Gleanings from Orthodox Christian Authors and the Holy Fathers


43 Entries

...the Holy Spirit, being one, and of one nature, and indivisible, divides to each His grace, 'according as He wills' (I Cor. 12:11) and as the dry tree, after partaking of water, puts forth shoots, so also the soul in sin, when it has been through repentance made worthy of the Holy Spirit, brings forth clusters of righteousness. St. Cyril of Jerusalem (Catechetical Lectures: Lecture 16 no. 12)

...though remission of sins is given equally to all, the communion of the Holy Spirit is bestowed in proportion to each man's faith. If you have labored little, you receive little; but if you have wrought much, the reward is great. You are running for yourself, see to your own interest. St. Cyril of Jerusalem (Catechetical Lectures: Lecture 1)

A house roof is held up by the foundations and the rest of the building, and the foundation and the rest of the building are laid to hold the roof - since both are necessary and useful - and neither is the roof built without the foundations and the rest of the house, nor can foundations and walls without roof make a building fit to live in. So it is with the soul: the grace of the Holy Spirit is preserved by keeping the commandments, and the keeping of the commandments is the foundation laid for receiving the gifts of God's grace. Neither does the grace of the Holy Spirit remain in us without our obeying the commandments, nor can obeying the commandments be useful and salutary without Divine grace. St. Simeon the New Theologian (Practical and Theological Precepts no. 95, Writings from the Philokalia on Prayer of the Heart; Faber and Faber pg. 119)

A man ... wrestles with many ... demons; and often the demon, whom many men could not master with iron bands, has been mastered by the man himself with words of prayer which is in him of the Holy Spirit; and the mere breathing of the Exorcist becomes as fire to that unseen foe. A mighty ally and protector, therefore, have we from God; a great Teacher of the Church, a mighty Champion on our behalf. Let us not be afraid of the demons, nor of the devil; for mightier is He who fights for us. St. Cyril of Jerusalem (Catechetical Lectures: Lecture 16 no. 19)

As it is written, it is clear the the Spirit is not a creature, but takes part in the act of creation. The Father creates all things through the Word in the Spirit; for where the Word is, there is the Spirit also, and it is out of the Spirit from the Word that the things which are created through the Word have their power to exist. Thus it is written in the thirty-second psalm: `By the Word of the Lord the heavens were established, and by the Spirit of his mouth is all their might' (Ps. 32:6). St. Athanasius the Great: Third Letter to Serapion

But when the Holy Spirit dwells in the heart of a person, He shows him all his inner poverty and weakness, and the corruption of his heart and soul, and his separation from God; and with all his virtues and righteousness. He shows him his sins, his sloth and indifference regarding the salvation and good of people his self-seeking in his apparently most disinterested virtues, his coarse selfishness even where he does not suspect it. To be brief, the Holy Spirit shows him everything as it really is. Then a person begins to have true humility, begins to lose hope in his own powers and virtues, regards himself as the worst of men. And when a person humbles himself before Jesus Christ Who alone is Holy in the glory of God the Father, he begins to repent truly, and resolves never again to sin but to live more carefully. And if he really has some virtues, then he sees clearly that he practiced and practices them only with the help of God, and therefore he begins to put his trust only in God. St. Innocent of Irkutsk, Indication of the Way Into the Kingdom of Heaven

Cleanse thy vessel, that thou mayest receive grace more abundantly. For though remission of sins is given equally to all, the communion of the Holy Ghost is bestowed in proportion to each man's faith. If thou hast labored little, thou receivest little; but if thou hast wrought much, the reward is great. Thou art running for thyself, see to thine own interest. First Catechetical Lecture Of Our Holy Father Cyril, Archbishop Of Jerusalem, To Those Who Are To Be Enlightened, Delivered Extempore At Jerusalem, As An Introductory Lecture To Those Who Had Come Forward For Baptism

