THE HOLY GHOST AND HIS MISSION IN THE CHURCH
They were all filled with the Holy Ghost–ACTS ii. 4.
The Holy Ghost will teach you all things.–JOHN xiv. 26.
In the Gospel, of this day we have the promise of our Lord, uttered on the eve of His Passion and death, that, after ascending to His Father, He would send the Holy Spirit upon His Church to teach it all truth, and to recall to the minds of the Apostles and their successors all the divine doctrines He had revealed to them. In the Epistle we see the fulfillment of this gracious promise. The Apostles, according to the instructions given them by our Lord, were gathered together in the Upper Room awaiting in prayer the promised Comforter. At the appointed time, on the tenth day after the Ascension, the Holy Spirit came down upon them, filling them with knowledge, fortitude, and His many wondrous gifts and graces. This was the birthday of the Church, and the Apostles, who were its visible teachers and rulers, went forth in the power of the Holy Ghost to begin that unfailing testimony to Christ and His teachings which, through the same Holy Spirit, their successors will continue down to the end of time.
I. The meaning of the name “Holy Ghost.” 1. The third Person of the Blessed Trinity is called Holy because He is true God; He is called Ghost because He is a spirit. 2. The other two Divine Persons are equally holy and spiritual, but while they both have their own proper names, it is only by a general term, like “Holy Ghost,” that the third Divine Person can be expressed, simply because we cannot discover a proper name to designate the manner of His procession.
II. “I believe in the Holy Ghost.” 1. By this article of the Creed we profess our belief that the Holy Ghost is God, as the Scriptures teach. In Acts v. 3, 4, He is called God; in I Cor. vi. 19, in 2 Thess. ii. 13, in John vi. 64, in 2 Cor. iii. 6, etc., divine attributes are ascribed to Him; in Matt. xxviii. 19 He is named with the other Divine Persons, and in I John v. 7 He is said to be one with them. 2. The Holy Ghost is a distinct person, as the form of Baptism indicates. 3. The Holy Ghost proceeds from the Father and the Son by an eternal procession, as we are also taught by the Scriptures. This procession being the result of the mutual love of the Father and the Son, all the external works of God in which love excels are attributed to Him.
III. The missions of the Holy Ghost. 1. The outward mission of the Holy Spirit consists in His guidance of the Church in her teaching, and in animating and vivifying her somewhat as the soul animates and vivifies the body. This outward mission began on the day of Pentecost when the Holy Ghost came down upon the Apostles to enlighten and strengthen them for their work of teaching and ruling over the Church. 2. The internal mission of the Holy Spirit consists in the sanctification of individual souls through the Sacraments, His graces, gifts, and fruits.
CONCLUSION. Devotion to the Holy Ghost. This consists in knowing Him, loving Him, and imploring Him. 1. We learn to know Him by striving to acquire a greater knowledge of His gifts and benefits. 2. Our love for Him should be such as to make us shun sin, especially that of resisting the truth, and lead us to practice chastity and those other virtues which befit the temple of God. 3. We should implore the Holy Spirit for light, strength, consolation and holiness. 4. On this feast of Pentecost it is most appropriate that we should implore the Holy Ghost for the reunion of Christendom.
Catechism of the Council of Trent, Part I
ARTICLE VIII OF THE CREED
I believe in the Holy Ghost
NECESSITY OF FAITH IN THE HOLY GHOST
Hitherto we have expounded, as far as the nature of the subject seemed to require, what pertains to the first and second Persons of the Holy Trinity. It now remains to explain what the Creed contains with regard to the third Person, the Holy Ghost.
On this subject, the pastor should omit nothing that study and industry can effect; for on this article, no less than on those that preceded, ignorance or error would be unpardonable. Hence, the Apostle did not permit some amongst the Ephesians to remain in ignorance with regard to the Person of the Holy Ghost. Having asked if they had received the Holy Ghost, and having received for answer that they did not so much as know that there was a Holy Ghost, he at once demanded: “In whom, therefore, were you baptized?” to signify that a distinct knowledge of this article is most necessary to the faithful.
