The Holy Spirit: "Lord and Giver of Life"

The Holy Spirit: "Lord and Giver of Life"

Anne Lastman

He Breathed on Adam and Adam began to live.

We first encounter the breath of God in Genesis 2:7 where until the breath is breathed into the shaped human person it had remained inanimate, lifeless. It was the breath of God which animated the new creation.

It was the Spirit being breathed into the new creation which animated this creation. Indeed it was this breath that made the human being whose physical reality is composed of water, proteins and carbons, into something entirely different. The chemical reaction which that "breath" brought about was what changed the order completely from all the other created order.

This new order, created in Imago Dei (the image of God) now, was different from all the other creation.

We believe in the Holy Spirit the Lord and Giver of Life.

The first truth about the Holy Spirit which we proclaim when we say the Creed is that the Holy Spirit is Lord. He is Kyrios. He is equal in every way to the Father and the Son. His divinity is no different, lesser or even greater than theirs. His knowledge, power, authority is not different.

After the Council of Nicaea (325AD) when the Son Jesus was declared of the same ousios (essence) as the Father, under the impetus of Ath-anasius and the Cappadocian Fathers, the Council of Constantinople in 381 concentrated on the mission of the Holy Spirit and declared, "We believe in the Holy Spirit the Lord and Giver of Life who proceeds from the Father and together with the Father and the Son is worshipped and glorified."

In this Council, the Church fath-ers concentrated more on the work and role of the Holy Spirit as Life Giver. This of course means that the Holy Spirit is involved with the creative works of God the Father on the physical and spiritual level, that is, the supernatural life of grace.

The Holy Spirit does not excuse or distract us from the teachings of the Father or of Jesus. In the Gospels when Jesus promised to send the Holy Spirit, He said, "He will not speak on his own, but he will speak what he hears, and he will declare to you the things that are coming. He will glorify me because he will take from what is mine and declare it to you" (Jn 16:13-14).

And knowing this, it will be impossible to be led away from the will of the Father and the Son and of course the Church founded by Jesus.

In His role of vivifying and deifying the creature which God has called into being He transforms the creature from inanimate to life-filled and from sin to grace.

He is the guarantee of the unity between God and His created beings. He is the inward principle of each new life, a principle given by God and received at creation and at re-creation (baptism).

Life of Christ

The Holy Spirit dwells within the new creation, makes the creation a child of God, establishes within him/her the life of Christ, and where this happens removes the principle of evil and sin.

This indwelling becomes for the creation a principle of love, holiness and sanctification. In the words of Lumen Gentium, the Holy Spirit is the soul animating and securing the Mystical Body of Christ (Rom 5:5).

We first meet this mysterious being as the "breath" over the waters at the beginning of creation. It is a new beginning in relation to the original beginning of God's self-giving in creation (Dominum Vivificantem 3). Thus this brings order from chaos (Genesis 1:1-3).

We see Him again breathing over the apostles, giving them authority to forgive sins and to bring new order and life out of the chaos which is sin.

The Holy Spirit is Lord and Giver of Life because He is pure love and life and love are entwined and necessarily linked because "God is Love" (Ps 103, 1Jn 4:8) and in the words of Jesus, "I am the Life" (Jn 11:25). The Holy Spirit is the love and the life by which the Father and the Son love together to bring forth a new life, their pure essence the Holy Spirit.

When a man and a woman, made in the image and likeness of God, unite, one aspect of that "image and likeness" is that the union is so dynamic so life-giving that it will bring forth a new life. The language that their body speaks is one of love and the word spoken by the body is enfleshing (Theology of the Body, John Paul II). Thus we have a new creation, a new beginning and a new spirit in creation.

The Holy Spirit enters into the life created, vivifies it, and establishes Himself as gift from the Father God who enters into a union with His creation. The Holy Spirit is the source of life (Jn 6:63), as St Augustine would say, He is "Gift", or as St Thomas Aquinas would say, he is "Love." He is the Lover, beloved and the Love between them.

In the beautiful document Humanae Vitae, we find the proclamation and confirmation that love and life are linked and not two separate entities. The reason for this is because they are the same.

God is Love (Ps 103) and God is Life (Jn 11:25). It is the self-giving between God and His Son Jesus which gives life and love and this by another name is the Holy Spirit.

When a man and a woman who are made in Imago Dei give purely of themselves in love then their love also gives and creates new life.

The Holy Spirit, as the Lord and Giver of Life, has played a major and special role in the formulation of Humanae Vitae because through this document the Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of Life, beautifully teaches us in love and truth about the inner life of God.

Through this document He speaks of His authority over life and the tragic outcomes if attempts to remove Him from creation are pursued, because in truth we are not in control but we belong to God, are created for God and our destination is back towards Him. "You are not your own. You have been bought at a price", says St Paul in 1 Corinthians (ICor 6:19-20).

Openness to life is not some-thing added as an afterthought to the sexual act but it is the very essence of the act to accept life as its gift. The most intimate act of two human beings opens the gateway to a gift being given and that gift is "Life."

God has merged life, love and sexuality together because they belong together, as one cannot be without the other. One without the other is empty.


Today there is a tragic loss of this understanding and as a result of this loss sexuality has become utilitarian. Today we have a society which has separated "love" and "life" and thus rendered both empty. It is a society overwhelmed and over-sexualised but in reality empty because the mystery of the author of love and life is removed from the very act which is designed by its author, the Holy Spirit, God.

The mystery is the uni-dual being as Pope Benedict says in Deus Caritas Est (5): "Spirit and matter con-penetrate each other" and in doing so both are elevated to great heights. Further to this, sexuality cannot be separated from its mystery of con-penetration because if it is separated then it becomes an act of the instincts and something used and abused.

Today we live in a culture where the body is seen merely as a physical entity, thus losing sight of the inseparable bond between the body and the spirit and indeed we are seeing the attempted uncoupling of the body from the spirit (contraception and abortion) and the ensuing degradation of the human body by our attempts to remove the transcendent dimension breathed within the creation.

The Holy Word of God (our Scriptures) reveal something amazingly beautiful and that is that this life that is given is God's life and love and freely given and He lives it through us. In other words, in accepting life and carrying out our roles and duties, we enter into a life, love, and freedom far superior to anything that could ever have been achieved on our own.

This life, love and freedom are gifts from our God, through the Lord and Giver of Life whose work is to continue until the end of time when the Spirit and the "Bride" who has been sanctified by the Holy Spirit say together, "Maranatha ... Come Lord Jesus, come" (Rev. 22:17).

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