Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Andrew M. Greenwell, Esq.

5/20/2013 (1 year ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

"As a fire," the "uncreate and everlasting Fire," the Paraclete "came down from heaven on the day of Pentecost," and "as a fire, the Paraclete burns "away the dross of sin and vanity in the heart and dost light up the pure flame of devotion and affection."  The Paraclete is He who unites "heaven and earth by showing to us the glory and beauty of the Divine Nature," and therefore makes us love the Godhead for the very glory and beauty that it is. 

Highlights

By Andrew M. Greenwell, Esq.

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

5/20/2013 (1 year ago)

Published in Living Faith

Keywords: paraclete, holy spirit, pentecost, Pope Francis, G. M. Hopkins, John Henry Cardinal Newman, Andrew M. Greenwell


CORPUS CHRISTI, TX (Catholic Online) - As we celebrate the Feast of Pentecost, the Feast Day of the Paraclete, it might behoove us to explore the word Paraclete as part of our series on the three sacred languages, Tres Linguae Sacrae.

The word Paraclete, a noun, is one of the words used in St. John's Gospel to describe the Holy Spirit.  It is, as it were, one of the formal names for the Holy Spirit.  But it is also used to refer to Jesus Christ.  It is a transliteration, and not a translation, of the Greek.

"And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate [allon paraklēton] to be with you always, the Spirit of truth . . . ." (John 14:16-17)

"The Advocate [paraklētos], the holy Spirit that the Father will send in my name--he will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you." (John 14:26)

"When the Advocate [ho paraklētos] comes whom I will send you from the Father, the Spirit of truth that proceeds from the Father, he will testify to me."  (John 15:26)

"But I tell you the truth, it is better for you that I go.  For if I do not go, the Advocate [ho paraklētos] will not come to you.  But if I go, I will send him to you."  (John 16:7)

"My children, I am writing this to you so that you may not commit sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an Advocate [paraklēton] with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous one." (1 John 2:1)

A mere glance at the Scriptures shows immediately that, as the Jesuit priest-poet Gerard Manley Hopkins once put it in a Sermon, "both Christ and the Holy Ghost are Paracletes."

The Paraclete we celebrate on Pentecost Sunday is, of course, the Holy Spirit, the "Spirit of truth."  This is the Holy Spirit we sing about in the Latin hymn Veni Creator Spiritus:

Qui diceris Paraclitus /Altissimi donum Dei / Fons vivus, ignis, caritas / Et spritalis unctio.
You who are called Paraclete / Gift of God most high / Font of life, fire, love / And spiritual unction

The word Paraclete (in Latin Paraclitus or Paracletus) is a transliteration of the Greek word in the Biblical text, paraklētos (παράκλητος).  It is a word that is formed from the Greek para (παρά), meaning "close to" or "beside," and kaléō (καλέω), meaning "to call aloud" or "invite."

Outside the context of Scripture, the word paraclete has legal significance.  A paraclete is a lawyer, an advocate, a counselor: one who stands beside (L. ad / Gk. para) and is summoned or called (L. vocatum / Gr. kaléō) by a person to help him after he has been summoned to court or to a task.  Ignorant of the law or ways of God or incapable of complying with them, the Christian is in need of an adviser, a counselor, an advocate, a helper to help know that law and to fulfill it.

There are several features of the Greek word that should be stressed in order to gain some insight into its meaning. 

First, an interesting aspect of the word Paraclete is that it is passive in form, so it is not entirely accurate to translate it with active nouns such as intercessor, advocate, comfort, helper, consoler, exhorter, encourager, and so forth.  It is more accurate, though perhaps cumbersome in English, to regard the Paraclete as He who is called to intercede, to advocate, to comfort, to help, to exhort, to encourage, and so on.

Second, it is interesting to focus on who is the one who is called, as the paraclete or advocate, is in aid of the one being called before the bar.  Christians are the called, the klētoi.  We are called (klētoi) of Jesus Christ (Rom. 1:6, 7), we--whether Greek or Jew--are the ones whom God has called (klētois) (1 Cor. 1:24).  We are the ones called (klētois) to be saints ( 1 Cor. 1:1, 2).  It is to fulfill our calling that warrants the need for a helper a counselor (paraklētos), because we are unable to fulfill the calling on our own.

