June / July 2015 - Vol. 80  

Raniero Cantalamessa and the Call for a New Evangelization

Holy Spirit and Bible

Part 3: The Role of the Holy Spirit in Proclaiming
the Gospel Message

By Sue Cummins

Note: The following article is adapted from the thesis, Raniero Cantalamessa and the New Evangelization: Proclaiming the Kerygma in the Power of the Holy Spirit, which was submitted to the School of Theology of Sacred Heart Major Seminary, Detroit, Michigan USA, December 2014. Sue Cummins works full time for the Archdiocese of Detroit’s Department of Evangelization and Catechesis as Regional Catechetical Coordinator.

In the previous issue (see Part 2) we examined the content of the kerygma (Gospel message) and showed the importance of proclaiming it. In this issue (Part 3) we will explore the method of the proclamation.

he Gospel needs to be proclaimed in the power of the Holy Spirit

Cantalamessa teaches that “The Gospel is the object to be proclaimed, the Holy Spirit is the method, that is, ‘the medium’ or the ‘way’ in which to do it.”110  What does he mean by this? He states repeatedly that the gospel message needs to be proclaimed in the power of the Holy Spirit in order for the word of God to be fully efficacious:

One cannot proclaim Jesus effectively except with the power of the Holy Spirit. The apostles are “those who preached the good news to you through the Holy Spirit” (1 Pet 1:12). Between proclaiming Christ simply “in doctrine” and proclaiming him “in the Holy Spirit” there is the same difference as between proclaiming the word “from without,” standing outside of its sphere of action, its domination, and its “grip,” free and neutral before it, and proclaiming it while standing “within” the word, in its mysterious grasp, moved by it, in vital contact with it, getting from it power and authority. In the first case there is a transmission of doctrine, in the second a transmission of existence.111

In this chapter we will first examine Cantalamessa’s teaching on the nature and the role of the Holy Spirit as articulated in Come, Creator Spirit: Meditations on the Veni Creator and Sober Intoxication of the Spirit, including his treatment of the sacramental grace and the gifts of the Holy Spirit.  Next we will consider the exegesis of the New Testament accounts of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit that Cantalamessa offers in The Mystery of Pentecost.  The last section of the chapter will explore the ways that the Holy Spirit empowers and anoints a person for fruitful evangelization and effective proclamation of the Gospel message.  Cantalamessa has written and spoken extensively on this theme. His works Jesus Began to Preach: The Mystery of God’s Word and The Holy Spirit in the Life of Jesus provide an excellent synthesis of his thought on this topic.

Come Creator Spirit

 In Come Creator Spirit Cantalamessa gives an overview of the person and the work of the Holy Spirit using the hymn Veni Creator Spiritus112 as a basis for his commentary. The hymn addresses the Holy Spirit with many titles: creator, paraclete, gift of God, living water, fire, anointing for the soul, and finger of God’s right hand. The Holy Spirit gives light, peace and love, heals physical bodies, and drives the enemy away. The Holy Spirit was present at creation. In his commentary, Cantalamessa emphasizes the perfecting work of the Holy Spirit as the one who brings order out of chaos:
The Spirit is always the one that brings about the change from chaos to cosmos, from disorder to order, from confusion to harmony, from deformity to beauty, from oldness to newness—not in a mechanical way and all of a sudden, but in the sense that the Spirit is at work in all of this kind of change for the better, guiding its evolving progress until it reaches its fulfillment. The Spirit is always the one at work, ‘creating and renewing the face of the earth.’113 
Along these same lines, St. Ambrose writes: “Who indeed can doubt that the Holy Spirit quickens all things, since he, too, just as the Father and the Son, is the Creator of all things, and God, the omnipotent Father, is understood to have done nothing without the Holy Spirit; for even in the beginning of the creation the Spirit moved over the waters.”114  As the Church prays for renewal she invokes the help of the Spirit who brings order out of chaos and puts life where there is no life.

                                Cantalamessa preaching in Rome

Cantalamessa draws attention to the fact that one of the first words used in Scripture in reference to the Holy Spirit is the Hebrew word ruah which means “wind” and “breath.” This meaning is carried on in the translations into Greek (pneuma) and the Latin (spiritus).115  Ezekiel 37:1-4 describes dry bones that have no life until the prophet calls forth the wind and invokes the breath of the Holy Spirit: “So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood upon their feet, an exceedingly great host” (Ezekiel 37:10). Cantalamessa writes: 
“Spirit, Come!” This is the primordial epiclesis, the root of all prayers of invocation. This is where the opening invocation of our hymn Veni Creator Spiritus comes from, as well as the opening line in the Sequence for Pentecost: Veni, Sancte Spiritus. It is the only prayer to the Holy Spirit recorded in Scripture, and it is the only prayer to the Holy Spirit that the church has made its own and continued to pray through the centuries. It is the Maranatha of the Spirit, equal to that “Come, Lord!” that the early Christians used to cry out to Christ when they gathered for worship.116
This power that raised the dry bones to life is still at work today. The same power that raised Jesus from the dead is still at work today renewing and bringing life to the Church.

Chapter 3 of Come, Creator Spirit provides a commentary on the line of the hymn that implores: “Fill with heavenly grace the hearts that you have made.” Cantalamessa writes that the word “grace” refers to the Holy Spirit in person. The hymn connects the Holy Spirit with grace and therefore with the work of Christ who is the author of grace. Reflecting on the question, “What did the Holy Spirit bring at Pentecost that was new?” Cantalamessa points out that the Creator Spirit and the Spirit of redemption are the same Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit, the principle of our creation, is also at work to sanctify us.117   There are not two different Spirits with separate realms of operation. The Holy Spirit, third person of the Trinity, has always existed with the Father and the Son. The Holy Spirit who was present at creation is the same Holy Spirit who anointed the prophets and kings of Old Testament times. This same Holy Spirit rested on Jesus at his baptism in the Jordan and fell on the disciples in the Upper Room on the day of Pentecost. The same Holy Spirit is present today; since the passion of Christ, the Holy Spirit is present in a fuller way to those who believe in Christ.

