The Holy Spirit – God’s Transforming Power

The Holy Spirit is God's energy, His power of transformation, creation and life. But the Holy Spirit does not act on His own will. The Holy Spirit must be prompted by a word into action. Find out how the Holy Spirit really works and how to release the transforming power of the Holy Spirit into your life.


Andy Kerestes

5/4/20248 min read

Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love.

Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created. And You shall renew the face of the earth.



Take a deep breath, hold it for a second, then say “Amen”. You just sent forth your breath and on that invisible wind was a word. Your breath has power...power to carry your word to others or blow out a candle. Your breath is you, but your breath is sent forth and separate from you. Nobody can see your breath, but when it carries your word or blows out a birthday candle everyone knows the breath was yours.

The Hebrew word for breath or wind is “ruach” (pronounced ROO-akh). But in certain cases the word “ruach” means “spirit”; when it is not just any wind but is the breath of a living person. We first see this in the Hebrew text of Scripture in Genesis 1:2. “Now the earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep. And the ruach Elohim [Spirit of God] was hovering over the surface of the waters.

This Ruach Elohim, the Spirit of God, is God’s energy. It is His power to create, to transform and to give life.

In Genesis, God’s Spirit is, at first, just hovering over the void. The Spirit is waiting for a word from the Father to go into action. When the Father says “Let there be light”, the Spirit is prompted into action and transforms darkness into light. The Father didn’t command the Spirit, He prompted the Spirit. For the Father and the Spirit are equal and one. Just as your breath is equal and one with you, but distinct. You send forth your breath and the birthday candles blows out. You blew them out by your ruach.

The Spirit is the power of God. When the Spirit is released in a person’s life amazing things can happen. The first person the Bible mentioned as having God’s Spirit was Joseph. You remember Joseph? His brothers sold him into slavery, he interpreted dreams and in the end saved the nation Israel from death by bringing them into Egypt when there was a great famine. Pharaoh said of Joseph, “Could we find another like him, a man so endowed with the ruach Elohim [Spirit of God]?” (Genesis 41:38) These exact words were used for the Spirit in Genesis during Creation. Joseph was able to endure all things and fulfill God’s will because the Spirit was working in him.

So why do we call this Spirit of God the Holy Spirit? This comes from Psalm 51:11 where King David is pleading to God and says to God, “Cast me not away from your presence and take not your Ruach Kodesh from me.” Kodesh is the Hebrew word for holy. David here is asking the Father not to take the Holy Spirit from him because of his sins. So now, we refer to the third person of the Trinity as the Holy Spirit.

Lets look at Mary. The Holy Spirit is already with Mary, but hovering and waiting. God’s messenger comes to Mary and tells her that she is to be the mother of Jesus. It is only after Mary says “May it be done to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38) that the Holy Spirit is prompted into action and conceives within her womb our Lord and Savior.

You cannot speak and send forth Your word without your breath. The Father sent His Word to dwell among us by His breath, the Holy Spirit. Amazing!

The mission of Jesus to save us was also the mission of the Holy Spirit. Jesus did not do this alone. Jesus followed the Holy Spirit. After the Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus at His baptism, the Holy Spirit led Jesus into the desert. Jesus did not go there on His own...The Holy Spirit led, and Jesus followed. Jesus was the Word...Jesus gave us the words of everlasting life. The Holy Spirit was the power...that Jesus could heal the sick, raise the dead and perform miracles. The Holy Spirit revealed the Heavenly nature of Jesus to mankind through His miracles.

If you want to understand the true partnership between Jesus and the Holy Spirit, consider the part of Mass we call the Epiclesis. That is the part where the priest places his hands over the gifts and prays. Listen to the prayer...“Father, we bring you these gifts. We ask you to make them holy by the power of your Spirit, that they may become the body and blood of your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ...” The priest does not call Jesus down from Heaven to enter into the gifts. No, the priest prompts the Holy Spirit to transform the bread and wine into the true body and blood of Jesus. The Eucharist does not represent Jesus nor is Jesus simply present in the Eucharist. The Eucharist IS Jesus, your God and Savior, by the transforming power of the Holy Spirit. It is chilling, when you really think about it.

We tend to think of the Holy Spirit working in holy people, but consider Peter. When Peter met Jesus he said “Depart from me for I am a sinner”, when Jesus told Peter to walk on the water he lost faith and sank, Peter did not want Jesus to wash his feet, Peter fell asleep in the garden, denied Jesus three times, left Him at the cross and went back to fishing after Jesus was buried. This does not sound like a holy man and good candidate for Pope. I personally believe that Jesus chose Peter to be Pope only to show you and me how powerful the Holy Spirit is in transforming us. Once Peter submitted to the Holy Spirit, he was empowered to lead the church through that difficult first century of formation and persecution.