Third, although frequently translated as counselor or advocate, this translation, though not inaccurate, unnecessarily restricts the broad, far richer meaning of the word, and so is inadequate.  The word Paraclete, then, might be said to be a word of many colors, sort of like the coat of the Patriarch Joseph.  It is a rich office assumed by He who is called upon to intercede, advocate, comfort, help, console, exhort, encourage.  It is this reason which probably drove St. Jerome to transliterate the word into Latin as paraclitus in his translation of the Greek Scriptures, instead of the literal Latin translation advocatus

Aware of the rich connotations of the word Paraclete, the Jesuit-priest-poet Gerard Manley Hopkins had this so say in a sermon preached in Liverpool on April 25, 1882: "A Paraclete is one who comforts, who cheers, who encourages, who persuades, who exhorts, who stirs up, who urges forward, one calls on." 

Hopkins continues: "what the spur and word of command is to a horse, what clapping of hands is to a speaker, what a trumpet is to the soldier, that a Paraclete is to the soul: one who calls us on, that is what it means." 

To what end this encouragement, this comforting, this urging us on, this persuasion? Hopkins answers: "a Paraclete is one who calls us on to good . . . .a Paraclete is just that, something that cheers the spirit of man, with signals and with cries, all zealous that he should do something and full of assurance that if he will he can, calling him on, springing to meet him half way, crying to his ears or to his heart: This way to  do God's will, this way to save your soul, come on, come on!"

The Paraclete, Hopkins tenuously suggests, is like a fellow ball player or cricket player, even a cheerleader or friend who urges us on, who keeps up morale, camaraderie, who encourages us to win against an adversary, to complete the task before us, to fight the good fight, to finish the race, to keep the faith.  (Cf. 2 Tim. 4:7)

Pope Francis has a very strong view of the Paraclete.  In an audience with the Cardinals on March 15, 2013, Pope Francis had this to say: "He, the Paraclete, is the supreme protagonist of every initiative and manifestation of faith. . . . The Paraclete creates all the differences in the Church . . . [yet] [o]n the other hand unifies all these differences, not making them equal but in harmony with one another.  I remember a Church father who described it like this: ipse harmonia est [He himself is harmony].  The Paraclete gives each one of us a different charism, and unites us in this community of the Church that adores the Father, the Son, and Him--the Holy Spirit."

The Paraclete, Blessed Cardinal Newman wrote in some Meditations, has a four-fold office.  As the Creator Spirit, the Paraclete is the "life of all things."  As the soul of the Church, the Paraclete is the "life of the Church."  The Paraclete is also intimately part of the Christian; indeed, He is the supernatural "life of the soul" of the Christian.  And, last, but certainly not least, the Paraclete is the "fount of love," in God and in man.

The Paraclete is present in creation, both material and spiritual creation, in the life of both nature and grace, as the "Life of all that live," the "life of the whole creation." Through the Paraclete "the whole material Universe hangs together and consists, remains in its place, and moves internally in the order and reciprocity of its several parts."  So the Paraclete is behind "that awful triumph of nature," and the entirety of its "animal and material framework," testifying to the existence of God.  For this reason, God's existence can be "clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, his eternal power, also, and divinity," so we are without excuse in rejecting God.
 
But the Paraclete is not some immanent principle, some "world spirit," or "spirit of the times."  The Paraclete transcends nature and the material (being God, He is wholly Other from his creation), and so also is behind the supernatural life, the life of Grace.  The Paraclete is He who is behind the songs of praise the angels and saints pray in heaven, and it is He who enlivens the dead to serve God. 

The Paraclete is the source of all good--natural and supernatural, Newman observed.  "From Thee," Blessed Newman prays, "is every good thought and desire, every good purpose, every good effort, every good success."