The prophet Joel predicted a great outpouring of the Holy Spirit that was not to be fulfilled until the day of Pentecost: “And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions. Even upon the menservants and maidservants in those days, I will pour out my spirit” (Joel 2: 28-29). The incarnation of Christ, his death, resurrection, and ascension into heaven opened the way for this new presence of the Holy Spirit. Cantalamessa states that the Holy Spirit is now “hypostatically present.” By this he means that the Holy Spirit is present in person:    
For as long as the Word had not yet become “flesh and lived among us” (Jn 1:14), neither was the Spirit able to dwell among us. Before the Spirit had descended on Jesus and rested on him (Jn 1:33), the Spirit was not able to descend on us and remain with us. Consequently we can say, in language that is somewhat more developed, that before Pentecost the Spirit was present in the world through the Spirit’s gifts and power, but since the time of Pentecost onward the Spirit has been hypostatically present, that is, present in person.118 
Cantalamessa makes it clear that this presence and grace of the Holy Spirit is not simply a concept or idea. He states that “grace is an experiential reality.”119  The Gospel of Luke says that Jesus “rejoiced in the Holy Spirit” (Lk 10:21). Paul’s writings are overflowing with references to the presence and action of the Holy Spirit; he and his fellow believers were clearly motivated by a profound experience of the love, grace, and power of the Holy Spirit at work in their lives.

Holy Spirit

In Cantalamessa’s view, the Holy Spirit sustains and renews the people of God in two fundamental ways. First, the Spirit is poured down “from above” through the institutions and hierarchy of the Church:
In His infinite wisdom God has established two distinct channels to sanctify the Church or, one could say, two different directions from which the Spirit blows. There is the Spirit who comes from above, so to speak and who is transmitted through the pope, the bishops and the priests. He acts through the magisterium of the church, through the hierarchy, through authority and especially through the sacraments. It is through these channels instituted by Christ and entrusted to the institutional Church, that the Spirit or grace comes to us. No one, not even the hierarchy of the church, can make changes to these channels.120
Sacramental grace is intended for all of God’s people. This outpouring of the Holy Spirit through the institutional channels of the Church is a sign of the unity of the Church. Cantalamessa writes: “The sacraments are shared in common; there is no objective distinction among believers who receive them in the same manner. The only distinction depends on an individual’s personal faith and holiness and not on his or her position in the Church.”121  Sanctifying grace that brings about transformation of life is equally available to all. Cantalamessa points out that Jesus who died for all is the source of all grace; Christ established the sacraments from which we draw the grace that flows from his sacrifice on the cross.122

The second manner of operation of the Holy Spirit is the Spirit blowing “from below,” giving different charisms to different individuals.  Cantalamessa says that the Spirit is “truly the wind that Jesus said “blows where it chooses” (Jn 3:8):
Charisms are the concrete manifestations of this Spirit who blows “where he chooses” and whom no one can foresee or determine ahead of time. If the sacraments are the established outlets of grace, the charisms are the surprise outlets of grace and of the Holy Spirit.123

Charisms are bestowed on God’s people for the purpose of service to others. The charisms are given in order to equip Christ’s disciples for mission. The diversity of gifts shows the diversity of the Church; but it is the same Holy Spirit at work in and through the people of God. Cantalamessa writes: “The charisms, then, are for the Church, for the enrichment of the Church, for the vitality and variety of the Church.”124   Both modes of operation of the Holy Spirit are essential to the health and growth of the Church. 

Unfortunately, there are many baptized Catholics who do not fully understand the nature of the grace that is given through baptism and the other sacraments they receive. They have received a gift, but they have failed to unwrap it. Cantalamessa points to the Catholic understanding of “opus operatum” and “opus operantis” as a way of understanding how a sacrament can be valid and objectively accomplish the work of the sacrament and yet, at the same time, not be fully released in the life of an individual who is consciously or unconsciously failing to cooperate with the grace of the sacrament:
Everything that depends on divine grace and the will of Christ in a sacrament is called opus operatum, which can be translated as “the work already accomplished, the objective and certain fruit of a sacrament when it is administered validly.” On the other hand, everything that depends on the liberty and disposition of the person is called opus operantis; this is the work yet to be accomplished by the individual, his or her affirmation.
The opus operatum of baptism, the part done by God and grace, is diverse and very rich: remission of sins; the gift of the theological virtues of faith, hope and charity (given in seed form); and divine sonship. All of this is mediated through the efficacious action of the Holy Spirit. . . Baptism is truly a rich collection of gifts that we received at the moment of our birth in God. But it is a collection that is still sealed up. We are rich because we possess these gifts (and therefore we can accomplish all the actions necessary for Christian life), but we do not know what we possess.125
In the early Church adults who had been evangelized and catechized received baptism with an active and full consent of faith. They were instructed on the goods of the sacraments they received. At present most Catholics are baptized as infants when they are not yet able to make a conscious assent of faith; reception of other sacraments often takes place without conversion or adequate teaching. The statistics cited in the first chapter of this thesis point to the fact that many baptized Catholics do not regularly receive the sacraments of Reconciliation and the Eucharist; many couples fail to seal their union with the sacrament of marriage. Numerous individuals who consider themselves Catholic are not benefitting from the grace and power that is available to them in the sacraments.