From such knowledge, they derive special fruit. For, considering attentively that whatever they have, they possess through the bounty and beneficence of the Holy Spirit, they learn to think more modestly and humbly of themselves, and to place all their hopes in the protection of God, which is the first step towards consummate wisdom and supreme happiness.
MEANING OF THE WORDS HOLY GHOST
The exposition of this article, therefore, should begin with the force and meaning here attached to the words Holy Ghost. This appellation is equally true when applied to the Father and the Son, since both are spirit, both holy, and we confess that God is a spirit; this name may also be applied to angels, and the souls of the just. Care must be taken, therefore, that the faithful be not led into error by the ambiguity of the words.
The pastor, then, will teach that by the words Holy Ghost in this article is understood the third Person of the Blessed Trinity, a sense in which they are used, sometimes in the Old, and frequently in the New Testament. Thus David prays: “Take not thy Holy Spirit from me;”(1) and in the Book of Wisdom we read: “Who shall know thy thoughts, except Thou give wisdom, and send Thy Holy Spirit from above?”(2) And in another place:
“He created her in the Holy Ghost.”(3) We are also commanded, in the New Testament, to be baptized “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.”(4) We read that the most holy Virgin conceived of the Holy Ghost;(5) and we are sent by St. John to Christ, “Who baptizeth us in the Holy Ghost.”(6) There are many other passages in which the words Holy Ghost occur.
WHY THE THIRD PERSON OF THE HOLY TRINITY HAS NO PROPER NAME
It should not be deemed a matter of surprise that a proper name is not given to the third, as to the first and second Persons. The second Person is designated by a proper name, and called Son, because, as has been explained in the preceding articles, His eternal birth from the Father is properly called generation. As therefore that birth is expressed by the word generation, so the Person, emanating from that generation, is properly called Son, and the Person, from whom he emanates, Father.
But as the production of the third Person has no proper name, but is called spiration and procession, the Person produced is, consequently, designated by no proper name. The production of the third Person has no proper name simply because we are obliged to borrow from created objects the names given to God, and know no other created means of communicating nature and essence than that of generation. Hence we cannot discover a proper name to express the manner in which God communicates Himself entire, by the force of His love. Wherefore we call the third Person Holy Ghost, a name, however, peculiarly appropriate to Him who infuses into us spiritual life, and without whose holy inspiration we can do nothing meritorious of eternal life.
THE HOLY GHOST IS EQUALLY GOD WITH THE FATHER AND THE SON
The people, when once acquainted with the meaning of His name, should first of all be taught that the Holy Ghost is equally God with the Father and the Son, equally omnipotent and eternal, infinitely perfect, the supreme good, infinitely wise, and of the same nature as the Father and the Son.
All this is obviously enough implied by the force of the word “in,” when we say: “I believe in the Holy Ghost;” for this preposition is prefixed to each Person of the Trinity in order to express the exact nature of our faith.
The divinity of the Holy Ghost is also clearly established by many passages of Scripture. When, in the Acts of the Apostles, St. Peter says, “Ananias! why hast thou conceived this thing in thy heart?” he immediately adds: “thou hast not lied to men but to God”;(7) calling Him God to whom he had just before given the name Holy Ghost.
The Apostle also, writing to the Corinthians, interprets what he says of God as said of the Holy Ghost. “There are,” he says, “diversities of operations, but the same God, who worketh all in all;” “but,” he continues, “all these things one and the same Spirit worketh, dividing to every one according as he will.”(8)
In the Acts of the Apostles, also, what the prophets attribute to God alone, St. Paul ascribes to the Holy Ghost. Thus Isaias had said: “I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: Whom shall I send? and who shall go for us? and I said: Lo! here am I, send me. And he said: Go, and thou shalt say to this people: Blind the heart of this people, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes, lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears.”(9) Having cited these words, the Apostle adds: “Well did the Holy Ghost speak to our Fathers, by Isaias the prophet.”(10)
Again, the Sacred Scriptures join the Person of the Holy Ghost to those of the Father and the Son, as, for example, when Baptism is commanded to be administered “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” There is thus no room left to us of doubting the truth of this mystery. For if the Father is God, and the Son God, we must admit that the Holy Ghost, who is united with Them in the same degree of honor, is also God.