Faith and love which are gifts of the Holy Spirit are such great and powerful means that a person who has them can easily, and with joy and consolation, go the way Jesus Christ went. Besides this, the Holy Spirit gives man the power to resist the delusions of the world so that although he makes use of earthly good, yet he uses them as a temporary visitor, without attaching his heart to them. But a man who has not got the Holy Spirit, despite all his learning and prudence, is always more or less a slave and worshipper of the world. St. Innocent of Irkutsk, Indication of the Way into the Kingdom of Heaven

If we are illumined by divine power, and fix our eyes on the beauty of the image of the invisible God, and through the image are let up to the indescribably beauty of its source, it is because we have been inseparably joined to the Spirit of knowledge. He gives those who love the vision of truth the power which enables them to see the image, and this power is Himself. He does not reveal it to them from outside sources, but leads them to knowledge personally. `No one knows the Father except the Son.' St. Basil the Great, On the Holy Spirit

In my opinion the grace of the Holy Spirit most readily fills those who undertake spiritual work wholeheartedly and determine from the very beginning to stand firm and never to give ground to the enemy in no matter what battle, until they conquer him. However, the Holy Spirit, Who has called them, at first makes all things easy for them, in order thus to sweeten the beginning of the work of repentance, and only later shows them its ways in their full truth (arduousness). Helping them in all things, He impresses on them what works of repentance they should undertake, and lays down the form and limits both as regards the body and the soul, until He brings them to complete conversion to God, their Creator. For this purpose He constantly urges them to give exertion to body and soul in order that both alike, being equally sanctified, should equally become worthy heirs of eternal life; to exert the body in constant fasting, work and frequent vigils, and the soul, in spiritual exercises and diligence in all forms of service (and obediences) performed through the body. This (to do nothing carelessly, but always with care and the fear of God) should be zealously observed in all work done with the body, if we wish it to bear fruit. St Anthony the Great, "Early Fathers from the Philokalia," translated by E. Kadloubovsky and G.E.H. Palmer, (London: Faber & Faber, 1981), pp. 39-40

It was said that a person who has not the Holy Spirit within him cannot pray true prayer. This is perfectly true. We need to make considerable use of toil and suffering in order to be able to pray holy prayer. We cannot suddenly or quickly attain to such a state as to be able to raise our thoughts and hearts to God. Not only with us ordinary people, but even with many who have consecrated their whole life to prayer, it happens that you go to turn your thoughts to God and you find them distracted in different directions and taken up with various matters; you want to have God in your thoughts, and something quite different comes to you, and sometimes it is even something terrible. St. Innocent of Alaska, Indication of the Way into the Kingdom of Heaven

Leading the repentant man to undertake spiritual work, the Holy Spirit, Who called him to repentance, also grants him His comforts and teaches him not to turn back nor be attached to anything of this world. To this end, He opens the eyes of the soul and gives her to see the beauty of the purity reached through the works of repentance. In this way He kindles in it zeal for complete purification both of itself and of the body, that the two may be one in purity. For this is the aim of the teaching and guidance of the Holy Spirit - to purify them completely and bring them back to their original state, in which they were before the Fall, by destroying in them all adulterations introduced by the devil's envy, so that nothing of the enemy should remain therein. Then the body will become obedient to the dictates of the mind in all things, and the mind will masterfully determine its food and drink, its sleep and its every other action, constantly learning from the Holy Spirit to "keep under" the "body, and bring it into subjection" (I Corinthians 9:27) as did Apostle Paul. St Anthony the Great, "Early Fathers from the Philokalia," translated by E. Kadloubovsky and G.E.H. Palmer, (London: Faber & Faber, 1981), pp. 39-40

