Sunday, May 30, 2010

Selected hymns and readings from the Sunday of All Saints

Icon of the Feast of All Saints - Celebrated the Sunday after Pentecost (http://vatopaidi.files.wordpress.com/2010/05/icon_second_coming-dimanche-apres-1.jpg)
  
Doxastikon of the Stichera in Tone 6.
Glory to the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit
Godly choir of Martyrs, foundation of the Church, perfection of the Gospel, you have by deeds fulfilled the Saviour’s words; for in you the gates of Hell, opened against the Church, have been shut; the flow of your blood has dried up the libations poured out to idols; your slaughter has given birth the plenitude of the faithful; you have amazed the bodiless powers; bearing crowns you stand before God, whom you ceaselessly implore on behalf of our souls.

Doxastikon of the Aposticha in Tone 5
Glory to the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit
Let us the faithful hasten together to the present festival; for a spiritual table and a mystical wine-bowl are set before us, filled with sweet foods of joy: the virtues of the Martyrs; for these brave-hearted ones from the ends of the earth offered to God as a rational sacrifice the many tortures of their bodily extremities and the prime of their years; some had their heads cut off, others were dismembered of hands and of every joint together; all the Saints became partakers of Christ’s sufferings. But Lord, who gave them crowns as rewards of their torments, count us worthy to live according to their example, as you love mankind.

Apolytikion of the Saints. Tone 4.
Clothed as in purple and fine linen with the blood of your Martyrs throughout the world, your Church cries out to you through them, Christ God: Send down your pity on your people; give peace to your commonwealth, and to our souls your great mercy.

Kontakion. Tone 8.
As first fruits of nature, Lord, creation’s Planter, the world offers you, the god-bearing Martyrs; at their intercessions preserve your Church in profound peace, through the Mother of God, O most merciful.

The Ikos
Those who bore witness in all the earth and made their home in heaven, those who imitated the sufferings of Christ and who take away our passions, are gathered here today, revealing the Church of the firstborn, who bears the type of the one above, and which cries out to Christ: You are my God; keep me through the Mother of God, O most merciful.

The Synaxarion from the Menaion, then the following.
On this day, the Sunday after Pentecost, we celebrate the feast of all the Saints from throughout the inhabited world, in Asia, Libya and Europe, in North and South.

Verses
I sing the praise of each friend of my Lord,
If any would, let them now list them all.

Our most godlike Fathers decreed that we should celebrate the present feast after the descent of the All-holy Spirit, as showing in a certain way that the coming of the All-holy Spirit acted through the Apostles like this: sanctifying and making wise human beings taken from our mortal clay and, for the completion of that fallen angelic order, restoring them and through Christ sending them to God, some by the witness of martyrdom and blood, others by their virtuous conduct and way of life; and things beyond nature are achieved. For the Spirit descends in the form of fire, whose natural momentum is upwards; while dust, whose natural momentum is downwards, ascends on high, that dust which forms our mortal clay, the flesh added to and made divine by God the Word, which a short time before, had been exalted and taken its seat at the right hand of the Father’s glory. But he now also draws all those who wish, according to the promise, just as God the Word had manifested the works of reconciliation and what was the end, most suitable to its purpose, of his coming to us through flesh and of his dispensation, namely that he brings those who were rejected before to union and friendship with God — human nature offering to God the ungrateful people from the nations like first fruits —those who were outstandingly well-pleasing to him. This is one reason that we celebrate the feast of All Saints.

A second reason is because, though many people have been well-pleasing to God, they were through outstanding virtue unknown to humanity by name, or for some human reason or other, but nevertheless have great glory in God’s sight. Or again, because there are many who have lived following Christ in India, Egypt, Arabia. Mesopotamia and Phrygia and in the lands beyond the Black Sea, even as far as the British Isles themselves; in short, in both East and West, but it was not easy to honour them all properly because of their vast numbers, in the way that ecclesiastical custom has been received. And therefore, so that we may attract the help of them all, wherever on earth they were well-pleasing to God, and generally for those who would later become Saints, the most godly Fathers ordained that we should celebrate the feast of All Saints, honouring the earlier and later ones, the unknown and the known — all those in whom the Holy Spirit has dwelt he has made holy.