The Paraclete is at the heart of the Church, that "great company of saints," the "communion between God above and man below," that portion of "heaven upon earth" that gives the "light of grace," the seed of the "light of glory," to all Catholics in its fullness.  Indeed, there would be no Catholic Church without the Paraclete, just as there would be no Church without Christ.  The Church was established and is maintained by the Paraclete, being continually filled with His gifts "that men may see, draw near, and take, and live." 

The Paraclete saves us from impiety and from eternal damnation.  "I should have lived and died in darkness and sin; I should have become worse and worse the longer I lived; I should have got more to hate and abjure Thee, O Source of my bliss; I should have got yearly more fit for hell, and at length I should have gone there, but for Thy incomprehensible love to me," humbly prays the Blessed Henry Newman.

It is the Paraclete who, through baptism, makes us new creatures in Christ and members of Christ's Church.  It is the Paraclete who, through the promptings of actual grace, draws men into her from the outside "infallibly"--even those like Cardinal Newman who (he humbly acknowledges) "did nothing towards it" and indeed "did everything against it" so as to "thwart" the Paraclete's purpose.  The Paraclete does this for no other reason than it is part of His "wise reason" and "inscrutable love," an "overpowering love," a love which while it respects our freedom, yet "prevails," and therefore makes takes one "captive."

The Paraclete plays a central role in the life of the individual Catholic Christian.  He teaches the faithful, He prompts the faithful, "to come to the fountains of mercy continually with an awakened, eager mind, and with lively devotion," thereby assuring a continual life of grace.  He instills in the faithful a "love of [His] Sacraments and Ordinances."  He teaches the Christian to "value as [one] ought, "the great and heavenly gift of the Presence of Him whose Spirit Thou art, upon the Altar," God in the Eucharist.

The Paraclete fulfills His office concretely, on a one-by-one basis, soul-by-soul, intimately, persistently.  So the Paraclete might be said to have taken upon Himself, through an "incomprehensible condescension," "the office of a minister," the very curate of each man's soul.

As God's minister to each human soul, the Paraclete pursues us with unmitigated indefatigability and untiring dedication, even though we might wish "to be left, to go [our] own way, to go straight forward in [our] willfulness and self-trust to hell," and even though He would be justified to abandon us to our own devices. 

We are at a total loss without the Paraclete: "Without Thee I can do nothing," Blessed John Henry Newman prays, "and Thou art there where Thy Church is and Thy Sacraments.  Give me grace to rest in them for ever, till they are lost in the glory of Thy manifestation in the world to come." 

The Paraclete is the "light and the life" of the Christian soul.  He does this, not only by "giving . . . good suggestions," by "inspiring grace and helping from without," by cleansing the soul with "inward virtue," but more remarkably by dwelling in the soul by grace "in an ineffable way," thereby "uniting" the soul to God Himself, and thereby to "the whole company of angels and saints."

Even more, the Paraclete is actually "present in" the Christian, and "in some sense" even absorbs us into God, thus binding us to God "not only by [His] grace, but by [His] eternal substance."  But he does this with no loss to our "own individuality."  It is, Blessed Newman observed, as though the Paraclete had "taken possession of my very, body, this earthly, fleshly, wretched tabernacle-even my body is Thy Temple.  O astonishing, awful truth!  I believe it, I know it, O my God!"

It is horrible to contemplate that, even with all the Paraclete's gifts--even the gift of Himself--we can be so heedless of the Paraclete and entertain and indeed act on sin.  To act on serious sin means to "expel" that "Divine Inhabitant" since sin is the one thing "which He abhors more than anything else, [and] which is the one thing in the whole world which is offensive to Him, the only thing which is not His."  We do this even though He is bound "so intimately" with our soul, as to be virtually part of it.  It is incomprehensible that we can "forget who is with," indeed "in" us when we sin and spurn the Paraclete. 