Let the soul then, brothers, teach wisdom to this thick body every day when we come to our bed at evening, and say to each member of the body, "O feet, while you have power to stand and to move before you are laid out and become motionless, stand eagerly for your Lord." To the hands, let it say, "The hour comes when you will be loosened and motionless, bound to each other and having no motion whatever; then, before you fall into that hour, do not cease stretching yourselves out to the Lord." And to the whole body let the soul say, "O body, before we are separated and removed far away from each other, and before I am taken down to Hades to receive everlasting fetters under darkness, and you are changed into primal matter and dissolved into the earth, consumed in stench and corruption, stand boldly, worship the Lord. Make my perception made known by tears; make known to the Master your good service. Bear me as I eagerly confess God, before you are borne by others; do not condemn me to eternal punishment in your desire to sleep and to take your rest. For there will be a time when that most heavy sleep is going to overtake you. If you listen to me, we shall together enjoy the blessed inheritance. If you do not listen to me, then woe to me that you have been bound to me; because of you I also, wretched as I am, am condemned."

If you train yourselves daily in this manner, truly you will be a true temple of God. And since God is dwelling in you, what satanic wile is able to deceive you? For instead of having a myriad of teachers, the word of God is dwelling in you, teaching you more and making you yet wiser by his own knowledge. And whatever human speech cannot say, the all-holy Spirit teaches. For as it is said, we know not how to pray as we ought; but the Spirit himself expresses our plea for us with groanings that cannot be put into words. St Pachomius, Armand Veilleux, trans., "Pachomian Koinonia -- Volume II," (Kalamazoo, Michigan: Cistercian Publications, 1981), pp. 41 - 44

Let us therefore make use of this great benefit, and seek for personal experience of this most needful Gift. For the Apostle says, in words I have already cited, `But we have not received the spirit of this world, but the Spirit which is of God, that we may know the things that are given unto us by God.' We receive Him, then, that we may know. Faculties of the human body, if denied their exercise, will lie dormant. The eye without light, natural or artificial, cannot fulfill its office; the ear will be ignorant of its function unless some voice or sound be heard; the nostrils unconscious of their purpose unless some scent be breathed. Not that the faculty will be absent, because it is never called into use, but that there will be no experience of its existence. So, too, the soul of man, unless through faith it have appropriated the gift of the Spirit, will have the innate faculty of apprehending God, but be destitute of the light of knowledge. That Gift, which is in Christ, is One, yet offered, and offered fully, to all; denied to none, and given to each according to the measure of his willingness to receive; its stores the richer, the more earnest the desire to earn them. This gift is with us unto the end of the world, the solace of our waiting, the assurance, by the favors which He bestows, of the hope that shall be ours, the light of our minds, the sun of our souls. This Holy Spirit we must seek and must earn, and then hold fast by faith and obedience to the commands of God. St. Hilary of Poitiers, On the Trinity, Book II

Peace is liberation from passions, which cannot be attained without the action of the Holy Spirit. St. Mark the Ascetic

Regarding the manner in which the Holy Spirit descended upon the disciples, Saint Symeon the New Theologian makes a remark that is most helpful for properly understanding this event. He says that this mode of acting of the Holy Spirit - by means of a loud noise as of a rushing mighty wind, and with tongues of fire - was something unique. The Holy Spirit, he observes, comes very calmly, in the form of spiritual light, and evokes joy. The passage in which he touches upon this point is this:

The power of the Holy Spirit, which is bestowed upon him who loves God and keeps His commandments, does not appear visibly in the form of fire, nor does it come with a loud sound like a violent wind - for this happened only in the time of the Apostles for the sake of the unbelievers. Instead, it is seen spiritually in the form of spiritual light, and comes with all calm and joy. Guide to Byzantine Iconography, Vol. 1, by Constantine Cavarnos

Some brethren came one day to test him to see whether he would let his thoughts get dissipated and speak of the things of this world. They said to him, "We give thanks to God that this year there has been much rain and the palm trees have been able to drink, and their shoots have grown, and the brethren have found manual work." Abba John said to them, "So it is when the Holy Spirit descends into the hearts of men; they are renewed and they put forth leaves in the fear of God." Sr. Benedicta Ward, "The Sayings of the Desert Fathers," (Kalamazoo, Michigan: Cistercian Publications, 1975), pp. 85-89

