SummaryWith homeschooling, the assistance of the Holy Spirit is indispensable. Teresa Collins considers the significance of several of the Holy Spirit’s titles.
“When the days of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly a sound came from heaven like the rush of a mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues of fire, distributed and resting on each one of them. And they were filled with the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2: 2-4)
The feast of Pentecost occurs fifty days after Easter, and commemorates the coming of the third Person of the Blessed Trinity, the Holy Spirit, who “proceeds from the Father and the Son,” and “who together with the Father and the Son is adored and glorified.” (Nicene Creed)
Many titles or names are given to the Holy Spirit, among them “Spirit of Truth,” “Advocate,” “Comforter,” and “Consoler.”
The Holy Spirit is also the channel of the love of God. In this time of Pentecost, I have been reflecting on these particular names and attributes of the third Person of the Blessed Trinity, especially with regard to the vocations of parenthood and teaching.
As parents, we are called to be the primary educators of our children, and this is true whether we send our children to school or teach them ourselves at home. Our foremost goal as parents is the salvation of the children entrusted to us.
St. Paul in his first letter to Timothy says,
“God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:3-4).
It would seem fitting, then, to turn to the Holy Spirit, the “Spirit of Truth,” for help in teaching the truth to our children, and thus helping them towards their heavenly goal.
Sometimes as parents and teachers, we are not sure how to teach our children in the most effective way, or how to present a particularly important topic as clearly and completely as possible, or how to best answer an important question our child might ask. Pray to the Holy Spirit, the One who enlightens, can help during these times.
A passage from the Gospel of Luke, while primarily referring to times of persecution, is applicable in these circumstances also:
“Do not be anxious how or what you are to answer or what you are to say; for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say” (Luke 12:12).
The lesson of this passage about defending the truth should be taught to our children as well, since we live in a world which, by and large, has turned its back on Christ.
Reliance on and confidence in the Holy Spirit for whatever enlightenment, inspiration, and help that we need in seeking, teaching, and defending the truth is something we should promote and develop in ourselves and in our children.
There is a prayer of St. Thomas Aquinas that asks the intercession of Mary for the guidance of the Holy Spirit. As parents and teachers, we can pray this prayer:
“I humbly ask you to obtain for me, through your intercession, the grace of the Holy Spirit. May it enable me to grasp with my mind, retain in my memory, and express by my words and my life, all that shall give honor to you and your Son and be blessedly conducive to my eternal salvation” (Father John Hardon, Catholic Prayer Book, Eternal Life Publishers, Bardstown, Kentucky, 1999).
By extension, of course, we mean conducive to our children’s salvation, not just ours.
The Holy Spirit is also the Paraclete, from the Greek parakalein, meaning to invoke, to summon, to call; thus, an advocate, to be invoked for blessing, help, inspiration, protection.
The Holy Spirit is our advocate; He intercedes for us; He pleads our cause before the heavenly throne.
Just as an advocate or counselor in a court of law presents the case for his client in as clear and persuasive a manner as possible, so the Holy Spirit presents our petitions, our concerns, our needs, to the Father.
The Holy Spirit helps us when our own prayer is lacking.
“Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes with sighs too deep for words” (Romans 8: 26).
We call the third person of the Blessed Trinity the Comforter and the Consoler. The etymology of the word “comfort” is from the Latin confortare which means “to strengthen much” or “to make strong.”
Likewise, the word “console” is from the Latin consolari, meaning to console or to solace, to alleviate, relieve, or lighten grief or anxiety.
Of course, there are times of weakness, doubt, anxiety, and sadness in everyone’s life. As parents, and often as parents of many children, we are sometimes tired and over-worked.
Schooling our children can be a struggle. Perhaps one or more of our children is having difficulty in school.
It is not always easy to find time to do what we need or want to do with and for our children.
We may face even greater hardships, such as serious illness of ourselves or our children, or even the loss of a child or spouse. In all these difficulties, great or small, we can call on our Consoler and Comforter.
The Holy Spirit is our source of strength when we are at odds with the world around us because of what we believe and how we try to live.
Because of the comfort of the Holy Spirit, Christ’s apostles “left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name” (Act 5:41).
If we have not yet reached the level of the apostles, who rejoiced in suffering for Christ, we may at least be willing to “suffer dishonor” for God when the occasions arise.
God’s love comes to us through the Holy Spirit, and through the Holy Spirit we are able to return that love, and to love our neighbor.
“God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us” (Romans 5:5).
We can pray to the Holy Spirit for the grace to love God, to love our children and our neighbor, and to live our lives according to that love, living out our vocations as parents and teachers or whatever we are called upon to be.
Header photo CC: Adobe Stock: Jacek Chabraszewski