Besides, Baptism administered in the name of any creature can be of no effect. “Were you baptized in the name of Paul?”(11) says the Apostle, to show that such Baptism could have availed nothing to salvation. Since, therefore, we are baptized in the name of the Holy Ghost, we must acknowledge the Holy Ghost to be God.
This same order of the three Persons, which proves the divinity of the Holy Ghost, is also found in the Epistle of St. John: “There are three who give testimony in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost, and these three are one;”(12) and also in that noble eulogy, or form of praise to the Trinity: “Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost,” which closes the psalms and divine praises.
Finally, not to omit an argument which goes most forcibly to, establish this truth, the authority of Holy Scripture proves that whatever properties faith attributes to God belong equally to the Holy Ghost. To Him is ascribed in Scripture the honor of temples. “Know you not,” says the Apostle, “that your members are the temple of the Holy Ghost?”(13) Scripture also attributes to the Holy Ghost the power to sanctify, to vivify, to search the depths of God,(14) to speak by the prophets,(16) and to be present in all places,(16) all of which can be attributed to God alone.
THE HOLY GHOST A DISTINCT PERSON FROM THE FATHER AND THE SON
The pastor will also accurately explain to the faithful that the Holy Ghost is not only God, but that we must also confess that He is the third Person in the divine nature, distinct from the Father and the Son, and produced by Their will. To say nothing of other testimonies of Scripture, the form of Baptism taught by the Redeemer,(17) furnishes an irrefragable proof that the Holy Ghost is the third Person, self-existent in the divine nature, and distinct from the other Persons. It is a doctrine taught also by the Apostle when he says: “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the charity of God, and the communication of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen.”(18)
This same truth is still more explicitly declared in these words added to this article of the Creed by the Fathers of the first Council of Constantinople to refute the impious folly of Macedonius: “And in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and giver of life, who proceedeth from the Father, and the Son; who, together with the Father and the Son, is adored and glorified; who spake by the prophets.”
By confessing the Holy Ghost to be “Lord” they declare how far He excels the angels, who are the noblest spirits created by God; for “they are all,” says the Apostle, “ministering spirits, sent to minister for them who shall receive the inheritance of salvation.”(19)
WHY CALLED THE “GIVER OF LIFE”
They also designate the Holy Ghost “the giver of life,” because the soul lives more by its union with God than the body is nurtured and sustained by its union with the soul. Since, then, the Sacred Scriptures ascribe to the Holy Ghost this union of the soul with God, with great propriety is He called “the giver of life.”
HIS PROCESSION FROM THE FATHER AND THE SON
With regard to the words immediately succeeding: “who proceedeth from the Father and the Son,” the faithful are to be taught that the Holy Ghost proceeds by eternal procession from the Father and the Son as from one principle. This truth is proposed for our belief by the Creed of the Church, from which no Christian may depart, and is confirmed by the authority of the Sacred Scriptures and of Councils.
Christ Himself, speaking of the Holy Ghost, says: “He shall glorify me, because He shall receive of mine.”(20) We also find that the Holy Ghost is sometimes called in Scripture “the Spirit of Christ,” sometimes, “the Spirit of the Father,” that He is one time said to be sent by the Father,” another time, by the Son,(22)–all of which clearly signifies that He proceeds alike from the Father and the Son. “He,” says St. Paul, “who has not the Spirit of Christ belongs not to him.”(23) In his Epistle to the Galatians he also calls the Holy Ghost the Spirit of Christ: “God hath sent the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying: Abba, Father.”(24) In the Gospel of St. Matthew, He is called the Spirit of the Father: “It is not you that speak, but the Spirit of your Father that speaketh in you.”(25) Our Lord said, at His last supper: “When the Paraclete cometh, whom I will send you, the Spirit of truth, who proceedeth from the Father, he shall give testimony of me.”(26) On another occasion, that the Holy Ghost will be sent by the Father, He declares in these words: “Whom the Father will send in my name,”(27) Understanding these words to denote the procession of the Holy Ghost, we come to the inevitable conclusion that He proceeds from both Father and Son.
The above are the truths that should be taught with regard to the Person of the Holy Ghost.