          Sacramental grace is available to all and all are called to serve God, the Church, and society at large.  Christifideles Laici states that clergy, religious, and laity are all called to serve the same mission and that all possess charisms and ministries that are “diverse yet complementary” (CF, 55). The call to proclaim the good news is extended to all believers; preaching is not reserved to those who have received the sacrament of Holy Orders.  The New Commentary on the Code of Canon Law states:
The reality is that everyone in the Church has the radical duty and right to participate in the ministry of the divine word by virtue of their initiation (baptism, confirmation, Eucharist), communion, and possession of the Spirit of Christ (LG 11-14).  Some have further rights and responsibilities in regard to this ministry by virtue of their share in the sacrament of orders and their ecclesiastical office.  All must be able and qualified in order to exercise the ministry in the name of the Church.126 
The proclamation of the Gospel is part of the mission of every disciple of Christ.However, bishops, priests, and deacons have particular responsibilities and authority given to them as ministers of God’s word; they have access to sacramental grace that flows from their ordination for the purpose of equipping them for those responsibilities. 

Jean Galot describes the sacramental character imparted to priests at their ordination as an active, dynamic power that equips them to carry out their duties of preaching and teaching: “The character provides the foundation for the empowerment to speak in the name of Christ, to proclaim the word of God, and to expound with authority the gospel message.”127   Galot says that this sacramental character is given for the sake of transformation into the likeness of Christ and for the sake of the mission of Christ:
True, we may be tempted to equate the “mark” with a static reality, or to imagine that it encourages self-absorption.  It is not so.  We should see in that  mark an energy meant to explode, the energy of Christ the Shepherd that seizes one’s entire being in order to get hold of one’s activity and confer upon it the much wider dimensions of Christ’s own mission. Truly, priestly power engages all the vital powers of a human being in order to raise them to a higher level.128   
Of course the development of human capacities and openness to exercising the grace of the sacrament are essential to the full fruition of the sacramental power available through the reception of Holy Orders.  It seems that very few clerics have plumbed the depths of the sacramental grace available to them as ministers of God’s word.

The other mode of operation of the Holy Spirit that Cantalamessa writes about is that of distributor of the charisms to God’s people.   These gifts of the Spirit are to be used for the sake of others and for the up building of the Church. Many Catholics misunderstand or do not appreciate the importance of the charisms. At times some demonstrate outright resistance to asking for and using the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Many Catholics are simply not acquainted with the teaching of the Church on charisms. In his commentary on First Corinthians 12, George Montague writes about a time when he was unaware of the importance of the charisms for today:
I must confess that when I wrote my first textbook on Paul, subtitled, An Intensive Study of Key Texts, I skipped chapters 12 to 14 of 1 Corinthians (even would you believe it Chapter 13!) because I thought the gifts as described by Paul would be irrelevant to today’s audience. . . But there is so much evidence of the importance of the spontaneous movement of the Holy Spirit in the New Testament (Rom 12:3-8; Eph 4:7-16; I Pet 4:10; the Acts of the apostles throughout), reinforced by the Second Vatican Council. . . that this vital element cannot be ignored. . . . Paul was not suggesting that the gifts are for the few. What he says to the Corinthians is addressed to Christians of all times: strive eagerly for the spiritual gifts.129
Montague’s development in his understanding of the importance of charisms reflects a positive change that took place in the climate of the church after Vatican II.

The Fathers of the Second Vatican Council taught about the need for a renewed appreciation of the role of the charisms in the Church.130  Since then a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit has led to what is commonly known as the “charismatic renewal.” Some progress has been made, but the exercise of charisms is still not a part of the mainstream existence of the Church as is was in the time of the apostles.  Cantalamessa writes: “This does not mean that in our situation today normal Christian life cannot exist or that there is no holiness or no charisms that accompany holiness. Rather, it means that instead of being the norm, it has become more and more of an exception.”131
     Understanding the person and the importance of the work of the Holy Spirit is clearly a key to the new evangelization and the effective proclamation of the kerygma. In the next section we will look at Cantalamessa’s exegesis of the New Testament accounts of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit and the insights they give into two distinct modes of operation of the Holy Spirit.

The Outpouring of the Holy Spirit

In this section we will look at Cantalamessa’s exegesis of Luke’s account of Pentecost in Acts 2:1-4 as contrasted to the account of Jesus’ meeting with his disciples on the evening of the first Easter found in John 20:19-23.  Cantalamessa shows that the two different but compatible approaches to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit are both reflected in the Paul’s epistles.  He writes that both events took place in the same location, but at different times:
There is a Lukan Pentecost, the one described in the Acts of the Apostles, and there is a Johannine Pentecost, described in John 20:22, when Jesus breathed on his disciples and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” This Johannine Pentecost takes place in the same location as Luke’s account, in the Cenaculum, the Upper Room, but not at the same time. In fact it happens on the very evening of Easter and not fifty days after it.132

 In his exegesis of the two accounts, Cantalamessa presents a theology of the Holy Spirit using the Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles to represent the view of the Synoptics.  He contrasts the focus of the Synoptics with the approach taken in the Gospel of John and the Epistles of John; he then analyzes Paul’s approach as it reflects a synthesis of the approaches taken by Luke and John.  

Luke focuses on the Holy Spirit being given for mission and the up building of the Church. Before he ascends into heaven, Jesus tells his disciples, “you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8). The Holy Spirit descends on the apostles and disciples—men and women—as they are praying together on the day of Pentecost (Acts 1:14; 2:1-4). As recounted in the Acts of the Apostles, this event ends with Peter’s preaching and the conversion of three thousand (Acts 2). The Holy Spirit is given from above. The Holy Spirit is the distributer of the charisms. This is very much in line with the view of the Holy Spirit given in the Old Testament and in the other Synoptic Gospels. What is unique to Luke, according to Cantalamessa, is Luke’s emphasis on the Holy Spirit as the Spirit of prophecy:
The novelty of Luke is that, of the various marvels and supernatural actions of the Spirit, he privileges one in the sharpest way: prophecy. The Spirit is the Spirit of prophecy; it is the power that makes possible speaking in the name of God and with the authority of God. In the life of Jesus, this is clear from the beginning. In the baptism at the Jordan, the Spirit came upon Jesus of Nazareth and “anointed him,” above all, for one thing: “to bring glad tidings to the poor,” in other words, to evangelize (Lk 4:14-18).133
In the Gospels the baptism of Jesus launches his active ministry; in the Acts of the Apostles the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the disciples on the feast of Pentecost marks the beginning of the active ministry of the first believers. In Cantalamessa’s view, Luke presents the Holy Spirit as the “gift of the risen one to the Church so that it may be capable of bringing the good news to the world.”134   The function of the Holy Spirit is to proclaim the Word.135   As predicted in the prophecy of Joel 2: 28-29, the Spirit falls on the young and the old, on men and women, even on servants and slaves. 

