신앙과 교리

Home > 신앙과 교리 > 미사강론

제목 Understanding on the Holy Ghost(2017 - 06 - 10)
작성자 관리자 작성일 2017-06-10



Understanding on the Holy Ghost(2017-06-10)


My dear Brethren,


There are three Persons in the most Holy Trinity, the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost. The Father is God; the Son is God and the Holy Ghost also is true God. Yet these Three Divine Persons are ONE God, not three Gods. Now there has been a heresy, Arianism, that denied the divinity of the Son (and by way of consequence also the divinity of the Holy Ghost); similarly there was a heresy that denied the divinity of the Holy Ghost, the Macedonian heresy, from a man called Macedonius, at the end of the 4th century. Even today, there are some heretics who deny that the Holy Ghost is a divine Person, distinct from the Father and the Son and yet true God: these are the Jehovah Witnesses, who also deny the divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God. So, let us consider what the Scriptures and the Church teach us about the Holy Ghost.


In the very first chapter of Genesis, we see God creating the world by His Word: “let the light be! And the light was made” (Gen. 1:3). The light was made, but not the Word by which the light was made: “by Him all things were made” (Jn. 1:3). But in that same first chapter of Genesis where we discover the Creating Word, we also discover the Spirit of God, which “moved over the waters” (Gen. 1:2). Again, the waters were made, but not the life-giving Spirit of God, by which life was created in the waters.

Job says: “His spirit hath adorned the heavens” (Job 26:13) and later: “The spirit of God made me, and the breath of the Almighty gave me life” (Job 33:4). The psalmist also twice calls the Spirit Creator: “By the Word of the Lord the heavens were established; and all the power of them by the Spirit of his mouth:” (Ps. 32:6). “Thou shalt send forth Thy Spirit, and they shall be created: and thou shalt renew the face of the earth” (Ps. 103:30). So, it is clear that the Spirit of God is Creator, therefore He is God.

Yet it was not yet clear in the Old Testament that the Holy Ghost was a distinct Person, but that is made manifest in the New Testament, especially when our Lord Jesus Christ commands His Apostles to baptise “in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost” (Mt. 28:19): this passage is most important and clearly shows the personality of the Holy Ghost. Indeed, the Father is a Person, the Son is a Person, therefore, by the very parallel of the passage it implies that the Holy Ghost also is a Person.

Moreover, our Lord Jesus Christ taught us many important truths about the Holy Ghost; in particular He said: “But when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will teach you all truth. For he shall not speak of himself; but what things soever he shall hear, he shall speak; and the things that are to come, he shall shew you” (Jn. 16:13). To be a teacher is proper to a person: these words of our Lord do imply that the Holy Ghost is a Person, distinct from the Son.

St Paul says something very important about the Holy Ghost: “Know you not, that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?” (1 Cor. 3:16). “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?” (1 Cor. 6:19). Now a temple is only erected to worship God; in a temple, sacrifices are offered to God: so, if we are temples of the Holy Ghost, that implies that the Holy Ghost is God. And man is much worthier than a temple of stone, man is a living temple, made by God. Thus not only temples are erected by the Church to the worship of the Holy Ghost, but temples are erected by God Himself – the maker of man – to the worship of the Holy Ghost! Hence the Church can very well sing in the Nicaean Creed: “simul adoratur et conglorificatur – He is worshipped and glorified together with [the Father and the Son]!”

In the Scriptures, we see that the Father sent the Son, and that the Father and the Son sent the Holy Ghost. Indeed, many times our Lord Jesus Christ refers to Himself as “Him Whom [God/the Father] has sent”: He said to the people at Capharnaum: “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he hath sent” (Jn. 6:29). “Do you say of him whom the Father hath sanctified and sent into the world: Thou blasphemest, because I said, I am the Son of God? If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not. But if I do, though you will not believe me, believe the works: that you may know and believe that the Father is in me, and I in the Father” (Jn. 10:36-38). Now nobody sends his own self: so the very fact that the Father sent the Son proves the distinction of the Person of the Father and the Person of the Son.


Similarly, we see that the Father sends the Holy Ghost, and that the Son sends the Holy Ghost. Four times, our Lord Jesus Christ foretells the sending of the Holy Ghost: “I will ask the Father, and He shall give you another Paraclete, that he may abide with you for ever: the spirit of truth” (Jn. 14:16-17). “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” (Jn. 14:26). “When the Paraclete cometh, whom I will send you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceedeth from the Father, he shall give testimony of me” (Jn. 15:26). “I tell you the truth: 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” (Jn. 16:7).

