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


I believe 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.


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.


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 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 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)


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."


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.


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.


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 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."


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 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.


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 aims and efforts and aspirations are but as an empty dream and a tale that is told.



But 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.--JOHN xiv. 26.


On this day, we celebrate the Feast of Pentecost, so called because it is the fiftieth day after the Resurrection or Paschal Feast. The Feast reminds us of the third Person of the Blessed Trinity, the Holy Ghost, to whom our thoughts and our devotions should be in a special manner directed. He is the Paraclete; that is, the Advocate or Comforter whom the Father sent and who came to teach us all truth and to sanctify us. He was promised not only to the Apostles but to their successors, and when He came it was that He might "abide with us forever."

The remarkable event which we today commemorate is narrated in chapter ii. of the Acts of the Apostles as follows: "When the days of Pentecost were accomplished, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a mighty wind coming, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them parted tongues as it were of fire, and it sat upon every one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they began to speak with divers tongues according as the Holy Ghost gave them to speak" (Acts ii. 1-4).

I shall give only a short explanation of the mystery which is here presented to us. The Holy Ghost descended upon the Apostles, and upon those who were with them at the time, in the form of tongues of fire. Before that time, the Holy Ghost had appeared at the baptism of Christ in the form of a dove, the emblem of purity. He had also appeared at the Transfiguration in the form of a bright cloud which was emblematic of the Divine Majesty. Now He appears in the form of tongues of fire. Fire is the symbol of the Divinity, and God had already by this sign manifested His glory according to the words of Exodus, "And the sight of the glory of the Lord was like a burning fire upon the top of the mount, in the eyes of the children of Israel" (Ex. xxiv. 17). And the ancient lawgiver of the Jews reminded them on a solemn occasion that the Lord their God was a consuming fire (Deut. iv. 24). Fire may be said to signify in a special manner the Holy Ghost and His work in our souls. He is Himself the Love of the Father and the Son, and to Him is attributed the grace which sanctifies us and the charity which should incline our hearts toward God. It was in this sense, our Saviour spoke when He said, "I am come to cast fire on the earth; and what will I but that it be kindled" (St. Luke xii. 49). And it was this that St. Paul signified when he said, "The charity of God is poured forth in our hearts by the Holy Ghost, who is given to us" (Rom. v. 5).

Having considered the mystery which we this day commemorate, let us now proceed to reflect upon the work of the Holy Ghost. He was sent by the Father and the Son, and He came into the world to abide with us forever. The purpose of His coming and of His abiding with us is manifested (1) in the work of the Holy Ghost in the Church, and (2) in the work of the Holy Ghost in the souls of the just.


Though all external works of God are common to the three Divine Persons, yet certain works are attributed in a special sense to each of these Divine Persons; thus: creation is attributed to the Father, redemption to the Son, and sanctification to the Holy Ghost. In this sense the Holy Ghost is said to give to the Church perfection, sanctity, and fortitude. He enlightens and guides the Church in her teaching and preserves her from error. "The Paraclete," says our Saviour, "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." The Church was founded indeed by Christ, but it may be said to have been vivified and perfected by the Holy Ghost. As in the first creation, after the production of the universe, we are told that the Spirit of God moved over the waters to bring things to their perfection, so the Holy Spirit of God came upon the infant and newly-formed Church to vivify it, to preserve it, and to perfect it. Christ, speaking to His Apostles, had said, "It is expedient to you that I go; for if I go not, the Paraclete will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. And when he is come, he will convince the world of sin, and of justice, and of judgment" (St. John xvi. 7, 8).

It is in the teaching of all truth and in its preservation against error that we may witness the work of the Holy Ghost in the Church. The Holy Ghost's action in the Church is effected in a threefold manner, namely, (1) by revelation, (2) by inspiration, and (3) by assistance.


