The Catechism of St. Thomas Aquinas: THE EIGHTH ARTICLE

“I Believe in the Holy Ghost.”

As we have said, the Word of God is the Son of God just as in a way the word of man is the concept of his intellect.[1] But sometimes man has a word which is dead. This is when, for instance, he conceives what he ought to do, but he has not the will to do it; or when one believes but does not practise; then his faith is said to be dead, as St. James points out.[2] The word of God, however, is alive: “For the word of God is living.”[3] It is necessary, therefore, that in God there be will and

love. Thus, St. Augustine says: “The word of God which we plan to speak is knowledge with love.”[4] Now, as the Word of God is the Son of God, God’s love is the Holy Ghost. Hence, it is that one possesses the Holy Ghost when he loves God: “The charity of God is poured forth in our hearts, by the Holy Ghost who is given to us.”[5]


There are some who held false opinions concerning the Holy Ghost. They said, for instance, that He was only the servant and minister of God. Hence, to remove these errors the holy Fathers added five phrases concerning the Holy Ghost.[6]

“The Holy Ghost, the Lord.”–The first is, that although there are other spirits, such as the Angels who are ministers of God (Art they not all ministering spirits?),[7] nevertheless the Holy Ghost is the Lord. “God is a Spirit,”[8] and, “Now the Lord is a Spirit,”[9] and also, “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.”[10] The reason is that He makes us love God and cease to love the world. Thus, the Creed says: “In the Holy Ghost, the Lord.”

“And Life-Giver.”–The second phrase is there because the soul’s life is to be united to God, inasmuch as God is the life of the soul, and as truly as the soul is the life of the body.[11] Now, the Holy Ghost unites the soul to God through love, because He is the love of God, and therefore He gives life. “It is the spirit that quickeneth.”[12] Therefore, it is said: “and Life-giver.”

“Who Proceeds from the Father and the Son.”–The third is that the Holy Ghost is one in substance with the Father and the Son; because as the Son is the Word of the Father, so the Holy Spirit is the love both of the Father and the Son, and, therefore, He proceeds from them both. Moreover, just as the Word of God is of the same substance as the Father, so also is Love [Holy Ghost] of the same substance as the Father and the Son. Hence, it is said: “who proceedeth from the Father and the Son.” From this it is seen that the Holy Spirit is not a Creature.

“Who . . . is Adored and Glorified.”–The fourth phrase is that the Holy Ghost as regards adoration is equal to the Father and the Son: “The true adorers shall adore the Father in spirit and truth.”[13] “Teach ye all nations; baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost.”[14] Hence, it is said: “Who together with the Father and the Son is adored.”[15]

“Who Spoke by the Prophets.”–The fifth phrase, wherein the Holy Ghost is declared equal to God, is that the holy prophets spoke on behalf of God. It is clear that, if the Holy Ghost were not God, then it would not be said that the prophets had spoken of God on His behalf. Thus, says St. Peter: “The holy men of God spoke, inspired by the Holy Ghost.”[16] Also: “The Lord God hath sent me, and His Spirit.”[17] And so it is said: “Who spoke by the prophets.”

In all this two errors are condemned. The Manicheans said that the Old Testament was not from God. But this is false because the Holy Spirit spoke through the prophets. Likewise, the error of Priscillian and Montanus was that they believed that the prophets

did not speak by the Holy Ghost but were somewhat beside themselves.


Many benefits come to us from the Holy Ghost. (1) He cleanses us from our sins. The reason is that one must repair that which one has made. Now, the soul is created by the Holy Spirit, because God has made all things through Him; for God, by loving His goodness, created everything: “Thou lovest all things that are, and hatest none of the things which Thou hast made.”[18] Thus, Dionysius says: “Divine love did not permit Him to be without offspring.”[19] It is necessary, therefore, that the hearts of men, destroyed by sin, be made anew by the Holy Ghost: “Thou shalt send forth Thy Spirit, and they shall be created; and Thou shalt renew the face of the earth.”[20] Nor is it any wonder that the Spirit cleanses, since all sins are taken away by love: “Many sins are forgiven her, because she hath loved much.”[21] “Charity covereth all sins.”[22] And likewise: “Charity covereth a multitude of sins.[23]

(2) The Holy Spirit enlightens the intellect, since all that we know, we know through the Holy Ghost: “But the Paraclete, the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things and bring all things to your mind, whatsoever I shall have said to you.”[24] Also: “His unction teacheth you all things.”[25]

(3) He assists us and, to a certain extent, compels us to keep the commandments. No one can keep the commandments unless he loves God: “If any one love Me, he will keep My word.”[26] Thus, the Holy Spirit makes us love God: “And I give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh and will give you a heart of flesh. And I will put My Spirit in the midst of you; and I will cause you to walk in My commandments and to keep My judgments and do them.”[27]

(4) He strengthens in us the hope of eternal life, because He is the pledge to us of this our destiny: “You were signed with the Holy Spirit of promise who is the pledge of our inheritance.”[28] He is, as it were, the surety of our eternal life. The reason is that eternal life is due to man inasmuch as he is become the son of God; and this is brought about in that he is made like unto Christ; and this, in turn, follows from his having the Spirit of Christ, and this is the Holy Ghost: “For you have not received the spirit of bondage again in fear; but you have received the spirit of adoption of sons, whereby we cry: Abba (Father). For the Spirit Himself giveth testimony to our spirit that we are the sons of God.”[29] And also: “Because you are sons, God hath sent the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying: Abba, Father.”[30]

(5) He counsels us when we are in doubt, and teaches us what is the will of God: “He that hath an ear let him hear what the Spirit saith to the churches.”[31] Likewise: “I may hear him as a master.”[32]

(For “Questions for Discussion” see Chapter 6.


1. See above, p. 17.

2. “So faith also, if it have not works, is dead in itself” (James, ii. 17).

3. Heb., iv. 12.

4. “De Trinitate,” ix. 1O.

5. Rom., v. 5.

6. “And I believe in the Holy Ghost, (1) the Lord and (2) Life-giver, (3) who proceeds from the Father and the son: (4) who together with the Father and the son is adored and glorified (5) who spoke by the Prophets” (The Nicene Creed).

7. Heb, i. 14.

8. lohn, iv. 24.

9. II Cor., iii. 17.

10. “Ibid.”

11. “Cum ipse Deus sit vita animae, sicut anima vita corporis.”

12. John, vi. 64.

13. John, iv. 23.

14. Matt., xxviii. 19.

15. “The Holy Ghost is equally God with the Father and the Son, equaily omnipoent, eternal, perfect, the supreme good, infinitely wise and of the same nature with the Father and the Son. . . . If the Father is God, and the son, God, we must confess that the Holy Ghost, who is united with them in the same degree of honor, is also God. . . . The Holy Ghost is God, the third Person in the divine nature, distinct from the Father and the son, and produced by their will” (“Roman Catechism,” Eighth Article, 4-5).

16. II Peter, i. 21.

17. Isa., xlviii. 16.

18. Wis., xi. 25.

19 Div. Nom., IV.

20. Ps. ciii. 30.

21. Luke, vii. 47.

22. Prov., x. 12.

23. I Peter, iv. 8.

24. John, xiv. 26.

25. I John, ii. 27.

26. John, xiv. 23.

27. Ezech., xxxvi. 26-27.

28. Eph., i. 13.

29. Rom., viii. 15-16.

30. Gal., iv. 6.

31. Apoc., ii. 7

32. Isa., l. 4.



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