It is useful to put in parallel these four passages, because together they manifest the perfect equality of the Father and the Son in sending the Holy Ghost: firstly, the Father alone “He shall give you another Paraclete”; secondly the Father in the name of the Son: “whom the Father will send in my name”; thirdly the Son from the Father: “Whom I will send you from the Father”; and fourthly the Son alone: “I will send Him to you.” Based on this clear teaching from our Lord, the Church teaches that the Holy Ghost “proceeds from the Father and the Son.” The Orthodox deny the second half, but that is against the Gospel. Indeed, when our Lord says: “He shall give you another Paraclete”, the fact that the Father sends the Holy Ghost is not opposed to the fact that the Son sends Him, as He will himself say a few verses later: “I will send Him to you.” Similarly, when our Lord says: “the Holy Ghost, Who proceedeth from the Father” (Jn. 15:26) the fact that the Holy Ghost proceeds from the Father is not opposed to the fact that He also proceeds from the Son, as He will say shortly after: “the Spirit of truth… shall glorify me; because He shall receive of Mine, and shall show it to you. All things whatsoever the Father hath, are mine. Therefore, I said, that he shall receive of mine, and show it to you” (Jn. 16:13-15).


Some people might say: “this is complicated, and much above my head.” Yes, indeed, these truths are at the divine level, the level of the intimate relations between the three Divine Persons. Yet our Lord Jesus Christ revealed to us these truths, because if we truly love God, we thirst for knowing Him better, and through these words we are led to a deeper and more intimate knowledge of the three Divine Persons.


Moreover, if we are in the state of grace, the Holy Ghost is the Divine guest of our soul: He abides in us, as our Lord said: “The spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, nor knoweth him: but you shall know him; because he shall abide with you, and shall be in you” (Jn. 14:17). St Paul said, as we have seen above, “Know you not, that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?” (1 Cor. 3:16). If a king or an emperor comes in our house, we sure would make sure everything would be clean and beautiful and we would be wholly occupied in making the visit of such king in our house as pleasant as possible. Now it is not a mere king, it is the Almighty God, the very Spirit of God, that abides in our soul: therefore, we should make sure that everything in our soul is clean and holy and pleasing to Him, and we should pay attention to such divine guest of our soul, giving Him all the worship and the loving obedience that is due to Him.

The Holy Ghost is for us a Paraclete, i.e. an advocate and a consoler: He consoles us in particular by pouring divine charity in our souls as St Paul says: “the charity of God is poured forth in our hearts, by the Holy Ghost, who is given to us” (Rom. 5:5). Since charity is the core of the spiritual life, by pouring charity in our soul, the Holy Ghost is the “Life-giver”.

The Holy Ghost is the “Spirit of Truth” because He gives us the love of the truth. Indeed, it is not sufficient to know the truth, we ought to love it. Many who had known the truth, because they did not love it, lost it. One truly loves the truth when one puts it in practice, i.e. when one lives the truth. St John indeed says: “God is Light, and in him there is no darkness. If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth” (1 Jn. 1:5-6). “He who saith that he knoweth him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him” (1 Jn. 2:4). St Paul says the same thing: “They profess that they know God: but in their works they deny him” (Tit. 1:16).

The truth that the Holy Ghost gives us to love is not new, it is the Eternal Truth, the truth taught from the beginning by our Lord and the Apostles, as Our Lord said: “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” (Jn. 14:26). And St Paul says: “For if he that cometh preacheth another Christ, whom we have not preached; or if you receive another Spirit, whom you have not received; or another gospel which you have not received; you would indeed suffer him” (2 Cor. 11:4).

Holy Mother the Church teaches us that the Holy Ghost helps us especially through His Seven Gifts: wisdom, understanding, knowledge, counsel, fortitude, piety and the fear of the Lord. Isaiah had set forth these seven gifts in a well-known prophecy about Christ: “And there shall come forth a rod out of the root of Jesse, and a flower shall rise up out of his root. And the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him: the spirit of wisdom, and of understanding, the spirit of counsel, and of fortitude, the spirit of knowledge, and of godliness. And he shall be filled with the spirit of the fear of the Lord. He shall not judge according to the sight of the eyes, nor reprove according to the hearing of the ears. But he shall judge the poor with justice, and shall reprove with equity for the meek of the earth ” (Isa. 11:1-5). Jesse was the father of David; the root of Jesse represents his descendants after they had lost the throne at the time of the captivity of Babylon: they were no longer a beautiful tree, but there was still a living root. The rod from that root represents the Blessed Virgin Mary and the flower our Lord Jesus Christ.

