That is a biggy. No I can't explain the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is what we call a "Sacred Mystery". "Sacred Mystery" is "Catholic" for "just let it go." Meaning, it is something we cannot and are not meant to understand.
Which is ironic because, in a way, the Holy Spirit is all about understanding. Remember the Pentecost? The disciples were a bunch of scrawny, giggling nincompoops until the Holy Spirit dropped in on them. They emerged, brave and speaking a lot of new languages and filled with understanding about what they had to do next.
But don't ask how. They were filled with the Spirit. Capital "S". But don't ask how.
So, no I can't explain the Holy Spirit. I can, however, explain about the Holy Spirit. But, and this is a big "but", just about everything I can explain is impossible to understand.
Let's start with "who" the Holy Spirit is. The Holy Spirit is the third Person in the Holy Trinity. Three Persons in One God. Three separate Persons: God the Father, Jesus (God the Son) and (God) the Holy Spirit, but one Being, entirely not separate and entirely separate. Do you understand that? Don't start drinking. Me, neither. Don't sweat it. It's a Sacred Mystery.
The Holy Spirit comes bearing gifts. What do you think we call those? This is an easy one, although considering we really can't understand the Holy Spirit in the first place, it's hard to see how the Holy Spirit comes with gifts. They are called "the Gifts of the Holy Spirit". There are seven of them.
Why seven? Seven is a "complete" number. Like when you eat prunes...are three enough, are six too many? Remember that ad? Probably not, it was long ago. But seven is just enough. Not too many, not able to be evenly divided.
Three is a number like that also, which is why there is a Holy Trinity and not a Holy Duo.
In any case, just to confuse you even further, although there are Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit, there are actually more gifts of the Holy Spirit that are in a whole separate category. Those cannot be counted.
Maybe you do need a drink by now. Please make sure it is a reasonable hour to have a cocktail.
Okay, so, Seven (Sanctifying) Gifts of the Holy Spirit and countless Charismatic Gifts of the Holy Spirit.
I need a nap.
Seven sanctifying gifts: wisdom, understanding, knowledge, counsel, fortitude, piety and fear of the Lord.
Don't a lot of people already have some of these attributes? Of course, they do. The gifts aren't actually wisdom, understanding, knowledge, etc.
Jack Daniels or Stoli?
The gifts are the perfection of these attributes, which causes perfection of virtues. What does that mean?
Olives or onion? A twist?
Wisdom perfects charity. Knowledge perfects hope. Counsel perfects prudence. Understanding perfects intuition. Piety perfects justice. Fortitude perfects...fortitude. Fear of the Lord perfects the appetites.
Like not drinking to much trying to understand the Gifts of the Holy Spirit.
The rest of the gifts, the charismatic gifts help us to fulfill our calling in life. They are freely given graces that make us better parents and teachers and nurses and busboys. It's entirely up to the Holy Spirit when and to whom the gifts are given, but our understanding is that the Holy Spirit is very, very generous in this category.
But, it's very hard to say if you've gotten this type of gift. So don't ask me.
Barkeep! Another round for everybody!