Pentecost Primer

Paraclete: The Spirit of Truth in the Church

by Father Andrew Apostoli

Servant, 2006

182 pages, $13.99

To order: (800) 488-0488

Before he died, Jesus made us the beneficiaries of his supernatural life-insurance plan. He paid the price of his Passion and death and — starting at Pentecost, which we commemorate June 4 — the Church received the presence of the Holy Spirit.

Jesus explained how we would benefit from this spiritual inheritance: “But when he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth” (John 16:13). Living in a culture saturated with relativism and subjectivity, the Church’s need for a truth guide today is urgent.

Thankfully, such a guide is in our midst; our task is only to take advantage of the Holy Spirit’s presence among us. Franciscan Father Andrew Apostoli’s latest book promises to help us receive what God is constantly offering.

Paraclete is a compelling and concise presentation of how the Holy Spirit guides hearts and minds to the fullness of truth. Beginning with an examination of Christ’s teaching and the origins of the Catholic faith, the book presents abundant Scriptural evidence of the Holy Spirit’s essential role for comprehending and embracing Christianity.

As I made my way through these chapters, I found myself feeling deeply grateful for the work of the Holy Spirit these 20 centuries. Father Apostoli offers concrete examples of the centrality of the Holy Spirit in the preservation and proclamation of the authentic Gospel message across all those cultures, generations and civilizations. The book provides more than a list of the Holy Spirit’s actions and accomplishments, however. The text is also an impressive little compendium of the Catholic faith.

Read this book and you’ll encounter the foundations of the Gospel, a solid and gentle defense of magisterial authority, a clear presentation of the episcopacy and the priesthood and an introduction to crucial philosophical concepts. There’s even a little Mariology mixed in.

One concise section discusses the fathers and doctors of the Church, the mendicant orders and the Scholastic period. Another considers the role of theology in developing our understanding of God. Various chapters address topics of interest to bishops, priests, deacons, religious, laity, theologians, teachers and parents.

All of this breadth and depth comes at a price. At times, the book strays from its title as it stretches to touch a few too many bases. The middle chapters dealing with the role of pastors in the Church make little mention of the Holy Spirit. If the material weren’t so valuable and the subtle concepts made so clear, one might regret the digression. But, as it stands, the scenic route is worth the extra time.

“The Holy Spirit is moving more and more laypeople to give of their time, talents and resources,” Father Apostoli writes before giving some examples. “The Spirit inspires these ministries, whether formal or informal, part-time or full-time. He calls forth individuals to be new apostles in the Church’s field of labor.”

In such plain, Franciscan speaking, Paraclete inspires a desire for greater openness to the Holy Spirit on a personal level: “More urgently than ever, loyal and learned Catholics must bring the light of Christ into the world! We need the Paraclete, the Spirit of truth, to come upon the Church once again in a new Pentecost that will renew the face of the earth.”

It’s Pentecost. Do you know where your fruits of the Spirit are?

Gina Giambrone writes from

Fond du Lac, Wisconsin.