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Chapter XI from
The Sermon-Conferences of St. Thomas Aquinas
On the Apostles' Creed
Translated from the Leonine Edition and edited and introduced by
Nicholas Ayo, C.S.C.
Copyright 1988 by University of Notre Dame Press, All Rights Reserved.
Used with the permission of The University of Notre Dame Press.
I believe in the Holy Spirit.


Just as the word of a human being is said to be the concept of the intellect, so the Word of God is the Son of God.  But, whenever anyone has a dead word, then they think about what they ought to do, yet the will to do it is not present in them.  Similarly, when anyone believes but does not practice, their faith is said to be dead.  The word of God, however, is alive: “The word of God is living and potent, [more penetrating than any double-edged sword, probing even to the separation of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, a discerner of the thoughts and intentions of the heart]” (Heb. [4:12]).  Therefore it must be that God possesses goodwill and love from within.  Augustine writes in “De Trinitate”: [47] “The word that we are trying to suggest is an intimate knowing together with love.”


Just as the Word [of God] is the Son of God, so the love of God is the Holy Spirit.  Thus it is that a man or woman has the Holy Spirit when he or she loves God.  Paul writes: “[But hope is not undone, because] the love of God is poured out [in our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who is given to us]” and so forth [Rom. 5:5].  And just as the Spirit of God is nothing other than the love in which God loves himself and us, so the Holy Spirit dwells in us when we love God and neighbor.


There were some [persons] however, who expressed bad thinking about the Holy Spirit.  They said the Spirit was a creature, was less than the Father and the Son, and was a minister of God.  Therefore, to remove this error, the holy fathers [of the Council of Constantinople] added five phrases about the Holy Spirit in the other symbol [the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed].


(1) Although other spirits may exist, that is to say, angels, who are but ministers of God according to Paul: “Are they not all ministering spirits [sent in service on account of those who will take hold of the inheritance of salvation]” and so forth [Heb. 1:14].  Nevertheless, the Holy Spirit is Lord.  Thus it remains that “where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom” [2 Cor. 3:17].  The reason is that the Holy Spirit takes away fear of the world and enables [us] to love God: “The Lord is Spirit” and so forth [2 Cor. 3:17].  Thus we read [in the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed] “I believe in the Holy Spirit, Lord.”


(2) The life of the soul lies in its union with God, inasmuch as God is the life of the soul.  The Holy Spirit is united to God through love, because the Holy Spirit is the love of God, and therefore gives life: “It is the Spirit that gives life; [the flesh profits not at all]” and so forth (John [6:64]).  Thus we read [in the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed] “and life-giver.”


(3) The Holy Spirit is of the same substance with the Father and Son, because just as the Son is the Word of the Father, so the Holy Spirit is the love of the Father and Son, and thus proceeds from them both.  Just as the Word of God is of the same substance with the Father, so the love [of God is of the same substance] with the Father and Son.  And thus we read [in the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed] “Who proceeds from the Father and the Son.”  Therefore it is clear that the Holy Spirit is not a creature.


(4) The Holy Spirit is equal to the Father and the Son in regard to worship: “We are the true circumcision [who serve God in the spirit, and glory in Christ Jesus, and who do not put their trust in the flesh]” and so forth (Eph. [Phil. 3:3]).  And thus we read [in the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed] “Who with the Father and Son is likewise adored.”


(5) The Holy Spirit is shown to be equal to God because the prophets spoke in the Spirit.  Thus if the Holy Spirit were not God, it would not be said that the prophets spoke in God.  But Peter so says: “[For prophecy never came about by human will, but holy people,] inspired by the Holy Spirit, [spoke of God]” and so forth [2 Pet. 1:21].  And in Isaiah: “[Draw near to me and listen.  From the beginning I have not spoken in secret; from the time before it came to be, I was there;] and now the Lord God and his Spirit sent me” [48:16].  Thus we read [in the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed] “Who spoke through the prophets.”


By this two errors are overcome: that is to say, (1) the Manicheans who said that the Old Testament was not from a good God.  But this is false, because the Holy Spirit spoke through the prophets.  Similarly, (2) Priscilla and Montanus,[48] who said that the prophets did not speak in the Holy Spirit, but they were more or less out of their minds [entranced].


