The Holy Spirit



‘While Apollos was in Corinth, Paul passed through the interior regions and came to Ephesus, where he found some disciples. He said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you became believers?” They replied, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” (Acts 19:1-2)

The ignorance of the Holy Spirit which St Paul encountered in Ephesus is unfortunately rather common today too. While we have heard about the Holy Spirit, in the Creed and during our Sacramental preparation, chances are we still have little knowledge about this Third person of the Blessed Trinity.

We know about God the Creator, and Jesus the Redeemer. So where does the Holy Spirit fit into all of this? We each have an idea of what God and Jesus Christ look like. Usually we depict God as a white bearded, grandfatherly looking man, and Jesus Christ as a young middle- eastern man, yet the Holy Spirit does not have one such description.

From dove, to flame and cloud and light, the Holy Spirit seems a little harder to pin down. So then, let’s start at the beginning: who or what is the Holy Spirit?

Each week during our Sunday Mass we recite the words ‘We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son.’ (Nicene Creed) What this means is that God the Father and God the Son both love each other and as such there is a divine love, a perfect love that flows between them. This perfect love is a living love and thus we call it the Holy Spirit, the third Person of the Blessed Trinity. Because this divine love is reciprocated by the two other Persons of the Blessed Trinity, we say that the Holy Spirit proceeds – or comes forth – from them.

The Holy Spirit shares too in the work of creation and redemption. In fact, our very faith in Jesus Christ is indicative of the work and influence of the Holy Spirit. ‘No one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ except by the Holy Spirit. ‘God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts crying ‘Abba! Father.’ This knowledge of faith is possible only in the Holy Spirit: to be in touch with Christ, we must first have been touched by the Holy Spirit. He comes to meet us and kindles faith in us.’ (CCC 683)

So the Holy Spirit is actually the first of the divine Persons to awaken faith in us, and this is only the beginning of the work he carries out. ‘The Church, a communion living in the faith of the apostles which she transmits, is the place where we know the Holy Spirit: in the Scriptures he inspired; in the Tradition, to which the Church Fathers are always timely witnesses; in the Church’s Magisterium, which he assists; in the sacramental liturgy, through its words and symbols, in which the Holy Spirit puts us into communion with Christ; in prayer, where he intercedes for us; in the charisms and ministries by which the Church is built up; in the signs of apostolic and missionary life; in the witness of saints through whom he manifests his holiness and continues the work of salvation.’ (CCC 688)

In other words, this living love is an enormous and integral part of our faith. Not only does he first inspire in us faith in Jesus Christ, but he is in the words of Sacred Scripture, in our liturgy and in the very talents and charisms (gifts) that we each bring to the Church.

So while we may really know very little about the Holy Spirit, the third Person of the Trinity knows us very well and has many gifts to offer us, through regular reception of the Sacraments, and wants above all else the sanctification of our souls so that we might live in a state of perpetual grace.


Filed Under: FaithFeaturedSacraments

About the Author: Emily is a former ACPA award winning editor and journalist turned stay at home mum and blogger. She lives on a farm in regional NSW with her husband and their five children where she spends the time she should be doing housework reading books and writing posts.

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