Catechism at the World Youth Day 2008 for Vietnamese: "Called to live in the Holy Spirit"

(Whitlam Centre Liverpool on July 16, 2008 by Bishop Paul Bùi Văn Đọc, Bishop of My Tho Diocese)

I. Who is the Holy Spirit to be that important?
II. Correlation between the Holy Spirit and Christ
III. The Holy Spirit and Baptism in the name of Christ
IV. Let the Holy Spirit guide you


This year the Holy Father would like all of you to learn more about the Holy Spirit. How appropriate today to learn about the Holy Spirit, since without the Spirit, there would be no World Youth Day in Sydney, you wouldn’t be here all excited and happy. Without the Spirit, none of us could believe in Christ, our Church couldn’t be assembled. Without the Spirit, the Good News could only spell death, and the Church would be reduced to mere mechanism. Without the Spirit, there shall be no life, no activities, no devotion, no spreading (of the Good News), no witness, no special favor, no joy, no progress, no renewal or whatsoever. Without God’s Spirit as the Breath of Life being blown into the body, the world would have become a field of dry bones (cf. Ed 37, 1- 14)

I. So who is the Holy Spirit to be that important?

The Holy Spirit is the third person of the Holy Trinity, in comparison with Jesus being the second person, and with the Father, the first person. He is from the Father and the Son. He is not created by God as we were but rather proceeds from the Father and the Son. He is the Life from the Father and the Son, the Love from the Father and of the Son, the Happiness, and the Joy from God.

A more extraordinary fact about the Holy Spirit is that he is both the Blessed Trinity and the blessings from God. God had offered the Spirit to us. The Spirit comes from an act of grace from God, who is not created but rather from a self devotion of God who gave himself to us in The Spirit. To receive the Spirit is to accept Love, Life, God’s power as well as to accept God himself. Therefore Jesus the Christ had taught us to pray incessantly in order for God the Father to keep bestowing the Spirit upon us (cf. Lk 11, 13)

The Holy Spirit is so mystical that he can’t be described fully with one but rather many figures. But all of these figures are only symbolic and only describe one aspect. These symbolic figures lift up our spirit, letting us experience the Spirit partially. For instance, the Spirit was the Living Water that trickled down from Jesus’ flank when being crucified on the cross. This water would bear fruits and flowers to wherever it flows by. It’s the Living Water all humans need to quench their thirst, and to live an everlasting life. The Spirit is Rain and Dew which bring crops to the world of all creatures.

The Holy Spirit is also the Breath of God which is being blown into all creatures to keep them existing and living. Has this breath been halted, all creatures must die. The Spirit is indeed the breath of the Risen Lord which has been blown into and thus gives life to the Church, it’s also been blown into us in order for us to live. The Holy Spirit is the breath for the new life. He is also Clouds and Wind which enable all entities to move around, to lift up their spirit, and to channel our prayers before God.

The Holy Spirit is the consecrated Oil or the consecration reserved for God. He is the Oil which empowers humans and filled them with the power of God. He is also the Oil which offers sanctifying grace. By him the faithful emit the Fragrance of Christ (Holy Oil would be used in the ceremonies of baptism, confirmation, ordination of priests or coronation of Catholic monarchs)

The Dove is also a symbol of the Holy Spirit since the New Testament reported that the Holy Spirit had descended upon Jesus in the form of a dove when Jesus was being baptized in the Jordan river. The dove is a sign of peace, reconciliation, righteousness, holiness, a sign of a new life.

Theologians also used other figures such as the elevator, the escalator, a kiss or a hand or an arm of God to refer to the Spirit.

II. The Relationship between the Holy Spirit with Christ

If you read the New Testament thoroughly, you will see clearly the close relationship between the Holy Spirit with Christ. According to the Gospel, Jesus’ descending from heaven to be born by the Virgin Mary was an act of the Holy Spirit. Mary had brought Jesus into this world by the power and love of God the Holy Spirit, the revelation of the Eternal God: God the Father continuously begotten Son in the Love of the Holy Spirit.

Jesus and the Spirit have a close relationship with each other since the beginning of time and this relationship is also demonstrated in history of salvation. Jesus has been referred to as the Word of God in the Gospels. The early Church Fathers were used to calling him as the Word, The Holy Spirit as the Breath of God, or as the Spirit of God. The breath of the God Father is also the Breath of the Son. The Spirit of the God Father is also the Spirit of the Son. The Holy Spirit is the Breath of the Word, making the Word the Giver of life. God gives out the Word and breaths out the Spirit. The Word of God the Father always contains the Spirit which is the Spirit of God, being said through the messengers.

