Belgaum Diocese was erected on September 19, 1953 by the Papal Bull "summa illa Sollicitudo" of Pope Pius XII. Two civil districts of Belgaum and North Kanara were separated from the Archdiocese of Goa, and the two civil districts of Dharwad and Bijapur were taken from the Diocese of Pune in forming the Diocese of Belgaum.
It consists of the civil districts of Belgaum, Bagalkot, Dharwad, Gadag and Haveri in Karnataka State, and the Chandgad taluka in Kolhapur District of Maharashtra state. Most Rev. Michael Rodrigues was appointed its first Bishop.
By a Papal Bull "Christi Missum" of Paul VI, North Kanara District was separated from the Belgaum Diocese to form the Karwar Diocese on January 24, 1976.
Theme for the Month of August
Eighth Article of the Creed
I BELIEVE IN THE HOLY SPIRIT
The print and television media were full of the news in the first week July of the latest discovery of a new particle by the renowned scientist, Higgs Boson, popularly known as the “God particle”. It is considered one of the greatest discoveries in recent times in the line of science. It was as if the materialistic and the atheistic world had suddenly found out something that was surpassing all knowledge intelligence and bounds of the human intellect. For some it looked or at least was made to appear as if God himself was discovered !
While the “God particle” may have been discovered, the irony is that we have yet to know and experience God who is within us and around us. Our God is a God of love and mercy. The Christian God is a triune God – Father Son and the Holy Spirit. The eighth article of the Creed enunciates in a forceful manner our belief in the third person of the Holy Trinity, the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is God himself and with the Father and the Son is the source of our life and the basis of our existence. The Catholic Catechism of the Church puts it this way, “When the Father sends his Word, he always sends his Breath. In their joint mission, the Son and the Holy Spirit are distinct but inseparable. To be sure, it is Christ who is seen, the visible image of the invisible God but it is the Sprit who reveals him” (CCC 689).
As splendid are the gifts of the Holy Spirit, so varied are the symbols used in the Bible for the Holy Spirit. Water, anointing, fire, cloud and light, seal, hand, finger and dove are the various symbols used in the Old and New Testament to denote the presence and action of the Holy Spirit (CCC 694-701). Though Jesus made known and made manifest the identity of the Holy Spirit in the New Testament, his presence and action were already foreshadowed and referred to in the Old Testament. With the expectation of the Messiah, the reference to the powerful intervention of the Holy Spirit in the life of the Messiah was also amply announced. The Prophet Isaiah, for example, foretells to his listeners, “Behold I am doing a new thing” (Is.43, 19).
The uniqueness of the Holy Spirit lies in the fact that he enables us to recognize God as Father. “No one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God” says St.Paul in his letter to Corinthians (1 Cor.2, 11). St.Ireneus, one of the Fathers of the Church explains “God fashioned man with his own hand (that is, the Son and the Holy Spirit) and impressed his own form on the flesh he had fashioned, in such a way that even what was visible bear the divine form”. St.Paul is certain that without the Spirit, no one can call God “Abba” or “Father”. “The Spirit makes you God’s children, and by that the Spirit’s power we cry out to God “Abba”, “Father” (Rom. 8, 15).
God’s loving plan of redemption is fulfilled in Jesus with the help of the Holy Spirit. Ever since his conception in the womb of Mary, which is directly attributed to God through the Holy Spirit, Mary becomes the crucible and cenacle of grace for the birth of Our Lord. She is a woman “full of grace” who brings to birth Jesus through the grace of the Holy Spirit (Lk.1, 28). In Mary, the Holy Spirit fulfils the plan of God’s loving goodness (CCC 712). Further the entire mission of the Son, which included his teaching, working of miracles, suffering, death and resurrection was only elaboration of his intimate connection with the Holy Spirit.
Jesus’ resurrection and his continuing to live among his disciples in the body of the Church (Mt.28, 20) is once again the fulfillment of the promise of Jesus to send the Paraclete (Jn.14, 16). ‘‘God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us” (Rom.5, 5). In a way, “the mission of Christ and the Holy Spirit is brought to completion in the Church which is the Body of Christ and the Temple of the Holy Spirit” (CCC 737). The Holy Spirit is the “soul” of the Church (Ecclesia). Christ is the head of this Church and we are the body. The Youth Catechism of the Catholic Church (YouCat) gives a plausible explanation, “The people of Israel worshipped God in the temple of Jerusalem. This temple no longer exists. It has been replaced by the Church…” (YouCat 128).
How do we relate to the Holy Spirit? The Holy Spirit is the breath of the Church. The Spirit is not a dead entity, nor is a relic that Jesus has left behind, rather it His own Spirit, the living Spirit. The Church carries on the mission of Christ. She acts and enacts the life of Jesus. She carries on the sacred signs of Jesus, through her sacraments, which are the actions of Christ to sanctify, heal and bind the people. Each one of us, like the Church, is the temple of the Holy Spirit. St. Augustine calls the Holy Spirit “the quiet guest of the soul”, and indeed he is certainly the most welcome guest.
The Holy Spirit is the breath of our life and our hope for everyday. YouCat asserts that “anyone who enters into a relationship with the Holy Spirit can experience miracles even today” (YouCat 128). The Holy Spirit lives in the hearts of the believers and helps them to pray. He bestows on them the gifts, which we call ‘charisms’, unique and special. Thomas Merton in the book, No Man is an Island says of the Holy Spirit, “The Holy Spirit is the most perfect gift of the Father to men, and yet He is the one gift which the Father gives most easily.”
May the prayer of the Angels and Saints be ours as we believe in the Holy Spirit and pray to the Him, in the words of St.Augustine.
O Holy Spirit, descend plentifully into my heart.
Enlighten the dark corners of this neglected
dwelling and scatter there thy cheerful beams.....
Breathe in me, O Holy Spirit, that my thoughts may all be holy.
Act in me, O Holy Spirit, that my work, too, may be holy.
Draw my heart, O Holy Spirit, that I love but what is holy.
Strengthen me, O Holy Spirit, to defend all that is holy.
Guard me, then, O Holy Spirit, that i always may be holy.
Bishop of Belgaum