Some say that we can do nothing good until we actively receive the grace of the Holy Spirit. This is not true. St. Mark the Ascetic, "Early Fathers From the Philokalia," trans. by E. Kadloubovsky and G.E.H. Palmer, (London: Faber and Faber, Ltd., 1981), pp. 86 - 90

That is the reason why the Holy Spirit comes in the form of a dove: it is a simple joyous creature, not bitter with gall, not biting savagely, without vicious rearing claws; it loves to dwell with humankind, it keeps to one house for assembling; when they mate they hatch their young together, when they fly anywhere they keep their formation, the resorts they live in are shared in common, by their billing too they pay tribute to concord and peace, in all things they fulfill the law of unanimity. The same is the simplicity of the Church which we need to learn, this is the charity we must acquire, that we may imitate the doves in our love for the the brethren, and rival lambs and sheep in their meekness and gentleness. St. Cyprian, The Unity of the Catholic Church

The Comforter, the Holy Spirit, Who fills the whole universe, passes through all believing, meek, humble, good and simple human souls, dwelling in them, vivifying and strengthening them. He becomes one spirit with them and everything to them - light, strength, peace, joy, success in their undertakings, especially to a pious life, and everything good." St. John of Kronstadt

The Holy Spirit accomplishes all wonders and miracles. By the same Spirit power is given to one, and to another works of power. You have only to speak with faith, and need have no anxiety as to the fulfillment of the word; the Holy Spirit will care for this. St. John of Kronstadt, My Life in Christ

The Holy Spirit comes when we are receptive. He does not compel. He approaches so meekly that we may not even notice. If we would know the Holy Spirit we need to examine ourselves in the light of the Gospel teaching, to detect any other presence which may prevent the Holy Spirit from entering into our souls. We must not wait for God to force Himself on us without our consent. God respects and does not constrain man. It is amazing how God humbles Himself before us. He loves us with a tender love, not haughtily, not with condescension. And when we open our hearts to Him we are overwhelmed by the conviction that He is indeed our Father. The soul then worships in love." Archimandrite Sophrony (His Life is Mine, Chapter 6; SVS Press pg. 49)

The Holy Spirit illumined firstly the holy Prophets, and they wrote the Divine Scripture; secondly, He illumined the holy Apostles; and thirdly, He has illumined the holy Fathers, and they have explained the books of our Church, in order that we may know how to conduct ourselves. Modern Orthodox Saints I, St. Cosmas Aitolos).Dr. Constantine Cavarnos., INSTITUTE FOR BYZANTINE AND MODERN GREEK STUDIES., Belmont, Massachusetts., pp.81-94

The Holy Spirit often visits us; but if He does not find rest how can He remain? He departs. Joy is in the hearts of those who are cleansed and who are able to maintain within themselves the grace of the Holy Spirit of the All-holy Trinity. There is no greater joy and happiness for man. I am not able to describe to you how one feels then. St. Nil Sorsky

The Lord has assigned the Spirit His proper place; why should we forsake it to invent another place? He is always described as united with the Godhead; why should He be deprived of His glory? We hear His name in the creed, at saving baptism, in the working of miracles. He takes up His abode in the saints; He bestows grace on the obedient. No gift can be bestowed on creation unless the Holy Spirit gives it; not even a single word can be spoken in defense of Christ unless the Holy Spirit inspires it - as we have learned in the Gospels from our Lord and Saviour (Mt. 10:19-20). St. Basil the Great, On the Holy Spirit

