The Holy Spirit Moves
…who proceeds from the Father and the Son…
Our powerful Holy Spirit moves throughout the world giving people the ability to pray, filling Christians with grace, and giving voices to the prophets. And yet, theologians have put a large emphasis on the eight-word phrase that follows: who proceeds from the Father and the Son. Instead of focusing on Her actions, the argument is wrapped up in whose mission She is fulfilling.
In its original form, the Nicene Creed didn’t state that the Holy Spirit proceeded from “the Son” (meaning Jesus). The addition of “and the Son” came in the 6th century and is now called the filioque controversy (filioque in Latin means, “and from the son”). Whereas the Latin church made the addition, the Eastern church did not. Even in the present day, the filioque controversy continues to bring out ecumenical dialogue amongst Latin, Orthodox, and mainline protestant.
With the addition of the filioque, our understanding of the doctrine of the trinity changes. Whose mission is the Holy Spirit on? God the creator’s mission, or Jesus’s Christ’s mission? Now, it can be argued that they are on the same mission; that they both share the mission of bringing about the reconciliation and salvation of all humanity. But what about the missions they are willing in our lives. Singling out only the father, or adding the son, changes our perception of our relationship with the Holy Spirit. The conversations I have with God my creator are vastly different from the conversions I have with Jesus the Son. As I age and life moves, my love and relationship with each person of the Trinity changes as well.
If the Holy Spirit moves through the Father and the Son, that means we understand ourselves as sent forth by the Holy Spirit on a mission for both creator and savior. For those of us who are Catholics in the English-speaking world, we claim ourselves to be on a creator- and savior-centric mission. We do the will of both God the Father and God the Son through the power of the Holy Spirit who is moved through them.
How we allow the Holy Spirit to pray, preach, and live through us is defined in how we understand who is sending us our mission. In order to understand what She is doing, we must acknowledge that both God the Father and God the Son are integral to her movement. Personally, I value the acknowledgement of the Holy Spirit being on the move through Jesus and God the Creator. Jesus is such an integral part of our Catholic faith, and an integral part to my personal faith and to the mission the Trinity, as a whole, have granted me.
Erika P. Tate, M.Div, is a director of faith formation in Chicago. She has a passion for feminist theology, scripture, and the saints.