Bro. Mitch Pacwa’s Last Bible Study | Catholic National Register

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Bro. The book of Pacwa shows how the Holy Spirit has acted throughout the history of the Church, beyond the flames of the Upper Room.

“Come, Holy Spirit, blessed Creator, and take your rest in our souls” is the joyful hymn of the feast of Pentecost which has just been celebrated. The Holy Spirit is the most enigmatic Person in the Trinity, but Fr. Mitch Pacwa, SJ, highlights his life in his recent book, The Holy Spirit: A Bible Study Guide for Catholics (Our Sunday visitor, 2016). By explaining the Catholic understanding of the Spirit through the scriptures, he shows how the Spirit is also part of our lives. The book offers a teaching program, with seven sessions that can be done individually or in groups. He ends each session with discussion questions and suggestions for applying the Spirit to daily life. The Holy Spirit is a retreat with the intention of making us grow in the knowledge of the Spirit, so that we can worship and glorify him.

The theme of the study is that the Spirit can be found throughout the Bible, not just the New Testament. The Holy Spirit is an excellent accompaniment and can also help to better appreciate the sacrament of Confirmation. Bro Pacwa’s passion for his subject makes the book pleasant, as if we were doing an individual retreat with him.

The Holy Spirit tends to be viewed as a force devoid of a cohesive personality: wind, fire, or a dove. These various emblems seem to make the Spirit simply symbolic, but Fr. Pacwa’s study not only affirms the specific personality of the Spirit, it is a program created to cultivate a personal relationship with Him.

The first session shows the creative role of Spirit in Genesis. Bro. Pacwa contrasts the Spirit hovering over the waters (Genesis 1: 2) with the violent myths of the Babylonian creation. He also uses a hymn in the Book of Judith and the Book of Wisdom to show the creative work of the Holy Spirit. Bro. Pacwa explores the titles “The Lord, the giver of life” pronounced at Mass in the symbol of Nicaea.

The second and third sessions discuss how the Spirit bestows authority and power, and then uses the prophets as specific examples. Bro. Pacwa not only discusses biblical figures like Samson, Balaam, Elisha, Isaiah and Sirach, but also gives a historical context. The guide contains useful boxes on the chaotic political world of judges as well as surprising historical evidence of the prophet Balaam in a stele on the Jordan River.

The fourth session deals with how the Holy Spirit gives wisdom and direction, which flow from truth. It is broader, covering the Books of Wisdom as well as the stories of the Prophet Daniel, King David and the righteous Susanna. It forms a transitional session to the New Testament. Bro. Pacwa shows how the Spirit permeates these books as the Spirit of Truth.

The last three sessions cover the role of the Spirit in the New Testament, in particular its activity in the life of Jesus and of Saint Paul. Bro. Pacwa shows the parallel accounts of the Annunciations to Our Lady and to Saint Joseph, illustrating the role of the Spirit in the virgin conception of Jesus. While the Archangel Gabriel explains the shadow of the Spirit to Mary, Joseph receives his revelation through an angelic dream. Bro. Pacwa also explains the Trinitarian significance of the baptism of Jesus; he also explains why the Spirit led him into the wilderness for his temptations. He carefully analyzes these verses by verse, for further reading.

Bro. Pacwa ends his book by discussing the transformational effect of the Spirit on the life of Saint Paul. It traces Saint Paul from his beginnings as Saul, a proud Pharisee before his conversion. Through his missionary journeys, Saint Paul comes to a greater understanding of the Spirit. His temporary physical blindness shed light on his own spiritual forgetfulness. Saint Paul has written eloquently about the power of the Spirit in his life, including describing how he arms the believer (Ephesians 6: 14-17). The Spirit illuminates him, making him a man inflamed with love for Christ and his Church. In concluding with Paul, Fr. Pacwa gives proof of the power and compassion of the Spirit of Truth to transform our lives.

Bro. Pacwa encourages readers to pray to the Spirit, to seek a close relationship with Him. The book is not just an intellectual exercise. It’s about getting to know the Holy Spirit, more than knowing facts about Him. Bro Pacwa’s scholarly touches – such as his careful historical examination of the eras of the Books of Chronicles and Kings – give the book a particularly Jesuit tone. Jesuits are respected as educators, and Fr. Pacwa embodies this aspect of the vocation of his order. It’s captivating, especially with the new knowledge you get about the scriptures. In the age of superhero movies, Fr. Pacwa shows the true superpowers of the Spirit. Empowerment of Spirit surpasses Wonder Woman’s Lasso of Truth or Superman’s ability to go faster than a fastball.

The book of Acts is sometimes called “The Gospel of the Holy Spirit” because it deals with His work in the Church after Pentecost. Bro. The book of Pacwa shows how the Spirit has acted throughout the history of the Church, beyond the flames of the Upper Room. The Holy Spirit enabled Our Lady to conceive Jesus in her womb, the Word becoming flesh, and by calling on the Holy Spirit in our lives, we can find new life in Christ. While it is easier to explain the sacraments of Baptism and the Eucharist, The Holy Spirit shows how the sacrament of Confirmation strengthens and enlightens. In a relativistic society, this book is ignited by the power of the Spirit of truth in our lives.


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