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In preparation for the jubilee year 2000, the Roman Catholic church has set aside 1998 as a year of prayer and reflection on the Holy Spirit. It is a theological commonplace to note that the Western church has failed in important ways to articulate or appreciate the power and person of the Holy Spirit. (Spiritus is Latin for ruah, "breath" in Hebrew: "The breath of his mouth put all things in place"-Wisdom 32:6.) Too often the Spirit has simply been taken for granted, the forgotten member of the Trinity, relegated in practical theology and worship to third place in a hierarchy of divine being.

To be sure, the concept of the Holy Spirit is inherently esoteric. In this regard, Walter Kasper, the German bishop and theologian, notes that while the Son appeared in human form and we can make at least a mental image of the Father, the Spirit is not so immediately "graphic." Western art has traditionally depicted the third person of the Trinity in the form of Pentecostal fire or of a baptismal dove-images based on the New Testament that do attest to the Spirit’s power and freedom. But like all metaphors for God, these images are only approximations. The Spirit’s "real presence" is both more ubiquitous and more elusive, for the Spirit is preeminently at work in the lives of God’s people, in the communion of his church. That mysterious reality, whereby the Spirit, always understood within the unity of the Trinity, can be...

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