THE GIFTS OF THE HOLY GHOST
It is also the duty of the pastor to teach that there are certain admirable effects, certain excellent gifts of the Holy Ghost, which are said to originate and emanate from Him, as from a perennial fountain of goodness. Although the extrinsic works of the most Holy Trinity are common to the three Persons, yet many of them are attributed specially to the Holy Ghost, to signify that they arise from the boundless love of God towards us. For as the Holy Ghost proceeds from the divine will, inflamed, as it were, with love, we can perceive that these effects which are referred particularly to the Holy Ghost, are the result of the boundless love of God towards us.
Hence it is that the Holy Ghost is called A GIFT; for by a gift we understand that which is kindly and gratuitously bestowed, without expectation of any return. Whatever gifts and graces therefore, have been bestowed on us by Almighty God (and “what have we,” says the Apostle, “that we have not received from God?”)(28) we should piously and gratefully acknowledge as bestowed by the grace and gift of the Holy Ghost.
These gifts of the Holy Ghost are numerous. Not to mention the creation of the world, the propagation and government of all created beings, discussed in the first article, we have just shown that the giving of life is particularly attributed to the Holy Ghost, and this is further confirmed by the testimony of the prophet Ezechiel: “I will give you spirit and you shall live.”(29)
The prophet Isaias, however, enumerates the chief effects peculiarly attributed to the Holy Ghost: “The spirit of wisdom, and understanding, the spirit of counsel and fortitude, the spirit of knowledge and piety, and the spirit of the fear of the Lord.(30) These effects are called the gifts of the Holy Ghost, and sometimes they are even called the Holy Ghost. Wisely, therefore, does St. Augustine admonish us whenever we meet the word Holy Ghost in Scripture, to distinguish whether it means the third Person of the Trinity or His gifts and operations.(31) The two are as far apart as the Creator is from the creature. The diligence of the pastor in expounding these truths should be the greater, since it is from these gifts of the Holy Ghost that we derive rules of Christian life and are enabled to know if the Holy Ghost dwells within us.
JUSTIFYING GRACE, THE TRANSCENDENT GIFT OF THE HOLY GHOST
But the grace of justification, “which signs us with the holy spirit of promise, who is the pledge of our inheritance,”(32) transcends all His other gifts. It unites us to God in the closest bonds of love, lights up within us the sacred flame of piety, forms us to newness of life, renders us partakers of the divine nature, and enables us “to be called and really to be the sons of God.”(33) (34)
THE THIRD PERSON: TRUE GOD
BY THE REV. THOMAS J. GERRARD
NECESSITY OF KNOWLEDGE CONCERNING THE HOLY SPIRIT
The direct work of our sanctification is attributed to the Holy Ghost. It is really the work of all three Persons of the Blessed Trinity. But just as creation is appropriated to the Father, and redemption to the Son, so sanctification is appropriated to the Holy Ghost. This work of sanctification, however, is not one of magic, not something which takes place without our knowledge and cooperation. No! the Holy Spirit works along the lines of nature. He takes the faculties of man as they are and spiritualizes them, and uses them as instruments in the working out of His designs. If, therefore, we are to act in harmony with the working of the Holy Spirit, it must not be by passively and blindly relinquishing ourselves to His influence, but by actively and intelligently entering into sympathy with His work. And in order to do this it will be needful to possess as much knowledge as we can of the nature of the Holy Spirit and His operations. If we are to cooperate in full sympathy with Him, it must be from an intelligent conviction that He is true God and consequently our true Sanctifier. This, then, will be our theme in the following consideration: that the Holy Ghost is true God; that He comes as the united love of the Father and the Son; and His mission on earth is to make men holy; that in a word He is the fulfillment of Christ’s promise: “And I will ask the Father, and he shall give you another Paraclete, that he may abide with you forever.”