I take revelation here in its strict sense; that is, as the manifestation of an unknown truth, or the clearer manifestation of a truth already known. According to this meaning of the word, revelation is confined to the prophecies and mysteries of religion. The revelation of all these truths of Christianity that make known to us the mysteries of the Incarnation and of the Trinity is attributed to the Holy Ghost. This Holy Spirit was the Teacher of the Prophets and Apostles. When, under the old dispensation, the just prayed and sighed for the day of redemption and for the coming of Him who was called the Expected of nations, it was the Holy Ghost who revealed the exact time of His coming to a Daniel, a Jacob, a Malachy, and an Isaias. He made known to the Prophets not only the time of the coming of the Messiah, but also the family in which He was to be born, the circumstances of His birth, and all the minute details of His life, His sufferings, and His death. When at length the Messiah came on earth and appeared amongst men, the Holy Ghost bore testimony to Him, and when Christ ascended into heaven, the Holy Ghost, through the Apostles, promulgated the New Law of the Gospel and all the great truths of Christianity, especially the mysteries of faith, of grace, and of the Sacraments of the New Law.


By inspiration, we mean that action of God relative to the sacred writer, which moved him to write, and continued to move and direct him in the act of writing so that the writing can be called the Word of God. When the Evangelists and other inspired writers took pen in hand, to write down those things which they had already taught by their preaching, the Holy Ghost watched over them so that they might write nothing but the true Word of God. He directed them in writing, and it was through this direction of the Holy Ghost that they expressed in writing certain things and omitted others. Besides being present to the sacred writers, we have also to bear in mind that the Holy Ghost was likewise present by inspiration to the Apostles in the transmission of truths by their preaching and teaching. He inspired them as to what they should say and hand down to the Church as Divine tradition; and He protected them from all error in delivering the full deposit of Christian doctrine to the Church. It is therefore by the inspiration of the Holy Ghost that we know of our Lord's ascension into heaven, that He has left us seven sacraments as means of grace--the truths of faith in connection with these sacraments, especially all those marvelous truths in connection with the Holy Eucharist and the Holy Sacrament of the Mass--the various dogmas in regard to the eternal truths, death, judgment, hell, and heaven. It is through this same inspiration of the Holy Ghost that we know the consoling doctrines that we have guardian angels to protect us, and that the saints in heaven, and especially the Blessed Mother of God, make intercession for us before the throne of God. It is by reflecting upon this doctrine that we may be able to understand and to estimate the work of the Holy Ghost in the Church from the beginning and in the days of the Apostles and of the first Christians.


After the days of the Apostles and the death of St. John the Evangelist, revelations and inspirations ceased so far as the deposit of faith is concerned. No new dogma was to be revealed to the universal Church for the faith of Christians, as no new dogma would be needed. Christ, having founded His Church, perfected it through the operation of the Holy Ghost. The revelations and inspirations necessary for the perfection of His Church were, therefore, given to those men whom Christ placed as the pillars of His Church and to some few privileged disciples who lived and taught with them. Although revelations and inspiration ceased at the death of the last of these--St. John--the Holy Ghost did not cease His work in the Church. He was to abide with the Church always and to continue His work in her until the end of time. He continues to live and work in her by His special assistance. By this assistance, He enables the teaching Church to know and to define all truths that have been revealed or inspired, and protect her from error in her definitions as to faith and morals. It was by this assistance that the Holy Ghost guided and protected the Church when in the early age of Christianity she had to condemn the heresies of the Gnostics the Arians, the Eutychians, and the Nestorians, and when she had to define great truths in connection with the mystery of the Incarnation; as for example, that Christ is truly God, that in Him there is only one Person and two natures, and that the Blessed Virgin is truly the Mother of God. It was by virtue of this same assistance that in subsequent ages the Church condemned the errors of the Pelagians, of John Huss, of Wycliffe and of the Albigensians; and that in later times she condemned the errors of Luther and Calvin, and of all the so-called reformers. Against all these false and pernicious heresies, the Church had to teach and direct the faithful by the definitions of her councils and the decrees of her sovereign Pontiffs as to the true doctrine of Christ which was revealed and inspired by the Holy Ghost in the first constitution of the Christian religion, and this she did through the assistance of the same Holy Spirit who abides with her always. It was through this Divine assistance that the Council of Trent, like all the other Ecumenical councils, formed and issued its decrees; and it was by virtue of it that the Vatican Council defined the doctrine of the Papal Infallibility, which contains also the doctrine of the Divine assistance of which I am speaking. Its definition is "that it is a revealed dogma that the Roman Pontiff, when he speaks ex cathedra, that is, when performing the function of pastor and teacher of all Christians by virtue of his supreme and apostolic authority, he defines a doctrine of faith and morals to be held by the universal Church, has, through that Divine assistance promised to him in Blessed Peter, that infallibility with which our Divine Redeemer wished His Church to be endowed, in defining a doctrine of faith and morals; and, therefore, that the definitions of the same Roman Pontiffs of themselves, and not by the consent of the Church, are irreformable." It is therefore an article or dogma of our faith that the teaching Church, that is the body of Pastors with the Pope at their head and the Pope alone are by the special assistance of the Holy Ghost preserved free from error in defining doctrines of faith and morals, and that their definitions are infallible. This is our faith. This is what we believe and teach. This is what we openly and fearlessly profess. There is no danger of error or deception. It is the Spirit of Truth that has spoken. He is the God of truth, the Inspirer of Prophets and Apostles, the Advocate, Guide, and Comforter of the Church and of the Pope, the head of the Church.


