Summary of The Sanctifier by Archbishop Luis Martinez

The Sanctifier by Archbishop Luis Martinez, Pauline Books, Boston, 2003. 

Part I: True Devotion to the Holy Spirit

Ch.1: The Holy Spirit Leads Us to Holiness

The goal of the Christian life is the transformation of the soul into Jesus. This mystical reproduction will be brought about in the same way in which Jesus was brought about into the world: “who was conceived by the Holy Spirit… of the Virgin Mary.

“Devotion to the Holy Spirit must become was St. Grignion de Montfort made of devotion to Mary: something not superficial and intermittent, but constant and profound, filling the depths of souls and impregnating lives with the sweet unction of infinite love” (5).

“Two sanctifiers are necessary to souls, the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary, for they are the only ones who can reproduce Christ” (6).

Ch.2: Our Delightful Guest

Since the Holy Spirit is the infinite Love of God and sanctification is the work of love and love is possession, Scripture appropriates, in a special manner, the indwelling of the Trinity (John 14:23) to the Holy Spirit (John 14:16-17, 1 Cor 3:16, Rom 8:11, 1 John 4:13) and therefore He is rightly called “the delightful Guest of the soul.”

“The first relationship that the Holy Spirit has with souls is that of being the delightful Guest – dulcis Hospes animae – as the Church calls him in the inspired prose of the Mass of Pentecost” (10).

Ch. 3: Our Supreme Director

The Holy Spirit is our supreme Director of the supernatural life, apart from whom sanctity is impossible.

“The soul’s delightful Guest does not remain idle in his intimate sanctuary” (17).

“Imagine a fine lyre whose perfectly harmonized strings vibrate at the blowing of the wind, each giving its own sound and all together composing a beautiful symphony. This is the soul of a just man when the Holy Spirit possesses it fully and has harmonized all the faculties by means of his gifts. Each one of them, like the strings of a living lyre, gives its own sound when the wind of the Spirit blows” (20).

“The perfection of a soul is measured by its docility to the movement of the Spirit, by the promptness and fidelity with which its strings produce the divine notes of the song of love. A soul is perfectly holy when the Spirit of love has take full possession of it, when the divine Artist finds no resistance or dissonance in the strings of that living lyre, but only celestial strains coming forth from it, limpid, ardent, and delightfully harmonized” (21).

“As the spiritual life grows, the strings of the living lyre of the soul, which before were weak and inharmonious, are attuned and harmonized. The soul becomes marvelously sensible to the movement of the Spirit and life becomes intense, rich, perfect, holy” (21).

Chapter 4: The Holy Spirit: God’s Gift to Us

“The Holy Spirit lives in us not only to possess us, but also to be possessed by us, to be ours. For love must possess, as well as be possessed. He is the Gift of God. Now, the gift that belonged to the giver becomes the possession of the one who receives it. The Gift of God is ours through the stupendous prodigy of love” (25).

“Have we thought about what it means to possess the Gift of God in our souls?” (26)

“What profound and consoling truths! The Holy Spirit is ours. We can enjoy him and use his effects. It is in our power to use him; we can enjoy him when we wish. Each one of these truths deserves to be extensively and lovingly meditated upon” (28).

Chapter 5: Transformation into Christ

“To fully glorify the Father, it is necessary to be transformed into Jesus, because the glorification of the Father is his work, and in order to do the work of Jesus it is necessary to be Jesus” (36).

“This is the divine cycle in the sanctification of souls: nobody can go to the Father except through Jesus; nobody can go to Jesus except through the Holy Spirit. Through Jesus, with Jesus, and in Jesus, souls glorify the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit forever and ever” (39).

Chapter 6: The Gifts of the Holy Spirit

Whereas the virtues are our precious means of sanctification, the gifts are the Spirit’s instruments, through which our action actually becomes more intense and real.

“The human faculties could not receive the motion of the Spirit without the gifts that he himself places at the fountainhead of our activity to receive his sanctifying motion, his divine inspirations, his vivifying breath” (46).

Chapter 7: The Holy Spirit Consecrates Us

Our cooperation with the Holy Spirit must be a total “consecration” – being set apart as temples of the Holy Spirit solely to glorify God (1 Cor 3:16, 1 Cor 10:31) and separated from all that is impure.

“True devotion to the Holy Spirit is not something distinct from the Christian life; it is the Christian life – thoroughly understood, seriously practiced, and deeply enjoyed” (54).