The Paraclete, however, is the great preserver from sin, and gives us a "double security against sinning."  The first is that He instills in the Christian faithful, "the dread of such a profanation," the same dread of sin that the Paraclete Himself has.  The second is that we may "trust that that Presence," of the Paraclete Himself, "will preserve [us] from sin."   The flesh is weak, but the Spirit is always willing.  (Cf. Matt. 26:41; Mark 14:38)

The Paraclete is our infallible recourse against sinning: "My God," we should pray, "Thou wilt go from me, if I sin; and I shall be left to my own miserable self.  God forbid!  I will use what Thou hast given me; I will call on Thee when tried and tempted.  I will guard against the sloth and carelessness into which I am continually falling. Through Thee I will never forsake Thee."

The Paraclete's other name is Love, for the Paraclete is "that Living Love, wherewith the Father and the Son love each other," Newman says.  The Paraclete is therefore the "Author of supernatural love in our hearts-"Fons vivus, ignis, caritas," the fount of life, fire, and charity, as the hymn Veni Creator Spiritus goes. 

"As a fire," the "uncreate and everlasting Fire," the Paraclete "came down from heaven on the day of Pentecost," and "as a fire, the Paraclete burns "away the dross of sin and vanity in the heart and dost light up the pure flame of devotion and affection."  The Paraclete is He who unites "heaven and earth by showing to us the glory and beauty of the Divine Nature," and therefore makes us love the Godhead for the very glory and beauty that it is. 

The Paraclete is the great confirmer, as it is He who has been and is "the strength, the vigour and endurance, of the martyr in the midst of his torments," the "the stay of the confessor in his long, tedious, and humiliating toils," the "fire, by which the preacher wins souls, without thought of himself, in his missionary labours." 

The Paraclete is the great awakener.  By the Paraclete "we wake up from the death of sin, to exchange the idolatry of the creature for the pure love of the Creator."

The Paraclete is the great mover, who inspires us to do "acts of faith, hope, charity, and contrition."  He is the fire which is kindled in us the desire to "pray, and mediate, and do penance." 

The Paraclete is the soul's great medicine, a prophylaxis against sin.  By the Paraclete, the Christian is able to "live in the atmosphere of earth, proof against its infection."

The Paraclete is the soul's great light and source of life.  "As well could our bodies live, if the sun were extinguished, as our souls, if Thou art away," Newman prays.

The Paraclete is God's great undeserved, unmerited, and entirely gratuitous gift.  The Paraclete is He whom we must thank for not becoming "worse and worse as years went on," for if unaided we would even "tend to be a devil."  The Paraclete is He whom we must thank if in any way we "differ at all from the world," because the Paraclete has "chosen" us "out of the world," and elected to light up "the love of God in [our] heart." 

The Paraclete is the great maker of saints, the sap of their vine, the juice of their fruits.  If we "differ" from God's Saints as a result of sin or imperfection, it is not the Paraclete's fault.  No.  Rather it is our own.  It is because we do not ask "earnestly enough" for the Paraclete's grace, or we fail to ask for "for enough of it," or because we "do not diligently improve" what the Paraclete has already given us.  We let lie fallow some of the Paraclete's gifts.

This Pentecost Sunday, we ought to pray, as Blessed John Henry Newman did, in this manner to the Paraclete with boldness:

"Increase in me this grace of love, in spite of all my unworthiness.
It is more precious than anything else in the world.
I accept it in place of all the world can give me. 
O give it to me!  It is my life."

Amen.
-----

Andrew M. Greenwell is an attorney licensed to practice law in Texas, practicing in Corpus Christi, Texas.  He is married with three children.  He maintains a blog entirely devoted to the natural law called Lex Christianorum.  You can contact Andrew at agreenwell@harris-greenwell.com.

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for October 2014
Peace:
That the Lord may grant peace to those parts of the world most battered by war and violence.
World Mission Day: That World Mission Day may rekindle in every believer zeal for carrying the Gospel into all the world.



