The Holy Spirit According to Augustine and Catherine of Siena
In the western tradition, Augustine laid a strong foundation in the area of pneumatology (study of the Holy Spirit). His work on the role and the nature of Trinity, which obviously included the Holy Spirit took him 20 years to finish. His goal was not to introduce something new about the Holy Spirit, but rather to write what he considered to be the common knowledge of the church. The primary elements of the Spirits nature for Augustine are “Holy” Spirit, Love and Gift. In relation to the Holy Spirit, the Spirit shares what the Father and Son have in common. In regard to “love”, love flows from the Father and Son and flow from the Spirit to humanity and thus the church is the temple of the Holy Spirit. And finally the Spirit is a gift, given by God.
One of the medieval mystics Catherine of Siena followed Augustine’s Trinitarian understanding of the Spirit that the Holy Spirit is the love between the Father and Son and the love is then extended to humanity. For her the Spirit is like the servant, while the Father is the table and the Son is the food. In her holistic understanding of the Spirit, the Spirit is at work in both creation and redemption. Her experience as a maid shaped the imagery that she used of the Spirit. For her the Spirit is the hand, which serves communion.