In the great plan of the Church's preparation for the Year 2000, the year 1998 is dedicated to reflection on the Person of the Holy Spirit.
Who is the Holy Spirit? The first thing we say about the Spirit in the Creed is that He is Lord. "We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord…" The Holy Spirit is not someone secondary or inferior to God; He is God. He has all the knowledge, power, authority, love and divinity of God, and is equal in every way to the Father and the Son. He always was and always will be.
We therefore worship and adore the Holy Spirit. "With the Father and the Son He is worshiped and glorified."
The equality of the Holy Spirit with the other two Persons of the Trinity may seem to some to be an abstract idea with little practical relevance.
But the practical relevance is immense. It challenges us in the formation of our judgments and the conduct of our lives. What does following the Holy Spirit mean?
Some imply that the Holy Spirit leads us beyond the teachings of the Father and the Son, exempting us from the commandments and relieving us of the demands of the Gospel. Some are tempted to avoid the demands of concrete teachings of the Gospel and the Church by appealing to the "Holy Spirit" who is leading them. Some even commit abortions with these words on their lips, and I have personally heard it many times.
Yet the Holy Spirit can never contradict the teachings of the Father or the Son, because He is the Spirit of the Father and the Son. Our Lord says of Him, "He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears…He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will take from what is mine and make it known to you" (Jn.16:13-15).
As the centuries and millennia move on, the Church grows in her understanding of the revelation given once and for all in Christ, and learns better how to apply it to the changing circumstances of history. This is the work of the Holy Spirit. But it is a better understanding and more effective application of the same teaching, not a transformation of one teaching into another.
The Church's teaching on the sanctity of life, and on the sanctity of the life in the womb, will never change. The Holy Spirit gives the faithful the ability to grasp this teaching, and the strength to live it even in the most difficult circumstances. The Spirit does not just speak and preserve; He empowers and strengthens! May that Spirit keep all God's people strong and faithful in the truth about human life.