In the medieval and less enlightened times, it was determined that a person’s health had to do with the composition of humours in the body. The four humours were thought and taught to be blood, yellow bile, black bile, and phlegm. These four humours needed to be in balance with each other and determined the type of personality that a person would have – sanguine (being optimistic and social), melancholic (being analytic and quiet), choleric (being short tempered and irritable), and phlegmatic (being relaxed and peaceful) (Brander, 2020; Zuckerman & Aluja, 2015; Ashton, 2023). Of course advances in Medical Science have since debunked these theories.

Yet, what really gives us life?

In Genesis 1:2: we read that as the world was created by God our Father, “a mighty wind swept across the waters”. Following that, in Genesis 2:7, “then the LORD God formed the man out of the dust of the ground and blew into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.” This wind, and this breath of Heaven is Ruah.

Ruah in Hebrew means breath, air, or wind, and in turn, the term “Spirit” translates the word Ruah (CCC. 691).

It is no coincidence that the Holy Spirit is described as these –

Jesus in John 3:8 says, “The wind blows where it wills, and you can hear the sound it makes, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes; so it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

In Acts 2:2; 4, “And suddenly there came from the sky a noise like a strong driving wind, and it filled the entire house in which they were… and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit.”

Jesus as the Resurrected Lord, who has conquered sin and death, comes to his troubled disciples, and repeats the act of creation in Genesis 2 – “Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.’ And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.’” (John 20:21-23) First Jesus speaks the Word of God, and then He breathes unto the disciples. The disciples are re-made into a new creation just like at the beginning of the universe. It is no longer the life of the flesh that lives, but it is the life of the Spirit. As St. Paul eloquently says, “…you have put to death the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed, for knowledge, in the image of its creator.” (Colossians 3: 9-10).

This corroborates and affirms the prophetic act of Ezekiel 37:9-10: “Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, son of man! Say to the breath: Thus says the Lord GOD: From the four winds come, O breath, and breathe into these slain that they may come to life. I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath entered them; they came to life and stood on their feet, a vast army.” The dry bones are no longer dead, but are brought to new life with the Word of God, and with the Breath of God.

With the Holy Spirit we come to understand the attributes of Ruah:

  • This breath of God refreshes and is life-giving
  • There is movement and always a stirring as the Holy Spirit moves like the wind
  • We cannot grasp this fully with our senses – for example we cannot see the wind, but we can feel its effects
  • The breath of God, this Ruah is living and moving within us. We are alive because this Ruah sustains us. Yet, in sin this Ruah is also diminished causing the Spirit dwelling in us to intercede on our behalf: “…the Spirit too comes to the aid of our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit itself intercedes with inexpressible sighs and groanings.” (Romans 8:26) As we near death due to sin, the Holy Spirit literally gasps and cries out for breath on our behalf, so that we may live again.

As we go about our Christian ministry. We need to remember to breathe, and it is the breath of God, this Ruah, that we need to remember to breathe in.


By the Grace of God, 

Brian Bartholomew Tan




Ashton, M.C. (2023). Biological Bases of Personality. Individual Differences and Personality, Fourth Edition.  Elsevier Inc.

Brander, E. (2020). Humoralism and the Seasons. Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. Bernard Becker Medical Library. Retrieved October 21, 2023 from

Catechism of the Catholic Church. (1999). The Proper Name of the Holy Spirit. Catechism of the Catholic Church. Libreria Editrice Vaticana. Retrieved from

Zuckerman, M. & Aluja, A. (2015). Measures of Sensation Seeking. Measures of Personality and Social Psychological Constructs. Elsevier Inc.