A third reason is this. It was necessary for the Saints who are celebrated individually day by day to be gathered together on one day, in order to demonstrate that, as they struggled for the one Christ and all ran the race in the same stadium of virtue, so they were all fittingly crowned as servants of one God and sustained the Church, having filled the world on high. They stir us also to accomplish the same struggle in its different and many forms, to the degree of power that each of us has to press onwards with all eagerness.

For all these Saints from every age the revered and wise Emperor Leo erected and vast and very beautiful church. This is very near the church of the holy Apostles, within the city of Constantine. He built it originally, it is said, for his first wife Theophano, who was outstandingly well-pleasing to God, which was indeed a marvel in the midst of turmoil and in royal palaces. When he informed the Church of his idea, he did not succeed in making it agree with his wishes

The most wise Emperor, with the approval of the whole Church, dedicated to all the Saints everywhere in the world the building that had been erected, observing that ‘Since Theophano is a Saint, let her be numbered with the rest.

Note that we are celebrating everything that the Holy Spirit, in giving good things, has made holy. I mean the highest and sanctifying Minds, that is to say the Nine Orders; the Ancestors and Patriarchs; the Prophets and sacred Apostles; the Martyrs and Hierarchs; the Priest Martyrs and Ascetic Martyrs; the Ascetics and the Just and all the choirs of holy women and all the other anonymous Saints, with them let there be all who will come afterwards. But before all, in all and with all, the Saint of Saints, the most holy and quite incomparably mightier than the angelic Orders, our Lady and Sovereign, Mary, Ever-Virgin.

At the prayers of your all-pure Mother, Christ God, and of all your Saints from every age, have mercy and save us, for you alone are good and love mankind. Amen.


Texts and translations copyright to Archimandrite Ephrem © (http://www.anastasis.org.uk/allsaints.htm)

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Selected miracles and hymns of St. John the Russian

St. John the Russian, the New Confessor of Prokopi and Evia - Commemorated on May 27th (http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=30082204&op=1&o=global&view=global&subj=37421026758&id=1582771990)

Additional miracles of the Saint (amateur translation)
I. A couple that was married for ten years (a Greek family from Germany) tried many times to have a child, but were unable (even with in vitro fertilization). They heard of St. John the Russian, and came and entreated him to grant them a child. The woman left her wedding ring on the Saint’s relic and returned to Germany. After a few months, they learned that she was pregnant, and she brought into the world a perfectly healthy little girl, who however, had a small hand disability. After churching the child after forty days, they performed surgery, and the doctors saw in astonishment that in the baby’s palm was the wedding ring that the woman had left the Saint!!!

II. A bus traveled to St. John the Russian in Evia from afar for a pilgrimage. A woman from the group had terrible pains in her back and planned to go put on the wonderworking belt of the Saint. However, she wasn’t satisfied with this alone. She thought to take it back secretly with her to wear it. She therefore went, put on the belt and the hat of the Saint, and secretly hid the belt under her shirt. After some time they boarded the bus to leave. However, the bus wouldn’t start. It was motionless. It suffered unexplained damage. The driver stopped and looked at the engine, but everything looked okay. However, the trouble was that the bus wasn’t moving forward. After some time, everyone became restless.

The driver said: “Hey you guys, did anyone of you take something and not pay for it?”

The woman who was wearing the belt was struck, and raised her shirt, and confessed to taking the belt. They ordered her to quickly go return it from where she took it, and immediately the bus began to move!

