“The Holy Spirit has…an infinite capacity for friendship


“And because we are his children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, prompting us to call out, “Abba, Father.” (Galatians 4:5).

“And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us.” (Romans 5:5)

In this note we will be discussing the tremendous comfort and strength the Holy Spirit can bring to someone suffering from loneliness, ostracization, and the crushing difficulties of life.

A great spiritual writer of the twentieth century wrote the following:

“God the Holy Spirit is the divine friend of the human souls to whom he is sent. Jesus sends his Holy Spirit to us in order, among other purposes, to banish from our life on earth that which constitutes one of the great pains of our present existence. There are few things so hard for a man to bear as loneliness and isolation. Man is not made to live alone. In a world which is ever hostile to Christ and will always hate his followers as it hated him, the Christian necessarily suffers from a certain measure of ostracism.

Moreover, the Christian has to bear the loneliness that, with the advance of years, is the common lot of mortals. Death and other causes tend to thin the ever narrowing circle of one’s friends and acquaintances. How frequently the pathos of this abandonment shows in the eyes of the aged whose contemporaries have vanished year by year.

Jesus has provided for the comfort of lonely hearts. When it comes to a human creature, neither to love nor to be loved by anyone, then existence has turned to dust and ashes. The disciples of Christ need never experience this dread starvation, this withering of their powers of affection, seeing that they may, by grace, possess within themselves in the closest intimacy a Person who, by the Word of Truth [Jesus], has been declared to be preeminently a consoler (John 14:16) – a Person who may be loved without limits and who repays every mark of affection by more than the hundredfold in warmth and tenderness. Consider for a moment the POWER of loving in the Holy Spirit who is love personified, who IS the personal love between the Father and the Son!

The Holy Spirit has not only an infinite capacity for friendship – He has, as well, an infinite power to make his friendship effective for the consolation and comfort of those he loves. In the great trails of life, notably in the bereavement caused by the death of those dearest to us, how impotent we find the well-meaning efforts of our friends to touch our grief with healing. When the soul is burdened by a great sorrow, nothing can bring alleviation and strength except that which can penetrate and change the spirit of man. This the Divine Friend – the Holy Spirit – alone is capable of doing.

How frequent an experience it is to find the faithful who, when faced with an overwhelming calamity, which should normally paralyze and crush them, manifest a courage, calm and resolution, traceable to no natural source. The origin of this mysterious peace and confidence is the Paraclete, the Comforter, the Holy Spirit. Their turning to God in their distress has provoked the inner and direct action of the Holy Spirit on the substance of the soul itself.

All that love demands is that it be given free scope to express itself. The affection of the Holy Spirit for the soul he inhabits and adorns is not only strong and ardent…it is faithful as well. Let us train ourselves to be open to this potent, strengthening influence of the Divine Friend within our souls by a constant, loving attention to His presence. The Holy Spirit is the consoler of hearts because Jesus expressly sent Him to us in order to find comfort in all the trials and adversities of life, and Jesus further promised that the Holy Spirit would abide with us forever in a never ending friendship of love (John 14:16).”

This long quote, significantly edited and adapted, is from The Holy Spirit by Father Edward Leen (Scepter Publishers), pages 160-163. Father Leen, who belonged to the Congregation of the Holy Spirit, wrote extensively on spiritual topics and his books are full of powerful spiritual insights.

Dear Friend, be ever more attentive to the presence of the Holy Spirit in the depths of your soul, and of His infinite capacity to help you through the daunting difficulties of this present life, through a most remarkable and intimate friendship that will never end.

Thomas L. Mulcahy, M.A.

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“And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to help you and be with you forever – the Spirit of truth” (John 14:16-17)


Introduction: To discover the life-giving power of the Holy Spirit is one of the greatest experiences a human being can undergo. Consequently, here are ten suggestions for drawing closer to the Holy Spirit. In The Holy Spirit, a great spiritual writer, Father Edward Leen, says that “Christians do not dwell as they ought on the immense advantages that they may derive from the intimate friendship which the Holy Spirit is eager to establish between them and himself, as God.” Father Leen continues: “The Holy Spirit has…an infinite capacity for friendship….The Holy Spirit is laden with all the secrets of God – secrets not only of surpassing interest in themselves but of great import for the creature. These deep things of God the Holy Spirit is all eagerness to communicate to the soul, as in the tendency of friendship. Unfortunately, the creature, too often, is a listless and inattentive listener….” It is my hope that one or more of the following suggestions might increase your friendship with the Holy Spirit, who is the very source of the Divine friendship. 

1. Make a Novena to the Holy Spirit for the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit

Saint John Vianney states that “when we feel we are losing our fervour, we must instantly make a novena to the Holy Spirit to ask for faith and love….” The Catechism of the Catholic Church says the following about these seven gifts:

The moral life of Christians is sustained by the gifts of the Holy Spirit. These are permanent dispositions which make man docile in following the promptings of the Holy SpiritThe seven gifts of the Holy Spirit are wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord. They belong in their fullness to Christ, Son of David.109 They complete and perfect the virtues of those who receive them. They make the faithful docile in readily obeying divine inspirations (1830-31).”