Comments


More Living Faith

Christians shouldn't badmouth others, Pope warns Watch

Image of People are

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Speaking at his weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square this week, Pope Francis says that Christians must set a good example lest they drive people away into atheism. "How many times we've heard in our neighborhoods, 'Oh that person over there always goes ... continue reading


'Structural causes' of poverty must be dismantled, Pope tells activists Watch

Image of

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

In a wide-ranging speech to activists, Pope Francis urged the gathered to join the fight against the "structural causes" of poverty and inequality, calling for a "revolutionary" program drawn from the Gospels. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - "The poor no ... continue reading


God's existence does not contradict the discoveries of science, Pope Francis says Watch

Image of The pontiff reassured that the Big Bang theory, as well as the theory of evolution do not eliminate the existence of God.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

God remains the one who set all of creation into motion, Pope Francis told the Pontifical Academy of Sciences this week. The pontiff reassured that the Big Bang theory, as well as the theory of evolution do not eliminate the existence of God. LOS ANGELES, CA ... continue reading


Yesterday's Faith is Not Enough: How We Can Overcome Pride Watch

Image of Monks in prayer

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

Jesus continued to do what the Father had sent Him to do, in spite of opposition from apparently religious people. We are invited to follow his example. He will give us the grace to do so, if we ask Him. St Josemaria Escriva used a phrase to refer to the kind of ... continue reading


Christian rapper comes out of the closet --as straight Watch

Image of Jackie Hill-Perry is living testament to the power of God to change those who are willing to accept Him.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Christian rapper, Jackie Hill-Perry has come out of the closet --as straight. Hill-Perry says she experienced gender confusion after being sexually abused as a child and sought same-sex relationships until she says God helped her to change for the better. LOS ANGELES, ... continue reading


Every Christian is 'to create unity in the Church,' Pope Francis declares Watch

Image of This creating of unity in the Church, the Pope said, recounting the reading from Saint Paul to the Philippians,

By CNA/EWTN News

In his homily for Mass at the Santa Marta residence on Oct. 24, Pope Francis reflected on the call of Christians to perpetuate unity in the Church by being "living stones" built upon the "cornerstone of Christ." Vatican City (CNA/EWTN News) - This creating of ... continue reading


Abolish death penalty and life imprisonment, Pope Francis declares Watch

Image of The Vatican recently eliminated life imprisonment from its own penal code, Pope Francis noted.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Calling for the abolition of the death penalty as well as life imprisonment, Pope Francis soundly denounced what he called a "penal populism." The world's prescribed cure for crime - punishment, should never overtake the pursuit for social justice, he says. LOS ... continue reading


Making a Difference - Newly beatified pope championed justice and peace

Image of Pope Paul VI addresses the UN during his 1965 appeal for peace.

By Tony Magliano

With numerous armed conflicts raging in various parts of the world, and the Vietnam War worsening, Pope Paul VI on Oct. 4, 1965 proclaimed before the U.N. General Assembly: "No more war, war never again. It is peace, peace which must guide the destinies of peoples and ... continue reading


'War does not begin in the battlefield. Wars begin in the heart,' Pope Francis says Watch

Image of

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Speaking at his weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square, Pope Francis addressed the topic of war. With the majority of the world engaged in some sort of battle, and it's up to the individual to realize that major conflicts begin with little things. LOS ... continue reading


Finding the Path to Peace Through Forgiveness Watch

Image of For he (Jesus) is our peace, he made both one and broke down the dividing wall of enmity, through his Flesh, abolishing the law with its commandments and legal claims, that he might create in himself one new person in place of the two, thus establishing peace, and might reconcile both with God, in one Body, through the cross, putting that enmity to death by it. He came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near, for through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father- St Paul

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

In 1999 I was a part of Project Reconciliation led by a true peacemaker, paralyzed police officer Detective Steven McDonald. This trip was a part of Steven McDonald's mission of preaching peace through forgiveness. It had the goal of helping to heal the wounds ... continue reading


All Living Faith News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Philippians 1:1-11
1 Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, to all ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 111:1-2, 3-4, 5-6
1 Alleluia! I give thanks to Yahweh with all my ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 14:1-6
1 Now it happened that on a Sabbath day he had gone ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for October 31st, 2014 Image

St. Wolfgang
October 31: Wolfgang (d. 994) + Bishop and reformer. Born in Swabia, ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter