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Gift of the Holy Spirit and the Divine Indwelling

October 19, 2017 by  
Filed under Avila Institute, Holy Spirit, Holy Trinity, Kristin Aebli

The Gift of the Holy Spirit and the Divine Indwelling

The Indwelling of the Holy Spirit

“St. Paul teaches that the Holy Spirit directs us towards the great values of love, joy, communion, and hope: our task is to experience them every day.” –Pope Benedict XVI

The greatest gift God has favored us with is the love of Christ, a love expressed in His death on the cross. Through this love, He remains with His Church to the end of the world. In order to do that, He gives us the Holy Spirit in the sacrament of baptism, thus making us children of God and endowing us with the greatest dignity we could ever have.* As God's children, the Holy Spirit fills us up, completes us and even prays within us (cf Bl. Paul VI).* This is an incredible gift!

But wait! Who is the Holy Spirit? How are Christians able to have the God of the universe, as the third Person of the Trinity, residing within them? These are mysteries worth investigating through study and discovery. Rev. William G. Most gives insight on the indwelling of the Holy Ghost as he states, “We say a Spirit is present wherever it causes an effect. In the soul, the Holy Spirit transforms it, making it basically capable of taking in, after death, the infinite streams of knowledge and love that flow within the Holy Trinity. Thus we are really ‘sharers in the divine nature' (2 Peter 1:4). This is a dignity so great that any earthly honor is insignificant beside it.”** The Holy Spirit speaks the truth, He is personal, He convicts us of sin,*** and He is the Lord, Giver of Life.****

So, what does indwelling even mean? Indwelling is the supernatural “presence of the Holy Spirit in a person who is in the state of grace.”***** This is a manifestation of divine love from God to humanity. Christians are temples of the living God when they choose to cooperate with grace. St. Augustine says, “Although God is everywhere wholly present, he does not dwell in everyone. It is not possible to say to all what the Apostle says: ‘Know you not that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?' He that is everywhere does not dwell in all, and he does not dwell equally in those in whom he does dwell.”****** Therefore, unfortunately, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit can be lost when a person is not in friendship with God in a state of grace, yet can be regained. The intimacy with God and the human soul produces an extraordinary knowledge and love for God. “It is the indwelling Trinity, God himself, the uncreated triune God living in our souls that makes it possible for us through our knowledge and love, to be happy in a way that no one else has a claim to except one in whom God dwells by his uncreated presence of the Holy Trinity” (cf Father John A. Hardon******).

Saint Paul explains how the Holy Ghost is involved in the Christian's life:

“The Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words. And he who searches the hearts of men knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God” (Romans 8:26-27).

Besides the visible missions in which the Son and the Holy Spirit are historically manifest, there are invisible, spiritual missions in which the Word of the Father and the Fire of God's Love are present to the soul in always new and more profound ways. Saint Thomas Aquinas, Pope John Paul II, and Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity help the Church understand this mystery through their theological explanations, pastoral applications, and doctrinal descriptions.

“And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor, to be with you for ever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive because it neither sees him nor knows him; you know him, for he dwells with you, and will be in you” (John 14:16-17).


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Art for this post on the gift of the Holy Spirit and the Divine Indwelling: Detail of La Sainte Trinite (The Holy Trinity), Jean Bourdichon, 1503-1508, PD-US author's life plus 100 years or less, Wikimedia Commons.

***Tim Staples in

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About Kristin Aebli

Kristin Aebli is the Event Coordinator and Marketing Assistant at the Avila Foundation, parent organization of, the Avila Institute for Spiritual Formation, and Divine Intimacy Radio. Receiving the position was providential and in God’s perfect timing. Although cradle Catholic, in college she reverted and became confirmed in the Church. Kristin graduated with a degree in Communications from Samford University and she still enjoys ministering to college students through the Samford Catholic Student Association. Kristin is happy to be a part of the Firelight college ministry, is involved with Apostoli Viae and also a Young Professionals Bible study. For fun, Kristin enjoys discussing theology with friends, recording her podcast "Catholic After Dark", dancing, singing, cooking, writing and painting. She hopes to continue growing in her faith through the sacraments and involvement with faithful community.

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