word which means dwelling place. The first thing that came to my mind when I heard this word tabernacle, or when I kneel before the tabernacle, is a scripture verse from John.

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father. (John 1:14)

In John’s Gospel the Word refers to Jesus, who is God. In that verse we read, God became flesh, and  tabernacled (dwelt) among us. Whenever I look at the tabernacle, as I kneel down, I am amazed at this beautiful mystery. It’s a mystery of God who became flesh, became human, and chose to dwell among us.

In our society today, many people trying to tell us to associate with the higher class, because that can benefit us. How different it is with God! God chose to associate with the lowly. God even chose to become one of these lowly. The Creator chose to be a creation. The mystery of the Incarnation (God who became man) is shown in all its humility in that tabernacle. We kneel and worship the God who became one of us, and dwelt among us.

What should worry us then to face troubles in this life. If God is with us, who can be against us? If God now dwells among us, what should we fear of? The presence of God in the tabernacle reminds us of His ever faithful love. He never leaves us alone. He is faithful to his word,

I am with you always to the end of times. (Matthew 28:20)

When I am in the midst of turmoil, difficulties, and problems, I always run to him who is always with me. I love to sit before the tabernacled. I remember when I was in high school, my school bus will arrive pretty early, and I went to the school chapel, to sit in one of the corner, just being in the presence of God. Looking at the tabernacle reminds me of God ever faithful love and presence in my love.

To be a Tabernacle

There is another part that we need to consider when we look at the tabernacle. We are called to be one! Yes, we are called to be a tabernacle. Isn’t the scripture says, we are God’s Holy Dwelling (tabernacle)? Whenever I look at the tabernacle, as I kneel, I am reminded of my vocation as a Christian. And that is to be God’s dwelling place.

Who can be the best example of God’s tabernacle besides Mary, Mother of Jesus? God literally dwells inside her womb for nine months! She carried the Word who became flesh in her own flesh. We too are called to be that kind of tabernacle, where the Word of God became flesh in our flesh, and so we can bring God in our bodies.

I find no surprise when people venerate the saints. They carry God in their bodies. It is not the saints that amaze us,  it is the Divine. We cannot be attracted with anything but God. But we are called to be saints also.

How can we carry God? How can we be God’s dwelling place? Just as Mary who said yes to God to take control of her lives, so too we need surrender our lives to God. In our Baptism, we say yes to God just as Mary said yes to God. And just as the power of the Most High overshadowed her, so too in our Baptism, the Holy Spirit overshadowed us. God dwells among us, we are God’s Holy Temple, we are His tabernacle.

But Mary didn’t stop there. She carried the Word of God, pondered it, and cherished it in her heart. In her, the Word of God became flesh. We too are called to ponder and cherish the Word of God in our heart. Too often the treasure of the Word of God is left neglected in our lives. Too often the Word did not became flesh in our flesh. But we need to imitate Mary. We need to treasure the Word of God and live it! The early Christians did not have the privileges of reading the Word of God every day. They only heard the Word of God on Sundays. And yet they cherish it throughout the week and try to live the Word of God. We too need to rediscover the Word of God today! We spent too much time on tv, handphones, computer and games! How have we neglected the duty to cherish, ponder and live the Word of God today.

The Word of God must became flesh again in our bodies. And in that way, we truly become God bearers just as Mary was. We truly become the tabernacle. Just as two thousand years ago, people are longing and waiting for God to come to them, today, many people also need God to dwell among them. And he has chosen a dwelling place none other than you and me. That is why we kneel before the tabernacle, we venerate the mystery of our calling as God’s dwelling place. Yes, God is still with us, until the end of time.


Who is your saint to imitate?

August 26, 2010

Mine is St. Joseph and St. Paul, with a special accompaniment of St. Francis of Asisi 🙂 St. Joseph for his fatherly love, St. Paul for his zeal in proclaiming the Gospel, and St. Francis for his total imitation of Christ. Who is yours?


CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, AUG. 25, 2010 ( Benedict XVI is recommending that everyone have devotion to a particular saint — he suggested, for example, a namesake — so that the saint can offer closeness through intercession but also be a model to imitate.
The Pope said this today when he reflected during the general audience on the saints. He gave the audience address from Castel Gandolfo, where he is staying at the papal summer residence through next month.

The Holy Father said that it is important “to have ‘travel companions’ on the journey of our Christian life: I am thinking of a spiritual director, a confessor, persons with whom we can share the experience of faith, but I am also thinking of the Virgin Mary and of the saints.”

“Each one,” he said, “should have a saint that is familiar to him, to whom he feels close with prayer and intercession, but also to imitate him or her. Hence, I would like to invite you to know the saints better, beginning with the one whose name you bear, by reading his life, his writings. You can be certain that they will become good guides to love the Lord ever more and valid aids for your human and Christian growth.”

The Pontiff noted his own closeness to St. Joseph and St. Benedict, as his namesakes, but also reflected on a saint who has “become a good ‘travel companion’ in my life and my ministry”: St. Augustine.

full article:

Modern Catholic Dictionary by Fr. John Hardon

May 12, 2008

I have just updated my online resources for Catholic websites on the net with a new link to “Modern Catholic Dictionary” by Fr. John Hardon. There is a search engine, so it’s much easier.  Though I found that it’s not that comprehensive, it helps me a lot.

You can find it at

and on the right links, click “Others”.