The Person and Work of the Holy Spirit

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"Send forth Your Spirit and renew the face of the earth."

The Person of the Holy Spirit

  • Truly God, equal to the Father and Son in all perfections: eternity, power, majesty, glory, goodness, beauty, truth.
  • Truly a person, just as the Father and the Son are persons.
  • Different from the Father and the Son in relationship:
    • The Father alone has no origin and is the origin of all other persons.
    • The Son is from the Father.
    • The Spirit is from the father and from the Son (the "filioque" clause). The Holy Spirit is (like us!) a person-from-two-persons. He is "the personification of the love between the Father and the Son." This is not just an abstract thought (the way that we use "personification" in poetry) but a reality: the Spirit is the Person who in His own Person represents (re-presents) the Father and the Son. He is one Person of the Blessed Trinity--truly a Person, in and of Himself--but He is from the Person of the Father and from the Person of the Son.
    • Where God is, the Spirit is; where the Spirit is, God is. Each Person of the Trinity always is united with the other Two; the Father and Son act only with, in, and through the Holy Spirit.
    • The Holy Spirit is a "being in love"--a real being brought forth by the love of the Father for the Son and the love of the Son for the Father. When we fall in love (with God, with Jesus, with another human being), we taste some of the joys of God's own inner life.
    • He is not a thing ("The Force be with you") but a Person: companion, friend, advocate, help in time of trouble.
  • It is easy to "picture" the Father and the Son. The Spirit is associated with images of forces at work: breath, wind, fire, feelings, intuitions, inner awareness, quickening, development, growth, understanding, compassion, insight, intuitions, promptings, leadings. The gift of the Spirit was symbolized by anointing with oil; Jesus was anointed with the Holy Spirit Himself when He was baptized by John the Baptist.
    • Oil sinks in, penetrates, combines with what is oiled; it changes the look and feel of things.
    • The Spirit light: "Women Aglow" (Women's Aglow Fellowship-->Aglow International). Halos, radiance, warmth, consolation, comfort.
    • When Spirit acts within us, we often feel happiness, joy, excitement, wonder, enthusiasm, laughter.
    • The Holy Spirit is POWER AT WORK. Miracles, signs, wonders--see lists of gifts below.
    • The Spirit is "The Gift Who gives all gifts."
    • People are "moved by the Spirit," "led by the Spirit," "inspired by the Spirit": prophets, wonder-workers, authors of Scripture, the pastors of the Church.
  • Titles: Teacher, Paraclete (Counselor, Advocate, Guide "Lawyer"), Gift, Wisdom, "Lord and Giver of Life."
  • "He has spoken through the prophets." The Scriptures are all inspired by the Holy Spirit.
  • The Spirit is closer to us than we are to ourselves. He is present and active in our human nature, providing the light of the intellect; He is given to us in the sacraments and dwells within us. We are "temples of the Holy Spirit"--His favorite dwelling-place on earth (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).
  • Unfortunate images (CSL): fog, air, haze, jello (blancmange), electricity. These images, although they represent some aspects of "spirit," fail to communicate the whole reality of the Third Person of the Trinity.

The Work of the Spirit

Christ Jesus

CCC #727
The entire mission of the Son and the Holy Spirit, in the fullness of time, is contained in this: that the Son is the one anointed by the Father's Spirit since his Incarnation - Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah.
Everything in the second chapter of the Creed is to be read in this light. Christ's whole work is in fact a joint mission of the Son and the Holy Spirit.

Lists of Gifts

Seven Gifts (Old Testament; traditional)

St. Alphonsus Liguori -- Prayer for the Gifts of the Spirit

Is 11:1-3.
"But a shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse, and from his roots a bud shall blossom. The spirit of the LORD [ ר֣וּחַ יְהוָ֑ה] shall rest upon him: a spirit of wisdom and of understanding, a spirit of counsel and of strength, a spirit of knowledge and of fear of the LORD, and his delight shall be the fear of the LORD."
III. THE GIFTS AND FRUITS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
#1830
The moral life of Christians is sustained by the gifts of the Holy Spirit. These are permanent dispositions which make man docile in following the promptings of the Holy Spirit.
1831
The seven gifts of the Holy Spirit are wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord. They belong in their fullness to Christ, Son of David.[1] They complete and perfect the virtues of those who receive them. They make the faithful docile in readily obeying divine inspirations.
Let your good spirit lead me on a level path.[2]
For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God . . . If children, then heirs, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ.[3]
#1832
The fruits of the Spirit are perfections that the Holy Spirit forms in us as the first fruits of eternal glory. The tradition of the Church lists twelve of them: "charity, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, generosity, gentleness, faithfulness, modesty, self-control, chastity."[4]
Confirmation Prayer, CCC #1299

All-powerful God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
by water and the Holy Spirit
you freed your sons and daughters from sin
and gave them new life.