The Holy Spirit as the spirit of prophecy is needed for the new evangelization. The Spirit motivated the early Christians to preach and proclaim the good news.  The same Spirit empowers God’s messengers today.  Priests, religious, teachers, preachers, catechists, parents—all Christians—are called to proclaim the good news of salvation.  Evangelii Nuntiandi makes the point that those who are truly evangelized become evangelizers: “Here lies the test of truth, the touchstone of evangelization: it is unthinkable that a person should accept the Word and give himself to the kingdom without becoming a person who bears witness to it and proclaims it in his turn” (EN 24). The Spirit witnesses to Christ and empowers each person who is baptized into Christ to be a herald (keryx) of the Gospel message (kerygma).  According to Cantalamessa, Luke’s account of Pentecost points to two important truths. First, the “primary activity of the Church is the proclamation of the dead and risen Christ.”136  The Church’s main task is to proclaim the kerygma. Second, the kerygma must be proclaimed in the power of the Holy Spirit. All of the efforts for the new evangelization to involve laity, to form priests, and to find new methods of communication will be fruitless if the work is not done in the power of the Holy Spirit.137

There are similarities between the writings of John and those of Luke in regard to the Holy Spirit, but there are some marked differences as well. John portrays the Holy Spirit as the source of new life: the Holy Spirit is the new life that is given to those who believe in Christ. The Spirit wells up from within the hearts of men and women: “If any one thirst let him come to me and drink. To He who believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water’” (Jn 7:37-38).138  The Spirit is the one who gives life as He comes to dwell within the hearts of believers. In his book Deification and Grace, Daniel Keating writes that the “theme of the coming gift of the indwelling Spirit” is “one of the central themes of the Fourth Gospel.”139  John emphasizes the transforming work of the Holy Spirit in the hearts and the lives of those who are open to receive.  The presence of the Holy Spirit within transforms a person and that transformation is part of the witness of a Christian.

Cantalamessa uses the example of St. Francis of Assisi as an illustration of what happens when a person falls in love with Christ and opens up to the transforming work of the Holy Spirit. As a youth Francis had an encounter with Christ that moved him to make a decision to leave his wealth and position in order to respond to God’s call to live according to the Gospel. Francis did not fall in love with Lady Poverty, he fell in love with Christ.140   Francis’ life of simplicity and service and his insistent preaching of the Gospel message flowed out of his deep life of prayer and union with Christ.  Francis of Assisi exemplifies the powerful witness of a life radically conformed to the life of Christ. He embraced poverty, he reached out to the poor and he tirelessly called men and women to repentance. Cantalamessa writes: “Francis did nothing other than re-launch the great appeal to conversion with which Jesus’ preaching opens in the Gospel, and that of the Apostles on the day of Pentecost. He did not need to explain what he meant by conversion: his whole life showed it.”141   The Holy Spirit who dwells within and transforms from within does not remain closed inside a believer.  The transformation that the Spirit works from within a believer bursts forth into fruitful witness. 

The Gospel of John contains many allusions to the anticipated coming of the Spirit.142  The Johannine account of the last supper discourse includes Jesus’ promise to ask the Father to send the Holy Spirit (Jn 14:15-26).143  Jesus says that after he leaves the earth, he will ask the Father to send a Counselor to remain forever with his disciples. Cantalamessa contends that the account from John 20:19-22144  shows that John writes about the importance of the role of the Holy Spirit as the life-giving presence within; John also recognizes the Holy Spirit as the one who empowers the disciples for mission:
Nevertheless, it is not quite right to say that there is no point of contact between John’s vision of the Spirit and Luke’s. John deepens the vision of the Synoptics, but he does not deny it. A clear point of contact exists between the two in John 20:22 which we have called the Johannine Pentecost. The Holy Spirit that Jesus here gives to the apostles is clearly for the sake of their mission: “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” After saying this, he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” The gesture of breathing recalls Gen 2:7 and Ezek 37:9 and thus represents the Spirit as giver of life and principle of the new creation, but the words that accompany the gesture represent the same Spirit as the force that will enable the apostles to carry out their mission and will confer upon them the power to take away sins. They represent it, in other words, as a prophetic and ministerial Spirit.145
It is one Spirit at work with a variety of modes of expression.  To proclaim God’s Word effectively an individual needs the help of the sanctifying Spirit working from within and that person needs the gifts of the Spirit who anoints for the sake of ministry.