Let us turn for a moment from the work of the Holy Ghost in the Church to consider His work and His presence in our own souls. In the first place, let me remind you that works of Sanctification are specially attributed to the Holy Ghost. Although these works come forth from the three Divine Persons, they have a special likeness to the personal character of the Holy Ghost, and they are therefore attributed to Him in order to manifest that personal character. Of this, we are reminded by the words of St. Paul, "The charity of God is poured forth in our hearts by the Holy Ghost, who is given to us" (Rom. v. 5). "But the fruit of the Spirit is charity, joy, peace, patience," etc. (Gal. v. 22). "But all these things (charismata or spiritual gifts) one and the same Spirit worketh, dividing to every one according as he will" (I Cor. xii. 11). "In whom also believing you were signed with the Holy Spirit of promise" (Eph. i. 13). The Catechism of the Council of Trent gives a clear exposition of this doctrine. "There are certain admirable effects and certain most ample gifts of the Holy Ghost which are said to originate and emanate from Him as from a perennial fountain of goodness; for, although the extrinsic works of the Most Holy Trinity are common to the three Persons, yet many of them are attributed especially to the Holy Ghost to give us to understand that they proceed from the boundless love of God toward us. For as the Holy Ghost proceeds from the Divine will inflamed as it were with love, we can comprehend that these effects, which are referred particularly to Him, arise from the extreme love of God toward us" (Part I. ch. ix., quest. 7).

Secondly, we have to consider the indwelling of the Holy Ghost in the souls of the just. This reminds us of the invisible mission of this Divine Person. On the day of Pentecost His mission was visible; that is, He was sent to and came down upon the Apostles in a visible manner. But He is sent and comes to the souls of the just continually in an invisible manner and dwells in all souls which are justified and sanctified by His grace. By this invisible mission the Holy Ghost is given in such a manner that He is said to dwell in us and to make us His temples. "Know you not that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?" (I Cor. iii. 16). "Or know you not that your members are the temple of the Holy Ghost, who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?" (I Cor. vi. 19). "For you are the temple of the living God, as God saith: I will dwell in them, and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people" (2 Cor. vi. 16). The Holy Ghost dwelling in us, vivifies us, impels us to good, excites us to filial confidence, gives testimony that we are the children of God, helps our weakness and asketh for us "with unspeakable groanings" and "according to God," for "He that searcheth the hearts knoweth what the spirit desireth." By all these expressions, St. Paul would have us understand that he does not mean any created or accidental gift, but the very Person of the Holy Ghost, who comes to us and dwells in us not alone by Himself, but together with the Father and the Son; although the indwelling and the sanctifying work which is effected is rightly attributed and appropriated to the Holy Ghost.

