On How the Holy Spirit was Manifest

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

by Saint Gregory Palamas, Archbishop of Thessaloniki

Also, About Repentance

A short while ago, with the strong eyes of faith, we beheld Christ ascending, no less clearly than those accounted worthy to be eye-witnesses. Nor are we less favored than they, "Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed", says the Lord (St. John 20:29), referring to those who have found assurance through hearing, and see by faith. Recently we saw Christ, lifted up from the ground bodily (Acts 1:9). Now, through the Holy Spirit sent by Him to His Disciples, we see how far Christ ascended and to what dignity He carried up the nature He assumed from us. Clearly He went up as high as the place from which the Spirit sent by Him descended. He Who spoke through the Prophet Joel showed us whence the Spirit comes, saying, "I will pour out My spirit upon all flesh" (Joel 2:28), and to Him David addressed the words, "Thou sendest forth Thy spirit, they are created: and Thou renewest the face of the earth" (Psalm 104:30). It follows that at His ascension Christ went up to the Father on high, as far as His Fatherly bosom, from which comes the Spirit. Having been shown, even in His human form, to share the Father's glory, Christ now sent forth the Spirit Who comes from the Father and is sent by Him from heaven. But when we hear that the Spirit was sent by the Father and the Son, this does not mean that the Spirit has no part in their greatness, for He is not just sent, but also Himself sends and consents to be sent.

This is clearly shown by Christ's words spoken through the Prophet, "Mine hand hath laid the foundation of the earth and stretched out the heavens, and now the Lord God, and His Spirit, hath sent me" (cf. Isaiah 48:13-16). Again, speaking through the same Prophet He says, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek" (Isaiah 61:1). The Holy Spirit is not just sent, but Himself sends the Son, Who is sent by the Father. He is therefore shown to be the same as the Father and the Son in nature, power, operation and honor. By the good pleasure of the Father and the cooperation of the Holy Spirit, the Only-begotten Son of God, on account of the boundless ocean of Divine love for mankind, bowed the heavens and came down (Psalm 18:9). He appeared on earth after our fashion, lived among us, and did and taught great, wonderful and sublime things truly worthy of God, which led those who obeyed Him towards deification (theosis) and salvation...

"...When the fiftieth (50) day after the Resurrection had come, the day we now commemorate, all the Disciples were gathered with one accord in the upper room, each having also gathered together his thoughts (for they were devoting themselves intently to prayer and hymns to God). "And suddenly", says Saint Luke the Evangelist, "there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the house where they were sitting" (Acts 2:1-11). This is the sound which the Prophetess Hannah foretold when she received the promise concerning Samuel: "The Lord went up to heaven and thundered; and he shall give strength and exalt the horn of his anointed" (cf. 1 Samuel 2:10). Elijah's vision also forewarned of this sound: "Behold the voice of a light breeze, and in it was the Lord" (cf. 1 Kings 19:12). This "voice of a light breeze" is the sound of breath. You might also find a reference to it in Christ's gospel. According to Saint John the Theologian and Evangelist, "In the last day, that great day of the feast", that is to say Pentecost, "Jesus stood and cried, saying, if any man thirst, let him come unto Me and drink...This spake He of the Spirit, which they that believe on Him should receive" (St. John 7:37-39). Again, after His Resurrection He breathed on His Disciples and said, "Receive ye the Holy Spirit" (St. John 20:22)...

"...Why did He appear in the form of tongues? It was to demonstrate that He shared the same nature as the Logos/Word of God, for there is no relationship closer than that between word and tongue. It was also because of teaching, since teaching Christ's gospel needs a tongue full of grace. By why fiery tongue? Not just because the Spirit is consubstantial with the Father and the Son--and our God is fire (cf. Hebrews 12:29), a fire consuming wickedness--but also because of the twofold energy of the Apostles' preaching, which can bring both benefit and punishment. As it is the property of fire to illuminate and burn, so Christ's teaching enlightens those who obey but finally hands over the disobedient to eternal fire and punishment. The text says, "tongues like fire" not "tongues of fire", that no one might imagine it was ordinary physical fire, but that we might understand the manifestation of the Spirit using fire as an example. Why did the tongues appear to be divided among them? Because the Spirit is given by measure by the Father to all except Christ (St. John 3:34), Who Himself came from above. He, even in the flesh, possessed the fullness of divine power and energy, whereas the grace of the Holy Spirit was only partially, not fully, contained within anyone else. Each one obtained different gifts, lest anyone should suppose the grace give to the Saints by the Holy Spirit was theirs by nature...

The promise was now fulfilled and the Holy Spirit, given and sent by both the Father and the Son, descended. He shone round about the holy Disciples and with Divine power kindled them all like lamps or, rather, He revealed them as heavenly lights set above the whole world, who had the word of eternal life, and through them He illuminated all the earth. If from one burning lamp someone lights another, then another from that one, and so on in succession, he has light continuously. In the same way, through the Apostles ordaining their successors, and these successors ordaining others, and so on, the grace of the Holy Spirit is handed down through all generations and enlightens all who obey their spiritual shepherd and teacher.

Each hierarch (bishop) in his turn comes to give the city this grace and gift of God and the enlightenment of the Divine Spirit through the Gospel. Those who reject any of them, as can happen, interrupt God's grace, break the divine succession, separate themselves from God and deliver themselves up to sinful rebellions and all kinds of disasters, as you are obviously aware from recent experiences. If, however, now that you have returned to the shepherd of your souls appointed by God, you obey my counsels for salvation, you will really and truly celebrate this annual commemoration of the coming of the Divine Spirit, Who of His unimaginable love descends for our salvation, just as the Only-begotten Son of God, because of this same love and for the same purpose, bowed the heavens, came down and assumed our flesh.

Christ had ascended bodily into heaven, so if He has not sent His Holy Spirit to accompany and strengthen His Disciples and their successors in following generations who taught the Gospel of grace, He would not have been preached to all nations, nor would the proclamation have been passed down to us. That is why the Lord, in His All-surpassing love for mankind, showed at Pentecost that His Disciples were partakers, fathers, and ministers of everlasting light and life and make those who are worthy children of the light and fathers of enlightenment. Thus, He Himself is with us unto the end of the world, as was promised through the Spirit (St. Matthew 28:20). For He is one with the Father and the Spirit, not according to hypostasis, but in His Divinity; and God is one in three, in one tri-hypostatic and Almighty Divinity. The Holy Spirit always existed and was with the Son in the Father. How could the Father and Divine Mind be without beginning if the Son and Logos/Word were not also without beginning? How could there be a Pre-eternal Logos/Word without there also being a Pre-eternal Spirit? Thus the Holy Spirit ever was and is and will be, Co-Creator with the Father and the Son, together with them renewing that which has suffered corruption, and sustaining the things that endure. He is everywhere present and fills, directs and oversees everything. "Whither shall I go from Thy Spirit, says the Psalmist to God, "Or whither shall I flee from thy presence?" (Psalm 139:7). (Source: Saint Gregory Palamas, The Homilies)

Apolytikion (Dismissal) Hymn of Pentecost

Plagal Fourth Mode

Blessed art Thou, O Christ Our God, Who hast shown forth the fishermen as supremely wise by sending down upon them the Holy Spirit, and through them didst draw the world into Thy net, O Befriender of man, glory to Thee.

Kontakion Hymn of the Feast. Plagal Fourth Mode

Once, when He descended and confounded the tongues, the Most High divided the nations; and when He divided the tongues of fire, He called all men into unity; and with one accord we glorify the All-Holy Spirit.

(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