Father Faber adds:

“[The Holy Spirit]”has some very special gifts, seven in number, with which he works in souls; they are marvelous tools, undreamed possibilities of grandeur of soul, unsurpassed forms of beauty, working miracles with our nature without doing violence to them; by them we touch, and taste, and relish, what we know by faith” (F.W. Faber, Notes on Doctrinal and Spiritual Subjects,Vol. 1, p.80).

Here is an online

Novena to the Holy Spirit for the Seven Gifts

2. Make a Novena to the Holy Spirit for the Twelve Fruits of the Holy Spirit

The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) at 1832 lists the twelve  the fruits of the Holy Spirit as follows:

The fruits of the Spirit are perfections that the Holy Spirit forms in us as the first fruits of eternal glory. The tradition of the Church lists twelve of them: ‘charity, joy, peace, patience, KINDNESS, goodness, generosity, gentleness, faithfulness, modesty, self-control, chastity’ [citing Galatians 5: 22-23].”

There is a powerful novena for the twelve fruits in Father Lovasik’s book, Favorite Novenas to the Holy Spirit (Catholic Book Publishing Company). Here’s a link to it: 


3. Practice Calling on (or sensing the presence of) the Holy Spirit through the Mediated Symbols/Images of:

a. Fire

Comment: The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) states:

Fire. While water signifies birth and the fruitfulness of life given in the Holy Spirit, fire symbolizes the transforming energy of the Holy Spirit’s actions. The prayer of the prophet Elijah, who “arose like fire” and whose “word burned like a torch,” brought down fire from heaven on the sacrifice on Mount Carmel. This event was a “figure” of the fire of the Holy Spirit, who transforms what he touches. John the Baptist, who goes “before [the Lord] in the spirit and power of Elijah,” proclaims Christ as the one who “will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.” Jesus will say of the Spirit: “I came to cast fire upon the earth; and would that it were already kindled!” In the form of tongues “as of fire,” the Holy Spirit rests on the disciples on the morning of Pentecost and fills them with himself The spiritual tradition has retained this symbolism of fire as one of the most expressive images of the Holy Spirit’s actions. “Do not quench the Spirit (696).”

b. Air

 Father Faber draws heavily on this image, stating: Then I pictured Him [the Holy Spirit] as if He were the viewless air, which I breathed, which was my life as if the air were He, going into me and coming out, and He a Divine Person, sweetly envious of the Son, sweetly coveting the Sacred Humanity which He
Himself had fashioned, and coming into the world on beautifulest mission, seeking to be as near incarnate as He could be without an actual incarnation; and it was so near that he seemed almost human, though unicarnate. And this was the clearest view I ever could see of that Divine Person. May he forgive what I have written of Him…and bear with me a little longer, till I have dawn my last breath in Him, and breathed it forth again as my first breath of another life, a fresh son newly born at the Feet of the Eternal Father (Notes, Vol. 1, p.98)!” 

c. Wind

Comment: The rushing wind at Pentecost (Acts 2:2). Every rush of wind, every breeze, can serve as a powerful reminder of the Holy Spirit.

d. Water

Comment: Water is a powerful image of the Holy Spirit, and most especially in the Gospel of John:

On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and proclaimed, “If any one thirst, let him come to me and drink.  He who believes in me, as the scripture has said, `Out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water.'” Now this he said about the Spirit, which those who believed in him were to receive; for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified. (John 7:37-39)

See also CCC 694. Just like we need water to live, so too do we need the Holy Spirit for spiritual life. We use water to cleans and nourish us: these are images which draw us into the life of the Holy Spirit. We can also use Holy water in our homes.

e. The Dove

Comment: The peaceful dove is a wonderful image of the Holy Spirit. The CCC discusses the symbol of the dove in the following manner:

“The dove. At the end of the flood, whose symbolism refers to Baptism, a dove released by Noah returns with a fresh olive-tree branch in its beak as a sign that the earth was again habitable. When Christ comes up from the water of his baptism, the Holy Spirit, in the form of a dove, comes down upon him and remains with him. The Spirit comes down and remains in the purified hearts of the baptized. In certain churches, the Eucharist is reserved in a metal receptacle in the form of a dove (columbarium) suspended above the altar. Christian iconography traditionally uses a dove to suggest the Spirit (701).”

f.  Oil

Oil can remind us that we have been annointed by the Holy Spirit by virtue of our baptism and Confirmation. Blessed oils are sacramentals which we can use in our own homes. The CCC states:

