MY CATHOLIC FAITH
XXXVIII. The Holy Ghost
“And when the days of Pentecost were drawing to a close, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a violent wind coming, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them parted tongues as of fire, which settled upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in foreign tongues, even as the Holy Spirit prompted them to speak” (Acts 2:1-4).
(Eighth Article of the Apostles’ Creed.)
Who is the Holy Ghost? –The Holy Ghost is God and the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity.
Christ often spoke of the Holy Ghost.
One of the most solemn occasions was when He Charged the Apostles: “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit” (Matt. 28:19).
On certain occasions, the Holy Ghost appeared in visible form. When Christ was baptized by John the Baptist, the Holy Ghost appeared in the form of a dove. On Pentecost, the Holy Ghost descended with a mighty rushing wind, and rested over the Apostles in the form of tongues of fire.
These signs are symbolic of the action of the Holy Ghost. The form of a dove symbolizes the gentleness with which the Holy Spirit works in our souls. The rush of wind represents the strengthening of the will. The fire represents zeal, fervor, and the illumination of the mind.
The Holy Ghost proceeds from the Father and the Son.
This does not mean that the Holy Ghost began to exist later in time than the Father and the Son. He proceeded from them from all eternity; He is to them as warmth is to fire, existing and proceeding at the same time. There can be no fire without warmth; if there were an eternal fire, there would be an eternal warmth. So since there are the eternal Father and Son, there is the eternal Holy Ghost. The Holy Ghost is the eternal, mutual love that the Father and Son bear each other; but instead of being mere feeling, He is a Person, a Being, God.
The Holy Ghost is equal to the Father and the Son, because He is God.
True God as the Father and the Son are, the Holy Ghost is eternal, all-knowing, almighty. The Third Person is called Holy Spirit, from the Latin word spiritus, a breath. He was breathed forth by the Father and the Son. In English we also call Him Holy Ghost. Other names used to refer to the Holy Ghost are: Advocate, Paraclete, Consoler, Comforter, Substantial Love, Spirit of Truth, etc.
What does the Holy Ghost do for the salvation of mankind? –The Holy Ghost dwells in the Church as the source of its life, and sanctifies souls through the gift of grace.
Although all Divine works depend on all Three Persons, we attribute the work of sanctification to God the Holy Ghost, because He is the oneness of love of the Father and the Son, and the sanctification of man by grace reveals that boundless love.
“Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” (1 Cor. 3:16).
After Baptism, we have the Holy Ghost in our hearts and He remains with us as long as we have no mortal sin on our souls. This is the gift of “sanctifying grace”.
Then we say that the Spirit of God dwells in us. We should therefore treat our body with great reverence, for it is the temple of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Ghost is given in a very special manner in the sacraments of Confirmation and Holy Orders.
The Holy Ghost is the source of the life of the Church. He consoles, guides, and imparts strength to it, as Christ promised.
“The Church was filled with the consolation of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 9:31). “Many things yet I have to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. But when he, the Spirit of truth, has come, he will teach you all the truth” (John 16:12-13).
When was the dwelling of the Holy Ghost first visibly manifested in the Church? –The dwelling of the Holy Ghost in the Church was first visibly manifested on Pentecost Sunday, when He came down upon the Apostles in the form of tongues of fire.
After the Ascension, the Apostles together with the blessed Virgin and disciples, men and women, numbering about 120 persons, gathered in the Cenacle, the upper room in Jerusalem where the Last Supper had been taken. There they spent the time in prayer, awaiting the fulfillment of Our Lord’s promise: “Wait here in the city, until you are clothed with power from on high” (Luke 24:49).
Jesus had promised to send the Holy Ghost to the Apostles. He said at the Last Supper: “It is expedient for you that I depart. For if I do not go, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you” (John 16:7) . On Pentecost, ten days after the Ascension, the Holy Ghost descended on the Apostles and disciples.
On Pentecost three thousand members were baptized after the preaching of St. Peter. Many believed, because the Apostles had the “gift of tongues’ that is, they spoke in one language, but those of different races who listened heard what was said in their own different languages.
We celebrate the descent of the Holy Ghost today as Pentecost Sunday, ten days after Ascension Thursday, fifty days after Easter. Pentecost means fifty.
The nine days in the Cenacle while the Apostles and disciples waited for the coming of the Holy Spirit were spent in prayer, the first novena in the Church. “All these with one mind continued steadfastly in prayer with the women and Mary, the mother of Jesus” (Acts 1:14). In imitation of that first novena, it is our custom today to make novenas especially in preparation for great feasts. We also make novenas of petition or thanksgiving.
How long will the Holy Ghost dwell in the Church? –The Holy Ghost will dwell in the Church until the end of time.
“I will ask the Father and he will give you another Advocate to dwell with you forever, the Spirit of truth” (John 14:16-17)
The Holy Ghost watches over the Church, protecting it from destruction. From the beginning, the Church spread very rapidly. At the death of the Apostles, in spite of persecutions, it was known in all parts of the then civilized world. Thence it has spread to the ends of the earth.
St. Paul could say: “Yes, indeed, their voice has gone forth into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world” (Rom. 10:18).
The Holy Ghost gave testimony of Christ and strengthened the Apostles to give testimony of Christ.
Our Lord said, “But when the Advocate has come, whom I will send you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness concerning me. And you also bear witness” (John 15:26,27). By His descent, the Holy Ghost proved that all Jesus Christ had said and done was true, that He was indeed the Son of God. After the coming of the Holy Ghost, the Apostles gave testimony of Christ by going all over the world, (Acts 1:8), preaching and suffering for Christ, meeting death joyfully (Acts 5:41; Rom. 8:18) , saying, “I can do all things in him who strengthens me.”