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.
THE MISSION OF THE HOLY SPIRIT (Part II)
By Father Anthony Alevizopoulos, PhD. of Theology, PhD. of Philosophy
Within the unity of the one Body, each believer continues to be the concrete person that he is; he is not absorbed by the whole. This is why both in divine worship and in the sacramental (Mysteriaki Zoe) life each individual is commemorated by name. He received from the Holy Spirit his own gift, and he is called to us it not egotistically, but for the edification of the other members and for the growth of the overall body, together with his own growth "in Christ". The Apostle Saint states: "To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. To me is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gift of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the discernment of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are advocated by one and the same Spirit, Who allows to each individually just as the Spirit chooses. For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members are the body, though many, are one body, so it with Christ. For in the one Spirit we were baptized into one Body...you are the Body of Christ and individually members of it (I Corinthians 12:7-27).
"Are all Apostles? Are all Prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret?", Saint Paul asks with emphasis (I Corinthians 12:29-30) and shows that the mystery of the human personality is not abrogated through the presence of the Holy Spirit, but that it is broadened, for as a member of the overall body he becomes a partaker of the great mystery of the unity "in Christ".
The Holy Spirit does not act independently of the Personality and Body of Christ, which is the Church. Concerning the Holy Spirit, Christ assured us that "He [The Paraclete-Comforter] will glorify Me because He will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine. For this reason, I said that He will take what is mine and declare it to you" (St. John 16:14-15). No one can possess the charismata (gifts) of the Holy Spirit apart from the unity with Jesus Christ, i.e. outside the Church.
Furthermore, the Gifts of the Holy Spirit do not constrain; they are offered on the basis of the Divine Will (St. John 3:8; I Corinthians 12:12; Hebrews 2:4) and not by human methods. If these gifts were the result of human effort, they would belong to the "created order" and would not constitute true communion with God. This helps us to understand why the Orthodox Christian Church gives special significance to the teaching concerning "Uncreated Grace" while at the same time discerning Divine Grace from the Divine Essence.
If grace were created (as the Roman Catholic theology insists upon), then it could not lead us to salvation since communion with something which is created cannot lead man to overcome his created reality and to union with the uncreated God. If again, there is no difference between the Essence and the Grace of God, then communion with the Divine Essence would do away with man's personality. There is then a distinction between God's Essence and His Grace which is uncreated. (It [Grace] does not have its source outside of the Divine Essence), for this reason in the Holy Orthodox Church, both are preserved: both the True Communion with God and the human person.
Divine Grace, however, is not offered without man's active participation. The Holy Mysteries (Sacraments) of the Church are not magical acts; they presuppose the participation of each individual believer. The Angel of the Lord announced to the Ever-Virgin Mary: "The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you". But she, however, had to say, "Let it be!" (St. Luke 1:35-38).
The believer receives the gift of the Holy Spirit, "the panoply of God" and he is strengthened to begin his spiritual struggle and to victoriously resist "the wiles of the Devil" (Ephesians 16:10-20). Man must, however, want to carry on this struggle. The believer has the feeling that he is not struggling alone, but that he is being "strengthened in the Lord and in the strength of His power!"
"Glory To Be GOD For All Things!"--Saint John Chrysostom
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God