Anointing. The symbolism of anointing with oil also signifies the Holy Spirit, to the point of becoming a synonym for the Holy Spirit. In Christian initiation, anointing is the sacramental sign of Confirmation, called “chrismation” in the Churches of the East. Its full force can be grasped only in relation to the primary anointing accomplished by the Holy Spirit, that of Jesus. Christ (in Hebrew “messiah”) means the one “anointed” by God’s Spirit. There were several anointed ones of the Lord in the Old Covenant, pre-eminently King David. But Jesus is God’s Anointed in a unique way: the humanity the Son assumed was entirely anointed by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit established him as “Christ.” The Virgin Mary conceived Christ by the Holy Spirit who, through the angel, proclaimed him the Christ at his birth, and prompted Simeon to come to the temple to see the Christ of the Lord. The Spirit filled Christ and the power of the Spirit went out from him in his acts of healing and of saving. Finally, it was the Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead. Now, fully established as “Christ” in his humanity victorious over death, Jesus pours out the Holy Spirit abundantly until “the saints” constitute – in their union with the humanity of the Son of God – that perfect man “to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ”: “the whole Christ,” in St. Augustine’s expression (695).

Comment: These symbols help us to image the invisible Holy Spirit. They are aids. The Holy Spirit is not air or water. We are not pantheists. However, God is present in nature by his power, presence and essence. Moreover, the Holy Spirit does truly indwell in our souls by sanctifying grace.

4. Engage in the Practice of Interior Prayer

By way of sanctifying grace received at baptism the Holy Spirit actually and really indwells our souls. Therefore in interior prayer the ultimate aim is to bypass mediated or symbolic knowledge to go directly to the Holy Spirit (the end result of which is entry into mystical prayer which is ultimately a grace). The CCC discusses interior prayer under the heading of “Contemplative Prayer” in paragraphs 2709-2719. Also, Saint Teresa of Avila’s classic, Interior Castle, discusses in detail the practice of interior prayer. It is prudent to have a spiritual director when attempting this form of prayer. Contemplative or interior prayer differs from meditation in that meditation involves discursive images and symbols whereby contemplative prayer seeks to transcend discursive or symbolic knowledge and go more directly to God. I would recommend, to begin this method of prayer, a short book called Progress in Divine Union by Father Raoul Plus.

5. Attend a Life in the Spirit Seminar

Comment: These seminars, which aim to draw one into a closer experience of the Holy Spirit, are offered from time to time at various Catholic parishes. The good folks at Renewal Ministries in Ann Arbor may have more information about attending such a seminar, and a wealth of information on devotion to the Holy Spirit (renewalministries.net).

6. Utilize the Rosary

Comment: When praying the third glorious mystery, The Descent of the Holy Spirit, close your eyes and imagine the Holy Spirit, through the symbol of the dove, flying towards you and entering your heart, or imagine a flame of fire (tongue of fire) resting over you and filling you with joy and love. See my post:


7. Utilize Ejaculatory Prayer:

The Catechism of the Catholic Church specifically recommends that, throughout the day, we invoke the name of “Jesus,” which contains the entire economy of salvation, and also that we invoke the Holy Spirit saying, “Come, Holy Spirit” (CCC 2665-2672).  It is the Holy Spirit acting within us that makes prayer possible (CCC 2672). Example: while you are working or busy with some activity, you very briefly lift your heart to God and say, “Come, Holy Spirit.”

8. Maintain a Special Devotion to the Great Prayer to the Holy Spirit, Veni Creator Spiritus

Pray the Veni Creator Spiritus! In his book Mystics and Saints, the saint expert, Bert Ghezzi, states: “I have noticed an intriguing thread running through the lives of several mystics we have observed. God touched them in extraordinary ways when they prayed the Veni Creator Spiritus, the ancient hymn to the Holy Spirit.” This beautiful prayer is widely available on-line and is in most Catholic prayer books.

9. Utilize 
Devotion to Mary to Draw Closer to the Holy Spirit

Comment: There is a special relationship between Mary and the Holy Ghost. The Holy Ghost was responsible for Mary’s colossal sanctification in her Immaculate Conception, in her being covered by the Holy Spirit’s “unspeakable” shadow and thus conceiving the God-man Jesus (Luke 1:22-23), in Elizabeth’s Holy Spirit inspired utterance that Mary is “the mother of my Lord” (Luke 1: 12-78), in Simeon’s prophetic words that Mary’s heart would be “pierced by a sword” (Luke 2:12-34), in Mary receiving an influx of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost (Acts 2: 37-23), in Mary’s Assumption, and in Mary’s exalting Queenship and role as mediatrix in Heaven (Rev. 12: 23-56). In True Devotion to Mary Saint Louis De Montfort states the following:

“The more the Holy Ghost finds Mary , His dear and inseparable spouse, in any soul, the more active and mighty He becomes in producing Jesus Christ in that soul, and that soul in Jesus Christ” (#20).

10. Prayfully read and Meditate on Pope John Paul II‘s  Encyclical on the Holy Spirit

Comment: Here’s a link to this powerful encyclical:

Dominum et vivificantem – Ioannes Paulus PP. II – Encyclical

Tom Mulcahy, M.A.

Image: The lead image is a picture of a stained glass representation of the Holy Spirit as a dove from St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, circa 1660, by Gian Lorenzo Bernini (Public Domain, U.S.A.).

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