III. “…The Saint’s presence in March 1999 in Serbia is moving. As the invincible General, our Panagia, strengthened our [Greek] soldiers in 1940, thus St. John the Russian, confirmed to many who saw him in visions: ‘I am going to Belgrade, because Orthodoxy is being slaughtered.’ And this occurred: the Saint, arrayed as a soldier, strengthened many Serbs at that time through his wonderworking presence, as many credible Serbian witnesses confess…”
    
For the life and numerous miracles of St. John the Russian, see: http://full-of-grace-and-truth.blogspot.com/2009/05/st-john-russian-new-confessor.html.

For some additional miracles of the Saint for children and youth, see: http://full-of-grace-and-truth.blogspot.com/2010/02/additional-miracles-of-st-john-russian.html.
  

St. John the Russian (http://www.imchalkidos.gr/Uploads/fotos/OsiosIoanRossos.jpg)
  
Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone
He that hath called thee from earth unto the heavenly abodes doth even after thy death keep thy body unharmed, O righteous one; for thou wast carried off as a prisoner to Asia, wherein also, O John, thou didst win Christ as thy friend. Wherefore, do thou beseech Him that our souls be saved.

Kontakion in the Fourth Tone
The all‐holy mem’ry of * thy splendid contests * on this day is come to us, * and it doth gladden and rejoice * the souls of all them that honour thee * with faith and reverence, O most righteous Father John.

Oikos
How shall I, wretched as I am, praise thy struggles, O righteous Father? How shall I tell of the deep sea of thy tears? For by thine excellence in this life, thou didst attain to the choirs of the Angels; by abstinence, thou, who art truly wise, didst mortify the passions; and by submitting thyself to hardship, thou madest the flesh subject to the spirit and didst put to shame the prince of darkness. Wherefore, as thou standest even now before the Master’s throne, thou intercedest for them that honour thee with faith and rev’rence, O most righteous Father John.

Synaxarion
On the twenty‐seventh of this month (May) we commemorate our righteous and God‐bearing Father John the Russian, the New Confessor, who was sold as a slave to a certain Hagerene and was taken by him into Asia Minor, into Procopion, a town of Cappadocia, and struggled there in the ascetical life, and reposed in the Lord in the year 1730.

Verses
The captive showed himself to be full of graces,
As he led away captive the prince of darkness.
On the twenty‐seventh John ascended in light.

From Ode I of the Canon
A stable today is the majestic place of our festival; * a slave’s sweat and labours are the dainties cheering our souls; an amazing change * from slavery to kingship, * from earth unto Heaven, inspireth our song of praise.
  
Megalynaria of the Saint (amateur translation)
Those who gather in your church, we entreat you to deliver from every visible and invisible enemy which tyrannizes them, for under your fervent care we all take refuge.

O Father, drive away the fiery arrows of the enemy from us, through your fervent intercessions to the Trinity, so that having been delivered, we may magnify you.

The bright star from Prokopion, that noetically shines on all, the boast of the righteous, and glory of Cappadocia, the divine John we honor in hymns.

Entreat for peace from God, calmness of spirits, patience until the end, salvation of souls, to us through your intercessions, to those who praise your wondrous deeds with longing.
(http)://www.impantokratoros.gr/A61DB4E4.print.el.aspx
     
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Homily by St. John Maximovitch on Pentecost: "Come, o ye People"

Icon depicting the three Angels visiting the Righteous Abraham, as a type of the Holy and Life-giving Trinity (http://www.belygorod.ru/img2/Ikona/Used/017rublev%20troitsa.jpg)
  
Homily by St. John Maximovitch on Pentecost: "Come, o ye People"
"God is a holy Trinity. A Trinity consubstantial and indivisible. Consubstantial, that is, one essence, one nature. A Trinity indivisible: the Son has never been divided from the Father, nor the Holy Spirit from the Father or the Son, and never will be divided.

The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are not three gods, but one God, since They have one nature. But not only because of this. People also have one nature, one essence. But with people one cannot say that two or three persons are one person, no matter how close and amicable they may be. People not only have separate bodies, but each one also has his own will, his own tastes, his own moods. No matter how similar people may be in body and character, it still never happens that everything is in common or that everything is the same.

