1. THE GRACE OF THE HOLY GHOST IS NECESSARY TO US
1. The Holy Ghost is the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity, and is therefore God Himself.
Hence He is eternal, omnipresent, omniscient, almighty.
“The Holy Ghost,” says Tertullian, “is God of God, as light is of light.” St. Cyril of Alexandria compares the Holy Ghost in His likeness to the Father and the Son, to the vapor arising from water, which is like in its nature to the water producing it. St. Isidore, commenting on these words of Christ: “I drive out devils through the finger of God,” says that as the finger is of the same nature as the body, so the Holy Ghost is of the nature of God. St. Athanasius writes that the Holy Ghost is called the finger of God, because it is only through Him that the Father and the Son enter into communication with man. Through Him it was that the tables of stone were written. In the second General Council of Constantinople in A.D. 381, it was defined that the Holy Ghost is eternal, omnipresent, etc., in opposition to the heresy of Macedonius. The Holy Ghost proceeds from the Father and the Son. The Greeks, who. denied this article of faith and fell away from the Church in A.D. 867 and A.D. 1053 fell under the Turkish yoke in the year 1453 A.D., and strangely enough on the feast of Pentecost.
2. The Holy Ghost dispenses the graces which Christ merited by the sacrifice of the cross.
The Holy Ghost produces nothing in addition to what Christ gained for us. He only increases and perfects that work of Christ; just as the sun when shining on a field does not sow new seed, but develops that which is already sown. A grace is a favor granted to a person who has no claim to the favor. If a sovereign grants a reprieve to a criminal under sentence of death, that reprieve is a grace. So, too, God acts with regard to man, granting Him numberless favors without any merit on the part of man (Rom. iii. 24). These favors or graces may be temporal, such as health, riches, station; or spiritual, such as forgiveness of our sins. It is with the latter class of favors that we are dealing now, and it was to secure these for us that Christ consented to die on the cross.
3. Hence the assistance of the Holy Ghost is absolutely necessary for salvation.
No mere natural act of a man can gain for him eternal salvation. The following illustration may help us. A little boy longs to reach some fruit on a tree; he stretches out his arms to the utmost, but the fruit is still out of reach; the child’s father then lifts him up, so that he can pluck the fruit for himself. Thus man cannot attain salvation by his own efforts till the Holy Ghost gives him the supernatural strength. Just as the eye cannot discern distant objects without a telescope, and the arm cannot lift heavy weights without a lever, so the natural powers of man require supernatural help in order that salvation may be obtained. Hence the words of Christ: “Unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (John iii. 5).
Without the help of the Holy Ghost we cannot do the least work deserving of salvation.
We can do nothing without God’s help. “Our sufficiency is from God” (2 Cor. iii. 5). As St. Thomas Aquinas says, we are, since the Pall, like a sick man who cannot leave his bed without help. The following may serve as illustrations. A man cannot work without light; thus too he cannot do any good work without the light of the Holy Ghost. The body is helpless unless animated by the soul; in like manner man can do no good unless the Holy Spirit, Who is the life of the soul, come to his aid (St. Fulgentius). Our souls bring forth no fruit unless they are watered by the rain of the grace of the Holy Spirit (St. Hilary). As grace can do nothing without the co-operation of the will, so neither can the will achieve any result without grace. Compare the action of earth; it can produce no fruits without rain, and the rain cannot produce without the earth (St. John Chrysostom) . As ink is required for the pen, so the grace of the Holy Ghost is necessary to inscribe the virtues in our souls (St. Thomas Aquinas). Every good work is the effect of two co-ordinate principles: the Holy Ghost and our own free will (1 Cor. xv. 10); we may compare the action of the schoolmaster who guides a boy’s hand while he writes. Thus we can never ascribe the merit of our good works to ourselves. The earth does not bring forth flowers, but rather the sun by means of the earth. As we ascribe the activity of the body to the soul, so we should ascribe our good works to the grace of God. We might put down our good works to our own account with as much truth as a soldier might claim the victory without reference to his commander.
With the help of the Holy Ghost we can carry out the most difficult works.
St. Paul says: “I can do all in Him Who strengtheneth me” (Phil. iv. 13).
This article, 1. THE GRACE OF THE HOLY GHOST IS NECESSARY TO US is a post from The Bellarmine Forum.
Do not repost the entire article without written permission. Reasonable excerpts may be reposted so long as it is linked to this page.