Chapter 8: Practicing the Presence of the Holy Spirit

Since the Holy Spirit is the eternal Guest of our souls, in order to be truly devoted to him, “we have a duty to remain with Him while He is in our house. Since He dwells in us by love, “in the same way, we live with the Holy Spirit if we love him; and our life with him will be perfect in proportion to our love” (58). Each day, we must allow our thoughts and our acts to go closer and closer to love’s source, until the thought of God and his loving presence becomes a divine obsession.

“If we are to obtain intimate life with the Holy Spirit and to have the sweet presence of the divine Guest, there is only one definitive and efficacious means: it is love. “Where your treasure is, there also will your heart be” (Mt 6:21), said Jesus. And we may add: Where your heart is, there is your whole being. The secret of recollection and of the presence of God is in the heart” (60).

Chapter 9: The Holy Spirit Strengthens Our Faith

The Holy Spirit accomplishes the mystery of our union with him by the theological virtues. While “the other virtues empty the soul, place it in the desire solitude, cleanse and adorn it” (63), “the theological virtues are supreme, not only by their excellence (they have God for their proper object), but also by their practical importance, by the solidity of their foundation, and because they are the beginning of our intimacy with God (they have the ineffable privilege of touching Him)” (63).

Our devotion to the Holy Spirit must be founded on faith, for it is the basis of the Christian life and it reveals the Holy Spirit to us, initiating our intimacy with Him.

“Since faith by its very nature is imperfect, the Holy Spirit gives us the intellectual gifts to allow faith to become more penetrating, more complehensive, and more divine” (65).

Chapter 10: The Holy Spirit Inspires Our Hope

The Holy Spirit “is the pledge of our inheritance” (Eph 1:14), giving us “the unshakable support of his loving strength” (67).

Chapter 11: The Holy Spirit Fills Us With Love

The Holy Spirit, the infinite and personal Love of God, pours His charity into our hearts so that we may love with the love of His charity and enter into mutual possession with Him.

This love must be exercised in all the stages of our spiritual lives, for charity “moves, impels, directs and coordinates all the virtues and all the spiritual gifts” (73). Furthermore, we must make charity the precise ideal and impelling force that guides all our actions in the spiritual life.

“The exercise of charity is a brief and delightful road to the attainment of sanctity. It is brief, because everything is simplified when it is treated thoroughly; delightful, because love facilitates every effort and sweetens every sacrifice. How easy is the way when one loves! How courageous, how strong, and how filled with consolation is the soul that is sustained by love!” (73)

“Charity joins us closely to the Holy Spirit. It puts us in contact with the divine flame, the unique source of holiness. Who would not burn if led into a glowing furnace? Who can escape being sanctified if he throws himself into the very essence of sanctity?” (75)

Chapter 12: The Holy Spirit Possesses Us

“Our love for the Holy Spirit should be marked by loving docility, by full surrender, and by a constant fidelity that permits us to be moved, directed, and transformed by his sanctifying grace” (80).

“Our love for the Father tends to glorify Him; our love for the Son, to transform ourselves into him; our love for the holy Spirit, to let ourselves be possesed and moved by Him” (80).

You will hear the Holy Spirit “in the proportion in which love has anointed you with slience” (81). You must have “solicitous attention to the sound of his voice, to his inspirations, to his most delicate touches” (81).

“This sweet abandonment to all the movements of love is the characteristic mark of devotion to the Holy Spirit” (83).

Chapter 13: We Possess the Holy Spirit

The more we love the Holy Spirit, the more he is ours and we are his.

“Yours and mine: the whole essence of love is in these two words… No one can let himself be possessed without at the same time possessing… To love the Holy Spirit, then, is both to let oneself be possessed by him and to possess him” (85).

Chapter 14: The Holy Spirit Brings Us to Jesus

The Holy Spirit reproduces Christ in a unique way in each of those who have reached the perfection of the Christian life. What way does the Holy Spirit want to reproduce Christ in you?

“Devotion to the Holy Spirit is not properly understood if we do not see that it is closely related with devotion to the Father and to the Word and that by a divine logic it leads to these two devotions, and also contains them in their essential elements. In a beam of sunshine there are light, heat, and energy, which can be separated, studied, and utilized, though they are actually one in their natural state. In the same way, devotion to the three divine Persons must form a single supernatural reality, although when passing through the prism of our limited understanding each seems separate, adapting itself to the imperfection of our intelligence, which is unable to embrace the whole in one single glance” (93).

Chapter 15: The Holy Spirit Leads us to the Father

Devotion to the Father is the logical consummation of devotion to the Holy Spirit. When the soul is transformed into Jesus, the soul takes on the ideal of Jesus: to glorify the Father.

“To adore and love the Father and to fulfill His holy will was the whole life of Jesus. It should also be our life” (103).

