The Holy Spirit's Indwelling
|The Holy Spirit's Indwelling
Every Christian is indwelt by the Spirit, but not every Christian is infallible, but we must distinguish the way the Holy Spirit is indwelling in the Church from the conditions in which He dwells within the individual Christian, for the individual receives the Holy Spirit in baptism ("Repent, be baptized and you will receive the Holy Spirit." Acts) The presence of the Holy Spirit in the baptized is according to the levels of being of the receiver: there is the substance of his being called the soul; his power of mind and will; his emotions, and body.
At baptism the individual receives what is in Christ by a sharing in divine life within the substance of his soul (like a light within a crystal object) which, of course, is not normally experienced. There is also an infusion of the power to believe in the mind, the power to hope and love God in the will, as well as other infused virtues and gifts in the will as real but latent powers of acting. At the same time, the wounds of original sin remain in the mind, will, emotions and body (but not in the soul).
This means that for a Christian to be completely divinized or sanctified he needs to cooperate and choose to utilize what he has received by the grace of Baptism. God gives external and internal helps (graces) to implement what has been received. In this indwelling of the Holy Spirit, the substance of the soul is made the actual temple of the Trinity (for the Holy Spirit is never without the Other Two). This Presence as in the Temple (every baptized soul is like the Holy of Holies) can be lost in the individual through voluntary serious sin which breaks the friendship between God and man. When that happens the Trinity withdraws along with Charity and the other gifts; but ineffective faith and hope remain (unless the particular sin(s) that drive the Trinity away are sins against those virtues). Thus not every Christian has the Holy Spirit (although they ought to).
This absence of the Light of the Trinity can be regained through "the second baptism", the Sacrament of Penance through the absolution of Christ's priest. Of those Christians who are in the state of grace through baptism (which is of three sorts: Sacrament, blood, desire), they will have the truth of the Church's faith, if they think with the Church, since it is a faith of the Church that they share in, not their own private faith, the revelation being been given to the Church at Pentecost, not to isolated individuals.
This grace of the Indwelling Trinity is a real indwelling (a Holy of Holies) which is a radical sanctification (justification) in the being and powers of the soul, which nevertheless must grow and radiate through the whole of the person through the active cooperation of the person. Thus full sanctification is ALSO a process of growth whereby, using the gifts he has received, he battles the results and tendencies of original sin and overcomes them through grace. The result is a saint.
Saints tend not to err because they think with the Church and they are aware of their relationship to Christ coming to them through the Body of the Church into which they have been made a member; and because they also have so cooperated with the Grace that is within them as to overcome a great deal of the tendency to sin still remaining from Adam's sin, so as not to make the sort of errors that come from self-will and pride, intemperance and passion. But there is no guarantee that the saint will not make an intellectual error or mistake (he will never be a formal heretic though, since he will not ever choose his own judgment against the judgment of the Church).
This is the importance of the Fathers of the Church: they were all holy persons, whom the Church recognizes as such, who thought with the Church and articulated the Church's faith and the implications and consequences of that faith in the early period by a special charism of 'faith' and understanding. These same charisms are exercised by later saints who are called Doctors of the Church, i.e., a special sort of saint whom God raises up in various ages to witness to the faith of the Church. Now it is especially when all these Fathers and Doctors of the Church agree on a point of doctrine that they are confirmatory witnesses of the Faith of the Church which is prime recipient of revelation (Pentecost). And it is the judgment of the Church recognizing these Fathers and Doctors as mouthpieces of her own faith that makes them so valuable.
Returning to the principle of Divine Indwelling in the Church and the individual member of the Church, since the Church as a whole has received a permanent bond with her Head in the Grace of Pentecost which she can not lose she has also received the gift of unerringly understanding that permanent union with her head in the Spirit. But since the individual, baptized into Christ by being incorporated into the Church, can lose that Indwelling Reality, the understanding of that Indwelling Mystery is not infallibly given to the individual.
Thus any individual baptized will be infallible in his understanding of the faith only when he adheres to the infallible teaching of the Church; should he depart from the faith of the Church, or the Church's understanding of the Divine Christ Mystery, whether through sin (self-will, pride of mind, passions interferring with purity of mind, etc.) or through mistake (ignorance, erroneous judgment) he will not share in the gift of infallibility the Church enjoys. Thus is is because the individual can lose the Holy Spirit through sin, that he is not given a permanent grace of either indefectibility or infallibility; and it is because the Church can not lose her union with her Savior by the permanent Indwelling of the Holy Spirit that she has the gift of infallibility and indefectibility. The individual is infallible in faith only on the condition that he agrees with the Church's faith and understanding of the faith.by Padro
Back to Apologetics Articles
Back to Home Page
About | Apologetics | Philosophy | Spirituality | Books | Audio | Links