Questions regarding Sunday reading: Holy Spirit


I read ahead for this Sunday which is The Presentation of the Lord and in the passage it says that the Holy Spirit called Simeon to the Temple and the Holy Sprirt had revealed to him he would not die before he had had seen with his own eyes Christ the Lord. How is the Holy Spirit doing this if the Holy Spirit does not descend until Pentecost? I asked a priest after Mass yesterday and he said that the Holy Spirit existed/exists for all eternity and therefore of course was present before Pentecost. Could you please unpack this more for me? Can we talk more about the Holy Spirit?

What is the difference with Pentecost?

Also, is there any significance to Simeon and Anna’s presence - male and female recognizing Jesus?


Find a searchable on-line Bible and look up the references to the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament.


Can you explain more about the nature of the Holy Spirit though? And the difference at Pentecost?


Here is the Catholic Encyclopedia article on the Holy Spirit.


As the Holy Spirit is the third person of the Trinity, he exists from eternity. We know from the Creed that “He has spoken through the prophets” and know that he played an active role in salvation history even before the feast of Pentecost.

A brief excerpt from the CCC concerning the role of the Spirit in the OT:
“702 From the beginning until “the fullness of time,” 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.”

While he is veiled from us in the OT, in the NT, the Spirit is fully revealed to us at Pentecost. Because the mission of the Spirit and the Son are bound together, this does not happen until after the passion, death, and resurrection of our Lord. In the “fullness of time” (which we are currently experiencing) the pouring out of the Spirit is continuous and is ever present in the Church.


I would think Simeon was a Prophet.



Before Pentecost the Holy Spirit would dwell with or on someone, at Pentecost and after, the Holy Spirit seals and indwells someone (which is why believers are now a Temple of God; we have God indwelling us).


Thank you for your great replies. Kliska where do you get the theology or this explanation? Is it in the Catechism?

Also, why is Simeon usually portrayed as an older man when there is nothing in the scripture passage mentioning his age? Anna is described as a prophetess but not Simeon a prophet. Where has the tradition developed that he was older?


I read someplace [but have not been able to find again] that Simeon was one of the translators for the Septuagint, which would make him very old. It was the writer’s contention that it was Simeon who translated the Isaiah verse re a Virgin bearing a child. He wanted to translate it as “a young woman” but God insisted that he translate it as “a Virgin”. When he questioned that , God told him to stick around and he would see.

Don’t know if this has any general acceptance, but it does pull the story together.


I haven’t searched the CCC for it (I’m a protestant, though that doesn’t stop me, I’m not as familiar with it), but you can find it directly in scripture. I’ve searched for a Catholic resources discussing the difference but haven’t found it yet. lol


Found this reference, and I’m sure there must be theologians that have discussed it from a RCC perspective;

CCC 1265 Baptism not only purifies from all sins, but also makes the neophyte “a new creature,” an adopted son of God, who has become a "partaker of the divine nature,"69 member of Christ and co-heir with him,70 and a temple of the Holy Spirit.71


My apologies Kliska, didn’t notice you were a Protestant and me asking you for a quote from the CCC :smiley: That was a very generous response, thank you. Yes, I am aware that we are temples of the Holy Spirit but did the “in dwelling” only happen at Pentecost and onwards? Could you please give scripture references showing the change? Many thanks again :slight_smile:


St. Seraphim of Sarov

Acquiring the Holy Spirit

(from the Saint’s Conversation with Motovilov)

The true goal of our Christian life consists of acquiring God’s Holy Spirit. Fasting and vigil, prayer, mercy, and every other good deed performed for Christ — are means for acquiring the Holy Spirit of God. Only deeds performed for Christ give us the fruits of the Holy Spirit.

Some say that the foolish virgins lacking enough oil in their lamps is meant to be understood as a lack of good deeds (see Mt. 25:1-12). Such an understanding is not completely correct. How could there have been a lack of good deeds when they, though foolish, are still called virgins? For virginity is the highest virtue, as a state equal to the angels, and could by itself serve in place of all other virtues. I, the wretched, think that they did not have enough of the grace of the All-Holy Spirit of God. These virgins, because of their spiritual injudiciousness, supposed in performing good deeds that it is only necessary to do good works to be a Christian: “We performed a good deed and thus did God’s will.” Whether or not they had received the grace of the Holy Spirit, whether they had attained it, they did not even bother to find out … But, this acquiring of the Holy Spirit is in fact that oil which the foolish virgins lacked. They are called foolish because they forgot about the essential fruit of virtue — the grace of the Holy Spirit — without which there is no salvation for anyone and cannot be. For “through the Holy Spirit every soul is quickened, and through its purification, it is exalted and illumined by the Triune Unity in a Holy mystery.” The Holy Spirit Himself settles in our souls, and this occupation of our souls by Him, the All-Ruling, and this coexistence of our spirit with His One Trinity, is granted only through the diligent acquiring, on our part, of the Holy Spirit, which prepares, in our soul and body, the throne for the coexistence of God the All-Creator with our spirit, by the immutable word of God: “And I will walk among you and will be your God, and ye shall be my people” (Lev. 26:12).