THE DIVINITY OF THE HOLY GHOST
In the course of history, the human spirit has wandered off in various ways from the Catholic truth concerning the nature of the Holy Spirit. There is, however, one error which characterizes our own times and which, in a way, includes those of times past. It regards the Holy Spirit merely as a certain power and operation of God. It denies that He is a real person separate from the Father and the Son. It claims that He is the work of God, but not God Himself. Now since the doctrine of the nature of the Holy Spirit has its roots in the mystery of the Blessed Trinity, the deepest and most inscrutable of mysteries, it is evident that we can not seek for our information concerning it in reason. Our source must be in the revealed word of God. We all have a conscience, and we can each of us feel with St. Paul two powers within us, one urging us to good and the other to evil. Knowing our weakness we can reason that the good power within us comes from another and is not of us. We might even argue that that other was the Supreme God. But we could never arrive at the truth which declares a personal Spirit, who is God, who comes from the bosom of God, who comes as the sign of mutual love between Father and Son, comes to dwell in the souls of men forever. For that we must go to God’s revealed word.
It must be noticed then, first of all, that, in quite a large number of Scriptural references, the Holy Spirit is numbered either with the Father or with the Son, or with both, as constituting with them a society quite distinct from creatures. At the same time, however, the third Person is always counted as distinct from the first or second. By being numbered with the Father and the Son He is revealed as God. By being counted as distinct from the Father and the Son He is revealed as a separate Person. Thus, at the baptism of Jesus, the Holy Spirit is represented as coming from God the Father, yet so distinct from Him as to assume the bodily shape of a dove. Again, our Lord Himself implies the distinct divine personality in His words when sending forth His disciples to teach all nations. “Going, therefore, teach ye all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” Here our Lord makes the revelation of the Blessed Trinity, the foundation both of the Church’s doctrine and external religion. He gives a rite by which all people may be received into the Church. They are to be baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. The Holy Spirit is placed equal with, yet distinct from, the Father and the Son. He is made with them the object of supreme worship. Baptism is, as the Fathers were so very fond of saying, not in the names of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, but in the one name, herein signifying one God, the indivisible and perfect Trinity. Further, St. Paul, writing to the Romans, begs their prayers in the name of Jesus Christ and of the Holy Spirit: “I beseech you, therefore, brethren, through our Lord Jesus Christ, and by the charity of the Holy Ghost, that you help me in your prayers for me to God.” In his letter to the Corinthians he identifies the interests of Christ with those of the Holy Spirit. “Wherefore I give you to understand that no man speaketh by the spirit of God, saith Anathema to Jesus. And no man can say the Lord Jesus, but by the Holy Ghost.” Again, in the conclusion to his second epistle: “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the charity of God, and the communication of the Holy Ghost be with you all. Amen.” The words of St. Peter to Ananias tell explicitly of the divinity of the Holy Spirit. “Ananias, why hath Satan tempted thy heart, that thou shouldst lie to the Holy Ghost, and by fraud keep part of the price of the land? . . . Thou hast not lied to men but to God.”
Our classical proof of the divinity of the Holy Spirit is from St. John’s account of our Lord’s discourse at the last supper. Christ here speaks as man: “I will ask the Father and he shall give you another Paraclete.” As God, He Himself would send the Paraclete. The Paraclete is one who is called; that is, an advocate. Christ is also an advocate, and so He says: “I will send you another advocate, One Who will plead My cause in your hearts, the Spirit of Truth, One Who will bear witness of Me.” He will not leave us orphans, but will come again, first, bodily in the Resurrection; then, spiritually, by the Paraclete, Who will abide with us forever.
Next we may see how the sacred writers ascribed divine actions to the Holy Spirit. He is claimed to have the power of creation. God could not delegate such a power to a creature. The production of something out of nothing is an infinite act and only a being of infinite power could do it. This act is ascribed to the Holy Spirit: “Thou shalt send forth thy Spirit and they shall be created and Thou shalt renew the face of the earth.” He is claimed to have the power of inspiration. The essential meaning of inspiration is that the writing so inspired has God for its author. St. Peter in his second epistle ascribes the authorship to the Holy Spirit. Here the contrast is between the action of the Holy Spirit and the will of man: “For prophecy came not by the will of man at any time, but the holy men of God spoke, inspired by the Holy Ghost.” The message of the angel Gabriel told of the Holy Spirit as the cause of the Incarnation. That the divine and human natures should be united in one person was a work only of divinity. Thus, then, did our Lady receive the news of the Word made flesh: “The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Most High shall overshadow thee. And therefore, the Holy which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.” The Church was to be the continuation of the Incarnation. So, just as the Holy Spirit was the cause of the Incarnation, so also is He the cause of its continuation. St. Paul tells us that the Holy Ghost appointed bishops to rule the Church of God, and again that they were placed there by God. Our Lord’s promise after the last supper contains the same truth: “The Paraclete, the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring all things to your mind whatsoever I shall have said to you.”
