The Indwelling of the Holy Spirit: A Gift of Love and Union with God
Updated: May 14
When we receive grace from God, the entire Trinity indwells in our soul. This, however, is appropriated in a special way to the Holy Spirit. This is not a transitory visit like someone coming to our home and then returning to his own. Rather, the Spirit is infinite love who desires union with us. He establishes a permanent place in our soul; in intimate union with us. This union is a work of supreme love because God loves us.
The first gift of love is love itself. All the other gifts of grace proceed from the gift of love. This Gift is the Spirit himself. He gives himself to us and offers us his friendship. This love of friendship is mutual: God loves us and pours the likeness of Himself into us so we can return that love. This is the basic reason that God dwells in us and remains with us. God is love and his presence in our soul allows us to love.
This guest is not idle. From His love, He illuminates our mind with gifts of wisdom, understanding, counsel, and knowledge. He fills our will with piety. He orders our sensitive appetites with fortitude and fear of the LORD. He uses the gifts to move us and to direct us in sanctity. He uses these gifts to teach us, not only by word, but by pouring Himself into us. This is the fruit of love and the happy consequence of our union with Him. He prepares us to receive His motion which is vital to the spiritual life.
We are sons by grace. These precious gifts enable us to participate in the divine nature. They bring us to intimate union with our Creator. They incorporate us with Christ, transforming us to be like the Son and filling our spirit with charity. On this account, the Trinity, Father, Son, and Spirit, become ours in an ineffable way. We are sons and heirs because God loves us and joins Himself to us. The Holy Spirit is the soul of our soul.
The essence of love is in possessing and being possessed. We both give ourselves to the beloved and receive the beloved who returns that love by giving herself in return. The Father gave us his Son because He loved us. Love must always give of itself, thus, the Holy Spirit is the gift of God. In divine love, the one loved must be possessed. This is the root of our intimacy with God who assimilates us to the Holy Spirit by charity.
This does not, of course, mean that we possess the Holy Spirit alone. Rather, the Father, Son, and Spirit are inseparable. One cannot possess one without possessing the others. By the gift of grace, the soul can enjoy the divine person. The Spirit is given to us as a gift which implies an aptitude for being given. He does not live with us but in us. He gives Himself to us so that we may enjoy Him.
We can only be said to possess that which we can freely use or enjoy. In this way, a divine person can only be possessed by a rational creature (which has the attributes of mind and will). All other creatures can be moved by divine will, but not enjoy Him in this manner. The rational creature alone can possess Him, but not by his own power. Rather, it must be given to Him, and this gift is grace: the Holy Spirit indwelling in our soul and creating charity in us.
To enjoy the Spirit is love. To enjoy the Word is to know. Yet, these are intimately bound together because the divine Persons are inseparable. Intimate knowledge and love are bound together. Their enjoyment brings us the joy of the Father. This is the work of the Holy Spirit in souls. He brings us to maturity and the plentitude of felicity.
It is union, perfection, and sanctity to be possessed by the Holy Spirit. In turn, we possess Him for love is both. The love between God and the soul is mutual. This is the core of spiritual life. We know God with intimate and true knowledge and love Him profoundly.