This is the very oil in the lamps of the wise virgins, which burned brightly and steadily; the virgins with these burning lamps could await the Groom coming at midnight, and enter the chamber of joy with him. The foolish ones, seeing their lamps going out, though they went to the market to buy oil, did not manage to return in time, for the doors were already locked. The market is our life; the doors of the bridal chamber — locked and not permitting entrance to the Groom — human death, the virgins wise and foolish, Christian souls; the oil, not deeds, but the grace of the All Holy Spirit of God received through them, transforming from decay to incorruption, from emotional death into spiritual life, from darkness to light, from the manger of our existence, where our passions are tied like beasts and animals, into a church of God, into the all-lighted chamber of eternal joy in Jesus Christ.



The bit about the temple is so important because, obviously, the Temple in the OT was the literal Temple in Jerusalem where the Holy of Holies was blocked off from the rest of the Temple, and where God resided; that was opened up to us when the temple veil was rent from top to bottom.

An example of the Holy Spirit coming upon someone in the OT would be 1 Samuel 10:10, while the ideas presented surrounding the Spirit in 1 Corinthians chapters 3 and 6 are different and underscore believers as the Temple. If you use the Samuel passage as an example, and also the passages in the OT talking about the Holy Spirit coming upon someone, an interesting detail emerges; it isn’t always about the person’s own beliefs (sometimes it is, sometimes not), but rather what God was going to use them for, so even those that we would not define as “believers” sometimes had the Spirit come upon them to complete or perform a task. That is very different than the NT view of the Spirit; He is connected directly to believers.

Sorry, I can’t copy the passages themselves, I’ve gotta run, but will be back on later. I remember Mother Angelica teaching about the role of the Spirit in the NT vs. the OT, but can’t remember what precisely she said except for the idea that we are now the Temple. lol I do hope any of this that would go against the RCC’s teaching, someone would come along and correct, but as I understand it, the RCC does teach that the Spirit’s role in OT and NT are similar, but the Spirit has a special relationship with believers in the NT.


CCC 2672 The Holy Spirit, whose anointing permeates our whole being, is the interior Master of Christian prayer. He is the artisan of the living tradition of prayer. To be sure, there are as many paths of prayer as there are persons who pray, but it is the same Spirit acting in all and with all. It is in the communion of the Holy Spirit that Christian prayer is prayer in the Church.





This simple consideration is, for the matter under discussion, of the greatest importance; for it follows that the Holy Spirit can not be said ever to have moved from one place to another; to have been among Israel, but not among the nations; to have been present after the day of Pentecost where He was not before. All such representations directly oppose the confession of His omnipresence, eternity, and immutability. The Omnipresent One can not go from one place to another, for He can not come where He is already. And to suppose that He is omnipresent at one time and not at another is inconsistent with His eternal Godhead. The testimony of John the Baptist, “I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode on Him,” and that of St. Luke, “The Holy Spirit fell on all them which heard the Word,” may not therefore be understood as tho the Holy Spirit came to a place where He was not before, which is impossible.

However—and this is the first distinction which will throw light upon the matter—David’s description of omnipresence applies to local presence in space, but not to the world of spirits. …

God did not create humanity as a string of isolated souls, but as a race. Hence in Adam the souls of all men are fallen and defiled. In like manner the new creation in the realm of grace has not wrought the generation of isolated individuals, but the resurrection of a new race, a peculiar people, a holy priesthood. And this favored race, this peculiar people, this holy priesthood is also organically one and partaking of the same spiritual blessing.

