The Holy Feast of Pentecost (Part III)

My beloved spiritual children in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,

by His Eminence Metropolitan of Nafpaktos, HIEROTHEOS

The Holy Apostles and the Holy Spirit

As soon as the Holy Apostles were filled with the Holy Spirit they were full of great joy. It was a new experience for them. While previously they had simply been good men, now they became members of the Risen Body of Christ. They were not confined to worshipping Christ, but they were inseparably united with Him. All who saw them were perplexed, and some mockingly said "they are full of new wine", meaning they were drunk with new wine (Acts 2:13).

The coming of the Holy Spirit into the heart of man is called by the Holy Fathers of the Church "sober intoxication" (Saint Dionysios the Areopagite). Saint Isaac the Syrian, referring to such states, speaks of the fact that all the person's powers are plunged "in deep intoxication". It is called intoxication because there is great joy and gladness, and it is characterized as "sober" because the person does not lose his senses nor his reason. When a person is taken possession of by the Holy Spirit he remains free, or to express better, he acquires real freedom, which does not function as a power of choice, as philosophical ethics says, but as a natural will, as an overcoming of death. The Holy Apostle Paul writes characteristically: "The spirits of Prophets are subject to the Prophets" (1 Corinthians 14:32). This means that the man who is a Prophet is not subject to his gift of grace, but the gift of grace is subject to the Prophet, which is to say that man's freedom is not abolished, nor are the energies of his mind and soul suspended.

Saint Nikodemos the Hagiorite says that there are three kinds of intoxication. First, that which comes with too much wine, which is the cause of many evils. Second, is the intoxication which is activated by the passions. This is the intoxication meant by the Prophet Isaiah when he said: "Woe to those that are drunk without wine" (Isaiah 28:1 Septuagint). And elsewhere the same Prophet, referring to Jerusalem, said: "hear this, you afflicted one, made drunk, but not with wine" (Isaiah 51:21). Third is the intoxication caused by the Holy Spirit. We meet it in the mother of the Prophet Samuel, who was praying in the Temple very earnestly, and her prayer was noetic, so strong that his son Eli the Priest thought she was drunk and wanted to drive her out of the Temple. And she answered and said that she was not drunk but was pouring her heart out to the Lord (1 Samuel 1:14-15).

The Holy Apostles underwent this third intoxication on the day of Pentecost, because then they received the Holy Spirit, discovered the place of the heart, knew Christ better, became members of the Body of Christ, developed a great love and longing for Christ, and this was expressed, as the Holy Fathers explain, by prayer.

The feast of Pentecost is the last feast of the Divine Economy, as we have already indicated. In order for the human race to be saved and for it to return to its previous state, but also to rise to a higher point, which Adam should have reached, but failed, God sent His Only-begotten and Beloved Son, Christ manifested by His Father, revealed His existence, and then sent the Holy Spirit, which proceeds from the Father and is sent by Him, the Son. And the Holy Spirit makes men members of the Body of Christ and illuminates them so that they recognize Christ and the Father.

So the order of the Divine Economy and salvation of the human race is: "Father, Son and Holy Spirit, since the Father sends the Son and the Son sends the Holy Spirit. But the order of man's deification (theosis) is just the opposite: men is led by the Spirit to the Son, and through the Son he recognizes the Father.

Saint Basil the Great, analyzing this fact, and mainly the latter, which describes man's course to the knowledge of God, says that when we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, then we form a notion of the sender, the Son, and then we lift our recollection to the source and cause of the good things, which is the Father.

We find the same teaching in many Saints of the Church. We should mention the teaching of Saint Symeon the New Theologian, who says that if Christ is the door, the Holy Spirit is the key to opening the door and this is how we reach the House of the Father.

In this perspective there are special prayers to the Holy Spirit, such as the prayer: "Heavenly King, Comforter, the Spirit of truth, everywhere present and filling all things, the treasure of blessings and giver of life. Come and abide in us and cleanse us from all impurity, and save our souls, O Good One".

Here one sees the order of this knowledge of God. The heart of man is cleansed by the Holy Spirit, then it knows Christ, and then it is brought to the Father.

Nevertheless, as we have said in other places as well, the energy of the Triune God is common to the three Persons, but this does not mean that the Persons are set aside, since Divine grace works through the Persons, for in Orthodox Christian theology we speak of enhypostatic grace and energy. We see this during the Divine Liturgy. All the prayer of the offering is prayer to the Father to send the Holy Spirit and transform the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ. In fact, the Holy Spirit does transform the gifts into the Body and Blood of Christ, and we share the precious gifts and become a dwelling of the Triune God.

(To be continued)


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


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

+Father George