Send your Holy Spirit upon them
to be their helper and guide.

Give them the spirit of wisdom and understanding,
the spirit of right judgment and courage,
the spirit of knowledge and reverence.

Fill them with the spirit of wonder and awe in your presence.

We ask this through Christ our Lord.


Observation on the Hebrew
The Hebrew has three couplets, followed by a summary epithet:
"A spirit of wisdom and of understanding"
"A spirit of counsel and of strength"
"A spirit of knowledge and of fear of the Lord"
"And his delight shall be the fear of the Lord"
The Greek and Latin translation, which are the authoritative versions for Catholics, translates "fear of the Lord" as piety in the first instance and "fear of the Lord" in the second, thus making it possible to count seven separate gifts. Seven is clearly a more symbolic number than six--or, rather, the symbolism of seven, perhaps, is more appealing than the symbolism of six. In meditating on the gifts, the Hebrew pairing may be helpful.
Wisdom produces understanding.
Counsel provides strength.
Knowledge of the Lord produces fear of the Lord.
Fear of the Lord is a delight, not a burden.
These relationships between the gifts are hidden by the catechism list, but not denied. I will try, for my own consolation, to remember the original text: wisdom and understanding, counsel and strength, knowledge and fear of the Lord, delight in the fear of the Lord.
Catechism Hebrew Greek Virtues
Wisdom hokmah

ר֧וּחַ חָכְמָ֣ה

sophia

σοφια

prudence, faith
Understanding binah

וּבִינָ֗ה

synesis

συνεσισ

prudence, faith
Counsel etsah

ר֤וּחַ עֵצָה֙

pneuma boules

πνευμα βουλης

prudence, justice, faith
Fortitude geburah

וּגְבוּרָ֔ה

ischus (iskys)

ισχυς

fortitude (patient endurance), hope, love
Knowledge daath

ר֥וּחַ דַּ֖עַת

gnosis

γνωσις

faith
Piety yirah

וְיִרְאַ֥ת יְהוָֽה

eusebeia

ευσεβεια

faith, love
Fear of the Lord waharihow beyirat yhwh

"and the spirit of the fear of the Lord"

וַהֲרִיח֖וֹ בְּיִרְאַ֣ת יְהוָ֑ה

fobos theou

φοβος θεου

faith, love

Seven Virtues (philosophy & scripture)

Cardinal Virtues (Aristotle & Aquinas)

The Cardinal Virtues are natural habits that empower us to live the good life. They are called "cardinal" from the Latin word for "hinge" because our happiness hinges on developing these qualities of character.

The four cardinal virtues work together. We cannot have one of these four if we refuse to develop the other three.

Prudence Know-how; practical wisdom; applying principles to circumstances
Justice Giving to each person what that person deserves.
Temperance "Moderation in all things except sin." Self-control.
Fortitude Patient endurance. Courage. Persistence.
Supernatural Virtues: 1 Cor 13:13

The supernatural virtues are given to us by God Himself. They are all relational and depend upon God's free decision to give us a relationship with Him.

Faith Assenting to all that God has revealed.
Hope Trusting in God's promises and providence.
Love Choosing God in all things.

"Faith, hope, love remain, these three; but the greatest of these is love" (1 Cor 13:13).

"Love in action is a harsh and dreadful thing compared with love in dreams" (Fr. Zosima in The Brothers Karamazov, often quoted by Dorothy Day.

Nine Pentecostal gifts (1 Cor 12:7-11)

'To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit. To one is given through the Spirit the expression of wisdom; to another the expression of knowledge according to the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit; to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit; to another mighty deeds; to another prophecy; to another discernment of spirits; to another varieties of tongues; to another interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit produces all of these, distributing them individually to each person as he wishes.'
Different gifts and graces
Romans 12:6-8.

6 Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us exercise them: if prophecy, in proportion to the faith;

7 if ministry, in ministering; if one is a teacher, in teaching;

8 if one exhorts, in exhortation; if one contributes, in generosity; if one is over others, with diligence; if one does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.

