Beloved brothers and sisters in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE. Ο ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΕΝ ΤΩ ΜΕΣΩ ΗΜΩΝ! ΚΑΙ ΗΝ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΙ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΑΙ.
Second Homily On Prayer
Saint John Chrysostom
"Prayer is the beginning of very good things, and the mediator of salvation and eternal life...
"The greatest thing we have to say about prayer is that every praying person converses with God Himself, and this to the extent that, being human, one can speak with God...One cannot adequately express in words this honor. For this honor exceeds even the magnificence of the Angels themselves...At the time of prayer we are forgetful of our human nature, considering ourselves to be in the midst of Angels and carrying out the same worship as they. For all the other things are very different and separated-I mean between us and the Angels-but the work of prayer is common to both Angels and humans."
A PRAYER TO THE HOLY SPIRIT OUR GOD
(Saint Symeon the New Theologian)
Come, O life of delight, eternity and all power, the All-Holy, Life-Giving and Creative Spirit, Who are of equal honor in authority with the Father and the Son, Whose convergence and unity into one is through the identity of worth and of will in the Three Persons of the Divinity.
Come, O my Lord, my anguished soul has yearned and still yearns for You.
Come, O yearning that is in me and causes me to desire You Who are altogether inaccessible.
Come, O my constant joy and delight and glory.
Come, O my breath, my life and the consolation of my soul.
Become one spirit with me, O Most Benevolent Lord, yet without confusion, without change, without alteration, since You are God above all.
Become for me the One Who is everything to all, inexpressible nourishment, totally free, constantly flowing on the lips of my soul and streaming in the fountain of my heart, a shining garment that burns the demons, the catharsis that washes me with incorruptible and holy tears that are granted by Your presence to those You approach.
Become for me, O Lord, the Light without night, the unsetting sun that illumines me in every place, the One Who turns away from no one at all, so that we may not be overcome by the darkness of our sins and be unwilling to come to You.
Take away from me, O Lord, every destructive pride and give a prudent countenance to my eyes; set a bridle on my tongue, make my ears obedient to your Holy Commandment, provide me with patience in afflictions, make my heart wise and strong in forbearance, in goodness, in restraint, in sympathy, in charity, in love, in humility, in peace toward myself and all others, and in rejecting the indolence and slothfulness of the demons in which I once indulged as if they were mere confessions.
Grant me the gift of seasoned discretion to be able to discern which thoughts and whose judgments to prefer. Grant me also the ability to discern the machinations of the devil and to reject them and him. And may I cut off altogether my own will so that I may rely upon Your Providence, hoping to receive from You whatever is beneficial for me. For my life is dependent upon You, Who are my Light, my salvation. And I bless, glorify, and worship You, together with the Father and the Son, with Whom You are Co-Eternal and Co-Existing, always, now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen.
OUR GOD THE HOLY SPIRIT
"...And in the Holy Spirit, Lord and Giver of Life, Who proceeds from the Father, Who together with the Father and the Son is worshiped and glorified, Who spoke by the prophets..." (The Creed)
The Holy Spirit bears the title of Lord with God the Father and Christ the Son. He is the Spirit of God and Spirit of Christ. He is Eternal, Uncreated, and Divine; always existing with the Father and the Son; perpetually worshiped and glorified with them in the Oneness of the Holy Trinity.
Just like the Son, there was no time when there was no Holy Spirit. The Spirit is before creation. He comes forth from God, as does the Son, in a timeless, Eternal procession. "He proceeds from the Father, "in Eternity in a Divinely instantaneous and perpetual movement (St. John 15:26).
Orthodox Christian Doctrine confesses that God the Father is the Eternal Origin and source of the Spirit, just as He is the source of the Son. Yet, the Church affirms as well that the manner of the Father's possession and production of the Spirit and the Son differ according to the difference between the Son being "born," and the Spirit "proceeding." There have been many attempts-by holy men inspired by God and with a genuine experience of His Trinitarian life to explain the distinction between the procession of the Spirit and the begetting or generation of the Son. For us it is enough to see that the difference between the two lies in the distinction between the Divine Persons and actions of the Son and the Spirit in relation to the Father, and so as well to each other and to the world. It is necessary to note further that all words and concepts about God and Divinity, including those of "procession" and "generation" must give way before the mystical vision of the actual Divine Reality which they express. God may somehow be grasped by men as He has chosen to reveal Himself. However, the essence of His Triune existence remains--and will always remain--essentially inconceivable and inexpressible to created to created minds and lips. This does not mean that words about God are meaningless. It only means that they are inadequate to the Reality which they seek to express...