The Spirit does not take up His abode in someone's life through a physical approach; how could a corporeal being approach the Bodiless one? Instead, the Spirit comes to us when we withdraw ourselves from evil passions, which have crept into the soul through its friendship with the flesh, alienating us from a close relationship with God. Only when a man has been cleansed from the shame of his evil, and has returned to his natural beauty, and the original form of the Royal Image has been restored in him, is it possible for him to approach the Paraclete. Then, like the sun, He will show you in Himself the image of the invisible, and with purified eyes you will see in this blessed image the unspeakable beauty of its prototype. St. Basil the Great, On the Holy Spirit

The deifying gift of the Spirit is a mysterious light, and transforms into light those who receive its richness. He does not only fill them with eternal light, but grants them a knowledge and a life appropriate to God. Thus, as Maximus teaches, Paul lived no longer a created life, but "the eternal life of Him Who indwelt him." Similarly, the prophets contemplated the future as if it were the present. St. Gregory Palamas, The Triads

The fragrance of love! When we burn incense, we think of the fragrant heavenly aroma of love. The Holy Spirit, like a heavenly fire, brings the warmth of love into the human heart, and like a fresh wind, chases away the stench of sin and spreads the aroma of Christ to the world. That savor all the saints have borne within themselves. People have sensed it in living saints and in their relics. The Apostle speaks of this: "We are unto God a sweet savour of Christ," the sweet perfume of recognition of the truth and the sweetness of love (Cf. 2 Cor. 2:14-16). "The Lament of Eve" by Johanna Manley

The glory that shone from the face of Moses was a prefiguring of the true glory of the Holy Spirit. Just as it was impossible then for anyone to gaze at it, so now the darkness of the passions cannot bear the same glory shining in the souls of Christians, but is put to flight, repulsed by its brilliance. St. Macarios of Egypt, Philokalia, Vol. 3

The holy mystery of the day of the Holy Spirit, Pentecost, is to be understood in the following manner: the spirit of man must be completed and perfected by the Holy Spirit, that is, it must be sanctified, illuminated, and divinized by the Holy Spirit. This holy mystery is realized continually in the Church of Christ and because of this the Church is really a continuous Pentecost.... From Holy Pentecost, the day of the Holy Spirit, every God-like soul in the Church of Christ is an incombustible bush which continuously burns and is inflamed with God and has a fiery tongue within it. (St.) Fr. Justin Popovich, Orthodox Faith and Life in Christ

The power to bear Mysteries, which the humble man has received, which makes him perfect in every virtue without toil, this is the very power which the blessed apostles received in the form of fire. For its sake the Saviour commanded them not to leave Jerusalem until they should receive power from on high, that is to say, the Paraclete, which, being interpreted, is the Spirit of consolation. And this is the Spirit of divine visions. Concerning this it is said in divine Scripture: 'Mysteries are revealed to the humble' [Ecclus 3:19]. The humble are accounted worthy of receiving in themselves this Spirit of revelations Who teaches mysteries St. Isaac the Syrian, Ascetical Homily 77, page 384

Through the Holy Spirit comes our restoration to Paradise, our ascension to the Kingdom of heaven, our adoption as God's sons, our freedom to call God our Father, our becoming partakers of the grace of Christ, in a word, our inheritance of the fullness of blessings, both in this world and the world to come. Even while we wait for the full enjoyment of the good things in store for us, by the Holy Spirit we are able to rejoice through faith in the promise of the graces to come. If the promise itself is so glorious, what must its fulfillment be like? We are also able to distinguish between the grace that comes from the Spirit and mere baptism in water. John baptized in water for repentance, but our Lord Jesus Christ baptized in the Holy Spirit. St. Basil the Great, On the Holy Spirit

Thus the deifying gift of the Spirit is a mysterious light, and transforms into light those who receive its richness; He does not only fill them with eternal light, but grants them a knowledge and a life appropriate to God. Thus, as St. Maximus teaches, St. Paul lived no longer a created life, but "the eternal life of Him Who indwelt him." Similarly, the prophets contemplated the future as if it were the present. St. Gregory Palamas, The Triads

