Saturday, May 12, 2012

The Holy Spirit, Part 02

The Function and the Doctrine of the Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit had been known before that wondrous day of Pentecost. The opening words of Bible, in the First Chapter of Genesis, are, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.” God the Father created the world. He did so by His Word; that is, by His Intellect, spoken: “Let there be…!” It was God the Holy Spirit who effected what God the Father had spoken. The Holy Spirit had come upon all the Prophets; when they said, “The Word of the Lord came to me,“ the Word of the Lord was God’s Wisdom (Who later became Man); and He who had brought God’s Wisdom to them had been the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit, however, had come to them from the outside. Christ, before and after His death, had promised to send the Holy Spirit to live inside us:
“And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever – the Spirit of Truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.” (John 14:16-18)  
"But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of Truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me. And you also will bear witness, because you have been with Me from the beginning.” (John 15:26-27)  
"I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. all things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you.” (John 16: 12-15)
The Orthodox experience is that this promise is still being carried out to this day. The Holy Spirit had always been at work and had always been known, but now He was lavished upon the whole world, to be received by as many was would “repent [change course] and be baptized.” The Holy Spirit, like the wind, always blows wherever He will, but now comes to make His home in the Church and within each Christian heart.

The fact that the Holy Spirit did come, whom Jesus had promised, is further proof of His divinity. The Holy Spirit does all the things Jesus said He would. He shows us the things necessary for our salvation. He dwells within us, in the very center of our being. He testifies to Christ, guides us into the Truth (Christ), and speaks with Christ’s own authority, who in turn speaks with the Father’s authority.

The Holy Spirit is the He Who transformed the cringing disciples into bold preachers of Good News, who made of uneducated fishermen “men most wise.”

The Holy Spirit is the Worker of miracles. It was by the Holy Spirit that Jesus did miracles, and by the same Holy Spirit His closest followers have continued ever since to do the same miracles.

The Holy Spirit is the Sanctifier. The Holy Spirit is He who sanctifies the waters of baptism, grafts us into Christ, washes away our sins, makes the bread and wine of Holy Communion to be for us the Body and Blood of Christ, anoints us in Holy Unction, joins a man and a woman into Holy Matrimony, and performs the spirit-ual aspect of every sacrament.

The Holy Spirit is He Who makes known to us the abiding presence of the living Christ in our midst. He comes from outside of us into the center of our being, to remain there. The bond we now have with Christ, constituted by the Holy Spirit we have in common with Him, by the human nature He shares with us, and by the Body and Blood He shares with us, is far more intimate than any other union. Jesus compared it with the union of a vine with its branches. St. Paul compared it with the union of a head with the rest of the body, and with a bride with her bridegroom. The reality of our union with Christ, however, far outshines all these pale analogies.

That is why, when the Holy Spirit speaks Truth (Christ) to us, it feels as though that Truth were rising to consciousness from our own deepest selves. It feels like, because it now is, our own self-expression. And this, in turn, is why we can never again, with a clear conscience, deny the Truth; we have the Witness to Truth within our own being. To deny that Truth would be tantamount to denying ourselves.

The Holy Spirit warns us of error. He enlightens our minds to understand the Holy Scriptures correctly. As St. John noted concerning his first Epistle, “I have written you these things concerning those who seduce you. But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in Him. (I John 2:27) The Apostle has written to strengthen our faith and we all need that; but note, as he also notes, that his writing is to corroborate and confirm what the Holy Spirit is already telling us inwardly.

The Holy Spirit is the Creator and Giver of Life, of all life, but most especially of immortal, everlasting Life.

It took the Church a long time, as it did also concerning the Christological dogmas, to put her experience (which is to say, God’s revelation) of the Holy Spirit into doctrinal formulations. At the Council of Constantinople, in 381, the Church proclaimed that the Holy Spirit “proceeds from the Father.” The Fathers of the Church freely admit we no more know what “proceeds from the Father” means than what “begotten of the Father” does. But the two different terms are used to designate that The Word and the Spirit each has His origin in the Father, and each in His own, unique way. To proceed is not the same as to be begotten; begotten is not the same as to proceed; and neither is the same as to be created. The Father is the sole and eternal (timeless) Origin of Both.

The one Who proceeds from the Father, Who puts into effect the will of the Father, Who has the same powers as the Father, is divine with the Father. The Church proclaimed that the Holy Spirit “together with the Father and the Son is worshipped and glorified.”
O Heavenly King, the Comforter, the Spirit of Truth, Who are everywhere and fills all things; Treasury of Blessings, and Giver of Life - come and abide in us, and cleanse us from every impurity, and save our souls, O Good One.