Thursday, May 2, 2013

Catholic Thursday: The Holy Spirit Within

Welcome back, my dear readers. We are quickly approaching the end of the Easter Season, which means that we have two BIG Feasts coming up - the Ascension of Jesus into Heaven and the Descent of the Holy Spirit or Pentecost. I was going to complain for a moment about having to celebrate the Ascension on Sunday instead of Thursday to give more people the opportunity to celebrate this Feast. Instead, I will trust the pastoral care of the U.S. to the bishops and just type my book review. It's a great book too. I have been sitting on this book for over a month, as I wanted to not only read it at the appropriate time in the Church Year, but also present it to you at the same time.

The Holy Spirit Within: Homilies at Ascension and Pentecost is composed of six sermons (two for Ascension and four for Pentecost) by St. John of Ávila. Some of you may be wondering, "Who is St John of Ávila?" He was a Spanish priest and mystic from the 1500s who was declared Venerable in 1759, Blessed in 1893, Saint in 1970, and became a Doctor of the Church in 2012. He had great influence on St. Teresa of Ávila, who remarkably became a Saint and Doctor of the Church well before he did.

St. John of Ávila believed, rightly, that the Holy Spirit was the Person of the Trinity that was most misunderstood and most forgotten. These homilies serve the purpose of better explaining who the Holy Spirit is, how and why we should seek His intercession, and how He will help us in our spiritual lives if we just allow Him. My first thoughts when reading his homilies were that this was a brilliant man. However, it also struck me that his congregation must have been very intelligent as well to understand what he was telling them. Although his homilies are long, they are also understandable. He also quotes extensively from both Sacred Scripture and the Fathers of the Church, which I always love to "hear" when reading homilies.

I only have one negative thing to say about this work, and it deals with the presentation of portions of his homilies. There is a ton of Latin interspersed within these sermons. This might not bother you, especially if you are fluent in Latin, but it grew to be a distraction for me. I understand some Latin, but unfortunately I don't read it fluently. Therefore, I believe it would have been better to have the translated portion directly in the text, with a footnote at the end of the homily or the bottom of the page for the exact Latin phrase.

That one complaint aside, I feel spiritually richer having read these homilies. Pope Benedict XVI was truly wise in making St. John of Ávila a Doctor of the Church. I challenge you to pick up this 5 star book and learn what a great Saint had to say about the Holy Spirit. Jesus promised that God would send an Advocate and Comforter in the Holy Spirit, so let's stop neglecting the Holy Spirit and give Him the honor He is due by learning more about Him and praying to Him more.

Click this link or this one and hit Yes if you found this review helpful! Sorry for the double review on Amazon, but I hate when they don't link the physical book with the Kindle edition.