3. The Operations of the Holy Spirit in the Soul
ALL spiritual good that we possess comes
Holy Spirit, for He is the love of the Father and of the Son, and
therefore He is the inexhaustible fountain of supernatural benefits and
graces. Without the grace of the Holy Spirit, we cannot do the least
thing toward our sanctification. We cannot start, nor continue, nor
complete any good work. "And no man can say the Lord Jesus, but by the
Holy Ghost." (1 Col. 12:3). Therefore the Church prays: "Come, Holy
Spirit! Come, Father of the poor! Come, Giver of gifts! Come, Light of
our hearts! Without Thy Divine help there is no good in man."
Theologians often compare the manner in which the Holy Spirit operates
in the souls of the just to the action of fire on iron. When a piece of
iron is put into the fire, the iron gradually grows red-hot and becomes
bright and glowing like the fire. The fire communicates to the iron its
color and its heat; it penetrates the iron and causes it to undergo a
change by removing the rust and making it so much one with itself that
it appears to be a part of the fire. In like manner does the Holy
Spirit act in the soul that allows His grace to operate in it. He
penetrates the soul, imparts to it His Sanctifying Grace, the flame of
His Divine love, which purifies the soul, consumes the rust of sin, and
inflames it with heavenly fire, until the soul becomes beautiful,
brilliant, supernatural and spiritual like unto God.
What is this action of the Holy Spirit in the soul of man, and what
graces does He impart? The Holy Spirit illuminates the understanding,
sanctifies the affections, strengthens the will, consoles the heart,
and purifies the body.
The Holy Spirit illuminates the understanding. If the Holy Spirit does
not send a ray of Divine light into our heart, the words we read or
hear avail little.
The Holy Spirit sanctifies our affections. "Through the Holy Spirit,"
says St. John Chrysostom, "we obtain the forgiveness of our sins;
through Him we are purified from all stains of venial sins; through His
gifts, those who surrender themselves to His Divine grace become
angels: not that they change their nature, but what is still more
wonderful, they remain men, walking before God as pure and holy as
Angels. Through the grace of the Holy Spirit, man, who before was
steeped in the mire of sin, now shines more brilliantly than the sun."
The Holy Spirit strengthens the will, according to the words of our
Saviour: "But you shall receive the power of the Holy Spirit coming
upon you, and you shall be witnesses unto me." (Acts 1:8). Without the
grace of the Holy Spirit, man is delivered to the enemies of his
salvation. By the strength of the Holy Spirit, he can overcome all the
snares of the evil one. St. Bernard says: "Through the Gifts of the
Holy Spirit, man is fortified against every temptation and persecution;
he becomes unconquerable and fearless." How timid and cowardly the
Apostles were before they received strength from above! St. Peter, at
the word of the maidservant, denied Our Lord. But after the coming of
the Holy Spirit, the Apostles knew no fear or hesitation. With intrepid
courage they hastened through the countries of the earth and despised
all persecutions and tortures, considering it their gain to die for
Christ. In their footsteps followed the martyrs, who, in the strength
of the Holy Spirit, displayed heroic courage. Even timid virgins,
upheld by His power and love, endured untold torments without
The Holy Spirit consoles the pilgrims of the earth in their trials,
difficulties and sufferings. Therefore, Our Lord called Him the
"Consoler." Holy Church prays: "Come, Holy Spirit, Consoler, sweetest
Gift." He imparts to souls the "peace of God which surpasses all
understanding" (Phil. 4:7), and fills the human heart with heavenly
balsam, as St. Paul testifies: The Holy Spirit "comforts us in all our
tribulation" ..."I am filled with comfort: I exceedingly abound with
joy in all our tribulation." (2 Cor: 1:4; 7:4).
The Holy Spirit purifies our body, and by His Divine indwelling in our
souls, He makes us His "temples."
"O my children," exclaimed the saintly Cure of Ars, "how beautiful it
is! The Father is our Creator, the Son is our Redeemer and the Holy
Spirit is our Guide. Man of himself is nothing, but with the Holy
Spirit, he is very great. The Holy Spirit elevates his mind and raises
it on high. Why were the Saints so detached from earth? Because they
let themselves be led by the Holy Spirit. Those who are led by the Holy
Spirit have true ideas; that is the reason why so many ignorant people
are wiser than the learned. When we are led by the Holy Spirit, we
cannot go astray. He is our strength and our light. He teaches us to
distinguish between truth and falsehood, between good and evil."
He who possesses the Holy Spirit has the highest Good; he has Divine
grace itself. [NOTE] He has God and the Angels for
his friends; he has the pledge of eternal salvation. He has the
forgiveness of all his sins and all the good he can desire. The Holy
Spirit instructs him in holiness, enkindles his heart with Divine love,
adorns him with virtues, purifies him from the stain of sin, cares for
him like a devoted father, loves him like a tender mother. The Holy
Spirit is his truest friend; He heals his wounds; He is his unerring
Guide on the way of salvation.
He who possesses the Holy Spirit is richer
than all the wealthy of this
world, more powerful than all
temporal rulers, more content
lords, more cheerful than
those steeped in worldly pleasures. He is
blessed in body and in soul, blessed in his words and in his deeds. The
Angels serve him with delight, the Saints gaze upon him with joy, and
God dwells with complacency in his heart. The sweetness such a man
experiences in his heart cannot be expressed in words. Those who have
tasted this interior joy testify that no pleasure of this world can be
compared to it, and that in a quarter of an hour the soul enjoys more
heavenly bliss than worldlings experience their whole life long from
earthly pleasures and satisfactions.
The Soul Deprived of the Holy Spirit
We have absolute necessity of the Holy Spirit. Just as the soul
is indispensable to the life of the body, so the Holy Spirit is
indispensable to the life of the soul. As the body cannot use its five
senses without the soul, so the soul cannot use its spiritual faculties
without the Holy Spirit; it cannot see,
hear, speak, taste, or work
without the Holy Spirit.
The soul cannot see sin in its
true malice; it cannot perceive the
occasions and dangers of sin, the dreadful punishments of Hell, the
wickedness of the world, the charm of virtue, the value of good works,
the greatness of the Sacrifice of the Mass, the immense treasure of
Holy Communion, the beauty and glory of Heaven.
The soul cannot hear without
the Holy Spirit. It cares not to listen to
the word of God; it avoids religious instructions, and if it does hear
them, it does not assimilate them, is not impressed by them, nor is it
inclined to a change of life.
Without the Holy Spirit, the soul cannot speak. A person devoid of the
Holy Spirit has no love for prayer, no comfort in Confession, no
determination to follow Jesus.
There is no spiritual taste in
the soul deprived of the Holy Spirit.
Such a person has no relish for the things of God, no devotion, no
attraction for a holy life.
Without the Holy Spirit [that is, if not in the state of grace], a man
cannot perform works conducive
to his salvation. He cannot give up bad
habits, nor lead a holy life. Whatever good he may do will not merit
eternal life. He will not receive a reward in Heaven for his prayers,
his fasting or other good works.
Who possesses the Holy Spirit? Every person
in the state of Sanctifying Grace possesses the Holy Spirit, at least
to a minimal degree, and a person can grow in possession of the Holy
Spirit. One receives the Holy Spirit for the first time in Baptism, and
if one has the misfortune to commit a mortal sin and thus lose the Holy
Spirit, one receives Him back (along with Sanctifying Grace) through
the Sacrament of Penance or Confession (also called Reconciliation). -----------