  • prophecy
  • ministry
  • teaching
  • exhortation
  • generosity
  • administration
  • mercy
In the Church's tradition, there are fourteen Works of Mercy.
1 Cor 7:7
"Each has a particular gift from God, one of one kind and one of another."

Five Pastoral gifts (Eph 4)--"Living the truth in love"

See the article on the Magisterium, the living teaching authority of the Church that developed from these pastoral gifts.

Eph 4:11-16

11And he gave some as apostles, others as prophets, others as evangelists, others as pastors and teachers,

12to equip the holy ones for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ,

13until we all attain to the unity of faith and knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the extent of the full stature of Christ,

14so that we may no longer be infants, tossed by waves and swept along by every wind of teaching arising from human trickery, from their cunning in the interests of deceitful scheming.

15Rather, living the truth in love, we should grow in every way into him who is the head, Christ,

16from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, with the proper functioning of each part, brings about the body's growth and builds itself up in love.

  • apostles
  • prophets
  • evangelists
  • pastors
  • teachers

Gifts to Exercise (Rom 12:6-8)

6 Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us exercise them: if prophecy, in proportion to the faith;

7 if ministry, in ministering; if one is a teacher, in teaching;

8 if one exhorts, in exhortation; if one contributes, in generosity; if one is over others, with diligence; if one does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.

  • prophecy
  • ministry
  • teaching
  • exhortation
  • contributing
  • supervision
  • acts of mercy

Seven Keys to Success (Mark Kelso)

  • Faith: cross (foundation stone).
  • Strength in adversity: training weight.
  • Patience: fishing pole.
  • Show up: lunch box.
  • Loyalty: light saber.
  • Reverence: report card.
  • Servant leadership: tray.

Fruit of the Spirit--Gal 5:22-23

"In contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law."

  • love
  • joy
  • peace
  • patience
  • kindness
  • generosity
  • faithfulness
  • gentleness
  • self-control

To these nine gifts listed in the earliest manuscripts, the Church has added another three:

  • goodness
  • modesty
  • chastity

The Spirit comes to the aid of our weakness

"In the same way, the Spirit, too, comes to the aid of our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit itself intercedes with inexpressible groanings. And the one who searches hearts knows what is the intention of the Spirit, because [the Spirit] intercedes for the holy ones according to God's will" (Rom 8:26-27).

Etcetera

Romans 5

"We even boast of our afflictions, knowing that affliction produces endurance, and endurance, proven character, and proven character, hope, and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the holy Spirit that has been given to us" (Rom 5:3-5).

  • Affliction produces endurance.
  • Endurance produces proven character.
  • Proven character produces hope.
  • Hope does not disappoint us because we have the love of God poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit.

Romans 6:18

Freedom from sin.

Romans 8:13

A new, interior law

Romans 7

Acts 15

Gal 3:2

"Abba, Father!"

Rom 8:14, 26-27

Personal inspiration

Follow the promptings of the Spirit (Gal 5:25).

Convicts and Convinces

"And when He is come, He will convict the world concerning sin, and concerning righteousness, and concerning judgment" (John 16:8).

καὶ ἐλθὼν ἐκεῖνος ἐλέγξει τὸν κόσμον περὶ ἁμαρτίας καὶ περὶ δικαιοσύνης καὶ περὶ κρίσεως·

The Spirit convicts us of sin and convinces us of mercy.

"True contrition for sin" is a work of the Spirit within us, not something that we can produce by pure willpower. It is a grace that lays a firm foundation for grace.

This, I think, is why blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is the "unforgivable sin" (Mt 12:31-32). We cannot accept forgiveness if we will not admit that we have sinned.

Catechism of the Catholic Church

CCC #693
Besides the proper name of "Holy Spirit," which is most frequently used in the Acts of the Apostles and in the Epistles, we also find in St. Paul the titles:
  • the Spirit of the promise,[5]
  • the Spirit of adoption,[6]
  • the Spirit of Christ,[7]
  • the Spirit of the Lord,[8] and
  • the Spirit of God[9]
- and, in St. Peter, the Spirit of glory.[10]
CCC #1266
The Most Holy Trinity gives the baptized sanctifying grace, the grace of justification:
  • enabling them to believe in God, to hope in him, and to love him through the theological virtues;
  • giving them the power to live and act under the prompting of the Holy Spirit through the gifts of the Holy Spirit;
  • allowing them to grow in goodness through the moral virtues.
Thus the whole organism of the Christian's supernatural life has its roots in Baptism.
CCC #1299
In the Roman Rite the bishop extends his hands over the whole group of the confirmands. Since the time of the apostles this gesture has signified the gift of the Spirit. The bishop invokes the outpouring of the Spirit in these words:

All-powerful God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
by water and the Holy Spirit
you freed your sons and daughters from sin
and gave them new life.
Send your Holy Spirit upon them
to be their helper and guide.

