“DOMINUM ET VIVIFICANTEM”
A. What is it?
“Dominum et vivificantem” is the fifth encyclical written by Pope John Paul II.
“Dominum et vivificantem” is a phrase in Latin which means, “The Lord and Giver of Life!”
The encyclical was promulgated on 18 May 1986.
“Dominum et vivificantem” is a theological examination of the role of the Holy Spirit as it pertains to the modern world and the Church and the use of spiritual prayer to renew one’s spiritual life.
This encyclical completed the Pope’s Trinitarian trilogy of encyclicals, which includes “Redemptor Hominis” and “Dives in Misericordia.”
B. What does it speak of?
“Dominum et vivificantem” consists of three parts:
PART I – The Spirit of the Father and of the Son, given to the Church
PART II – The Spirit Who convinces the world concerning sin
PART III – The Spirit Who gives life
In 1986, Pope John Paul II was already anticipating the new millennium, with its new challenges…
… as well as the new graces the Holy Spirit would bestow upon the Church as she celebrated the Great Jubilee beginning the third millennium of Christianity.
Wishing to prepare the Church for these things by giving the people of God an increased awareness and knowledge of the Holy Spirit, he issued the encyclical on May 18, the Solemnity of Pentecost
Four scenes from the “Upper Room” form the framework of the encyclical’s theological vision.
- There is the farewell discourse of Jesus at his final meal with his disciples (John 14:17).
In this scene “the highest point of the revelation of the Trinity is reached”
Jesus begins to disclose the personal role that the Spirit will play in communicating the Gospel to the world:
- The second Upper Room scene takes place on the evening of the first Easter Sunday
Jesus breathes on his disciples and says to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”
Here is fulfilled the principal prediction of the farewell discourse: the Risen Christ … ‘brings’ to the Apostles the Holy Spirit”
- The third Upper Room scene, on the day of Pentecost, witnessed the further giving of the Holy Spirit to the world
“This event constitutes the definitive manifestation of what had already been accomplished in the same Upper Room on Easter Sunday”
Thus the era of the Church begins, and the Holy Spirit is precisely the soul of this new body.
- The fourth evocation of the Upper Room concerns the Church’s fidelity to its mission, which requires it always to be attentive to the circumstances of its beginning.
“While it is an historical fact that the Church came forth from the Upper Room on the day of Pentecost, in a certain sense one can say that she has never left it.
Spiritually the event of Pentecost does not belong only to the past; the Church is always in the Upper Room that she bears in her heart”
C. Pointers for Reflections
- This encyclical describes many “signs and symptoms of death” in the contemporary world
Against a materialism which accepts death as the end of human existence, the Church proclaims the Holy Spirit, “the life which is stronger than death.”
- Conversion of the human heart “is brought about by the influence” of the Holy Spirit working through the conscience.
Conversion requires convincing of sin; it includes the interior judgment of the conscience, and becomes at the same time a new beginning of the bestowal of grace and love
Thus in this “convincing concerning sin” we discover a double gift: the gift of the truth of conscience and the gift of the certainty of redemption.
D. What virtues/points can we pick up from “Dominum et vivificantem” for this Season of Lent?
- Work against the ‘culture of death’ that is becoming a dangerous trend in the modern world
- Recognise the danger of living in sin
E. Tips to practice these virtues
- Be a promoter of life at all levels
- Daily make an examination of conscience
May this Lent and the familiarity with “Dominum et vivificantem” help us to grow in our acclamation: “Eureka – I have found the Lord”
CLICK TO READ the Full Text of “Dominum et vivificantem” at https://www.vatican.va/content/john-paul-ii/en/encyclicals/documents/hf_jp-ii_enc_18051986_dominum-et-vivificantem.html
God Bless! Live Jesus!