If I were to say the Apostles received the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, would you agree? In fact, the Apostles received the Holy Spirit after the Resurrection when Jesus appeared to them. “He breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the holy Spirit.’” (John 20:20) This is when they received the Holy Spirit. And there is that breathe again, as the Spirit moved.

But wait! Nothing happened then. The Apostles were still weak and fearful even with the Holy Spirit. We recall Jesus at the Ascension said “you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you”. (Acts 1:8) There are couple important points here. Jesus did not say you will receive the Holy Spirit, He said you will receive Power. They already had the Holy Spirit. Second, in the original Greek text of Scripture, the word for “comes” actually means “to descend or influence”. Pentecost, is when the power came. That’s when the Apostles opened themselves up to the influence of the Holy Spirit.

So what about you and me?

Maybe you are wondering, “How do I know if I have the Holy Spirit?” If you have been baptized, the answer is “You do”. That is when the Holy Spirit comes to you and dwells in you. It is important that you do not believe the Holy Spirit only works in people we call Saints, who have great missions from God. Every one of you is called by God to something and you cannot complete that mission without the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit dwells in all baptized believers.

We know this because of what happened to Peter in Acts chapter ten. Peter went to the house of Cornelius, a gentile centurion. Peter preached to Cornelius and his household. While Peter was speaking, “the Holy Spirit fell upon all who were listening to the word.” (Acts 10:44) In response, Peter baptized them all. So yes, you have the Holy Spirit.

Then you might ask, “Why am I not holy, and why don’t I have the power”? It took the Father saying “Let there be light” for the Spirit to create light. It took Mary, saying “Be it done unto me” for the Holy Spirit to form Jesus in her womb. It took 10 days of prayer by the Apostles, from the Ascension to Pentecost, before the power came. The Holy Spirit is waiting for you...waiting for you to send your word “Let there be light in me”, “Let it be done unto me”. And maybe, just maybe there needs to be more daily prayer.

Okay, so how do I know if the Holy Spirit is working in me? The answer is fruit. If you were shown an orchard and asked to pick out the apple tree, you would pick the tree with apples on it. Apples on a tree not only prove it is an apple tree, but also show the tree is alive. So too, you and the whole world will be able to recognize the Holy Spirit is alive in you by the fruit of your life.

We read in Galatians Chapter five, “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control”. So, the easiest way to check whether or not the Holy Spirit is alive is to do an examination of conscience based on the fruits of the Spirit.

Let’s look at the last fruit first, self-control. The Holy Spirit’s power of self-control keeps us from falling into mortal sin. Breaking any of the Ten Commandments is a mortal sin. Read them again some time. Think about how breaking any of them takes desire and a deliberate act. If the power of the Holy Spirit is working in us, we will have the self-control to keep all the Commandments. If there is mortal sin in your life, you probably have not fully released the power of the Holy Spirit and the Spirit is not alive in you.

For the rest of the fruits, let’s consider the tree. Even the best of apple trees will produce a rotten apple now and then. If there are only a few rotten apples, the tree is still alive. It is only when the majority of apples are rotten that the tree itself can be considered dying. So it is with us. We may never achieve sinless perfection in this life. But we can consider...For the most part, is my daily life full of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness and gentleness? If these are not the rule of your life, the Holy Spirit is still hovering over your darkness, your void, your chaos...Waiting for your word.

One last thing...What really is this power? What really is the Holy Spirit other than this breath of God?

God is love. Love requires a minimum of 2 people. There can be no love if there is only one person. And so, We have the Father who loves the Son and the Son who loves the Father. The love surrounding them and flowing between them is the breath of God, the Spirit of God, the Holy Spirit. That is is power of God, love.

Each person of the Trinity loves us in a different way. The Father’s act of love is to create us. The Son’s act of love is to redeem us by dying on the cross. The Holy Spirit’s act of love is to transform us and return us to the Father as His holy children, once again being in His likeness.

Let there be light in us and let it be done unto us according to God’s word.

Here is a prayer you can pray every day to release the Holy Spirit in you.         (It can also be found in the Backpack section of this website, under Prayers. Bookmark it for daily prayer.)

Holy Spirit, beloved of my soul, I adore you. I love you. Enlighten me, guide me, strengthen me, console me. Tell me what I ought to do and command me to do it.

I promise to submit to You and abide to everything you ask of me. I promise to accept everything You allow to happen to me. Just show me what is Your Holy will.

Spirit of wisdom and understanding, enlighten my mind to perceive the mysteries of the universe and eternity.

Spirit of right judgement and courage, guide me and make me firm in my Baptismal vows to follow Jesus.

Spirit of God, spark my faith, hope and love into new action each day. Fill my life with wonder and awe in Your presence which penetrates all creation.

Come, Holy Spirit, come.