Thirdly, let us consider that at three particular times the Holy Ghost is given to the soul in a very special manner, and His corning each time is marked by an indelible character; that is, when the Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Orders are administered. In Baptism, as you know, He is given to make us children of God and heirs of the kingdom of heaven. In Holy Orders He is given to priests to sanctify them for the duties of their office, and to confer upon them the power of consecrating and of binding and loosing in the tribunal of penance. In Confirmation we receive the Holy Ghost in order to make us strong and perfect Christians and soldiers of Jesus Christ. The graces of these three Sacraments and sacramental grace in general are privileges of the children of God under the New Law, and show the special excellence of the manner in which we are now endowed with the Holy Spirit in contrast to those who lived under the Old Law and to those who are outside the Catholic Church and deprived of her Sacraments. "We who are born again," says Cardinal Manning, "and are members of the mystical Body of Christ, are under a dispensation of the Holy Ghost, so full and of such manifold grace that there is no state of man which is not embraced by it, and in which there is not given an abundance of grace exceeding all measure that we can conceive, and meted out according to the necessities of each individual soul." Our Lord intended this when He said, "I am come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly" (St. John x. 10). The same author reminds us that "the state of grace in which we are by the indwelling of the Holy Ghost in our hearts and by the exuberant assistance of grace in every state of the Christian life, lifts and elevates us to a supernatural order, higher than all the world has ever known from the beginning. This elevation of man was specially reserved to these last times, that is, until the Incarnation of the Son of God. The state of a Christian child transcends in supernatural grace and dignity all that God has ever before bestowed upon His creatures" (Internal Mission of the Holy Ghost, pp. 18-20).


Enough, I hope, has been said to show us the claims which the Holy Ghost has to our service, to our love, and to our special devotion. We have considered His work in the Church and in our souls and all that He has done and continues to do for our salvation. Before concluding, let me exhort you in the words of St. Paul, addressed to the people of Thessalonica, "Extinguish not the spirit" (I Thess. v. 19). A pious writer (Senescalchi), commenting on this sentence, tells us that in three ways a flame or light can be extinguished. I. By the wind blowing it out. 2. By smothering or covering it. 3. By withdrawing the supply of oil or other material. In a similar manner, the fire of Divine love may be extinguished in the heart. First, by keeping the senses open to every impulse or wind of passion, or to the temptations of the devil. Second, by suffocating or smothering it under human interests and worldly affairs. And, third, by withdrawing the supply of spiritual and heavenly nourishment, namely, the memory of the Divine favors and the motives of the love of God and the means of grace. In order, therefore, not to extinguish the Spirit, it is necessary to guard our souls against temptations and incitements to passion, by the mortification of our senses; it is necessary to avoid worldliness and too great solicitude for temporal affairs, and it is also necessary to keep up the supply of spiritual aids by the reception of the Sacraments, by meditating on heavenly truths and the maxims of eternity. In this way, our souls will continue always enlightened by the light of faith and inflamed by Divine charity as the consecrated temples of the Holy Ghost.

1. Ps. 1. 12, 13. 2. Wis. ix. 17. 3. Eccles. i. 9. 4. Matt. xxviii. 19.
5. Matt. i. 20; Luke i. 35. 5. John i. 33.
7. Acts v. 3, 4. 8. I Cor. xii. 6, II. 9. Isaias vi. 8-10. 10. Acts xxviii. 25
11. I Cor. i. 13. 12. I John v. 7.
13. I Cor. vi. 19. 14. 2 Cor. iii. 6; I Cor. ii. 10.
15. 2 Petr. i. 21 16. Wis. i. 7. 17. Matt. xxviii. 19.
18. 2Cor.xiii. 13. 19. Hel. i. 14. 20. John xvi. 14. 21. John xiv. 26.
22. John xv. 26. 23. Rom. viii. 9. 24. Gal. iv. 6. 25. Matt. x. 20.
26. John xv. 26. 27. John xiv. 26.
28. I Cor. iv. 7. 29. Ezech. xxxvii. 6. 30. Isaias xi. 3.
31. Aug. lib. 15, de Trinit. cap. xviii. 19. 32. Eph. i. 13.
33. I John iii. 1; 2 Peter i, 4. 34. Council of Trent, Sess. 6,

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Comment by Flavia Talladen Schott on April 29, 2018 at 1:37pm

Come Holy Spirit ...

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