The Gloria and the Holy Spirit


For some reason, the Gloria has been running through my head for the past several weeks (not a bad thing!). As I consider it I can’t help but thinking we are giving short shrift to the Holy Spirit.

We start by praising God the Father:

Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace to people of good will.
We praise you,
we bless you,
we adore you,
we glorify you,
we give you thanks for your great glory.
Lord God, heavenly King,
O God, almighty Father.

Then we praise Jesus:

Lord Jesus Christ,
Only Begotten Son,
Lord God, Lamb of God
Son of the Father,
you take away the sins
of the world,
have mercy on us;
you take away the sins
of the world
receive our prayer;
you are seated
at the right hand of the Father,
have mercy on us.
For you alone are the Holy One,
you alone are the Lord,
you alone are the Most High,
Jesus Christ,

Oh, and let’s not forget the Holy Spirit.

With the Holy Spirit,
in the glory of God the Father.

It seems that the Holy Spirit is just an after thought.


My understanding is that God, the Father’s love created God, the Son (Jesus) and the union of which created God the Holy Spirit. This is my understanding of the Nicene Creed. Hopefully, others will have better theologically involved answers.


The Spirit figures heavily in the Creed though…if you’re keeping score.
I seriously doubt the persons of the Trinity are concerned about who gets more press…and neither should we.


The Holy Spirit also doesn’t feature prominently in the Apostles’ Creed. According to one priest I’ve heard talk about this, it’s to deter heresy. The Holy Spirit has been used as an excuse for heresy since the beginning. “The Holy Spirit revealed to me that…” So there may have been an attempt to deemphasize the Holy Spirit.


You’re right about that. “Dominum et vivificantem” or in Spanish “Senor y dador de vida” (Lord and Giver of life) speaks volumes in itself.


doggieDaddy, you are in good company; the great liturgical scholar Fr. Adrian Fortescue made the same observation in 1909, in almost the same words:

It will be noticed that the Gloria is a hymn of praise addressed to each Person of the Holy Trinity in turn, although the clause about the Holy Ghost is very short (cum sancto Spiritu) and is evidently an afterthought. It does not occur in the text of the Apostolic Constitutions. (Catholic Encyclopedia, s.v. “Gloria in Excelsis Deo”)

Fortescue doesn’t conjecture any explanations, though.

Perhaps the Church, or persons in the Church, were concerned that the omission of the Holy Ghost (from the original version) might give an impression of Sabellianism, so they added the mention of his name? and perhaps, at the same time, they dared not add any prose to what they regarded as sacrosanct?


It is my observation that the Holy Spirit is not talked as often in the West as He is in the East. The Catholic Church tends to regulate its theology much more within the Lord Jesus while in the Eastern Church the Holy Spirit tends to be more talked about (and prayed to for that matter). When Vatican II had begun and was continuing on with their statements there was within the early councils hardly a word spoken on the Holy Spirit. The Eastern Orthodox observers at the council reminded the Catholic fathers that unless the Holy Spirit is to be mentioned more in their statements the councils statements would have little effect. This helped the Church fathers at that council to rethink more on the person of the Holy Spirit. The fact is the Eastern Church takes in more the work of the Holy Spirit while the Catholic Church emphasises more the work of the Lord Jesus Christ. This exactly tells us why we need to become united for combining the theologies of both Churches we will receive this better balance of maintaining both the Lord Jesus and the Holy Spirit into our lives.


Although the Holy Spirit is rightly called the"forgotten member of the Trinity", it is only by the Holy Spirit that we offer the Gloria (or any prayer).


Could be, but the text in question – the Greater Doxology – is of Eastern origin, and if I’m not mistaken the present Greek version doesn’t mention the Holy Spirit at all.

That said, St. John Paul II in one of his books – I think Crossing the Threshold – said that the Eastern liturgies are characteristically *Trinitarian *in emphasis, whereas the Western liturgies are characteristically Christocentric. This fits my experience of the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, and the Roman rite (both forms).


Peace and All Goos!!

you’re right, the Holy Ghost does seem to be mentioned, and certainly prayed to, a lot less in the Catholic Church. This was one of the reasons I enjoyed studying the Eastern Fathers & the Eastern Church so much. I felt like I was learning something I’d missed in a way & the depth & beauty of some of the irks on the Holy Ghost really moved me.

I also seem to remember that during one of the heresies & discussions of the Holy Ghost, there was a group who came to be known as “Spirit Warriors” because of their Championing of the 3rd Person of the Blessed Trinity. I can’t remember the full Greek term, Pneuma-something….


You have to experience the great Doxology within the Divine Liturgy to see my point. The Eastern Church is more centered on the work of the Holy Spirit while the Catholic Church is more centered towards Jesus. For instance I am a Greek Orthodox Christian from my baptism. I actually grew up more centered on Catholicism. When I was 28 my father told me about my Greek Orthodox baptism so this is when I started to investigate the life of the Eastern Church. Since I was taught more of this Christocentric way from the beginning it actually led me to be unsatisfied. As I began my journey into the Orthodox Church it was here where I learned more about the Holy Spirit. I teach faith with more of the emphasis of the Holy Spirit and it has helped me to teach it combining both the Christocentric ways of the Catholic Church and the Trinitarian ways of the Eastern Churches. I would though not emphasize the East as more Trinitarian as it is more centered on the work of the Holy Spirit within the Holy Trinity as helping us work toward our sanctity. I tend to think more on the Holy Spirit. It seems to be a gift that God gives to the Eastern Christian who can pick this up while experiencing God within the Liturgy. It doesn’t mean every Eastern Christian is going to pick it up but if you are open to it and you were made to know the Holy Spirit than it will come more easily to you when you grow up within the Eastern Church.

I would not have learned about this gift had I remained in the Catholic Church. This ability that God had given for me is able to translate the faith in terms of how the Holy Spirit can work in our lives as well as the Lord Jesus. There is quite a difference in how one can transmit the faith if one is only centered on the Lord Jesus and the other on the Holy Spirit. A great saint and apostle on the Holy Spirit is St. Seraphim of Russia. He can give to you more of what I was trying to imply to you. He is quite different than those saints who speak eloquently on the Lord Jesus. This does not mean that Catholic saints do not speak on the Holy Spirit. On the contrary they do but on a different tone. You have to read the words of St. Seraphim to understand what I mean. Catholic saints are on a different plane if one can say that those of the Orthodox Church. In my humble opinion and observations, it is those Orthodox saints who have spoken on the Holy Spirit are much superior than those who were Catholic saints who have written on the same subject regarding the Holy Spirit. They can teach you if you want to know more about the Holy Spirit. In contrast towards the Catholic Church their saints speak more eloquently on the Lord Jesus.


Thank you for sharing your story.

We do have Eastern rites in communion with Rome, and I believe they have more or less the same theological emphases as the Orthodox, as regards the Blessed Trinity, etc. But I could be mistaken on that point.

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