...do I practice what I preach?
...am I a leader or a SERVANT?
...am I to SERVE or be served?
...can't attach and detach?
...can't I go back to being a member again?
...where is the LOVE?
I'M SORRY, I REALLY NEED TO ASK 'COZ...
I LOVE YOU!
Q: I thought I understood, more or less, how the Holy Spirit works in our lives. But in a recent faith sharing group, a question came up that made me wonder. Someone asked if the Holy Spirit would or would not be with un-baptized persons if they ask Holy Spirit to dwell in them or to give them fortitude in a difficult situation. This came up while we were discussing how God’s grace can touch the lives of those who have never even heard of Jesus. I was hoping you could shed some light on this for me.
A: I am glad you asked this question. It reminds us that the vast treasure of theological reflection that our Church has accumulated through the centuries isn’t just irrelevant abstraction. It has grown up organically, in order to help us understand better and better how God works, so that we can cooperate with him more and more effectively.
In the first place, remember that God is not limited to working through the sacraments. Therefore, he can make saints without them if he so pleases; he can pour his grace into souls however and whenever he sees fit. At the same time, however, he himself established the sacraments as the normal, ordinary way to communicate his grace. For us to belittle them or treat them as optional, therefore, is presumptuous. He established them because in his wisdom he knows that human nature always experiences and expresses spiritual realities through material realities. And so, something real changes in our souls at baptism: God comes to dwell in us, adopts us, and actually alters (elevates) our souls at a deep, ontological level. In other words, it is not indifferent whether or not someone gets baptized.
“Types” of Baptism
The Church has long pointed out, however, that this grace of baptism can come in three ways: through the validly administered sacrament of baptism; through baptism by blood; and baptism of desire.
As you can see, we simply cannot fathom all the wonderful ways in which God works in the souls of us sinners. God’s action is so rich!
The “Types” of Grace
As regards your specific question, about someone who is not baptized asking for help from the Holy Spirit, it may be useful to recall the different types of grace.
These distinctions may seem persnickety. But let’s not lose sight of the forest for the trees. Reflecting on the many ways in which God reaches out to us and stays involved in our lives reminds of the most important thing: that he is our Father, passionately interested in the smallest details of our little, limited world.
Yours in Christ, Father John Bartunek, LC