The Holy Feast of Pentecost (Part II)

My beloved spiritual children 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.

PENTECOST (Part II)

by His Eminence Metropolitan of Nafpaktos, HIEROTHEOS

The feast of Pentecost is a feast of the Holy Spirit, because we learn from the descent of the Holy Spirit that God is Three-fold. Previously too, both obscurely in the Old Testament and in Christ's teaching, people were learning the Trinitarian character of God, but at Pentecost they acquired practical experience of His threefold hypostasis. Thus Pentecost is a feast of orthodox theology.

In orthodox theology what is said about God (theology) is a different thing from what is said about the incarnation (economy). So on the day of Pentecost we express theology in an orthodox way, because we understand that God is threefold, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. According to the orthodox teaching of revelation, the Father is without beginning, without cause and ungenerated, that is to say He has not cause for His existence from anyone, the Son comes from the Father by generation, and the Holy Spirit comes from the Father by procession. These terms: ungenerated, generation and procession were revealed to us by Christ, and we cannot understand them rationally, so they remain a mystery. The fact is that the Son and the Holy Spirit come from the Father in different ways, each having a particular hypostatic character, or way of being, but they both have the same essence as He.

In spite of the fact that the Father is the orginator, the Son begotten of the Father and the Holy Spirit sent out, they have the same nature--essence and opinion--energy. All three Persons of the Holy Trinity are consubstantial, like-minded, of the same power, and none is greater than the other. In other words, the Son and the Holy Spirit are no less in value than the Father. And when we speak of First, Second and Third Persons of the Holy Trinity, we are not comparing them in value, superiority and power, but according to their way of being (Saint Basil the Great). In the end, human logic, human understanding and words are unable to formulate the mystery of the Truine God...

"Many names have been given to the Holy Spirit. One of them, which also shows the work which it does in the Church as well as in the lives of people is the name "Comforter". Christ Himself used this word for the Holy Spirit when He said to His Disciples shortly before His Passion: "I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Comforter to be with you forever--the Spirit of truth" (St. John 14: 16-17). And a little further on, the Holy Spirit is characterized by Christ as the 'Paraclete', the Comforter Who will teach the Disciples and will remind them of everything He has said during His life. "But the Paraclete, the Holy Spirit, Whom the Father will send in My name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have told to you" (St. John 14:25). Having the assurance that the Holy Spirit is the Comforter, we pray to Him: "Heavenly King, Comforter, the Spirit of truth".

The Holy Spirit comfort the person who is struggling against sin, trying to keep Christ's commandments in his life. This struggle is hard, because the fight is against the evil spirit. Therefore the Holy Spirit is a comforter, or one who consoles men, as Saint John Chrysostom says. It is a mark of God that He consoles men, so God is characterized by the same terms as the Holy Spirit.

The important thing in the Christological studies which we are making here is that the Holy Spirit is characterized by Christ as the Paraclete but at the same time is called the "other" Paraclete". It is the other Paraclete because Christ too is a Comforter Who consoles the people. The Evangelist John the Theologian in his General Epistle urges the Christians not to sin. But then he says that even if they sin they should not be discouraged, because "we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense--Jesus Christ" (1 John 1-2). Thus Christ and the Holy Spirit are the two Paracletes in the world. Of course God the Father is the Consoler of men, for consolation is a common action of the Triune God.

The phrase "other Paraclete" means that Christ and the Holy Spirit are different hypostases, but they have a common nature, essence and energy. Saint Gregory the Theologian, interpreting the phrase "other Paraclete", says that this constitutes and characterizes the 'co-lordship' and consubstantiality of the hypostases. The fact that Christ says that He will send 'another Comforter' means that He too is a Comforter. "For it is one and I am the other". In this way we can see the equality in honor of Christ and the Holy Spirit...

"According to the Holy Fathers of the Church existed also before Christ's incarnation, since the creation of the Angels and man is the beginning of the Church. With the fall of Adam we have the fall of the Church, and yet the Church is still preserved in the persons of the prophets and of the righteous men of the Old Testament in general. In spite of the existence of the Church, the rule of death is still in force, and therefore, while the righteous ones of the Old Testament attained deification (theosis) and knew the Unincarnate Logos/Word (Saint John Chrysostom), the power of death still prevailed over them. Thus the righteous went to Hell...

"The Church was founded on the day of Pentecost, in that the Apostles became members of the Body of Christ. Thus, while they previously had a communion with Christ, now by the power and energy of the Holy Spirit they became members of the Body of Christ. The Church changed from spirit to flesh. The saints, the deified, had a relationship and communion not only with the Unincarnate Logos/ Word, but with the Logos/Word become flesh, Christ the Godman. The theology that the Church is that the Body of Christ and the saints are the members of the Body of Christ is explained by the Apostle Paul (1 Corinthians 12:1-31). He says that the Church is not a religious organization, but the Body of Christ. Moreover, he says that the distribution of the Gifts of Grace takes place by the energy of the Holy Spirit. To conclude, the Apostle Paul says: "Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it" (1 Corinthians 12:27).

It should be added that in the teaching of the Holy Fathers of the Church two truths appear which show the common energy of the Persons of the Holy Trinity. The Christians are members of the Body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:27), but at the same time they are temples of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19). One does not exclude the other...

"...All the graces and Gifts which are given to the members of the Church are Gifts of the Holy Spirit. Prophetic vision, the apostolic life and the martyr's end are Gifts and graces of the Holy Trinity. This means that the vision of the Prophets is not a fabrication of the mind and imagination, the Apostolic life is not an anthropocentric mission, the martyrdom of the saints is not the activation of a strong will, but all gifts are granted by the All-Holy Spirit.

Among the gifts with which the one who receives the gift of the Holy Spirit is endowed in the saintly life, when the person struggles to keep God's commandments to the highest degree and to live in purity of soul and body, the married life in Christ within the social customs, the pastoral diaconate in Christ with its many cares, etc. - in other words, all the gifts of grace that the Holy Spirit grants. Thus the Holy Spirit "wholly makes up the institution of the Church", which is the Body of Christ. (Source: The Feasts of the Lord: An Introduction to the Twelve Feasts and Orthodox Christology by Metropolitan of Nafpaktos, Hierotheos)

(To be continued)

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"Glory Be To GOD For All Things!"--Saint John Chrysostom

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With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God

+Father George