Having recently returned from a brief stay at a hermitage, my spirit is filled. However, re-entry to the world has left my mind and body weary and numb. Soon I shall sleep.
For us Christians of the west, today is Pentecost, the Feast of the coming of the Spirit. (My Orthodox friends will be so celebrating next Sunday).
The depth at which I experienced God’s preparation of me for this holy Feast is something more than I can possibly express here. Yet I wish to share a few of the gifts He bestowed.
Presented here are two readings, one from St. Cyril of Jerusalem and the other from St. Basil the Great, both of which appeared in the Liturgy of the Hours (Roman) in the last week. St. Cyril’s wisdom, not mine, titled this post. I recorded both readings while at the hermitage (using an app on my cell phone, one of my few concessions to technology) so that I could share the experience with you.
(St. Cyril of Jerusalem)
(St. Basil the Great)
The other gift is a glass sculpture I was allowed to fashion depicting the Spirit as a dove descending, along with Christ’s words “Remain in me”. As with the Cross posted at the onset of Lent, bits of broken glass salvaged from my broken window came together to form the image.
May we remain in Him always, by the power, grace and comfort of His Spirit, to the glory of our Father in Heaven. Amen.
Addendum. Texts for the recordings:
From a catechetical instruction by St. Cyril of Jerusalem, bishop.
(Cat.16, De Spiritu Sancto 1, 11-12. 16: PG 33, 931-935)
The water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of living water, welling up into eternal life. This is a new kind of water, a living, leaping water, welling up for those who are worthy. But why did Christ call the grace of the Spirit water? Because all things are dependent on water; plants and animals have their origin in water. Water comes down from heaven as rain, and although it is always the same in itself, it produces many different effects, one in the palm tree, another in the vine, and so on throughout the whole of creation. It does not come down, now as one thing, now as another, but while remaining essentially the same, it adapts itself to the needs of every creature that receives it.
In the same way the Holy Spirit, whose nature is always the same, simple and indivisible, apportions grace to each man as he wills. Like a dry tree which puts forth shoots when watered, the soul bears the fruit of holiness when repentance has made it worthy of receiving the Holy Spirit. Although the Spirit never changes, the effects of his action, by the will of God and in the name of Christ, are both many and marvelous. The Spirit makes one man a teacher of divine truth, inspires another to prophesy, gives another the power of casting out devils, enables another to interpret holy Scripture. The Spirit strengthens one man’s self-control, shows another how to help the poor, teaches another to fast and lead a life of asceticism, makes another oblivious to the needs of the body, trains another for martyrdom. His action is different in different people, but the Spirit himself is always the same. In each person, Scripture says, the Spirit reveals his presence in a particular way for the common good.
The Spirit comes gently and makes himself known by his fragrance. He is not felt as a burden, for he is light, very light. Rays of light and knowledge stream before him as he approaches. The Spirit comes with the tenderness of a true friend and protector to save, to heal, to teach, to counsel, to strengthen, to console. The Spirit comes to enlighten the mind first of the one who receives him, and then, through him, the minds of others as well.
As light strikes the eyes of a man who comes out of darkness into the sunshine and enables him to see clearly things he could not discern before, so light floods the soul of the man counted worthy of receiving the Holy Spirit and enables him to see things beyond the range of human vision, things hitherto undreamed of.
From the treatise On the Holy Spirit by St. Basil the Great, bishop
(Cap. 9, 22-23; PG 32, 107-110)
The titles given to the Holy Spirit must surely stir the soul of anyone who hears them, and make him realize that they speak of nothing less than the supreme Being. Is he not called the Spirit of God, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, the steadfast Spirit, the guiding Spirit? But his principal and most personal title is the Holy Spirit.
To the Spirit all creatures turn in their need for sanctification; all living things seek him according to their ability. His breath empowers each to achieve its own natural end.
The Spirit is the source of holiness, a spiritual light, and he offers his own light to every mind to help it in its search for truth. By nature the Spirit is beyond the reach of our mind, but we can know him by his goodness. The power of the Spirit fills the whole universe, but he gives himself only to those who are worthy, acting in each according to the measure of his faith.
Simple in himself, the Spirit is manifold in his mighty works. The whole of his being is present to each individual; the whole of his being is present everywhere. Though shared in by many, he remains unchanged; his self giving is no loss to himself. Like the sunshine, which permeates all the atmosphere, spreading over land and sea, and yet is enjoyed by each person as though it were for him alone, so the Spirit pours forth his grace in full measure, sufficient for all, and yet is present as though exclusively to everyone who can receive him. To all creatures that share in him he gives a delight limited only by their own nature, not by his ability to give.
The Spirit raises our hearts to heaven, guides the steps of the weak, and brings to perfection those who are making progress. He enlightens those who have been cleansed from every stain of sin and makes them spiritual by communion with himself.
As clear, transparent substances become very bright when sunlight falls on them and shine with a new radiance, so also souls in whom the Spirit dwells, and who are enlightened by the Spirit, become spiritual themselves and a source of grace for others.
From the Spirit comes foreknowledge of the future, understanding of the mysteries of faith, insight into the hidden meaning of Scripture, and other special gifts. Through the Spirit we become citizens of heaven, we enter into eternal happiness, and abide in God. Through the Spirit we acquire a likeness to God; indeed, we attain what is beyond our most sublime aspirations—we become God.
Oh my, Mary! Thank you for this. I am going to look fr the quotations so I can read them this week as I prepare for a “second coming”–in at least two senses– on Sunday. I like to go back over words and reflect. Sometimes I question, as in Cyril’s use of “worthy,” though I understand the limits of translation.
And the glass art (like the previous one, which I have saved)–so beautiful, so perfectly transformative: your pain reflecting and remaking that of everyone who sees this.
Thanks, Al. I have added an addendum to the post to include the texts. Fortunately, others have posted the text to the Internet so that I only had to copy and paste.
Both Sts. Cyril and Basil and mentioned being “worthy” of the Spirit. Certainly I haven’t the knowledge to interpret the Fathers. However, my sense is that the worthiness has to do with our repentance. As mentioned in my previous post, The new life, if all of the “rooms” of in the inns of our hearts are full of other things, we cannot hope to entertain such a Guest. Repentance makes “space”.
St. Basil implies such a thing by indicating that the Spirit gives to all “a delight limited only by their own nature, not by His ability to give”. He also “guides the steps of the weak”. In other words, we have to want Him; He will not come as an uninvited Guest. And we must make room for Him, make some effort to welcome Him. But He will also help us do that because that is why He comes – to strengthen us in our weakness and guide us to the fullness of Truth.