God (Holy Spirit)

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The entire teaching of the Church regarding the Holy Spirit, the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity, is contained formally, either explicitly or implicitly, in Sacred Scripture (see spirit of god). Early Christian writers, the Fathers, and theologians of the Church under the guidance of the teaching authority of the Church, gradually made more explicit that which was contained only implicitly in the original revelation. Thus the infallible Church, in the course of time, penetrated more deeply into and became more acutely conscious of what it possessed and, gradually, solemnly defined its faith.

Catholics have always believed that the Holy Spirit is true God, a distinct Person of the Blessed Trinity, consubstantial with the Father and Son, eternal, and in every respect equal to the other two Divine Persons. Such is the profession of the earliest creeds (H. Denzinger, Enchiridion symbolorum 175), including the so-called Creed of Epiphanius (ibid. 4245) and the so-called athanasian creed (ibid. 7576). It is also the profession of the nicene (ibid. 125126) and Constantinopolitan (ibid.150) Creeds. In the early Church, however, there were not yet formulated clearly the manner of the Spirit's procession, the source from which He proceeds, and the role of the Son in the procession of the Holy Spirit.

Patristic Teaching. The early Christian writers, St. Clement of Rome (c. 95) and St. Ignatius of Antioch (d.107) join the Holy Spirit with Father and Son as one God. Justin Martyr (d. c. 167) and Athenagoras (c. 177), relying on the baptismal formula (Mt 28.19), clearly teach that the Spirit is God. Tertullian (d. c. 222) adds that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father through the Son. Gregory Thaumaturgus (d. 270) stresses the inseparability of the Divine Persons. From the Holy Spirit's giving man a share in the divine nature St. Athanasius (373) proves His divinity and says that the Spirit has the same relation to the Son as the Son to the Father. St. Cyril of Jerusalem (386) insists on the one nature in three Persons and that the Father works through the Son in the Spirit. In the West, St. Hilary (366) continues this teaching in his De Trinitate. In the East, the Cappadocian Fathers, SS. Basil (c. 379), Gregory of Nazianzus (c. 390), and Gregory of Nyssa (Basil's brother, c. 394), develop past teaching by stressing that the Spirit proceeds and is not begotten as is the Son. In the West, St. Augustine (430) develops the doctrine of the Spirit. As true God, He proceeds from Father and Son as from one principle, as their bond of union in love. St. Cyril of Alexandria (444), like Athanasius, puts his doctrine of the Spirit into the context of sanctification. St. John Damascene (end of 7th century to before 754) emphasizes the equality of the Spirit with Father and Son, since the Son and Spirit have everything the Father has except to be unbegotten. The Spirit is not the son of the Father, but His Spirit, and the Son's, also, because He proceeds from the Father through the Son. This patristic teaching developed in the life of the Church and later was embodied in conciliar teaching.

Conciliar Formulations. The first adversaries of the dogma were the Macedonians or Pneumatomachoi (Adversaries of the Spirit) condemned as heretics by the Second Ecumenical Council, Constantinople I, in 381 (Enchiridion symbolorum 151).

In 382 Pope St. Damasus presented a collection of canons (the famous Tome of Damasus ) to bishops gathered at a local council in Rome. In these canons the Holy Spirit is said to be of one power and substance with the Father and the Son. The Spirit is eternal, from the Father, of the divine substance, and true God. The Holy Spirit can do all and knows all and, as Father and Son, is everywhere. The three Persons, having everything in common, are perfectly equal to one another in all things and have complete dominion over all creatures. Hence, the Holy Spirit must be adored by all creatures, just as must Father and Son (ibid. 153, 162, 169, 170, 173, 174).

In 675 the Eleventh Council of Toledo (see toledo, councils of) proposed:

We also believe that the Holy Spirit, the Third Person in the Trinity, is God, and that he is one and equal with God the Father and God the Son, of one substance as well as of one nature. However, he is not begotten nor created, but he proceeds from both and is the Spirit of both. We believe that the Holy Spirit is neither unbegotten nor begotten: lest, if we said unbegotten we should be asserting two Fathers; and if we said begotten we should appear to be preaching two Sons. He is called the Spirit, not only of the Father nor only of the Son but equally of the Father and of the Son. He proceeds not from the Father into the Son nor from the Son to sanctify creatures; but he is shown to have proceeded from both equally, because he is known as the love or the sanctity of both. This Holy Spirit therefore, is believed to be sent by the two together as the Son is sent [by the Father]; but he is not considered inferior to the Father and the Son in the way in which the Son, because of the human nature which he has assumed, testifies that he is inferior to the Father and the Holy Spirit. (ibid. 527)

The Fathers in the East had long held that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father through the Son. It was in the West, however, that the word filioque was added to the symbol of Constantinople by the Fourth Council of Braga (675; Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche 2 4:126); subsequently it was put into the liturgy of the Western churches. Rome, although holding the Filioque, hesitated and only later on incorporated it into her liturgy, probably around 1013.