A powerful argument for the divinity of Christ was His power of reading hearts. This power is also a prerogative of the Holy Spirit. And more, not only can the Holy Spirit see through the hearts of men, but also, because He is God, He can see through the infinite knowledge of God’s mind: “For the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. For what man knoweth the things of a man, but the spirit of a man that is in him? So the things also that are of God no man knoweth, but the Spirit of God.” Here, then, are a few of the inspired and revealed records of the divinity of the Holy Spirit. It is a great mystery. The human mind could not have reached it without revelation. But once the revelation has been made, the human heart accepts it as one of the primary theological truths for which it has been prepared. Throughout the history of the Christian people, its worship of the Holy Ghost as God has always been equal to its worship of the Father and the Son as God. “Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost.”
THE PROCESSION OF THE HOLY GHOST
The point of doctrine next in importance after the divinity of the Holy Spirit is what is known as the double procession of the Holy Spirit. This truth asserts that the Holy Spirit comes both from the Father and the Son. It is a denial of the heresy of the Orthodox Church, which claims that the Holy Ghost proceeds from the Father alone. This distinction between the truth and the error is not, as some have supposed, a mere quarrel over formulas. It is not merely a question as to whether we shall have an extra word in our Creed. But it is a truth, the denial of which robs the Christian revelation of one of its most supreme beauties. Of course the chief reason why we accept the truth is because Christ has revealed it; and we should accept it as such regardless of consequences. On closer examination, however, we find that the truth is fraught with practical issues of the most momentous kind. Christ is not only the truth, but He is also the way and the life. The procession of the Holy Spirit from the Father and the Son is a truth revealed to us to show us the way and the life. It gives us the type of perfect love. It shows us the origin of the Spirit of love, who abides with us forever. No wonder then that the Church, which has retained this truth, has been so fruitful in those experts in love, the saints of the Catholic Church; and no wonder that the Church which has rejected it has been so sterile in them.
The coming of the Holy Spirit from the Son is seen from numerous passages which speak of the Spirit of Christ, or of the Spirit of Jesus, just as other passages speak of the Spirit of the Father, or the Spirit of God. Thus St. Paul to the Galatians writes: “And because you are sons, God hath sent the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.” Again to the Philippians he says: “For I know that this shall fall out to me unto salvation through your prayers, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ.” Then in the Acts of the Apostles we read of St. Paul and his companions. “And when they had passed through Phrygia, and the country of Galatia, they were forbidden by the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia. And when they were come into Mysia, they attempted to go into Bithynia, and the Spirit of Jesus suffered them not.” Again, the procession of the Holy Spirit from the Son is implied in all those places which speak of the Son sending the Spirit. “If I go not, the Paraclete will not come to you, but if I go I will send him to you.” Indeed, it has been the teaching of many of the Fathers of the Church that Christ meant to signify this when He breathed on His disciples and said to them: “Receive ye the Holy Ghost.”
Further, the coming of the Holy Spirit from the Father and the Son is not as it were the result of two causes. It is the result of the Father and the Son acting together in one operation. Christ said: “All things whatsoever the Father hath are mine. Therefore I said that he (the Holy Spirit) shall receive of mine and show it to you.” With the exception of fatherhood and sonship, the Father and Son have all things in common. Both Father and Son in one combined breath breathe forth the Holy Ghost.
Now we are in a position to see the practical value of our theology. The Holy Spirit comes to us as the personified love of the Father and Son. The eternal Father, seeing the vast ocean of His own infinite beauty, by understanding it produces the image of it. His eternal Son. The Father and the Son, looking at each other’s incomparable beauty, love each other with an infinite love. This mutual love becomes interwoven and forms a third divine personality, the Spirit of love. Here, then, we have the perfect type of love. It is by the Holy Spirit coming as the united love of the Father and the Son that God loves Himself, and has loved Himself throughout eternity. Not without the Holy Spirit, proceeding in the way in which Catholic truth says He proceeds, could God give to Himself His intrinsic eternal glory.