At this point also it is necessary to note that the Roman and Protestant churches differ in their creedal statement about God by adding that the Holy proceeds from the Father "and the Son" (filioque)--a doctrinal addition unacceptable to Orthodoxy since it is both unscriptural and inconsistent with the Orthodox vision of God.
With the affirmation of the Divinity of the Holy Spirit, and the necessity of worshiping and glorifying Him with the Father and the Son, the Orthodox Church affirms that the divine reality, called the deity of the Godhead in the Orthodox Tradition, is the Holy Trinity.
The Holy Spirit is essentially one in His eternal existence with Father and the Son; and so, in every action of God toward the world, the Holy Spirit is necessarily acting. Thus, in the Genesis account of creation it is written: "The Spirit of God was moving over the face of the waters" (Genesis 1:2). It is this same Spirit Who is the "breath of life" for all living things and particularly for man, made in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:30; 2:7). Generally speaking the Spirit in Hebrew is called the "breath" or the "wind" of Yahweh. It is He Who makes everything alive, the "giver of life" who upholds and sustains the universe in its existence and life (e.g. Ps. 104:29; Job 33:4).
The Holy Spirit is also He Who inspires the Saints to speak God's Word and to do God's will. He anoints the prophets, priests, and kings of the Old Testament; and "in the fullness of time." It is this same spirit who "descends and remains" on Jesus of Nazareth, making Him the Messiah (anointed) of God and manifesting Him as such to the world. Thus, in the New Testament at the first epiphany (which means literally showing forth or manifestation) of Christ as the Messiah-His Baptism by John in the Jordan--the Holy Spirit is revealed as descending and resting upon him "as a dove from Heaven" (St. John 1:32; St. Luke 3:22; see also St. Matthew 3:16; and St. Mark 1:9). It is important to note, both here and in the account of the Spirit's coming on the Day of Pentecost, as well as in other places in the Holy Scriptures, that the words "as" and "like" are used in order to avoid an incorrect "physical" interpretation of the events recorded where the Holy Bible itself is literally speaking in quite a symbolical and metaphorical way.
Jesus begins His Public work after His Baptism, and immediately refers Isaiah's prophecy about the Messiah directly to Himself: "The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me..." (Isaiah 61:1; St. Luke 4:18).
All the days of His life Jesus is "full of the Holy Spirit"--preaching, teaching, healing, casting out devils and accomplishing every sign and wonder of His Messiahship by the Spirit's power (St. Luke 4:11). It is written that even His Self-Offering to God on the Cross is made "through the Eternal Spirit" (Hebrews 9:14). And it is through the same Divine Spirit that He and all men with Him are Risen from the dead (Ezek. 37:1-4).
On the day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit comes upon the holy Disciples of Christ in the form of "tongues as of fire," with the sound "like that of a mighty rushing wind" (Acts 2:1-4). We note once more the use of "as" and "like". The coming of the Spirit on Pentecost is the final fulfillment of Christ's earthly Messianic mission, the beginning of the Christian Church. It is the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecy that in the time of the Messiah-King, the Spirit of God will be "poured out on all flesh" (Joel 2:28; Acts 1:14). It is the condition of the age of the final and everlasting covenant of perfect mercy and peace (Ez. 34:37; Jer. 31:33; Is 11:42, 44, 61).
The Christian Church lives by the Holy Spirit. The Spirit alone is the guarantee that God's life and truth and love are with men. Only by the Holy Spirit can man and the world fulfill that for which they were created by God. All of God's actions toward man and the world--in creation, salvation and final glorification--are from the Father through the Son (Logos or Word) in the Holy Spirit, and all of man's capabilities of response to God are in that same Spirit, through the same Son to the same Father.
HOLY SPIRIT IS THE SPIRIT OF LIFE.
"If the Spirit of Him Who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He Who raised Jesus from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies through the Spirit Who dwells in you" (Romans 8:11).
THE HOLY SPIRIT IS THE SPIRIT OF TRUTH
"When the Spirit of Truth comes He will guide you into all the Truth; for He will not speak on His Own Authority, but whatever He hears He will speak, and He will declare to you the things that are to come" (St. John 16:13; St. John 14:25; St. John 15:26).
THE HOLY SPIRIT IS THE SPIRIT OF DIVINE SONSHIP
"For all who are led by the Spirit are sons of God. For you did not receive the Spirit of slavery...but you received the Spirit of sonship. When we cry "Abba! Father!" it is the Spirit Himself bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God" (Romans 8:14; Gal. 4:6).
Please note: Since we believe that the Holy Spirit is "the Spirit of Truth" it cannot exist and act among heretics and those who knowingly attempt to distort the truth, corrupt the faith and confuse believers in Christ. Heretics have neither the guidance nor the grace of the Holy Spirit!
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God