What, then, is more divine than the working of the Holy Spirit, since God Himself teaches that the Holy Spirit presides over His blessings, saying: "I will put My Spirit upon thy seed and My blessings upon thy children." For no blessing can be full except through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Wherefore, too, the Apostle found nothing better to wish us than this, as He himself said: "We cease not to pray and make request for you that ye may be filled with the knowledge of His will, in all wisdom and spiritual understanding walking worthily of God." (Col 1:9) He taught, then, that this was the will of God, that rather by walking in good works and words and affections, we should be filled with the will of God, Who puts His Holy Spirit in our hearts. St. Ambrose of Milan, On the Holy Spirit, Book I

"Creation is a slave; the Spirit sets free. Creation stands in need of life; the Spirit is the Life-Giver. Creation needs instruction; the Spirit is the Teacher. Creation is sanctified; the Spirit is the Sanctifier." St. Basil the Great

You ask what is the procession of the Holy Spirit? Do you tell me first what is the unbegottenness of the Father, and I will then explain to you the physiology of the generation of the Son, and the procession of the Spirit, and we shall both of us be stricken with madness for prying into the mystery of God. St. Gregory the Theologian

We have learned that there is a difference between generation [begetting] and procession, but the nature of the difference we in no wise understand. St. John of Damascus

"Creation is a slave; the Spirit sets free. Creation stands in need of life; the Spirit is the Life-Giver. Creation needs instruction; the Spirit is the Teacher. Creation is sanctified; the Spirit is the Sanctifier." St. Basil the Great

59. There are those who claim that we cannot do good unless we actively receive the grace of the Spirit. REF:Saint Kosmas Aitolos +1779

98. He who can without strain keep vigil, be long-suffering and pray is manifestly a partaker of the Holy Spirit. But he who feels strain while doing these things, yet willingly endures it, also quickly receives help. REF:Saint Kosmas Aitolos +1779

115. The grace of the Spirit is one and unchanging, but energizes in each one of us as He wills (cf. 1Co 12:11). REF:Saint Kosmas Aitolos +1779

118. When you hear Scripture saying of the Holy Spirit that He 'rested upon each' of the Apostles (Ac 2:3), or 'came upon' the Prophet (1Sm 11:6), or 'energizes' (1Co 12:11), or is 'grieved' (Ep. 4:30), or is 'quenched' (1Th 5:19), or is 'vexed' (Is 63:10), and again, that some 'have the first fruits' (Rm 8:23), and that others are 'filled with the Holy Spirit' (Ac 2:4), do not suppose that the Spirit is subject to some kind of division, variation or change; but be sure that, in the way we have described, He is unvarying, unchanging and all-powerful. Therefore in all His energies He remains what He is, and in a divine manner He gives to each person what is needful. On those who have been baptized He pours Himself out in His fullness like the sun. Each of us is illumined by Him to the extent to which we hate the passions that darken us and get rid of them. But in so far as we have a love for them and dwell on them, we remain in darkness. REF:Saint Kosmas Aitolos +1779

"...the Lord has frequently demonstrated before many witnesses how the grace of the Holy Spirit acts on people whom He has sanctified and illumined by His great inspirations. Remember Moses after his talk with God on Mount Sinai. He so shone with an extraordinary light that people were unable to look at him. He was even forced to wear a veil when he appeared in public. Remember the Transfiguration of the Lord on Mount Tabor. A great light encircled Him, 'and His raiment became shining, exceedingly white like snow' (Mk.. 9:3), and His disciples fell on their faces from fear. But when Moses and Elias appeared to Him in that light, a cloud overshadowed them in order to hide the radiance of the light of the divine grace which blinded the eyes of the disciples. Thus the grace of the All-Holy Spirit of God appears in an ineffable light to all to whom God reveals its action." REF:St. Seraphim of Sarov, Little Russian Philokalia V, St. Herman of Alaska Brotherhoodpg 98

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