THE MISSION OF THE HOLY GHOST
God, however, chose by that same Holy Spirit to create for Himself an external love and glory. He would make a human heart and mind so that through them He could receive a creation’s praise. In this aspect the Holy Spirit is called the gift of God: “the charity of God is poured forth in our hearts, by the Holy Ghost, Who is given to us.” Every act of love therefore which we make is but God’s Spirit coming to us and returning through us to Himself. He is thus the source of all those gifts which draw us nearer to God. The rite by which we are raised to the position of heirs of the kingdom of heaven is the washing with water, the Sacrament which symbolizes and causes the action of the Holy Spirit in our souls. “Amen, amen, I say to thee, unless a man be born again of water, and of the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven.” If we have fallen away from baptismal innocence, and wish to be restored again to God’s favor, it must be by the power of the Holy Spirit acting through priestly ministry. “Receive ye the Holy Ghost. Whose sins you shall forgive they are forgiven; them; and whose sins you shall retain they are retained.” Indeed, whether our graces come through the Sacraments or outside the Sacraments, whether they be the graces of faith, wisdom, knowledge, healing, tongues, prophecy, “in all these things one and the same Spirit worketh, dividing to every one according as He will.”
We do not know the laws by which He acts. The Spirit breatheth where He will. Only this law we know–that He is ever with us with sufficient light and strength for all our needs He is called the finger of God’s right hand. Therefore, it is that He is always leading us gently and sweetly even though we be unconscious of His influence. We may seem at times to be making our own spiritual careers and saving our souls by methods which we judge best and safest. But as we grow older we begin to realize that it is another who guides us. We had thought we were choosing Him when in reality He was choosing us. It is not necessary to have lived very long in order to look back on the past and recognize the control of the Holy Spirit. Strangely enough we see this when it is all over, and either can not or will not, see it when it is taking place. We are like the disciples who walked with our Lord to Emmaus. They did not realize on the way to whom they were talking. But when, at supper. He made Himself known, then they remembered how their hearts had burned within them.
The action of the Holy Spirit within us, strengthening us in all our spiritual efforts, gives Him the title of Comforter. In this office He uses a special Sacrament, the laying on of hands. By the strength received in Confirmation, we are fortified against dangers to our faith, and through our faith against dangers to our moral life. In the constant, daily, hourly struggle it is the Holy Spirit who is our mainstay.
Thou of Comforters the best,
Be our soul’s most welcome guest,
Sweet refreshment here below.
This, then, is the practical fruit to be gathered from the dogma of the Holy Spirit. We know that a divine person, who is the love of God and the gift of God, has come to us as our Guide and Comforter, to dwell within us and by His indwelling to make us holy, to foster and bring to perfection our everlasting life. In the olden times God revealed Himself as the God of Might, a God whom His people served with a service of fear. In the Gospel times, He revealed Himself as a God of Love, a God enjoying the happiness of His threefold personality, a God clothed in human flesh, and living among His created children. A further revelation, however, showed Him to be a God living not merely among us, but within us. By the mission of His Holy Spirit, He enters into every pore and fiber of our being, so that, if we do not positively hinder His coming. He will mingle His life with ours so as to live in us and we in Him. “If any one will love me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him, and make our abode with him.”
By this indwelling of the Holy Spirit, man receives a new twofold dignity. His body becomes the temple of the Holy Spirit. “Know you not that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?” His soul becomes the spouse of God. And here it is that man finds the meaning of his life. The human soul and the Holy Spirit are as the bride and the spouse of the Canticle. “Who is this that cometh up from the desert leaning on her beloved?” Leaning on Him she is all. Turning from Him, she is no one. Hence St. Paul says: “If I have not love I am nothing.” God is love. And if that love be absent: if the Holy Spirit mingle not His life with mine: if I do not act by His action, and live by His life, then is my life meaningless and all my