Cantalamessa describes the approach that the Apostle Paul takes toward the outpouring of the Holy Spirit as a combination of the approaches of Luke and John. Paul describes the Holy Spirit as the source of new life and as the distributer of charisms:  “In St. Paul we find the synthesis of these two lines of thought, not in the sense that he reunites elements that existed separately before him—in fact, he writes before Luke and John—but in the sense that in him both of the perspectives are represented and anticipated.”146  Paul’s epistles make frequent reference to the Holy Spirit as the one who confers gifts on God’s people (1Cor 12-14; Rom 12:6-8; Eph 4:11-12).147  Paul speaks of many charisms148  that are given for the up building of the body of Christ: “To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues” (1 Cor 12: 8-10). There are particular charisms related to speech that are given to those who are called to witness to Christ through teaching, preaching, and one-on-one evangelization.  Cantalamessa points out that among the charisms that are related to evangelization, the apostle Paul refers to wisdom, knowledge, teaching, and prophecy.149

On the other hand, Paul speaks often about the Holy Spirit as the giver of new life in Christ. The Holy Spirit fills the hearts of God’s people: “God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us” (Rom 5:5). The Holy Spirit lives within each believer: “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you (1 Cor 3:16)?”  The Church, made up of many believers, is the dwelling place of God (Eph 2:19-22). Paul writes about the transforming power of the Holy Spirit that brings a believer to full maturity in Christ: “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being changed into his likeness from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit” (2 Cor 3:3-18).  Paul’s description of the transforming work of the Holy Spirit is very similar to John’s descriptions of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

For Paul, the Holy Spirit is alive, active, and personal. In his exegesis of 2 Corinthians 3:17-18, Thomas Stegman points out that all of the verbs in 2 Corinthians 3:18 are in the present tense: “Paul is not talking about a future reality but something that takes place here and now.”150  The Holy Spirit is the love of God poured into the hearts of believers, the grace of God at work through the saving power of Jesus Christ. Cantalamessa writes that, according to Paul, the Holy Spirit works within the believer and the Holy Spirit reaches out to others through the believer:
St. Paul knows, therefore, two fundamental actions of the Holy Spirit: the charismatic one that we can define ad extra, since it exists for the benefit of everyone and terminates outside the subject who receives it, and the interior one that we can define ad intra, since it terminates in the subject who receives it and renews his or her existence. However, Paul does not stop here but also poses explicitly the problem of the mutual relation between these two different operations of the Spirit. His position can be summarized as follows: recognition of the charisms as the determining factor for the construction and growth of the body of Christ but subordination of the charisms to charity—that is subordination of the manifestations of the Spirit to his permanent interior dwelling.151
As Cantalamessa points out, Paul recognizes that the Holy Spirit is the “interior principle of new life,” the “principle of new knowledge of God,” and the “principle of the resurrection and immortality.”152  Paul instructs his followers to desire the spiritual gifts (1 Cor 12:31), but he reminds them that the greatest of these gifts is love (1 Cor 13:8-13).

Thomas Aquinas presents the same hierarchy in his Summa Theologica. He uses the term gratia gratum faciens for sanctifying grace (charity) and gratia gratis data (gratuitous grace) for the charisms:
And thus there is a twofold grace—one whereby man himself is united to God, and this is called sanctifying grace—the other is that whereby one man co-operates with another in leading him to God, and this gift is called gratuitous grace, since it is bestowed on a man beyond the capability of nature, and beyond the merit of the person. But whereas it is bestowed on a man, not to justify him, but rather that he may co-operate in the justification of another, it is not called sanctifying grace. And it is of this that the Apostle says (1 Cor. 12:7): And the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man unto utility, i.e., of others.153  
Thomas teaches that the final purpose or end that God intends for men and women is eternal happiness in union with God; because of this, the work of the Holy Spirit to prepare individuals for union with God takes precedence over the service they might offer to others through the use of charisms. Cantalamessa points out that “‘Being’ in the Spirit is superior to ‘acting’ (on others) in the Spirit, to such an extent that without charity the rest would be good for nothing.”154  The emphasis on charity should not be used as an excuse for failing to seek the charisms. Paul instructs his followers: “Make love your aim, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy” (1 Cor 14:1).

Before concluding this section on the New Testament accounts of the impartation of the Holy Spirit, we will consider Cantalamessa’s observation that the distinct approaches of John and Luke are reflected in the history of the liturgy of the Church and the celebration of Pentecost. The tradition that has been carried on into modern-day practice is the celebration of the Feast of Pentecost on the fiftieth day after the celebration of Easter. Pentecost concludes the fifty days of celebration of the resurrection and marks the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on Christ’s disciples in the Upper Room on the feast of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-47). A more ancient approach to the celebration of Pentecost was to celebrate Pentecost throughout the fifty days after Easter. In the understanding of this mode of celebration, it was the celebration of the spiritual presence of Jesus after the resurrection. This fits with the Johannine account of Jesus breathing on the disciples after his resurrection (Jn 20:19-22). Cantalamessa writes: “According to this conception . . . the gift of the Holy Spirit inaugurated Pentecost, whereas according to the other conception, based on the Lukan account of Acts, it concluded it.”155 

Commenting on the approach taken by the Fathers to the two different Pentecost accounts Cantalamessa writes: “The Fathers usually explained this ‘anomaly’ by saying that the gift of the Spirit spoken of in John was a partial gift, restricted either in content or in the number of those receiving it, a kind of first fruit with response to the more complete and universal gift lavished fifty days later.”156  Most of the Church Fathers agree that when Jesus breathed on the disciples on the evening of his resurrection, he did not bestow on them the fullness of the Holy Spirit that was poured out at Pentecost.  Some thought it was a prophetic act and others considered it to be more than a prophetic act. 

