A theological term derived from the concept of Spirit as used in Jn 3.8. The term is applied to the second procession in the Holy trinity, the procession of the Holy Spirit from the Father and the Son—or through the Son, according to the Greek Fathers (H. Denzinger, Enchiridion symbolorum [Freiburg 1963] 1301). Spiration is taken actively as the act of love and passively as the love proceeding, or the Holy Spirit.
The Old Testament mentions the Spirit of Yahweh, the Spirit of God, and the Holy Spirit, but never in a personal sense. In the New Testament the Holy Spirit is presented as a Person, equal to the Father and the Son (Mt 28.19). The Holy Spirit is called the Spirit of the Father (Mt 10.20) and the Spirit of the Son (Gal 4.6). These and many passages referring to the divine missions of the Son and the Holy Spirit are the basis for the doctrine of spiration.
The Trinitarian doctrine of the early Christian centuries emphasized the essential unity and the absolute equality of the three Divine Persons. The pseudo-Athanasian creed (Enchiridion symbolorum 75) excludes the concepts of generation and filiation from the second procession. Thus, there is an absolute and essential difference between the two processions.
St. Augustine discerned that the second procession in the Trinity is one of mutual love of the Father and the Son (Enchiridion patristicum, ed. M. J. Rouët de Journel [Freiburg im Breisgau 1960] 1665). Thus, to love, or the act of love of the Father and of the Son, is active spiration, and the Love proceeding from the Father and the Son is the Holy Spirit, or passive spiration (St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa theologiae 1a, 36–38).
The Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son as from one principle and as by one spiration (Enchiridion symbolorum 850). This procession is from the Persons of the Father and the Son (Enchiridion symbolorum 804–806), as the divine nature (remote principle) and the divine will (proximate principle) are formally in the Father and formally in the Son. As the Father is the Father only in relation to the Son (Enchiridion symbolorum 528), the paternal spiration is the voluntary diffusion of His goodness to the Son, or paternal love; and, as the Son is the Son only in relation to the Father, the filial spiration is His voluntary conformity to the Father or filial love (whence the conformity of Christ: Jn 5.30; 6.38; 14.31). Hence, the Holy Spirit "is known as the love or the sanctity of both" the Father and the Son (Enchiridion symbol-orum 527). This love of the Father and the Son is a mutual, complementary love, spirating the Holy Spirit, who as a distinct Person proceeds eternally from the Father and the Son in the immanent life of the Trinity.
See Also: holy spirit; processions, trinitarian; acts, notional; trinity, holy, articles on.
Bibliography: leo XIII, "Divinum illud munus" (encyclical, May 9, 1897) Acta Apostolicae Sedis (Rome 1909–) 29 (1896–97) 644–658, Eng. Catholic Mind 36 (May 8, 1938) 161–181. a. palmieri, Dictionnaire de théologie catholique, ed. a. vacant et al., (Paris 1903—50) 5.1:676–829; Tables générales 1:1254–63.
[g. m. greenewald]
"Spiration." New Catholic Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. (February 20, 2019). https://www.encyclopedia.com/religion/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/spiration
"Spiration." New Catholic Encyclopedia. . Retrieved February 20, 2019 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/religion/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/spiration