“The three principal characteristics of devotion to the Father: adoration in spirit and in truth of the divine majesty resplendent in the Father; filial love, respectful and tender, because its object is the Father; and the desire to fulfill the Father’s will even to abandonment, because his will is the supreme norm of our life” (103).

Chapter 16: Union with the Loving Will of the Father

The most evident characteristic of Jesus’ devotion to His Father was his passion for fulfilling the Father’s will (John 4:32, 4:34, 6:38, 8:29, Mt 6:10, 12:50). “Only the Holy Spirit can infuse in our hearts such passion for the divine will, for only he can bring us to know the Father and teach us to love him, by transforming us into Jesus” (115).

“The Holy Spirit alone can give us a share of Jesus’ hunger to do the will of God, because this hunger is love and all true love comes from infinite Love” (114).

“For worldly people, the will of God is often a tragic hardship; for souls beginning their spiritual journey, it is a motive for resignation; for saints, it is heaven. Why so many diverse effects from one thing? Simply because each soul receives the will of God according to its relations with the Holy Spirit” (114-115).

Chapter 17: The Mystery of the Cross

True devotion to the Holy Spirit leads to one end, the cross, which is both the supreme glorification of God and the supreme expression of love.

“To know that we die for the One we love – is not this the highest delight and joy of love? Love without sacrifice is truly insipid and imperfect” (120).

“The devotion to the Father that filled the soul of Jesus, that soul great beyond measure, had the cross for its terminus. Only on the cross was his longing to glorify the Father satisfied, his immense hunger for doing the will of the Father appeased. Only there did his infinite love attain rest” (121).

Chapter 18: Our Response to Christ Crucified

Just as Jesus offered himself through the Holy Spirit, the personal Love of God, all souls who wish to share in the sacrifice of Jesus must offer themselves through the same Spirit.

“If the cross was for Jesus the centre of devotion to the Father, it should hold the same place for us” (123).

“The divine science of the cross, the love of the cross, and the intimate participation in the cross are precious jewels that only the Holy Spirit can communicate to souls” (126).

“Man, abandoned to himself, hates nothing so much as pain; when the fire of the Holy Spirit burns within his soul, there is nothing he loves so intensely” (127).

“For sacrifice to have value it must be the fruit of love; to have infinite value, it must be the fruit of infinite love” (129).

Chapter 19: Summary and Conclusions

The Holy Spirit is essential in the spiritual life because He alone “is the Sanctifier of souls, the fount of all graces, the centre of the spiritual life” (131). Therefore, our devotion to the Holy Spirit must be a “constant and loving cooperation… a total, definitive, and perpetual surrender, a true consecration” (132).

Part II: The Gifts of the Holy Spirit

Chapter 1: Overview of the Gifts

The Holy Spirit’s job is to sanctify our souls. As the great Artist, He performs this masterful work through 2 ways:

1) Our work of virtue: The Spirit helps, moves, and directs us, His apprentices, through the exercise of our virtues that come with grace. These are the instruments we have been given to participate in the Spirit’s work of transforming us into Christ. 

2) His work of gifts: To accomplish this divine work, the Spirit takes over and uses His instruments, the gifts, to complete this masterpiece. We received these gifts on the day of our baptism and continue to possess them when God’s grace dwells in our souls. In this way, our acts take only a truly divine character. 

The gifts of the Holy Spirit, which we received on the day of our baptism and continue to possess when we have God’s grace in our souls,

“are the supernatural realities that God has willed to put in our souls… the divine, mysterious receivers for picking up the Spirit’s inspirations and movements… the vital seeds that need to be cultivated… with exquisite care” (141, 143, 144).

“How do the gifts of the Holy Spirit develop in us? What can and what ought we do in order to bring them to perfect growth? Three things are necessary.

1) Charity: “[S]ince charity is the root of the gifts… in proportion as charity increases, the gifts also increase and develop” (145).

2) Virtues: “[A]s the virtues increase, the ground is prepared, so to speak, for the Holy Spirit to come and, with fine and exquisite art, to finish our work” (145). NB: Since “virtue is always limited by the human stamp of imperfection” (164), we need the supernatural gifts of the Spirit.

3) Cooperate: “By our loving and constant attention, by the docility of our hearts, we can more clearly hear the mysterious voice of the Spirit of God, and we can more perfectly receive his holy inspirations” (145-6).

Through His gifts, the Spirit influences each and every one of our human faculties:

1) Intellect: understanding (penetrate divine truths), wisdom (judge divine things – most important) knowledge (judge creatures), and counsel (directs our acts).

2) Will: piety (guides & directs our relations with God and men). NB: In our will, we also have two very lofty virtues, hope and charity, which are superior to the gifts and can also function as gifts. 