In history of salvation, the sending of Christ and the Holy Spirit by the Father into this world were a gift to mankind. God the Father loves mankind so much that he offered his Only Son to the world so that those who believe in his only Son will live forever. (cf. Jn 3, 16). Jesus urged his disciples to pray constantly for God the Father would send the Holy Spirit (cf. Lk 11, 13). The Symposium on catechism of the Catholic Church had many times mentioned the Missions Conjoins of Jesus and the Spirit.

First the Spirit prepared for the coming of Jesus. The Incarnation was one of the highlights of the Spirit’s activities in the history of salvation. During the Baptism of Jesus in Jordan river, he was filled with the Spirit for he was blessed by the God the Father with the sacred oil to become the Messiah, the Christ. Since then Jesus continuously lived and worked in the Holy Spirit.

With the power came from the Holy Spirit, Jesus had spread the Good News of Kingdom of God, performed miracles, healed diseases, exorcized, forgiven people’s sins. Jesus stayed in touch with the Father, he joyfully prayed to the Father in the Spirit. In the Spirit he offered himself as flawless sacrifice to God. (cf. Hbr 9, 14) He was resurrected and named the Son of God the Almighty thanks to the Spirit and in the Spirit (Rm 1, 4). He was fulfilled with the Holy Spirit., even in his resurrected body. He is the Spirit of God which gives life. (2 Cr 3,17; 1Cr 15, 45)

Jesus had promised and did fulfill his promise by fulfilling mankind with the Spirit of God. The Spirit was considered by the Gospel of John as special blessing that came from new sacrament of Baptism which was promised to Nicodemus as “the new birth from up high”, or to the Samaritan woman as Water that comes from everlasting life (cf. Jn, 4-10). Jesus had introduced himself as “streams of living water from His Paschal mystery” (cf. Jn, 7, 37-39). On the cross, from his flank where he suffered from punctured wounds there was blood and water trickling down (cf. Jn 19, 34). On the day of his resurrection, Jesus appeared and breathed into his disciples, giving them the Holy Spirit,(cf. Jn 20, 22-23), which they will received in the form of a strong wind and a tongue of fire during Pentecost (cf. Act 2, 2-4) just as Jesus had promised before he ascended into heaven (Act 1, 8)

“Among the three personages who can not be separated, the Son and the Holy Spirit can be distinguished but can not be taken apart. Truly, from the beginning to the end of time, when God the Father sent down his Son, he also sent the Spirit, who united us with Christ in faith, so as his adoptive children we can call God our father (Rm 8, 15). Though the Spirit is invisible, yet we can recognize him through his acts when he revealed the Word to us and hi acts within the Church” (SCCC, No.137)

According to Church Father Irene, the Spirit guided us to Jesus and he in turns let us present ourselves before the Father. The Spirit connected us with Jesus, so that we can become children of God, with Jesus and in Jesus. The Spirit rekindles our faith in God so we can become his disciples, follow him under his guidance on our way home to the Father who is the Source and Final Destination of all mankind.

The Spirit represents the love of God in us, he binds us with Jesus, making us recognize who Jesus really is and what are we here for. The Holy Spirit reveals Jesus to us. Thank to him, we constantly discover Jesus and love him.

III. The Holy Spirit and the Sacrament of Baptism in the name of Jesus

According to the gospel of Matthew, before Jesus’ ascending into heaven he commanded his Church through the disciples: “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Mt 18, 19)

The Sacrament of Baptism Jesus taught us was the baptism by the Spirit and in the Spirit, the baptism which gives new life, the Spirit of the resurrected Jesus. Jesus was sent to this world by the Father to be Christ the Messiah. He came so that people can live and live plentifully. This satisfying living, thank to the Spirit of the Risen Christ the Lord, is something we can share and take part through Baptism.