The abbot joachim of fiore (11301202) accused Peter Lombard (d. 1160) of introducing four elements into the Blessed Trinity. The Fourth Lateran Council (1215) first stated the doctrine of the Trinity against the albigenses and other heretics:

there is only one true God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit: three persons, indeed, but one essence, substance, or nature that is wholly simple the Holy Spirit is from both the Father and the Son equally. (Enchiridion symbolorum 800)

Then, against the Abbot Joachim the council maintained its belief in that

certain one supreme reality which truly is the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. That reality is the three persons taken together and each of them taken singly; and hence, there is in God only a trinity, not a quaternity the same reality is the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit who proceeds from both. (ibid. 804805)

The Second Council of lyons (1274) is most explicit

we confess that the Holy Spirit proceeds eternally from the Father and the Son, not as from two principles, but as from one; not by two spirations but by one we condemn and reprobate those who presume to deny that the Holy Spirit proceeds eternally from the Father and the Son, or those who injudiciously dare to assert that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son as from two principles, and not as from one. (ibid.850.)

And the council concludes:

And we believe that the Holy Spirit, completely and perfectly true God, proceeding from the Father and from the Son, is coequal, consubstantial, coomnipotent, and coeternal with the Father and the Son in all things. (ibid. 853)

The Council of florence (143945), sums up the doctrine:

there is one true God, all-powerful, un-changeable, and eternal. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, one in essence, but three in persons. The Father is not begotten; the Son is begotten of the Father; the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son.

After carefully teaching the distinction of one Person from another, the council says:

the Holy Spirit alone proceeds both from the Father and equally from the Son. These three persons are one God, not three gods; for the three persons have one substance, one essence, one nature, one divinity, one immensity, one eternity. And everything is one where there is no distinction by relative opposition. (ibid. 1330)

The council then teaches the doctrine of circumincession, that the three persons are wholly within one another without losing their distinction. And, finally we read:

All that the Holy Spirit is and all that he has, he has from the Father and equally from the Son. Yet the Father and the Son are not two principles of the Holy Spirit, but one principle, just as the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit are not three principles of creation but one principle. (ibid.1331)

In conclusion, the council condemns, among others, those who say that only God the Father is true God and classify the Son and the Holy Spirit as creatures (ibid.1332).

Summary of Conciliar Teaching. It is the teaching, therefore, of the Church (1) that the Holy Spirit is true God is of faith from the various creeds, as well as from the Fourth Lateran Council, the Second Council of Lyons, and the Council of Florence; (2) that the Holy Spirit is not begotten (see generation of the word) but proceeds is a dogma of faith contained in the so-called Athanasian Creed (Ouicumque ), the Eleventh Council of Toledo, and equivalently from the Fourth Lateran Council and the Council of Florence; (3) that He proceeds from the Father is set forth in the anathemas of Pope Damasus and in the Constantinopolitan Creed. The procession of the Holy Spirit from both Father and Son was defined (and that according to the Latin formula Filioque, not just per Filium ) in the Fourth Lateran, Second Lyons and the Council of Florence; and (4) That the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son as from one principle and by one spiration has been defined by the Second Council of Lyons in a formula repeated by the Council of Florence.

Manner of Spiration, Work of the Spirit. The manner of the breathing forth of the Holy Spirit is not a matter of faith. Theologians commonly hold that, whereas the Son is begotten by intellectual generation, the Holy Spirit proceeds from the mutual love and will of Father and Son. The Eleventh Council of Toledo repeats the saying of St. Augustine that the Holy Spirit proceeds from both Father and Son, because He is the love or holiness of them both (ibid. 527). The Catechism of the Council of Trent (1.9.7) speaks of the Holy Spirit as proceeding from the divine will inflamed by love. The encyclical divinum illud munus of leo xiii speaks of the Holy Spirit as being the love between the Father and the Son (Enchiridion symbolorum 3326).

The Holy Spirit is the soul of the church, the mystical body of christ and dwells (see indwelling, divine) within the soul of the person in the state of sanctifying grace (Divinum Illud Munus, Enchiridion symbolorum 33293331; Pius XII, mystici corporis, Enchiridion symbolorum 38073808; 38143815). This does not mean that the Father and Son do not also give life to the Mystical Body. This activity is appropriated to the Holy Spirit, because the work of sanctifying the Mystical Body and the individual soul bears a special resemblance to the particular personal character of the Holy Spirit (love and sanctification).

The doctrine of the Holy Spirit is developed in the works of the great theologians, such as St. Thomas's In 1 sent. of Peter Lombard (dd. 1018; 3132); C. gent. 4.1525; Comp. theol. 4549, 58; Summa theologiae 1, 3638; 1, 43. Modern theologians, in general, follow the teaching of St. Thomas, adding to their treatises further developments that have been motivated by the authentic teaching of the Church.

See Also: trinity, holy, articles on; god (father); god (son); missions, divine.

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[m. j. donnelly]