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Worship of the Holy Spirit

  • KENNETH BAKER, S.J.

There is only one God and to God alone are due glory, worship and adoration.


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As we have seen, the Nicene Creed, however, proclaims faith in three distinct, not separate, Persons in God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We acknowledge God the Father as our Creator and so offer him our praise and adoration. God the Son, incarnate in Jesus of Nazareth, is our Redeemer. We worship him and show him homage — not only in our prayers, but especially in the Blessed Sacrament of the altar.

In the early history of the Church, the question arose about the nature and place of the Holy Spirit who spoke through the prophets, who was active in Jesus during his public life, who descended on the Apostles at Pentecost and who manifested himself through many marvelous gifts imparted to those who believed in the Lord Jesus and had the hands of the Apostles laid upon their heads.

When theological reflection on Christian revelation began to develop in the third century and afterwards, there was some question as to the divinity and the personality of the Holy Spirit. In order to affirm both of these points of the Creed states: “With the Father and the Son he (the Holy Spirit) is worshipped and glorified.” So, just as worship and glory are offered by Christians to the Father and the Son, so also are they with perfect right offered to the Holy Spirit. This means then that the Holy Spirit is co-equal with the Father and the Son in divinity and majesty.

It follows then that just as the Father and the Son are divine Persons, subsisting in the one divine substance, so also is the Holy Spirit. One of the clearest indications of this truth in the New Testament is the missionary formula at the conclusion of St. Matthew’s Gospel where the three Persons are mentioned and given the same level of dignity: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Mt 28:19).

We say in the Creed that we “worship” and “glorify” the Holy Spirit. Worship frequently means “adoration” of God which can be expressed in many different ways: through prayer, sacrifice, solitude, penance. The main idea in adoration is that man, the weak creature, recognizes his creaturehood and therefore his total dependence on almighty God. When we “glorify” God, we praise and give expression to his infinite perfections such as his goodness, power and love. Thus worship and glory are offered to the Holy Spirit in the same sense as they are offered to the Father and the Son.

Thus a number of Catholic truths are expressed in the statement of the Creed. We are proclaiming that the Holy Spirit is truly God, since God alone can be worshipped and glorified by man. Likewise we are stating that the Holy Spirit is co-equal with the Father and the Son. He is the third Person in the Blessed Trinity who has been revealed to us in the Scriptures, especially by the life and teaching of Jesus Christ. He manifested himself in the life of Jesus; Jesus imparted him to his Apostles and to the Church; he has been operative in the church, sanctifying and encouraging, since Pentecost Sunday.

It used to be said that the Holy Spirit was the “forgotten Person” of the Trinity. The reason for this was that most of the prayers of the Church are directed to either the Father or the Son, Also, the faithful seemed to prayer primarily to Jesus or to the Father. Since Vatican Council II there has been a significant change in this regard. More and more Catholics are speaking about the Holy Spirit, praying to him and calling upon him for gifts and illumination. At this period in the history of the Church, the Holy Spirit has come into his own. No longer can be he referred to as the “forgotten Person” of the Blessed Trinity.

Come, Holy Spirit, and fill the hearts of the faithful.

See the index of chapters from Fundamentals of Catholicism which have been reprinted to CERC here.

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Acknowledgement

Kenneth Baker, S.J. "Worship of the Holy Spirit." In Fundamentals of Catholicism Vol. 1 Chapter

32

(San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1995),

95-97.

This article reprinted with permission from Father Kenneth Baker, S.J.

The Author

bakerbaker1Father Kenneth Baker, S.J., assumed editorship of Homiletic & Pastoral Review in April 1971 and remained in this position for almost forty years. In 1983 he published a three-volume explanation of the faith called Fundamentals of Catholicism Vol. 1, Creed and Commandments; Vol. 2, God, Trinity, Creation, Christ, Mary; and Vol. 3, Grace, the Church, the Sacraments, Eschatology

Copyright © 1995 Kenneth Baker, S.J.
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