The Mass of the Holy Spirit

Holy Cross Father John I. Jenkins, president of the University of Notre Dame (CNS photo/Michael Alex ander, Georgia Bulletin)

Throughout the country many (if not most) Jesuit high schools and colleges (as well as many other Catholic schools) are marking the opening of the academic year with the Mass of the Holy Spirit. As this website from Creighton University notes, the Mass of the Holy Spirit "is a tradition among Jesuit academic institutions dating to 1548 in which the community gathers to thank God for the gifts of creation and salvation and to seek the guidance and wisdom of the Holy Spirit in the coming year."

At this year's opening Mass at the University of Notre Dame, Fr. John Jenkins, University President, discussed the gifts of the Holy Spirit:

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Today, as we do every year, we begin the academic year by seeking guidance and inspiration from the Holy Spirit.  In the reading from Isaiah, the Prophet speaks of the Spirit of God resting on God’s anointed.  It is a spirit of wisdom, understanding, counsel, strength, knowledge, piety and fear of the Lord. 
 

In the Christian tradition, these seven attributes from the Book of Isaiah are understood as gifts of the spirit.  It is interesting how these gifts are understood among theologians in the tradition.  The gifts are created characteristics in a human being, but they do not of themselves lead us to the corresponding virtuous actions – acts wisdom, knowledge, understanding, fortitude, etc.  Rather, the gifts make us receptive to the working of the Holy Spirit – God Himself – in our minds and hearts to help us to act well.

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