Modern scholars are not all in agreement about the implications of the two different approaches of Luke and John.  John W. E. Vine contends that Jesus’ words to his disciples in the John 20 passage were given as prophecy or a promise of the coming of the Spirit.  In his commentary on the Gospel of John, Vine suggests that when Jesus said, “Receive the Holy Spirit,” he was speaking about the outpouring of the Holy Spirit that would take place on the day of Pentecost. According to this understanding, Jesus’ breath might be seen as a foreshadowing of the mighty winds that filled the upper room:
His word “Receive ye the Holy Spirit” referred not merely to His own breath, it was symbolic of the Holy Spirit as about to be sent at Pentecost. It was connected with their being sent out into the world, and with the effect of their ministry of the Gospel in the forgiveness of sins by the Spirit’s power, or the retention of sins by the rejection of the message (vv. 23, 24). It was a prophetic act as well as symbolic.157
Cantalamessa points out that while the Church Fathers generally took an approach of synthesizing the two different accounts of the giving of the Holy Spirit that are found in the writings of Luke and John, present day theologians tend to take an analytical approach that emphasizes the differences between the two perspectives of Luke and John. Cantalamessa, on the other hand, suggests utilizing an overlay approach where each perspective is taken in its entirety and put together much as the overlay sheets that are used to illustrate the different organ systems in a body and the way that they all fit together.158  He contends that a fully developed theology of the Holy Spirit must include the distinct yet complementary perspectives that are presented in Scripture:
Luke and John describe—from two different angles and with two different theological preoccupations—that same fundamental event of the history of salvation: the outpouring of the Spirit made possible by the paschal sacrifice of Christ. This outpouring manifested itself at different moments and in different ways. Luke, who sees the Holy Spirit as a gift made to the Church for its mission, stresses one of these moments, the one that took place fifty days after Easter on the day when the Jews were celebrating the conclusion of the feast of Pentecost. John, who sees the Spirit as the principle of the new life welling up from the paschal sacrifice of Christ, stresses the earliest manifestations of it which happened on the very day of Easter. In time and in space, Easter and Pentecost draw near to one another.159
Both modes of operation of the Holy Spirit are essential for the life and the mission of the Church. The Holy Spirit is present within believers and acting through believers. Having presented an overview of Cantalamessa’s theological observations on the person and work of the Holy Spirit, the next section of this chapter will examine the particular work of the Holy Spirit as the one who conveys the word of God, and the one who imparts the gifts and anointing to proclaim God’s word.

Power of the
                              Word of God

The Holy Spirit Gives Power to the Proclamation

 As the Church embraces the call to the new evangelization, the importance of the help of the Holy Spirit and the exercise of the charisms in the proclamation of the good news cannot be ignored.  Cantalamessa considers the kerygma to be the content of the evangelistic proclamation, and he writes that the method, the medium of preaching the word of God is the Holy Spirit. He points out that the primary means of communicating human words is by the use of the voice which is air, breath. Writing is a symbol of speech; speech requires voice or breath to take the human word which is formed within and to bring it out to those who listen. In a similar way, the breath of the Holy Spirit is the only medium for the word of God. According to Cantalamessa,
Even the word of God observes this law. It is transmitted by means of a breath, by a sound. What is, or who is, the breath of God, the Ruah Yahweh, according to the Bible? We know the answer: it is the Holy Spirit. Can my breath transmit your word, or your breath transmit my word? No, my word can only be pronounced with my breath and your word with your breath. Thus, in an analogous way the word of God can only be transmitted by the breath of God which is the Holy Spirit. This is a very simple and almost obvious truth but of the utmost importance. It is the fundamental law of every message and of all evangelization. . . The Holy Spirit is the real, essential means of communication, without whom only the human content of the message is perceived. The words of God are “spirit and life” (Jn. 6:63), and, therefore, one can only transmit and receive them “in the Spirit.”160
The words of the Gospel message spoken without the breath of the Holy Spirit will not have the power to pierce human hearts. The Holy Spirit is the life and the power of the proclamation that illumines minds and brings about conversion.

Luke writes that after his baptism and the temptation in the wilderness Jesus began to preach in the power of the Holy Spirit (Lk 4:1; 4:14-19); Jesus later promised his disciples that they would receive power from on high to be his witnesses (Acts 1:8). With the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost, God put words on the lips of Jesus’ disciples and empowered those words to touch the hearts of three thousand men and women (Acts 2). Paul writes to the Thessalonians: “Our message of the gospel came to you not in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction” (1 Thess 1:5). 

In his book Jesus Began to Preach: The Mystery of God’s Word Cantalamessa gives an explanation of what it means to proclaim God’s word in the power of the Holy Spirit:
What does “speaking in Christ” mean, or so to speak “as if with words of God”? It surely does not mean to repeat, materially and only, words said by Christ and God in Scripture. It means that the basic inspiration, the thought that “informs” and supports all the rest, must come from God, not from man. The preacher must be “moved by God” and speak as if in his presence.161
In much the same way that the Holy Spirit is active and alive and able to touch the hearts and minds of those who read Sacred Scripture, a person who proclaims God’s word in the power of the Holy Spirit can be a vehicle of God’s word and a channel of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit wants to use human beings to impart words of life and truth to others. Cantalamessa makes this point when he says: “The Spirit continues to do what he did when he inspired the Scriptures, though of course no longer in a normative and canonical way: ‘When men spoke for God, it was the Holy Spirit that moved them’ (2 Pet 1:21).”162