Manifold fruit befalls us from the Holy Spirit.  (1) The Spirit cleanses from sins.  The reason is that remaking belongs to the one who first made.  The soul, however, is created through the Holy Spirit, because God made everything through him. [49] Indeed, in loving his own goodness God created everything: “You love all things [that be, and nothing of what you have made do you hate]” and so forth (Wis. [11:25]).  And [Pseudo-] Dionysius [50] writes: “Divine love did not permit him to be without issue.”  Therefore, the hearts of men destroyed by sin should be remade by the Holy Spirit: “Send forth your Spirit and they will be created; [and you will renew the face of the earth]” and so forth (Ps. [103:30]).  No wonder the Holy Spirit cleanses [from sins], because all sins are taken away through love: “[Hatred excites strife, but] charity manages all offenses” [Prov. [10:12]). [51]


(2) The Holy Spirit enlightens the intellect, because everything we know comes by the Holy Spirit: “The Paraclete, the Holy Spirit, [whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you everything, and prompt you in everything whatsoever that I shall have said to you]” and so forth (John [14:26]).  And similarly: “[And you who have received anointing from him, may it abide in you; and you have no need that someone should teach you, since] his anointing will teach you all things.” [1 John 2:27].


(3) The Holy Spirit brings us to keep the commandments.  No one can keep the commandments of God unless he love God: “If anyone loves me, [they will keep my commandment, and then my Father will love them, and we will come to them, and make our dwelling with them]” and so forth (John [14:23]).  However, the Holy Spirit enables us to love God: “[I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in your breast;] and I will take away the heart of stone [from your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh.  And I will put my Spirit in your breast]” and so forth (Is.  [Ezek. 36:26-27]).


(4) The Holy Spirit confirms [our] hope of eternal life, because the Spirit is like a token of that inheritance.  Paul writes: “You have been sealed with the [promised] Holy Spirit, who is the pledge [of our inheritance, until we take possession, in the praise of his glory]” and so forth [Eph. 1:13-14].  Indeed, the Spirit is, as it were, the guarantor of eternal life.  The reason is because eternal life is due to a human being insofar as he or she has been made a child of God.  This comes about, however, through being made like to Christ.  People are made like to Christ through having the Spirit of Christ, which is the Holy Spirit: “You have not received the spirit of servitude [again in fear, but rather you have received the spirit of adoption of children, in which we cry out: Abba, Father]” and so forth (Gal. [Rom. 8:15]).  Similarly, “Because you are children of God, God sent [the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying out: Abba, Father]” and so forth [Gal. 4:6].


(5) The Holy Spirit counsels [us] in [our] doubts about what may be the will of God: “Who has ears, [let him hear] what the Spirit [says to the Churches: I will give to him who conquers to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of my God]” and so forth (Apoc.  [2:7]).  And in Isaiah: “[In the morning he awakens, he awakens hearing in me,] that I might hear him as if taught” and so forth [50:4].






[47]  "De Trinitate" IX, 10: "Verbum est igitur, quod nunc discernere ac insinuare volumus, cum amore notitia." PL 42:969.  The Leonine edition direct quotation reads: "Verbum quod insinuare intendimus com amore notitia est."


[48]  Priscilla and Montanus: second-century illuminati who claimed special charismatic gifts of the Spirit.  NCE 9:1078.


[49]  God also created everything through Christ.  In the Trinity, the external work attributed to one Person is the work of all three Persons in reality.


[50]  "De Divinis Nominibus," chapter IV, section 11.  The Latin gives a direct quotation.  See "On Divine Names" in The Works of Dionysius the Ariopagite, trans. John Parker (Merrick, N.Y.: Richwood Pub. Co. 1976), p. 45.


[51]  After the quote from Proverbs, the Mandonnet text adds two very similar and reenforcing quotations: (1) the woman who washed the feet of Jesus with her tears and was told "her many sins are forgiven because she loved much" (Luke 7:47), and (2) "Charity covers a multitude of sins" (1 Pet. 4:8).