Today’s Catechism sections discuss the Holy Spirit in creation, the Promises, theophanies, and the Law. Supporting material comes from St. Ambrose’s “On the Holy Spirit”.

III. God's Spirit and Word in the Time of the Promises

702 From the beginning until "the fullness of time,"60 the joint mission of the Father's Word and Spirit remains hidden, but it is at work. God's Spirit prepares for the time of the Messiah. Neither is fully revealed but both are already promised, to be watched for and welcomed at their manifestation. So, for this reason, when the Church reads the Old Testament, she searches there for what the Spirit, "who has spoken through the prophets," wants to tell us about Christ.61

By "prophets" the faith of the Church here understands all whom the Holy Spirit inspired in the composition of the sacred books, both of the Old and the New Testaments. Jewish tradition distinguishes first the Law (the five first books or Pentateuch), then the Prophets (our historical and prophetic books) and finally the Writings (especially the wisdom literature, in particular the Psalms).62

In creation

703 The Word of God and his Breath are at the origin of the being and life of every creature:63

It belongs to the Holy Spirit to rule, sanctify, and animate creation, for he is God, consubstantial with the Father and the Son.... Power over life pertains to the Spirit, for being God he preserves creation in the Father through the Son.64

704 "God fashioned man with his own hands [that is, the Son and the Holy Spirit] and impressed his own form on the flesh he had fashioned, in such a way that even what was visible might bear the divine form."65

The Spirit of the promise

705 Disfigured by sin and death, man remains "in the image of God," in the image of the Son, but is deprived "of the glory of God,"66 of his "likeness." the promise made to Abraham inaugurates the economy of salvation, at the culmination of which the Son himself will assume that "image"67 and restore it in the Father's "likeness" by giving it again its Glory, the Spirit who is "the giver of life."

706 Against all human hope, God promises descendants to Abraham, as the fruit of faith and of the power of the Holy Spirit.68 In Abraham's progeny all the nations of the earth will be blessed. This progeny will be Christ himself,69 in whom the outpouring of the Holy Spirit will "gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad."70 God commits himself by his own solemn oath to giving his beloved Son and "the promised Holy Spirit . . . [who is] the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it."71

In Theophanies and the Law

707 Theophanies (manifestations of God) light up the way of the promise, from the patriarchs to Moses and from Joshua to the visions that inaugurated the missions of the great prophets. Christian tradition has always recognized that God's Word allowed himself to be seen and heard in these theophanies, in which the cloud of the Holy Spirit both revealed him and concealed him in its shadow.

708 This divine pedagogy appears especially in the gift of the Law.72 God gave the letter of the Law as a "pedagogue" to lead his people towards Christ.73 But the Law's powerlessness to save man deprived of the divine "likeness," along with the growing awareness of sin that it imparts,74 enkindles a desire for the Holy Spirit. The lamentations of the Psalms bear witness to this.

St. Ambrose explains the role of the Holy Spirit in Creation in his work, “On the Holy Spirit” (Book II, Chapter V).

32. But who can doubt that the Holy Spirit gives life to all things; since both He, as the Father and the Son, is the Creator of all things; and the Almighty Father is understood to have done nothing without the Holy Spirit; and since also in the beginning of the creation the Spirit moved upon the water.

33. So when the Spirit was moving upon the water, the creation was without grace; but after this world being created underwent the operation of the Spirit, it gained all the beauty of that grace, wherewith the world is illuminated. And that the grace of the universe cannot abide without the Holy Spirit the prophet declared when he said: You will take away Your Spirit, and they will fail and be turned again into their dust. Send forth Your Spirit, and they shall be made, and You will renew all the face of the earth. Not only, then, did he teach that no creature can stand without the Holy Spirit, but also that the Spirit is the Creator of the whole creation.

34. And who can deny that the creation of the earth is the work of the Holy Spirit, Whose work it is that it is renewed? For if they desire to deny that it was created by the Spirit, since they cannot deny that it must be renewed by the Spirit, they who desire to sever the Persons must maintain that the operation of the Holy Spirit is superior to that of the Father and the Son, which is far from the truth; for there is no doubt that the restored earth is better than it was created. Or if at first, without the operation of the Holy Spirit, the Father and the Son made the earth, but the operation of the Holy Spirit was joined on afterwards, it will seem that that which was made required His aid, which was then added. But far be it from any one to think this, namely, that the divine work should be believed to have a change in the Creator, an error brought in by Manicheus.


60 ⇒ Gal 4:4.
61 Cf. ⇒ 2 Cor 3:14; ⇒ Jn 5:39, ⇒ 46.
62 Cf. ⇒ Lk 24:44.
63 Cf. ⇒ Pss 33:6; ⇒ 104:30; ⇒ Gen 1:2; ⇒ 2:7; ⇒ Eccl 3:20-21; ⇒ Ezek 37:10.
64 Byzantine liturgy, Sundays of the second mode, Troparion of Morning Prayer.
65 St. Irenaeus, Dem ap. 11: SCh 62, 48-49.
66 ⇒ Rom 3:23.
67 Cf. ⇒ Jn 1:14; ⇒ Phil 2:7.
68 Cf. ⇒ Gen 18:1-15; ⇒ Lk 1:26-38. ⇒ 54-55; ⇒ Jn 1:12-13; ⇒ Rom 4:16-21.
69 Cf. ⇒ Gen 12:3; ⇒ Gal 3:16.
70 Cf. In 11:52.
71 ⇒ Eph 1:13-14; cf. ⇒ Gen 22:17-19; ⇒ Lk 1:73; ⇒ Jn 3:16; ⇒ Rom 8:32; ⇒ Gal 3:14.
72 Cf. ⇒ Ex 19- ⇒ 20; ⇒ Deut 1-11; ⇒ 29-30.
73 ⇒ Gal 3:24.
74 Cf. ⇒ Rom 3:20.