Give them the spirit of wisdom and understanding,
the spirit of right judgment and courage,
the spirit of knowledge and reverence.

Fill them with the spirit of wonder and awe in your presence.

We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

CCC #1830-1845 (Emphasis added.)

1830 The moral life of Christians is sustained by the gifts of the Holy Spirit. These are permanent dispositions which make man docile in following the promptings of the Holy Spirit.

1831 The seven gifts of the Holy Spirit are wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord. They belong in their fullness to Christ, Son of David.[11] They complete and perfect the virtues of those who receive them. They make the faithful docile in readily obeying divine inspirations.

Let your good spirit lead me on a level path.[12]
For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God . . . If children, then heirs, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ.[13]

1832 The fruits of the Spirit are perfections that the Holy Spirit forms in us as the first fruits of eternal glory. The tradition of the Church lists twelve[14] of them: "charity, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, generosity, gentleness, faithfulness, modesty, self-control, chastity."[15]

IN BRIEF

1833 Virtue is a habitual and firm disposition to do good.

1834 The human virtues are stable dispositions of the intellect and the will that govern our acts, order our passions, and guide our conduct in accordance with reason and faith. They can be grouped around the four cardinal virtues: prudence, justice, fortitude, and temperance.

1835 Prudence disposes the practical reason to discern, in every circumstance, our true good and to choose the right means for achieving it.

1836 Justice consists in the firm and constant will to give God and neighbor their due.

1837 Fortitude ensures firmness in difficulties and constancy in the pursuit of the good.

1838 Temperance moderates the attraction of the pleasures of the senses and provides balance in the use of created goods.

1839 The moral virtues grow through education, deliberate acts, and perseverance in struggle. Divine grace purifies and elevates them.

1840 The theological virtues dispose Christians to live in a relationship with the Holy Trinity. They have God for their origin, their motive, and their object - God known by faith, God hoped in and loved for his own sake.

1841 There are three theological virtues: faith, hope, and charity. They inform all the moral virtues and give life to them.

1842 By faith, we believe in God and believe all that he has revealed to us and that Holy Church proposes for our belief.

1843 By hope we desire, and with steadfast trust await from God, eternal life and the graces to merit it.

1844 By charity, we love God above all things and our neighbor as ourselves for love of God. Charity, the form of all the virtues, "binds everything together in perfect harmony" (Col 3:14).

1845 The seven gifts of the Holy Spirit bestowed upon Christians are wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord.

Comment: As permanent dispositions and perfections of the virtues, the gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit empower us to act against concupiscence, the weakness of our moral nature caused by the effects of Original Sin. Attaining personal holiness (our common vocation) is an uphill struggle on a narrow path, but God equips us with what we need to complete that journey. When God commands, He provides what we need to fulfill His commands.

The Spirit Permeates All of God's Works

Some people like to talk about the Old Testament as the age of the Father, the New Testament as the age of the Son, and the subsequent history of the Church as the age of the Holy Spirit. I suppose there is a grain of truth in that. But it is possible to think of the whole of God's work as something that the Father and Son accomplish through the Holy Spirit.

  • In the beginning, the Spirit rushed over the waters; the Father spoke the Word through which He created all things by breathing forth the Spirit. His Spirit is the breath of life in all living things.
Judith 16:14
Let your every creature serve you;
for you spoke, and they were made.
You sent forth your spirit, and it created them;
no one can resist your voice.
  • The Father poured out the Spirit upon the prophets, beginning with Abraham and continuing to this very day.
  • Jesus was conceived by the Spirit in Mary's womb, and she brought the joy of the Spirit to Elizabeth and to John.
  • The Father anointed Jesus with the Spirit at His baptism in the Jordan.
  • The Spirit empowered Jesus in His human nature to work miracles, signs, and wonders, and then to endure His passion.
  • The Father breathed new life into the Son in the Resurrection and drew Him into glory by the power of the Spirit.
  • On Pentecost, a whole new creation began as the Spirit rushed on the Body of Christ and empowered the Body to preach the gospel "with signs following" (Mark 16:20).

Breathing is not a luxury; it is essential for life. Being filled with the Spirit is not for just a few; it is essential for life in Christ.

All Christians are Pentecostals

The Church was founded by Pentecostals.