In considering the exercise of charisms, it is important to remember that God is a God of love who is active and relational. God desires communication and relationship; because of this God is generous in pouring out the charisms of the Holy Spirit on those who are open to receive them. There is real, active, transforming grace available to those who proclaim God’s word. God wants to touch the hearts of his people; because of this he is ready to pour out the gifts of the Holy Spirit on those who ask for them for the purpose of preaching and evangelizing more effectively. At home, at work, in ministry, at any time or in any place, God has a word to speak. God uses priests and evangelists; he also uses parents, teachers, catechists, doctors, and businessmen to speak his word. Cantalamessa speaks about the importance of being open to the word that God has for his people:
We must start from the certainty of faith that, in every circumstance, the risen Lord has in his heart a word that he wishes to communicate to his people. The Risen One did not write the seven letters only to seven Churches of Asia Minor. He continues to send “letters” to every Church. That’s what changes things and what we must discover, and he does not fail to reveal it to his minister, if he asks humbly and persistently.163
The gifts of the Holy Spirit are not a list to be memorized before receiving the sacrament of confirmation and then forgotten; they are not intended for a few elite servants of God. The grace and the gifts of the Holy Spirit are given by God to the people of God for the sake of the growth and the maturity of the Church. God has a word to impart and the Holy Spirit will anoint those called to impart that word. To disregard the grace, power, and gifts of the Holy Spirit because of indifference or false humility will result in fruitless labor. Cantalamessa writes: “An evangelization without the quickening breath of the Holy Spirit is like a sharp sword which is left aside and never brandished. It will not ‘cut to the heart.’”164  Openness to the presence and action of the Holy Spirit is imperative for the work of the new evangelization. Commenting on an article by Joseph Ratzinger, “The Holy Spirit and the Church,” Joseph Murphy writes:
Rather than allowing ourselves to be burnt by the fire of faith, the fire of the Holy Spirit, we tend to reduce faith to a vision of the world made to our own measure, with the intention of inflicting no damage on our own comfort . . . Only if we do not fear the flame of fire and the tempest it brings with it will the Church truly become the icon of the Holy Spirit. Only then, Ratzinger says, will she open the world to the light of God. The Church began when the disciples were united in prayer in the Upper Room, awaiting the descent of the Holy Spirit. This is how the Church is constantly renewed, and it is for this gift that we should constantly pray when we invoke the Holy Spirit.165
The exploration of the charisms of the Holy Spirit that are related to the proclamation of God’s word is of interest academically, but even more importantly, this investigation has pastoral relevance. The Holy Spirit is not merely a subject to be studied; the Holy Spirit is active and at work within believers to bring them into new life in Christ. The Holy Spirit is the source of the grace and power poured out into the lives of believers that empowers them in their mission of helping others come to know the love of Jesus.

The Holy Spirit is at work today, just as he was at work in the early Church. Jesus and the apostles proclaimed God’s word in the power of the Holy Spirit and signs and wonders accompanied that proclamation. Cantalamessa points out that those signs and wonders are helpful to unbelievers and because of that we should pray for them to be manifest in our day and age of disbelief. He prays:
Lord turn your gaze on upon us, today also extend your hand so that cures, miracles, and wonders are performed in the name of Jesus, because we have become distracted, deaf, and hard of heart and the words no longer suffice. Let us have the courage to ask you again for signs and prodigies not for us, but for your glory and for the spread of your kingdom. It is true, you have told us that such signs are useful “for unbelievers” (1 Cor 14:22). But our world is again—or has become once more—in great part unbelieving. For this reason we need some of your signs that might convince the world or at least reclaim its attentions. You have promised us to work together with those who preach and to confirm their words “through accompanying signs” (Mk 16:20).166
According to Cantalamessa, the signs and miracles that sometimes accompany preaching are directed to the listener, while the charisms are given directly to the preacher to help with the task of proclaiming God’s word. Signs and wonders are an important component of the work of the Holy Spirit in evangelization. Signs and wonders are to be desired and prayed for as are the charisms. Clearly it is up to God to grant signs and wonders and to distribute the charisms according to his plan and purpose; the people of God are called to pray for God to grant them the gifts and the anointing that they need to be equipped to do God’s work and to give witness to the love of Christ. All of God’s people are called to be open to receive the charisms, and they have a responsibility to be willing to exercise all of the charisms that God grants. Cantalamessa recognizes that the exercise of the charisms including healing and the manifestation of other signs and wonders are part of God’s plan for reaching men and women with the love of Christ.

Throughout the history of Christendom, God has raised up men and women anointed by the Holy Spirit to speak in a significant way to the needs of the Church and society. There is a special anointing for those who have received Holy Orders; some clergy and laity are given spectacular gifts to match a unique call to ministry. But the charisms are not only for the ordained or for a few who are specially called and gifted. Through the anointing of their baptism and confirmation all disciples of Jesus are called and gifted to witness to the love of God in Christ Jesus and to proclaim the good news. The charisms of the Holy Spirit are available to all of God’s people.167   The proclamation of the good news may or may not be accompanied by dramatic signs of healing and deliverance. The presence of the anointing of the Holy Spirit is evidenced by the piercing of hearts and minds with the truth of God’s love and mercy. Preaching in the power of the Holy Spirit will bring about conversion whether that preaching is loud and dramatic or quiet and inconspicuous. The content of the proclamation and the manner may vary, but the anointing of the Holy Spirit is essential. The end, the goal, is to turn hearts from love of sin to the love and mercy of God. God distributes the charisms according to his plan and purpose, but we should all “strive for the spiritual gifts” (2 Cor 14:1). In the final chapter we will look at some of the obstacles that stand in the way of preaching the kerygma in the power of the Holy Spirit, and discuss ways to overcoming those obstacles in order to be open to the anointing of the Holy Spirit.

                                    CumminsSue Cummins is a member of Word of Life Community and Bethany Association. She lives in Detroit, Michigan USA and teaches as part-time faculty at Sacred Heart Major Seminary.  Susan has a concentration in spirituality with a focus on the work of St. Ignatius and St. John of the Cross. She worked for fifteen years as part of an international mission team giving retreats, training, and spiritual direction to leaders of Christian communities in Central America, Mexico, Spain, Europe, and the Middle East.  She has over ten years of experience working with youth as senior staff with University Christian Outreach (UCO) and Youth Works Detroit and as a high school teacher.  Susan is fluent in Spanish.  She worked as director of a bi-lingual Religious Education Program at St. Gabriel Catholic Church in Southwest Detroit from 2005 to 2012.  Sue has recently been hired to work full time for the Archdiocese of Detroit’s Department of Evangelization and Catechesis as Regional Catechetical Coordinator