According to St Paul, “to be baptized is to be cleansed, to be sanctified, and to be justified in the name of Jesus the Christ and by the Spirit of God.” (1 Cr 6, 11); which means “to be integrated into One Body of Christ by only Spirit of God” (1 Cr12,13), which also means: “We were indeed buried with him through baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the Glory of the Father, we too might live in newness of life.”; which also means to be anointed by God in Christ (2 Cr 1, 21-22)

All of you had been baptized to be reborn by water and the Spirit of God (Jn 3.5-6), receiving a new life by the Spirit of the Risen Jesus, to become Christ’s disciples and belong to him. Do not feel reluctant to belong to Christ but rather be proud since it’s the only way you can become the children of God with Christ and in Christ. That’s your calling. That’s indeed a very lofty calling which was use to be reserved for the royals whereas the King would be called “the Son of God”. In reality everyone is called to be the son of God, not just the King. In fact everyone has been created according to the “image of God” so we were preordained to be sons of God, and it is not be solely for the King

The Symposium on Catechism of the Catholic Church (SCCC) No. 263 had pointed out clearly and thoroughly the effects of the Sacrament of Baptism: the forgiveness of the original sins, personal sins, and the punishments, the communion into life of the Holy Trinity through sanctification; integration into Christ and his Church through justification; participation into the priesthood of Christ, as the foundation for the communion with all other Christians; reception of spiritual virtues and the gifts of the Holy Spirit; belong to Christ forever, since we were appended by Christ’s non-erasable seal.

IV. Let the Holy Spirit guide us

Since the descending of the Spirit, the Church granted the Sacrament of Baptism to those who believe in Jesus the Christ. For those of you who’d already received this Sacrament, for your belief in Him, the Spirit was responsible for the ignition of your faith. Should your faith fade away or become fuzzy, let the Spirit re-ignite it. This WYD provide you the opportunity to let the wonderful work of the Spirit be done onto you. If your faith is weak, the Spirit will strengthen it, since the Spirit is God’s Power which will be overflowing upon you.

If you have not known Christ, or just know him a little, the Spirit will highlight his image in books of the Good News while you reading or listening to it. If you have not been in love with Christ or your love for him is shallow, the Spirit will rekindle it. If you have put your hope and faith not in Christ but in a secular world for your future, the Spirit will show you where your real and final future may lie!

If you have good intention and a big heart for serving humanity, serving the poor and the misfortunate, or serving those who are feeble, and yet you do not have the courage to sacrifice what you have or what you like, the Spirit will empower you. He himself is the Power from heaven the Father and Jesus had promised giving to the disciples, to the Church, and to everyone of us, so that we can bear witness to the love God had shown us through Jesus.

You are the Christians, those who bear the name of Christ, you are the messengers of the Gospel of Christ. The Gospel of Christ is the Good News of Love and of the Love of God. Love is stronger than sin, suffering and death. Love is stronger than any earthly power for love is eternal. Love brings life and final, satisfying resurrection to everybody.

That is the Good News of Resurrection the disciples had courageously announced in light and power of the Holy Spirit being showered on the Church during the First Pentecost, when the Church was officially born. Anyone who listens to the announcement of the disciples, believes in it, repents, and receives the Sacrament of Baptism would be overflow with the Spirit through this sacrament. You should realize that you are to be overflowing with the Spirit through Baptism as well. We all live thank to the spirit of God, so let the Spirit guide us in every step of the way.

Let us follow the Spirit of God, do not yield to the passion of the flesh since passion would contradict with the spirit of God. The Holy Spirit or Spirit of God raises you up while passion of the flesh will pull you down the path. At the end of this path there will be the valley of death, the world of evil spirit, there will be hell. But if we choose to follow the Holy Spirit, our lives will flourish and bear fruits of humanity, joy, peace, patience, generosity, kindness, charity, tolerance, faithfulness, humility, moderation, purity. Humanity, joy and peace are the most prominent fruits in the lives of those who are the witness of this action, of your lives.


I would like to end this homily using these beautiful words: “Receive the Power to be a light shining onto the world.” This lyric came from a theme song you have been listening to it throughout the WYD in multiple languages. I view it as a version of a new Pentecost, when you are gathering here with other youths around the world to open your heart and “receive the Holy power “ as the disciples did during a feast of Pentecost.

His holiness Benedict XVI has been constantly reminding you about the Church of Christ being “a lively Church”. The church is all of us, all of you when you live under the guidance of the Spirit. Let the Spirit, the life of God, transform you into the lively limbs of the only one and holy Church, in order for you to learn how to keep Christ’s face always bright and shiny in this world today, and to help all human beings acknowledge and love God as our Father.

The force which connects us making us the one and only lively body of Christ is but Love, another name for the Holy Spirit. He himself will unite the Church of God, as he had united the Father and the Son. Each time you act in the name of Love, Unison and Peace, you are building up Christ’s body which is the Church, and you are living under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
(Translated into English by VietCatholic and Lana Nguyễn)