Come Holy Spirit How does the holy spirit guide and influence the church?

How does the Holy Spirit guide and influence the church?

First influence of the Holy Spirit

"What the soul is to the human body, the Holy Spirit is to the Body of Christ, which is the Church." -St. Augustine (Sermo 267)

Under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, Peter and the other Apostles proclaimed the kerygma, or the essential teachings about Christ. This teaching includes the following:

God loves the world and became incarnate.

Jesus suffered for the sins of humankind, rose from the dead, and is alive.

Jesus is Savior and Redeemer.”

(“Jesus and the Church.” v1.0. Ave Maria Press, Inc., 2015. iBooks.)

This teaching about Christ in the kerygma continues to be taught today throughout the catholic faith and is also a core belief of many other Christian denominations. However, Peter and the other apostles would have never even begun preaching this idea had they not been under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, the Holy Spirit has been influencing, and continues to influence, the teachings and actions of the church.

There are eight kerygmatic sermons listed by St. Luke’s in the Acts of the Apostles. Five are by St. Peter, and three by St. Paul, all influenced by the Holy Spirit.

("What Do The"Kerygmatic"Sermons of Acts Have to Teach Us about the New Evangelization?" Community in Mission. N.p., 09 June 2015. Web. 25 Jan. 2017.)

"No one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God." The Spirit who "has spoken through the prophets" makes us hear the Father's Word, but we do not hear the Spirit himself. We know him only in the movement by which he reveals the Word to us and disposes us to welcome him in faith. "The world cannot receive him, because it neither sees him nor knows him," while those who believe in Christ know the Spirit because it dwells with them (CCC 687).

Second influence of the Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit continues to work in the lives and community of believers today. This is evident in the continued existence of the Church and the continued growth and spread of the Good News, the gospel, throughout the world. Just like in the time of the early Church all the way to the present day, "The Holy Spirit is indeed the principal agent of the Church's mission" (Romans, 21). The action of the Spirit as Evangelizer has resulted in various assemblies of the Church. (The Second Vatican Council and the Special Assembly of Bishops for Africa)

“Another image is that the Church is a Temple, home for the Holy Spirit (CCC, 797–801). The Holy Spirit lives in the Church as if in a Temple. The Holy Spirit guides the Church and unites her in fellowship and ministry. Both of these images foretaste the Church’s intimate connection to the Risen Lord. Jesus is the head of the Body. ”

(“Jesus and the Church.” v1.0. Ave Maria Press, Inc., 2015. iBooks.)

We are not only witnesses but also beneficiaries of this action of the Holy Spirit as we can see from the impressive growth and spread of the Church, in the increase of positions to the priestly and religious life, in the growing involvement of our Local Church in the missionary activity of foreign lands, and in the vigour and commitment to their faith.

("The Holy See - Vatican Web Site." The Holy See - Vatican Web Site. Vatican, n.d. Web. 24 Jan. 2017.)

Contemporary examples of how the Holy Spirit guides and influences the church:

It is the divine energy of the Holy Spirit that empowers the Church to live as the Body of Christ. The Spirit continues to be present in:

Sacred Scripture; Sacred Tradition; the Magisterium, which he assists; the liturgy; prayer, where he intercedes; the gifts and ministries by which the Church is built up; the signs of apostolic and missionary life; and the witness of saints through whom he shows his holiness and continues the work of Salvation.

(CCC, 688)


“When Peter was asked by his fellow Jews what they should do, he replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38). ”

(“Jesus and the Church.” v1.0. Ave Maria Press, Inc., 2015. iBooks.)

The tradition of baptism has long existed in the church, following the tradition of Jesus being baptized in the Jordan River by John the Baptist. Believers complete this church tradition to symbolize that they are becoming part of the church community and are establishing their commitment. This commitment shows that the person being baptized is submissive to the Holy Spirit and Jesus Christ as well as believes that “baptism by immersion symbolizes the submission to Jesus Christ and identification with His death and resurrection," recognizing the core beliefs curated by the Holy Spirit in the form of the kerygma.

“Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.” (Romans 6:3-4)

This quote from Romans illustrates that plunging someone under water to be baptized symbolizes the burial of Christ, coming up out of the water symbolizes the resurrection and the baptized person’s new life in Christ and the Holy Spirit.

Sacred Scripture

Those divinely revealed realities which are contained and presented in Sacred Scripture have been committed to writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. The Church, relying on the belief of the Apostles, recognizes that the books of the Old and New Testaments are entirely sacred and canonical because they were written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and therefore have God as their author and have been handed on to the Church. In composing the sacred books, God chose men and while employed by Him they made use of their powers and abilities, so that with Him acting through them, they consigned to writing everything and only those things which He wanted.

Therefore, since everything written by the inspired authors must be held as directed by the Holy Spirit. The books of Scripture must be acknowledged as teaching solidly, faithfully and without error that truth which God wanted put into sacred writings for the sake of salvation. Therefore "all Scripture is divinely inspired and has its use for teaching the truth and refuting error, so that the man who belongs to God may be efficient and equipped for good work of every kind" (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

("Dei Verbum." Dei Verbum. Vatican Archive, n.d. Web. 24 Jan. 2017.)

The Sacraments of Reconciliation and Eucharist

“The Holy Spirit is active in the Sacraments of Reconciliation and Eucharist. When he appeared to the Apostles on the evening of Easter, Jesus breathed upon them and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained’ (John 20:22-23). As the Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us, "The Church is the Body of Christ. Through the Spirit and his action in the sacraments, above all the Eucharist, Christ, who once was dead and is now risen, establishes the community of believers as his own Body." The priest at every Mass prays the Epiclesis in which he calls for the Holy Spirit, to change the substance without affecting the physical appearances of bread and wine, offering the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ. St. John, "You ask how the bread becomes the Body of Christ, and the wine . . . the Blood of Christ I shall tell you: the Holy Spirit comes upon them and accomplishes what surpasses every word and thought . . . Let it be enough for you to understand that it is by the Holy Spirit, through and in himself, took flesh."

("The Holy Spirit in the Life of the Church." Catholic Faith and Reason. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Jan. 2017.)

How the Holy Spirit continues the work of Jesus and his ministry:

"Pentecost was a traditional Jewish harvest feast that took place fifty days after Passover. The Acts of the Apostles records that the Apostles, Mary, and some other disciples were gathered in prayer and waiting in an upper room in Jerusalem. The room filled with sounds like a violent wind. Acts describes how the Holy Spirit descended on those in the room in the form of “tongues of fire.” Immediately, being “filled with the Holy Spirit” (Act 2:4), the Apostles, especially Peter, began speaking about Jesus to all the Jews who were in the city from many regions of the Roman Empire. Even though the pilgrims spoke in several different languages, they understood what the Apostles were saying."

(“Jesus and the Church.” v1.0. Ave Maria Press, Inc., 2015. iBooks.)

This is an early example of the power of the Holy Spirit towards the beginning of Jesus' ministry. Displays such as this taking place often established followers of Jesus and his Apostles. Therefore, the Holy Spirit was central to the foundation of the Apostles and the early church. Speaking in tongues is one of the many benefits of being filled with the Holy Spirit, just as many people continue to be today.


What changes will you make in your life because of what you learned and experienced? Changes I will make in my life because of what I learned include raising my awareness about how the Holy Spirit affects not only myself, but others throughout their daily lives.

How will you apply what you've learned to your everyday life and learning? I will apply what I’ve learned to my everyday life and learning by recognizing scriptural references and descriptions in regards to how they are exemplified on a daily basis.

How will you apply what you've learned to the broader social and political issues that you care about? I will apply what I've learned to the broader social and political issues that I care about by allowing myself to clear and open my mind with the help of the Holy Spirit.

What implications does this experience have for your future interfaith service-learning we might do? This experience will create new opportunities for new experiences that can only happen with an open mind.

Sophia Pendleton

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Sophia Pendleton

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