Aleteia logoAleteia logoAleteia
Monday 03 October |
Saint of the Day: St. Theodora Guerin
Aleteia logo
Spirituality
separateurCreated with Sketch.

God the “Holy Ghost”? Does that mean God is a spooky spiritual being?

HOLY SPIRIT

Shutterstock

Philip Kosloski - published on 10/14/18

Here is the truth behind the archaic expression.

When looking at older prayer cards in English, it will often refer to God as the “Holy Ghost.” This was a common way to identify the third person of the Holy Trinity and was an extremely popular term used in prayers and catechism classes that date before the mid-20th century.

What does that mean? Is God some sort of “spooky” spiritual being?

In modern usage the word “ghost” is used almost exclusively as a term for a deceased person who haunts an individual. When someone says the word “ghost,” often the immediate image that pops into a person’s mind is that of a white bedsheet, or a hazy apparition seen in horror movies.

However, the English word “ghost” didn’t always have this association. The word was derived from the Old English word “gast,” which is related to the German word “geist.” Originally these words simply meant “spirit.” For many years Holy Ghost and Holy Spirit were used interchangeably to identify the third person of the Holy Trinity.

Eventually Holy Spirit replaced Holy Ghost, being a preferred translation of the Latin “Spiritus Sanctus.”

In reality, both words are valid ways to describe God, but because of the modern association of “ghost,” it is no longer in wide usage.


HAND PRAYER

Read more:
Have you lost your zeal for Christ? Pray this prayer to the Holy Spirit


GOD THE FATHER

Read more:
The many names of God and what they mean

Tags:
HalloweenHoly Spirit
Support Aleteia!

Enjoying your time on Aleteia?

Articles like these are sponsored free for every Catholic through the support of generous readers just like you.

Thanks to their partnership in our mission, we reach more than 20 million unique users per month!

Help us continue to bring the Gospel to people everywhere through uplifting and transformative Catholic news, stories, spirituality, and more.

Support Aleteia with a gift today!

jour1_V2.gif
Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...




Entrust your prayer intentions to our network of monasteries


Top 10
See More
Newsletter
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.