Without the aid of the Spirit, the apostles could not preach the gospel effectively. Jesus told them to wait until they received the Holy Spirit (Lk 24).

Mary is a Pentecostal. She was with the disciples on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2). She was "full of grace" and conceived Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit (Lk 2).

We receive the Holy Spirit in all of the sacraments, but especially in Baptism and Confirmation.

The excesses and sins of Pentecostals

Some Pentecostals give Pentecostalism a bad name. Having become accustomed to follow the interior promptings of the Holy Spirit, some of them cut themselves loose from the objective standards set by revelation and treat every enthusiastic feeling they find within themselves as the voice of God. Hundreds of Christian cults have been established by Pentecostals, some with notoriously evil fruits (e.g., Jonestown, Waco).

Catholic Charismatic Renewal

Blessed Pope John XIII, in his "Prayer for the Second Ecumenical Vatican Council", asked God to grant the Church a new Pentecost:

"Renew in our own days your miracles as of a second Pentecost; and grant that Holy Church, reunited in one prayer, more fervent than before, around Mary the Mother of Jesus, and under the leadership of Peter, may extend the kingdom of the divine Savior, a kingdom of truth, justice, love and peace."
Vatican II, Lumen Gentium 12 (21 November 1964).
The holy people of God shares also in Christ's prophetic office; it spreads abroad a living witness to Him, especially by means of a life of faith and charity and by offering to God a sacrifice of praise, the tribute of lips which give praise to His name.[16] The entire body of the faithful, anointed as they are by the Holy One,[17] cannot err in matters of belief. They manifest this special property by means of the whole peoples' supernatural discernment in matters of faith when "from the Bishops down to the last of the lay faithful" (8*) they show universal agreement in matters of faith and morals. That discernment in matters of faith is aroused and sustained by the Spirit of truth. It is exercised under the guidance of the sacred teaching authority, in faithful and respectful obedience to which the people of God accepts that which is not just the word of men but truly the word of God.[18] Through it, the people of God adheres unwaveringly to the faith given once and for all to the saints,[19] penetrates it more deeply with right thinking, and applies it more fully in its life.
It is not only through the sacraments and the ministries of the Church that the Holy Spirit sanctifies and leads the people of God and enriches it with virtues, but, "allotting his gifts to everyone according as He wills,[20] He distributes special graces among the faithful of every rank. By these gifts He makes them fit and ready to undertake the various tasks and offices which contribute toward the renewal and building up of the Church, according to the words of the Apostle: "The manifestation of the Spirit is given to everyone for profit."[21] These charisms, whether they be the more outstanding or the more simple and widely diffused, are to be received with thanksgiving and consolation for they are perfectly suited to and useful for the needs of the Church. Extraordinary gifts are not to be sought after, nor are the fruits of apostolic labor to be presumptuously expected from their use; but judgment as to their genuineness and proper use belongs to those who are appointed leaders in the Church, to whose special competence it belongs, not indeed to extinguish the Spirit, but to test all things and hold fast to that which is good.[22]
National Service Committee of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal
Classic books
Related material
  • The Rite describes the training of an American priest as an exorcist. Recognizing when exorcism is and is not appropriate is a matter of discernment of spirits.

References

  1. Cf. Isa 11:1-2.
  2. Ps 143:10.
  3. Rom 8:14,17.
  4. Gal 5:22-23 (Vulg.).
  5. Cf. Gal 3:14; Eph 1:13.
  6. Rom 8:15; Gal 4:6.
  7. Rom 8:9.
  8. 2 Cor 3:17.
  9. Rom 8:9, 14; 15:19; 1 Cor 6:11; 7:40.
  10. 1 Pet 4:14.
  11. Cf. Isa 11:1-2.
  12. Ps 143:10.
  13. Rom 8:14,17.
  14. MXM: The best Greek manuscripts and all modern translations list only nine fruits of the Spirit. The motive behind expanding the list probably came from Revelation 22:2, which the Vulgate renders as "In the midst of the street thereof, and on both sides of the river, was the tree of life, bearing twelve fruits, yielding its fruits every month, and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations."
  15. Gal 5:22-23 (Vulgate).
  16. Cf. Heb. 13:15.
  17. Cf. Jn. 2:20, 27
  18. Cf. 1 Thess. 2:13.
  19. Cf. Jud. 3.
  20. 1 Cor. 12:11.
  21. Cf. 1 Thess 5:12, 19-21.
  22. Cf. Jn. 11:52.

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