The Word of God expresses this by teaching that the elect constitute one body, of which all are members, one being a foot, another an eye, and another an ear, etc.—a representation that conveys the idea that the elect mutually sustain the relation of a vital, organic, and spiritual union. And this is not merely outwardly, by mutual love, but much more through a vital communion which is theirs by virtue of their spiritual origin. As our Liturgy beautifully expresses it: “For as out of many grains one meal is ground and one bread baked, and out of many berries, being pressed together, one wine floweth and mixeth itself together, so shall we all, who by a true faith are ingrafted into Christ, be altogether one body.”

This spiritual union of the elect did not exist among Israel, nor could it exist during their time. There was a union of love, but not a spiritual and vital fellowship that sprang from the root of life. This spiritual union of the elect was made possible only by the incarnation of the Son of God. The elect are men consisting of body and soul; therefore it is partly at least a visible body. And only when in Christ the perfect man was given, who could be the temple of the Holy Spirit body and soul, did the inflowing and outpouring of the Holy Spirit become established in and through the body thus created.

However, this did not occur directly after the birth of Christ, but after His ascension; for His human nature did not unfold its fullest perfection until after He had ascended, when, as the glorified 121 Son of God, He sat down at the right hand of the Father. Only then the perfect Man was given, who on the one hand could be the temple of the Holy Ghost without hindrance, and on the other unite the spirits of the elect into one body. And when, by His ascension and sitting down at the right hand of God, this had become a fact, when thus the elect had become one body, it was perfectly natural that from the Head the indwelling of the Holy Spirit was imparted to the whole body. And thus the Holy Spirit was poured out into the body of the Lord, His elect, the Church.




In this way everything becomes plain and clear: clear why the saints of the Old Testament did not receive the promise, that without us they should not be made perfect, waiting for that perfection until the formation of the body of Christ, into which they also were to be incorporated; clear that the tarrying of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit did not prevent saving grace from operating upon the individual souls of the saints of the Old Covenant; clear the word of John, that the Holy Spirit was not yet given because Jesus was not yet glorified; clear that the apostles were born again long before Pentecost and received official gifts on the evening of the day of the resurrection, altho the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in the body thus formed did not take place until Pentecost. It becomes clear how Jesus could say, “If I go not away the Comforter will not come unto you,” and again, “But if I go I will send Him unto you”; for the Holy Spirit was to flow into His body from Himself, who is the Head. It becomes clear also that He would not send Him from Himself, but from the Father; clear why this outpouring of the Spirit into the body of Christ is never repeated, and could occur but once; and lastly, clear that the Holy Spirit was indeed standing in the midst of Israel (Isa. lxiii. 12), working upon the saints from without, while in the New Testament He is said to be within them.

We arrive, therefore, at the following conclusions:

First, the elect must constitute one body.

Second, they were not so constituted during the days of the Old Covenant, of John the Baptist, and of Christ while on earth.

Third, this body did not exist until Christ ascended to heaven and, sitting at the right hand of God, bestowed upon this body its unity, in that God gave Him to be Head over all things to the Church—Ephes. iv. 12.

Lastly, Christ as the glorified Head, having formed His spiritual 122 body by the vital union of the elect, on the day of Pentecost poured out His Holy Spirit into the whole body, never more to let Him depart from it.

That these conclusions contain nothing but what the Church of all ages has confessed appears from the fact that the Reformed churches have always maintained:

First, that our communion with the Holy Spirit depends upon our mystic union with the body of which Christ is the Head, which is the underlying thought of the Lord’s Supper.

Second, that the elect form one body under Christ their Head.

Third, that this body began to exist when it received its Head; and that, according to Ephes. i. 22. Christ was given to be the Head after His resurrection and ascension.



In the interests of full disclosure, a little judicious googling has revealed that the author of the material in the previous two posts was Dutch Reformed. Not saying that what he said was wrong, only that he wasn’t Catholic. Someone smarter than I will have to be the one to pick holes in it.


I think this might relate to your question about the difference with Pentecost.

The Jewish people had always celebrated Pentecost (Shavout) long before the Holy Spirit was given after Jesus’ ascension, but it was celebrated for a different reason: it was celebrated as the anniversary of the day on which the Law was given to Israel.

In the Old Testament God promised that a time would come when: ‘’ I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.’’ (Ezekiel 36:26) God’s Spirit transforms us from within so that we want to follow his laws.

Jeremiah .31:33 says, "This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel…
"I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts…’’ In the Old Testament the Holy Spirit was still active, but a pouring out of the Spirit occurred at Pentecost to show people that the time for this new covenant to begin had occurred. (IMHO)

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