The Holy Ghost vs. the Holy Spirit

Hello everyone. I’m back from Scranton, Pennsylvania and a successful AGM of the Anglicanorum Coetibus Society.  I have several blog posts in mind, but have much catching up to do in my other work before I can do so.  Also, WordPress gobbled up yet a third completed post that I will try to recreate about an outreach our parish in Ottawa did to university students on Holy Cross Day.

In the meantime,  here’s an interesting post at Rational Catholic that mentions the Scranton Ordinariate parish I visited.


Two and a half years ago I posted an article “The Holy Ghost vs The Holy Spirit”.   The post was prompted by a visit to Holy Ghost Preparatory School, on the occasion of my oldest grandson’s graduation*.   I’ve had some further thoughts since then:  attendance at an Anglican Usage (“Ordinariate”) parish in Scranton, Pennsylvania and the almost exclusive use of the term “Holy Ghost”, rather than “Holy Spirit” by a priest (order of St. Francis de Sales), who has become Chaplain at a local Catholic Nursing Home and for the large hospital where I live.    I’ll copy the pertinent parts of the original post and then focus on the Anglican Usage liturgy usage of “Holy Ghost”.



My wife and I  occasionally attend Anglican Usage Mass and Evensong at St. Thomas More Parish in Scranton, Pennsylvania.    This Parish is part  of The Ordinariate**,  essentially a diocese (spread through the United States and Canada). established by Pope Benedict XVI in 2012 to accommodate former Anglicans and Episcopalians who, as individuals, priests and congregations, have swum the Tiber and become Catholic
Now, where does “Holy Ghost” fit here?   The term replaces “Holy Spirit”  in some places where it might occur in non-Ordinariate liturgy, as for example in the introductory “Collect for Purity”: “In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.  Amen”.   However, it does not replace Holy Spirit in all uses.    For example, in the Anglican Usage  “Novena to  the Holy Ghost“, Holy Spirit is used extensively and interchangeably.    And thus the beauty of the English language is displayed: its magnificent redundancy and subtlety, two ways of saying the same thing,  not altogether equivalent,


Finally, I go back to the catechesis given by a priest when I was learning about Catholicism:  “There is God the Father, God above us;  God the Son, God beside us; and God the Holy Spirit, God within us.”   So, the Holy Spirit is at the same time clearly evident and a mystery–God within us.   And the Holy Ghost is part of our mind, which is also a mystery.

What is your preference?  That of your community?  I use both Holy Spirit and Holy Ghost, but I prefer the latter.

2 thoughts on “The Holy Ghost vs. the Holy Spirit

  1. My former Ordinariate parish used Ghost much more. Current pastor seems to clearly prefer Spirit. I personally prefer Holy Ghost, but use them both interchangeably, and appreciate both.


  2. Theologically, the terms “Holy Spirit” and “Holy Ghost” are equivalent. Both refer to the third persona of the Trinity. But how about using “Holy Breath” or “Holy Wind” instead? These would be more precise translations of the Greek “Holy Pneuma” of the original text of the new testament.

    But, the plain reality is that “Holy Ghost” conjures up an association with the “ghosts” of Halloween and of “ghost stories” of popular culture here in the States (and probably in other ordinariate lands as well) that is not theologically accurate, especially in impressionable young minds. Thus, it creates serious catechetical challenges that don’t come with the term “Holy Spirit” from a pastoral perspective.



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