The Holy Spirit | Photios Kontoglou

On The Holy Spirit

by Photios Kontoglou.

By the Holy Spirit, every soul is given life, is exalted through purification, and is made to shine through the Threefold oneness in a hidden manner. By the Holy Spirit the streams of grace flow, watering all of creation and granting it life.

The Holy Spirit is called Paraclete, the Spirit of Truth, and Life‑Creating.

These names basically reveal the same thing. The Holy Spirit is called the Spirit of Truth because it leads us into the truth. As Christ said to his disciples:

“When the Paraclete comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of Truth who comes from the Father, He will testify on my behalf” (John 15:26); and,

“When the Spirit of Truth comes, He will lead you into all the truth” (John 16:13).

Whosoever, then, is illumined by the Holy Spirit is mystically assured that Christ is the Son of God, the Saviour of the world.

And being assured and finding rest in this, he is filled with a great and fiery joy, henceforth becoming invincible to evil and established in the truth uncovered for him.

For the Holy Spirit reveals all the secrets which are unknown to other people:

“This is the Spirit of Truth, Whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him” (John 14:17).

Further on, Christ says:

“But the Paraclete, the Holy Spirit, Whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you” (John 14:26).

This meant that whatever things Christ had spoken of to His disciples earlier, that they could now be assured of these same things, mystically revealed through the descent of the Holy Spirit; it also meant that their hearts would be strengthened.

This joyful assurance about God's compassion and power allowed the Apostles to overcome suffering, ridicule, persecution, the sword, travails, hunger, nakedness, and every form of spite, and thus to run towards death, as a thirsty deer runs toward water.

Even when the Apostles still had Christ with them in the flesh, they became afraid, abandoned Him, and ran away; nevertheless, after His Crucifixion and His Resurrection, they were all willing to die for His sake.

This is why Christ told them to wait until they had received strength from the Holy Spirit, as happened on the day of Pentecost:

“But stay in the city of Jerusalem until you have been clothed with power from on high”
(Luke 24:49).

All the martyrs of the faith also showed this same untamable spirit at the time of their suffering, being strengthened by the mighty power of the Holy Spirit.

This is why the Spirit is called the Paraclete, which means “comforter,” because whoever receives the Holy Spirit passes through a kind of fire which renders him untouchable by human beings and demons alike. All things appear to this person as calm and peaceful, and he finds rest and silence through such a blessed joy.

For this person even jail is no longer frightening, nor do beatings feel harsh, nor are stabbings and other forms of suffering so terrible.

Everything is sweetened by the mystical comfort of the Holy Spirit.

So the world marvelled at how the martyrs did not feel any pain, but instead accepted their suffering with joy and “with burning spirit.”

People saw women, who used to be fright­ened by a single loud cry, now standing fearlessly before their executors, who were about to slay their virgin bodies.

The grace of the Paraclete tamed even the wild countenance of these hard‑hearted men and their cruel weapons.

This sweetness of the Paraclete, that calms everything in the eyes of a Christian and instils in his heart an immortal blessedness, is the treasure that is found in every aspect of our sanctified Orthodox faith.

It is found in the behaviour of pious Christians, the venerable clergy and ascetics; in their modest words and dress; in the holy churches; and in the holy icons of Christ, the Theotokos, the angels and saints; in hymns and chants; and in prayers.

If Orthodoxy has experienced sorrow and pain, it nonetheless knows that through this sorrow comes a spiritual joy, according to the words of our Lord:

“Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted” (Matt. 5:4).

- They will be consoled, and they will receive the Paraclete.

Everything in Orthodoxy is covered by a compunction that is filled with peace; all is calm, all is simple, all is humble, because we have the hope of the Gospel and the comfort of the Paraclete.

This is why Paul writes to the Galatians:

“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithful­ness, gentleness, and self‑control” (Gal. 5:22‑3).

And to the Romans, the Saint writes: “May the God of hope fill you with all Joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Rom. 15:13).

The consoling joy of the Holy Spirit is also revealed in the words of the prophet Isaiah, uttered by the lips of Christ himself.

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He has anointed me to bring good news to the poor He has sent me to heal all those who have a broken heart, to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind” (Luke 4:18).

The Holy Spirit is also called the Spirit of wisdom, Spirit of sobriety, and Spirit of godly fear.

The apostle Paul writes to the Ephesians:

“I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know Him,

so that, with the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may know what is the hope to which He has called you,

what are the riches of his glorious inheritance among the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power for us who believe, according to the working of His great power” (Eph. 1:17‑19).

All these profound and saving mysteries are revealed to us by the Holy Spirit.

And then we may become entirely filled with light, and fear nothing, because we have the peace and certainty of immortality. I pray that we as sinners also become worthy of these things according to the degree of our humility.