3) Inferior activities of our being: fortitude (takes away dread of danger), fear of Lord (establishes a proper relationship between Creator and creature and moderates disordered impulses of our concupiscence).

As you read through the following gifts of the Spirit, keep in mind the divine timing of God for the full flowering of these gifts in your spiritual life:

“[J]ust as the plants have their seasons for blooming – some when fragrant spring is here, others in the heat of summer, others still in the midst of autumn’s richness – so each one of the gifts has its special, propitious moment in the spiritual life when it finds its full development” (145).

Chapter 2: The Gift of the Fear of the Lord

The gift of the fear of the Lord is a perfect, filial, and noble fear that is rooted in love and casts out all other fears (cf. 1 John 4:18).

“The Spirit of God unites us to himself in such a way that he infuses in us an instinctive, profound, efficacious horror of being separated from God, which makes us say: everything, except to be parted from him; everything, except to lose our close union with the Beloved!” (150).

In this holy fear, there is the beginning of wisdom (cf. Ps 111:10):

not in the sense that the essence of wisdom emanates from it, as conclusions emanate from principles in science… but because, in order to possess divine wisdom, we need to unite ourselves so closely to God that nothing can separate us from him and the gift of fear hinders us from ever separating ourselves from the Beloved (cf. 150).

Many of the great deeds in the lives of the saints were inspired by the gift of fear:

St. Aloysius Gonzaga (+1591) wept and scourged himself when he had to confess some little faults that we find it hard to believe were really sins. Due to his passionate love of God and under the influence of the gift of fear, the slightest danger of being removed from his Beloved tore his heart to pieces. This is obviously a supernatural gift of the Holy Spirit.

The gift of fear has 3 degrees:

1st degree: Horror for sin and strength to overcome temptations. Whereas with virtue we struggle (and often fail) to overcome temptations, with the gift of fear we achieve victory rapidly and perfectly.

2nd degree: The soul stays away from sin and clings to God with profound reverence, avoiding even insignificant acts that are signs of imperfection. The profound respect of the saints for everything sacred – the Church, the Gospel, the priesthood – is the effect of the gift of fear.

3rd degree: Total detachment from the things of the earth. Having clung to God and avoiding anything that could separate us from Him, exterior things lose their fascination for us and we experience a divine freedom, a holy disinterestedness. This is why theologians say that the gift of fear produces the 1st of the beatitudes: poverty of spirit (cf. Mt 5:3).

Chapter 3: The Gift of Fortitude

The gift of fortitude gives us both the infinite strength of God to overcome all difficulties and supernatural confidence to be peaceful in the midst of trials and joyful in the midst of suffering.

“O Brother Leo, perfect happiness consists in suffering for Christ, who willed to suffer so much for us” – St. Francis of Assisi

“If the wild beasts do not throw themselves upon me, as has happened with some martyrs, I shall incite them to do so. Forgive me, my children, but I know what is good for me. For I am the wheat of Christ and I must be crushed by the teeth of wild beasts so that I may be converted into immaculate bread” – St. Ignatius of Antioch

The gift of fortitude has 3 degrees:

1st degree: We can do all that is absolutely necessary for the salvation of our soul. 

2nd degree: We can also do all that is in accord with our duties of life. 

3rd degree: We can conquer ourselves and find boundless confidence and unchanging peace in God. 

Chapter 4: The Gift of Piety

The gift of piety develops in us a filial affection for God as Father (cf. Romans 8:15) by which we “fulfill all the duties we have towards God in a delicate, attentive, and filial manner” (166) “without reserve, with all the generosity, with all the expansiveness, of a supernatural and divine love” (167) in imitation of Christ the Victim (we foster the same sentiments of Jesus towards the Father) to honour and glorify Him.

“For the greater glory of God” – St. Ignatius of Loyola’s motto

St. Therese’s “little way” is particularly marked by the gift of piety: “To become as a little child is to sense deeply our divine filiation” (168).

This filial affection leads us to fraternal affection, for all men are our brothers if God is our Father. 

St. Francis of Assisi’s revelation of human fraternity when he took care of a leper before his major conversion.

1st degree: The soul gives itself generously to others.

2nd degree: The soul gives what it needs itself (cf. Romans 9:3).

3rd degree: The soul gives everything for others (cf. 2 Cor 12:15).

Chapter 5: The Gifts That Pertain to the Intellect




  1. Seminarian33 says:

    This blog is incredible… It’s the Catholic version of Sparknotes. I am a seminarian and I’ve been sharing this blog with so many of my friends. Thank you for taking the time to do all of these spiritual classics Richard. There is so much spiritual wisdom and treasure found here, I absolutely love it.

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