In the following essay I aim to set down an explanation of the Person and work of the Holy Spirit as revealed through the Holy Scriptures, lectures, and reading during my studies. I also plan to explain how the Holy Spirit is seen as the “revelation Spirit (who) leads to the consummation of divine union”, and our transformation in Christ aided by the Holy Spirit as God’s guest, Director, and Gift to us, in light of the writings of Archbishop Luis M. Martinez.
The Holy Spirit is in the first place a Person, who is divine in His essence:
“And I will pray the Father, and will give you another Counselor, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, who the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him; you know him, for he dwells with you, and will be in you” (John 14:16-17).
These words from Jesus are very personal in nature and make this point abundantly clear. In the second place, within scripture it is evident that the words and pronouns used by the Apostles and Jesus, refer to the Holy Spirit as masculine. The “He” and “Him” frequently used is both “personal” and “masculine”, and does not describe him, as some groups say, as a “force” or a “power” emanating from God (Staples, 2006), but a divine person which proceeds through active spiration from God the Father and God the Son.
The action of the Holy Spirit is also important in understanding who He is. In Holy Scripture the Holy Spirit is said to: speak, hear, declare, council, teach, guide, inspire and bear witness. Let’s look at some of the Scriptures that refer to His action. In John 14:26, Jesus says of the Holy Spirit:
“But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.”
In John 16: 7-15 Jesus makes it plain that “He” acts, and his actions are, of no doubt again, personal in nature:
“Nevertheless I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will convince the world of sin and of righteousness and of judgment; of sin, because they do not believe in me; of righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no more; of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged. I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it you. All that the Father has is mine; therefore, I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.”
Two other important characteristics of the Holy Spirit, referenced in Scripture, help us to know who he is. They are “omniscient” and “giver of life”. He is omniscient because He comprehends the thoughts of God. St. Paul writes:
“For what person knows a man’s thoughts except the spirit of man which is on him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God” (1 Corinthians 2:11).
According to St Paul in Romans 11:33-34, Gods thoughts are infinite, and it would require infinite power to understand them, therefore, the one who comprehends these thoughts, the Holy Spirit, must be God. The Holy Spirits divinity is clearly shown when we read in Hebrews 3:7-10,
“Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says, Today, when you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, on the day of testing in the wilderness where your fathers put me to the test and saw my works for forty years. Therefore, I was provoked with that generation, and said, ‘They always go astray in their hearts; they have not known my ways.’”
And in Hebrews 10:15-17 God speaks about the Holy Spirit “bearing witness to us”, clearly referencing the Holy Trinity, who is God.
In the Nicene Creed which we recite in every Mass we profess what we see in scripture:
“It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life.” (John 6:63)
He is the “Lord and giver of Life.” He gives us life, He forgives our sins, moves our hearts and leads us on the paths of righteousness. The Holy Spirit is truly the third person of the Blessed Trinity and Divine. He teaches us to Love because He is Love. Because of this love then we have hope:
“and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (Romans 5:5).
As John Paul II, now St. John Paul the Great, reminds us, the Holy Spirit also gives us joy in the place of sorrow (John 16:20). The Holy Spirit is He that is in us which is also Christ in us clearly showing that Christ and the Holy Spirit are of the same essence. Wherever the Holy Spirit is, Christ is also. Jesus continues His life within us through the work of the Holy Spirit. This indwelling of the Holy Spirit within us has ushered in a new order of being and epoch of joy and light. Through Christs’ sacrifice and resurrection, He destroyed death, but then the Word Made Flesh was made again to dwell within humanity. This is the miracle in which we are made one with Christ and therefore one with God, imperfectly now on earth, but one day will be complete:
“For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known.” (1 Corinthians 13:12)
St. Paul teaches us that the central goal of Christian life is to facilitate a “transformation of souls” into Jesus (Martinez, 5). This work of transformation or conformation into Christ is accomplished through the Holy Spirit given as St. Paul says:
“It is no longer I that live, but Christ lives in me” (Galatians 2:20).
Archbishop Martinez describes the Holy Spirit as the “Artist of Souls”, “Director” and the “Souls Delightful Guest-dulcis Hospes anima” (The Sanctifier, Ch. 2, P9-10). The souls living through the life of grace here on earth will dwell eternally in the life of Glory at the resurrection, which will be the fullness of the life of grace. This Divine Guest dwells within the Christian, which transforms them into living temples of God. This is why the Apostle repeatedly teaches the importance of discerning the presence of the Holy Spirit within ourselves and our brothers and sisters in Christ. This transformation does require our participation. We must ascent to a process of, as Elizabeth of the Trinity taught, stripping everything away that is not of God. This is what St. Paul means when he speaks of the old self dying, crucified with Christ:
“For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin…” (Romans 6:6).
This process of being transformed into Christ is a lifelong process, and it requires, as I mentioned before, docility, as well as trust, obedience, growth in virtue, embrace of Gods will, and finally embrace of Gods love.
The Holy Spirit isn’t a guest of a single day or hour, but an eternal Guest, so it’s our duty to live with Him and always in His presence. St. Thomas Aquinas writes that:
“The Holy Spirit dwells in us by love.”
So this is why St. Paul so emphasized the virtue within his writing. The Holy Spirit’s ultimate goal is to unite us to God through the greatest virtue and power known to the world. The virtue of Godly Love (Agape), given to us through His indwelling, is what makes all other virtues possible, and enables us to live out the Christian life. His love constitutes another ontological category of knowing, supernatural knowing, and it is that which brings us peace “which surpasses all (human) understanding” (Philippians 4:7). The Holy Spirit, who is Love, directs and allows us to participate in the Divine Life of God by:
“loving adaptation of the soul” (Martinez, 57)
And this is the way of perfection (in Love) that Jesus speaks of in Matthew 5:48:
“Be perfect as my heavenly Father is perfect.”
Jesus taught that He must go away in order for the Holy Spirit to come. The cross of Christ made possible our reception of this Divine Gift. All good fruit that is born on earth, is through the cross. We are able, through the indwelling of our Divine Guest, to unite our suffering to His, and by our obedience in suffering, become the children of light to the world.
“Although He was a Son, He learned obedience through what He suffered; and being made perfect He became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey Him” (Hebrews 5:8, 9).
He does not leave us orphans. He makes Himself present to us through the Holy Spirit, who is found in the Most Holy Sacrament, our Priests (In Persona Christi), and within our souls.
“… and behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world.”
In Christ through Mary,
2 thoughts on “The Person and Work of the Holy Spirit”
Excellent and concise article.
Thank you Dr. Marzak. I am really appreciating all that I have learned from you and the other teachers of our beautiful faith. I am learning more and more the connection between the Holy Spirit and the Acts of Charity that are the signs of God’s movement in the world! Give God the Glory! AMEN!
In Christ through Mary,