Catechism of the Catholic Church

184 Part One 696 Fire. While water signifies birth and the fruitfulness of life given in the Holy Spirit, fire symbolizes the transforming energy of the Holy Spirit’s actions. The prayer of the prophet Elijah, who “arose like fire” and whose “word burned like a torch,” brought down fire from heaven on the sacrifice on Mount Carmel. 37 This event was a “figure” of the fire of the Holy Spirit, who transforms what he touches. John the Baptist, who goes “before [the Lord] in the spirit and power of Elijah,” proclaims Christ as the one who “will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.” 38 Jesus will say of the Spirit: “I came to cast fire upon the earth; and would that it were already kindled!” 39 In the form of tongues “as of fire,” the Holy Spirit rests on the disciples on the morning of Pentecost and fills them with himself. 40 The spiritual tradition has retained this symbolism of fire as one of the most expressive images of the Holy Spirit’s actions. 41 “Do not quench the Spirit.” 42 697 Cloud and light. These two images occur together in the manifes- tations of the Holy Spirit. In the theophanies of the Old Testament, the cloud, now obscure, now luminous, reveals the living and saving God, while veiling the transcendence of his glory—with Moses on Mount Sinai, 43 at the tent of meeting, 44 and during the wandering in the desert, 45 and with Solomon at the dedication of the Temple. 46 In the Holy Spirit, Christ fulfills these figures. The Spirit comes upon the Virgin Mary and “overshadows” her, so that she might conceive and give birth to Jesus. 47 On the mountain of Transfiguration, the Spirit in the “cloud came and overshadowed” Jesus, Moses and Elijah, Peter, James and John, and “a voice came out of the cloud, saying, ‘This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!’” 48 Finally, the cloud took Jesus out of the sight of the disciples on the day of his ascension and will reveal him as Son of man in glory on the day of his final coming. 49 37 Sir 48:1; cf. 1 Kings 18:38-39. 38 Lk 1:17; 3:16. 39 Lk 12:49. 40 Acts 2:3-4. 41 Cf. St. John of the Cross, The Living Flame of Love, in The Collected Works of St. John of the Cross, tr. K. Kavanaugh, OCD, and O. Rodriguez, OCD (Washington DC: Institute of Carmelite Studies, 1979), 577 ff. 42 1 Thess 5:19. 43 Cf. Ex 24:15-18. 44 Cf. Ex 33:9-10. 45 Cf. Ex 40:36-38; 1 Cor 10:1-2. 46 Cf. 1 Kings 8:10-12. 47 Lk 1:35. 48 Lk 9:34-35. 49 Cf. Acts 1:9; cf. Lk 21:27. 1127 2586 718 484 554 659