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THE OPERATION OF THE HOLY GHOST

1. Common humanity. The Holy Ghost has been present in creation since He established it and has always abided in the imminent creation, sanctifying, controlling, and ordering it. The Holy Ghost operates in His grace in the creation of every human being and endows every human being with his human soul, making each man the Image and Likeness of God. He, with the Father and the only-begotten Son/Logos/Word, continually loves, creates, governs, sustains, and gives life to the universe, including all living things, and especially human beings. God the Holy Ghost is the Person, source, and power Who gives life to all things, to all men: He is the ‘Lord and Giver of Life’ as the Creed declares. It is the Holy Spirit Who infuses divine aspirations, guidance, and knowledge into the minds and hearts of all men and Who leads all men to seek the true and living God. God the Holy Spirit has conferred all divine revelation in the history of the world and particularly to the covenant people of Israel, has inspired all of the Old Testament covenants, prophets, and writings, and has led and still leads the heathen to contemplate the truth about God. The Holy Ghost indwells all human beings only in the above sense, as Creator Spirit, as Life-Giver, as Wisdom – we call this ministry and operation of the Holy Ghost prevenient grace, ‘grace that goes before.’ The Holy Ghost leads and guides into all truth – He functions in common humanity to persuade men to enter into the Life of Jesus Christ.

2. The Church. The Holy Ghost indwells the crucified and risen Body of Christ, the Church, in a unique and supreme way: Christians possess the Holy Ghost in the fullness of His Person, in the fullness of His sevenfold Gift, in a way different from the common mass of humanity. The Spirit raised Jesus Christ from the dead, and the Spirit emanates from the risen and glorified Body of Jesus. It is only through the risen Body of Christ that the Holy Ghost infuses His full life, gifts, virtue, and power into the members of that Body, the new and renewed humanity, the new human race, the New Creation, which is the Church. The Holy Ghost is given for the remission of sins and regeneration, the New Life in Christ, in Holy Baptism; the Holy Ghost is given for strengthening and spiritual perfection in Holy Confirmation; the Holy Ghost is outpoured upon and within the Holy Gifts and upon and within us in the Holy Eucharist, changing the bread and wine into the True Body and Blood of Christ and us into the mystical Body. The Spirit is communicated sacramentally to those who are grafted into Christ. The Church is now the unique Home and Sphere of the Holy Ghost and of all grace. Whereas common humanity continues to receive the Holy Ghost for prevenient grace, the living members of the Body of Christ now receive the Holy Ghost in His fullness as sanctifying grace – grace to make us one with the Holy Trinity and to divinise us by entering us into the life of God – theosis – God-likeness, mutual indwelling, perichoresis, coinherence. Sanctifying grace, salvation, the Holy Ghost as Sanctifier, is received exclusively in the Church. Extra ecclesiam non salus est. The Spirit dwells in us only because we are members of that Body of Christ in Whom the Spirit dwells. ‘In the One Body we are all made to drink of One Spirit.’

The indwelling of the Holy Ghost is complete and entire only within the Church, which is His Temple and dwelling-place, the Visible Sign and Sacrament of the Spirit. Wherever the Church is, there in covenant and promise is the Holy Spirit. Now uniquely, through the Church, the Holy Ghost sanctifies and consecrates the whole creation, and draws all men to saving communion with Jesus Christ in His mystical Body. What the Spirit does even now through the Church will finally enter into its fulfillment on the Last Day, wherein Christ completes the redemption of the universe and the Kingdom of God is fully realised. The Spirit is in the Church as the ‘down payment’ for the final glorification of the cosmos in Christ. ‘The Spirit is in the Church and the Church is in the Spirit.’ ‘The Church is the place where the Spirit flourishes.’ The Church is the Spirit-possessed Body of Christ. (Saint Irenaeus of Lyons). In fidelity to the ancient Tradition of the Church, we can only say where this Church, this communio sanctorum, is: we cannot say with certitude where it is not. We know for certain that the Church is found in those communions which bear the Four Notes of the Church, unity, holiness, apostolicity, and catholicity, and the Four Essentials of the New Testament Church, the canonical Holy Scriptures, the Three Great Creeds, the Seven Sacraments, and the Apostolic Succession of Faith and Order.

In summary, the Holy Ghost creates, loves, and sustains all human beings but only indwells in a salvific way those who are united to Christ in Holy Baptism, and are thus members of His mystical Body, and who seek to cooperate with Him for sanctification and salvation. Universalism, or the salvation of the whole of mankind without reference to one’s moral state, sometimes described as apocatastasis, is a heresy. Not everyone will be saved because not everyone will desire to be saved. We may rightly hope and pray for the salvation of all, but some men will inevitably and finally refuse the grace of salvation – as we are informed in Scripture.

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