110 Cantalamessa, “Preaching Ministry,” 63.
111 Cantalamessa, The Mystery of Pentecost, 21-22.
112   See Cantalamessa, Come Creator Spirit, 1. The hymn was most likely written by German theologian Rabanus Maurus (780-856). A Latin and English version of the hymn is included at the end of this thesis.
113  Ibid., 34-35.
114  Ambrose, The Holy Spirit, in Saint Ambrose: Theological and Dogmatic Works, trans. Roy J. Deferrari (Washington DC: Catholic University of America Press, 1963), 107.
115  Cantalamessa, Come Creator Spirit, 7-8.
116  Ibid., 21.
117   Cantalamessa, Come Creator Spirit, 45.
118  Ibid., 47.
119   Cantalamessa, Come Creator Spirit, 50.
120  Cantalamessa, Sober Intoxication of the Spirit, 60.
121  Ibid.
122   Cantalamessa, Sober Intoxication of the Spirit, 61.
123  Ibid.
124  Ibid., 66.
125   Cantalamessa, Sober Intoxication of the Spirit, 43-45.
126    New Commentary on the Code of Canon Law, John P. Beal, James A. Coriden, and Thomas J. Green, eds. (New York: Paulist Press, 2000), 920. For a full treatment of the canons relating to the proclamation of the word see New Commentary, Book III: The Teaching Function of the Church: Introductory Canons (c 747-755); Title I: The Ministry of the Divine Word (756-780).  See Charles Davis, “The Theology of Preaching” from Preaching, Ronan Drury, ed. (New York: Sheed & Ward, 1962), 7-10 for a description of the role of bishops and priests as preachers.  See Patricia A. Parachini, Lay Preaching: State of the Question, American Essays in Liturgy (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press) for a historical overview of the approach to laity and preaching in Scripture and Church tradition.
127  Jean Galot, Theology of the Priesthood, Roger Balducelli, trans. (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1985), 208.
128  Ibid., 210.  See 177-215 for Galot’s full analysis of the sacrament of holy orders and priestly being.
129   George T. Montague, First Corinthians, Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2011), 220. See his entire chapter “Many Gifts, One Body” for an examination of Paul’s approach to the charisms as well as excerpts from the Church Fathers on the topic.
130   See Lumen Gentium 12 and Apostolicam Actuositatem 3.
131  Cantalamessa, Sober Intoxication of the Spirit, 47.
132   Cantalamessa, Mystery of Pentecost, 34.
133   Cantalamessa, Mystery of Pentecost, 20.
134  Ibid., 21. See Acts 4:31.
135  Ibid.
136   Cantalamessa, Mystery of Pentecost, 26.
137  Ibid., 29-30.
138  See also Jesus and the Samaritan woman, John 4:1-30: “Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst; the water that I shall give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (Jn 4:12-14).
139  Daniel Keating, Deification and Grace (Ave Maria, FL: Sapientia Press, 2007), 51.
140   Cantalamessa, In Love With Christ: The Secret of Saint Francis of Assisi (Rome: Zenit, 2014), 16. 
141  Ibid., 27.
142  See Jn 14:16-17, 26; 15:26; 16:7-15.
143   See “The Spirit of Christ in the Fullness of Time,” from The Catechism of the Catholic Church, 717-41.  “Only when the hour has arrived for his glorification does Jesus promise the coming of the Holy Spirit, since his Death and Resurrection will fulfill the promise made to the fathers. The Spirit of truth, the other Paraclete, will be given by the Father in answer to Jesus' prayer; he will be sent by the Father in Jesus' name; and Jesus will send him from the Father's side, since he comes from the Father.” (CCC, 729). 
144   “On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.’  When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord.  Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.’  And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.’” (Jn 20:19-23)
145  Cantalamessa, Mystery of Pentecost, 38.
146  Ibid., 49.
147   Cantalamessa, Mystery of Pentecost, 48-52. See also CCC, 1830-1832 and 2003. The Catechism distinguishes between the gifts of the Holy Spirit (Isaiah 11:1-3); the fruits of the Spirit (Gal 5:22-23); and a list of the “graces of state” (Rom 12:6-8).
148  Paul uses the Greek term charisma that means “favor,” “gratuitous gift,” or “benefit,” to refer to “special graces” that are given to God’s people in order that they can “collaborate in the salvation of others” (CCC, 2003).  See also Lumen Gentium 12: The Holy Spirit “distributes special graces among the faithful of every rank. By these gifts He makes them fit and ready to undertake the various tasks and offices which contribute toward the renewal and building up of the Church.”
149  Cantalamessa, Mystery of God’s Word, 56.
150   Thomas D. Stegman, Second Corinthians, Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2009), 96.
151  Cantalamessa, Mystery of Pentecost, 51.
152  Ibid., 50.
153   Thomas Aquinas, The Summa Theologica, Vol II, Ia IIae QQ 111 Art 1, Fathers of the English Dominican Province, trans (Allen, TX: Christian Classics, 1981), 1135-1136.
154  Cantalamessa, Mystery of Pentecost, 51.
155   Cantalamessa, Mystery of Pentecost, 35-36.
156  Ibid., 46.
157   W. E. Vine, Vine’s Expository Commentary on John (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1997), 208.
158  Cantalamessa, Mystery of Pentecost, 36-37.
159   Cantalamessa, Mystery of Pentecost, 35.
160   Cantalamessa, “Preaching Ministry,” 41. See Cantalamessa, Jesus Began to Preach, 40-41.
161  Cantalamessa, Jesus Began to Preach, 60.
162   Cantalamessa, Come Creator Spirit, 231.
163  Cantalamessa, Jesus Began to Preach, 60-61.
164   Cantalamessa, Mystery of God’s Word, 56.
165  Joseph Murphy, Christ Our Joy: The Theological Vision of Pope Benedict XVI (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2008), 157-58. See Joseph Ratzinger, “The Holy Spirit and the Church,” in Images of Hope: Meditations on Major Feasts (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2006), 63-73.
166   Cantalamessa, Mystery of Pentecost, 32.
167   Sherry Weddell developed the Called and Gifted Workshop to help Catholic discern and begin to exercise the charisms that God has given them.  See Catherine of Siena Institute, www.siena.org, accessed October 25, 2014, http://imail.siena.org/Called-Gifted/called-a-gifted. 
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