Name, Titles and Symbols
From the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Simplified
Both Spirit and Holy (691)
The name "Holy Spirit" was given by Christ (Mt 28:19). "Spirit" and "Holy" are two attributes common to all three divine persons. By joining these two words, the Church designates clearly this inexpressible person, the Holy Spirit.
Seven Other Names (692-693)
On four occasions, Jesus also calls the Holy Spirit "Paraclete" (Jn 14:16-26, 15:26, 16:7), meaning "advocate" and "consoler." Jesus also calls him "the Spirit of truth" (Jn16:13).
St. Paul calls him "the Spirit of the promise" (Gal 3:14), "the Spirit of adoption" (Rom 8:15), "the Spirit of Christ" (Rom 8:9), "the Spirit of the Lord" (1 Cor 3:17), and "the Spirit of God" (Rom 8:14).
Eight Symbols of the Holy Spirit (694-701)
- Water - Water signifies the Spirit's action in Baptism. Our first birth took place in water, so the baptismal water signifies our divine birth.
- Anointing - Anointing is the sacramental sign of Confirmation (called "Chrismation" in the East). Jesus is God's Anointed in a unique way because the Spirit established him as the Christ at his conception. Now, the glorified Jesus pours out the Holy Spirit until the saints constitute "the whole Christ" (St. Augustine).
- Fire - Fire symbolizes the transforming energy of the Spirit. John the Baptist proclaimed that Jesus would "baptize with the Holy Spirit and with fire" (Lk 3:16). Jesus came "to cast fire on the earth" (Lk 12:40) and on Pentecost, the Spirit came in the form of tongues "as of fire" (Acts 2:3-4). Paul uses the image saying, "Do not quench the Spirit" (1Thess 5:19).
- Cloud and Light - In the New Testament, the Spirit "overshadowed" the Virgin Mary and during the Transfiguration the Spirit came in a "cloud and overshadowed everyone" (Lk 9:34-35). At the Ascension, the cloud took Jesus from the disciples' sight (Acts 1:9).
- The seal - This is a symbol very similar to anointing. "The Father has set his seal" on Christ (Jn 6:27). This seal indicates the indelible effect of the Spirit in Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Orders.
- The hand - In Acts, the apostles bestow the Spirit by the laying on of hands. The Church has kept this sign of the Spirit's power in the sacramental epiclesis.
- The finger - The Spirit, "the finger of the Father's right hand," writes "on the tablets of human hearts" (2 Cor 3:3).
- The dove - When Christ came up from his baptismal bath, the Spirit in the form of a dove remained upon him.