The Mission of the Holy Spirit

St. Cyril of Alexandria (378-444) once wrote: “After Christ had completed His mission on earth, it still remained necessary for us to become sharers in the divine nature of the Word; i.e., we had to give up our own life and be so transformed that we would begin to live an entirely new kind of life that would be pleasing to God. This was something we could do only by sharing in the Holy Spirit.”  

It seemed that as long as Jesus Christ was with His disciples in the flesh, they possessed every blessing in Him. However, Christ had to depart and the Holy Spirit had to come, in order that Christ can be united to His disciples through the Holy Spirit, and so that Christ can dwell in their hearts through faith. It is only in this way, that we can grow in holiness and, through our possession of the all-powerful Spirit, fortify us invincibly against the wiles of the devil and the assaults of men. (cf. St. Cyril of Alexandria’s commentary on the Gospel of John, Lib. 10: 74, 434).

The Holy Spirit changes those in whom He comes to dwell; He transforms them, so that they begin to live a completely new kind of life. With the Spirit dwelling within them, it is quite possible for people who seek earthly things to be transformed into people who seek the things of heaven; for people who live in fear and anxiety to be transformed into people with courage and trust in God; and for people who are accustomed to do their own will to be transformed into people who discern and follow God’s will. The spiritual strength that we receive from the Holy Spirit enables us to hold firmly to the love of Christ. How true it is that Jesus said to His disciples, “It is better for you that I go. For if I do not go, the Advocate will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.” (John 16:7)

The Holy Spirit dwells not only in individual hearts of the faithful, but also in the Church. He leads the Church into all truth and gives the Church unity in communion and in service. He endows the Church with different hierarchical and charismatic gifts, so that the Church can be enriched with its fruits. The Holy Spirit not only sanctifies and guides God’s people by the sacraments and the ministries, and enriches them with virtues, He also distributes special graces among the faithful of every state of life, assigning His gifts to each as He chooses. By means of these special gifts, He equips them and makes them eager for various activities and responsibilities that benefit the Church in its renewal and its increase. (cf. Lumen Gentium #4, 12)