Holy Ghost

Friends :),

I am wondering if the Rite of Mass requires the priest to say “Holy Spirit” in reference to the third Person of the Blessed Trinity. May priests say “Holy Ghost”, in accordance with older references to the Spirit of God? If so: is permission required? If not: why not? I hear ‘traditionalist’ priests begin and end their homilies with “In the name of … the Holy Ghost. Amen”, even in modern Extraordinary Form Masses (excuse me).

My own preference is for the older form, but if (say) I were to become a priest and said the 1969 Rite of Mass, I would gladly say “Holy Spirit”, if it is absolutely required.

A priest must use the translation approved by the appropriate authorities. For things that do not have approved translations (his homily, saying the Rosary, etc.) he can say whatever he likes. But where the book says “Spirit,” he may not say “Ghost.”

You may be interested to read this thread. As it turns out, “Holy Spirit” was quite common long before Vatican II. Personally, I prefer it, as being less Germano-Protestant and much closer to the Latin than “Ghost.”

An IMNAAHO very trustworthy priest explained to me that at one time, the word “spirit” had spooky and frightening connotations, and so the word “ghost” was used in English versions. Now, because the connotations have switched around (“ghost” is now the spooky word) the words have changed again.


I don’t know where this became a traditional thing unless they’re talking about tradtional English or Anglicans. Spanish traditionalists wouldn’t know what you were talking about. The Latin is Spritus Sanctus, always has been. The Extraordinary Form can be said only in the Latin.

Thank you, both, especially Mark Thompson. :slight_smile: Reading that thread has given me a much holier understanding of the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity. To see that our words change and fail to describe Him so easily is just further proof of His ineffable divinity and perfection. Thank God! :smiley:

English has twice as many words as most languages because it is a mixture of Germanic and Latin roots. There are often two words for the same thing. Note that meats tend to take the name of the French animal, while the animal takes the name of the German. That is because, after the Conquest, the Anglo-Saxons raised the animals, but the Norman Conquerors took the best cuts. e.g. beef vs cow, mutton vs sheep, pork vs pig, etc.] The lesser meats internal organs etc] retained their Germanic names.

Thus we have Holy Ghost and Holy Spirit for the same Person.

Interesting observation.

Here’s a language tree that may put all this in perspective: savageminds.org/wp-content/image-upload/indoeuropean-language-family-tree.jpg

An interesting take on the theology behind Holy Ghost:


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