3. The Operations of the Holy Spirit in the Soul

ALL spiritual good that we possess comes from the 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 flinching.

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 than all 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).
----------- Publisher, 2002.


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