How God is Present in the Human Soul

Father Cassilly continues his explanation of how God is present in all creatures in a threefold manner: by His power, by His presence and by His essence.

Regarding human beings, he writes: “No one, not even by the greatest effort, can withdraw himself from God’s sight or place himself beyond His power. But the habitation of the Holy Spirit within the soul is something more than all this, for the Fathers call it a special manner of existence, proceeding from His gratuitous love—an abiding or indwelling presence. Some endeavor to explain this inhabiting within the soul as a special providence and care, by which the Spirit produces in it new supernatural effects, and illumines it with light and counsel that He does not give to all. No doubt singular favors and graces are given to all who live by grace, but these imply a new mode of Divine action within us rather than a new manner of presence. . . . Our identity cannot be lost, or assumed by the Spirit into personal or hypostatic union.”

“The Holy Ghost indwells in the soul as a friend present to a friend and united with him by the bonds of love. While God is present everywhere, He is in some creatures only as the creator and conserver, in others as a judge; but in the just soul He is present under a new relation, as an intimate friend, taking pleasure in its company, benefiting it, loving it above its deserts and drawing its love in return. This is, as it were, a clinging together of God and the soul like the mutual embrace of mother and child.”

“While ardent friendship draws friends to seek each other’s companionship and presence, amongst men this propensity cannot always be satisfied. God, however, is able to do what is beyond the power of human friendship, and He has devised a way of always being present with those He loves. Never for a moment does He leave them, nor cease to bestow upon them tokens of affection. He also desires us to be ever present to Him, though our perfect and consummate enjoyment of God in this life is impossible; it will come only in the next, when we shall see Him as He is. But as grace is the inception of glory, so our friendship with God on earth is heavenly friendship begun.”

Quotations from Francis Cassilly, A Story of Love, 2d ed. (St. Louis: B. Herder, 1917).

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