These seven gifts are needed because the true Christian life is a supernatural life, a life above the abilities of our nature, and therefore it requires special helps to strengthen and elevate us. Thus, the gift of fear does help us a lot to overcome temptation: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Ps. 110:10). For many, even for most people, the fear of the Lord is a determining factor that helped them to turn away from sin and start taking seriously the word of God, for “God is not mocked!” (Gal. 6:7) Those who, like the Pharisees, “stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, always resist the Holy Ghost” (Acts 7:51), how could they go to Heaven? Let us therefore truly fear such resistance to the Holy Ghost, but rather be docile to the Holy Ghost: “For whosoever are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God” (Rom. 8:14). Led by the Spirit to the obedience to the Commandments of God, because “he that keepeth his commandments, abideth in him, and he in him. And in this we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us” (1 Jn. 3:24).

The Spirit of Piety helps us to pray: prayer is not always easy, because we pray Him Who is so much above us; often we are distracted, tired. St Paul himself says: “the Spirit also helpeth our infirmity. For we know not what we should pray for as we ought; but the Spirit himself asketh for us with unspeakable groanings” (Rom. 8:26). And “by all prayer and supplication praying at all times in the Spirit; and in the same watching with all instance and supplication for all the saints” (Eph. 6:18): the Christian life is a life of prayer, helped by the Holy Ghost. That does not mean that we should be like the charismatics, who pretend to be always inspired by the Holy Ghost and invent all kinds of prayers, which come from their own and not from the Spirit of Truth. Why? Because the Holy Ghost is the Spirit of Truth as explained above, which is incompatible with heresies; now the whole charismatic movement started with the Protestants and is still very much influenced by them – in particular in its ecumenism. No! The Catholic prayer is at the example of the Saints: they were truly filled with the Holy Ghost, and they teach us how to pray. In particular the Holy Ghost teaches us to pray to God as to the best of all Fathers: “For you have not received the spirit of bondage again in fear; but you have received the spirit of adoption of sons, whereby we cry: Abba (Father)” (Rom. 8:15). “And because you are sons, God hath sent the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying: Abba, Father” (Gal. 4:6). Hence the Catholics love to pray the Our Father. They also love to pray to our Lady, whom Christ gave us to be our Mother (Jn. 19:27)

The Spirit of Fortitude strengthens us in the fight against sin; indeed, our Lord Jesus Christ said that “the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent bear it away” (Mt. 11:12): not those who are violent against their neighbour, but those who do violence to themselves! Hence, St Peter says: “Be sober and watch: because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, goeth about seeking whom he may devour, whom resist ye, strong in faith:” (1 Pet. 5:8-9).

The Spirit of Counsel helps us to have the “prudence of the spirit”: “For the prudence of the flesh is death; but the prudence of the spirit is life and peace. Because the prudence of the flesh is an enemy to God; for it is not subject to the law of God, neither can it be. And they who are in the flesh, cannot please God. But you are not in the flesh, but in the spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his… For if you live according to the flesh, you shall die: but if by the Spirit you mortify the deeds of the flesh, you shall live” (Rom. 8:6-9, 13).

The Spirit of Knowledge gives us to see the hand of God in His work, in Creation, in the ways of divine Providence, etc. The Spirit of understanding gives us a deeper grasp of the truths of faith, of the mysteries such as the Holy Trinity, the Incarnation, the Redemption. In the Veni Creator, we sing: “Through Thee, may we know the Father, may we know also the Son, and Thee the Spirit of both!” Thus the Holy Ghost helps us to understand better the mystery of the Holy Trinity. The Incarnation is a divine Work attributed to the Holy Ghost: we say in the Apostles’ Creed that Christ “was conceived by the Holy Ghost” and in the Nicean Creed that “He became flesh by the Holy Ghost”. And again, the Redemption was accomplished by the Sacrifice of Christ; now St Paul points out the role of the Holy Ghost in that Sacrifice: “the blood of Christ, who by the Holy Ghost offered himself unspotted unto God, cleanse our conscience from dead works, to serve the living God” (Heb. 9:14).

The Spirit of Wisdom gives us to see things as God sees them, from above, grasping the connection between all these mysteries. St Thomas explains that wisdom comes from an intimate love of God, which gives a certain “connaturality”: one becomes “one mind” with God. St Paul says beautifully: “he who is joined to the Lord, is one spirit [with Him]” (1 Cor. 6:17).

May the Immaculate Virgin Mary, upon whom the Holy Ghost came in a very special way on the day of the Annunciation, give us a deep knowledge and great love of the Holy Ghost and a perfect docility to Him, as she was always faithful to Him!  Amen.


Fr. F. Laisney