With the Three Persons of the Holy Trinity everything is in common. The boundless love of the Father for the Son, of the Son for the Father, and the same love between them and the Holy Spirit make Their will and all of Their actions to be common. They have one will, and everything is performed by Them together. Whatever pleases the Father also pleases the Son and the Holy Spirit. Whatever displeases the Holy Spirit also displeases the Father. Whatever the Son loves, the Father and the Holy Spirit love also.

Everything is accomplished jointly by the Holy Trinity. At the creation of the world it says in the Bible: And God said, Let there be light: and there was light (Gen. 1:3). What does "said" mean? It means that God the Father created by His Word, by that Word of which the Gospel says, In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God (John 1:1) and which is the Only-begotten Son of God.

God the Father created everything by His Word; in other words, He accomplished everything through His Son. The Father does not create anything without the Son, just as the Son does not create anything without the Father, and the Holy Spirit always assists the Father and the Son. It is said in the Bible about the creation of the world: And the Spirit of God moved over the waters (Gen. 1:2). It "moved" over creation, but did not merely move over it — the word in the Hebrew original, which lacks an exact equivalent in Slavonic, signifies "to cover," "to warm," just as a brood-hen sitting on her eggs gives life to them by her warmth, and from them come forth living creatures.

By the Word of the Lord were the heavens established, and all the might of them by the Spirit of His mouth (Ps. 32:6). All that exists was created by God the Father through the Son and was brought to life by the Holy Spirit. In other words, everything the Father wanted or wants, immediately was or is fulfilled by the Son and is animated by the Holy Spirit. Thus was the world created, thus was all accomplished by the providence of God concerning the world and mankind.

In order to save man, who through sin had fallen away from God and became mortal, the Son of God, in accordance with the pre-eternal counsel of the Holy Trinity, obeying the will of the Father, came down to earth, was born of the Ever-Virgin Mary through the action of the Holy Spirit, proclaimed to the people the True God the Father and His Divine will, and taught the true worship of God. Having suffered for our sins, He descended in soul into hades, and, having freed the souls of the dead, He rose from the dead.

Even before His sufferings, Christ promised His Apostles, chosen by Him from among His disciples, to give them the power to loose and to bind — to remit people's sins or to leave them in their sins. After His Resurrection the Lord bestowed this gift of Grace not on any of the Apostles separately, but on all of them together: He established His Church, the repository of that Grace, and united in her all those who believe in Him and love Him.

Having promised His Apostles that He would invest them with power from on high, having sent them the Holy Spirit, and having accomplished all for which He came to earth, the Lord Jesus Christ ascended to Heaven, receiving in His humanity that glory and honor which He had as the Son of God since before the creation of the world.

In descending upon the disciples of Christ, according to the promise, the Holy Spirit confirmed them in the faith of Christ and through His Grace poured out upon them the gifts of God. He strengthened them for the preaching and fulfilment in life of Christ's teachings, for the building up of the Church established by Christ and put into action by the Holy Spirit.

The Church, standing on her foundation on earth and headed by the Son of God seated at the right hand of the Father, is mysteriously guided by the Holy Spirit. She inwardly links together all of her children and unites them with God. Through the Church, God's gifts of Grace are poured out on those striving to follow the way of Christ; they sanctify and fortify all good in them, and cleanse them from sin and every defilement, making them able to become receptacles of the radiance of the glory and power of God.

Through the Church man is made a partaker of the Divine nature, and he enters into the closest relationship with the Holy Trinity.

Not only the soul, but also man's body is sanctified and communes with God by partaking of the Body and Blood of Christ, through which he is united with the entire Holy Trinity. Through Divine Grace, with the participation of his own will and effort, man becomes a new creature, a participant in the eternal Kingdom of God.

Nature, too, is being prepared for the coming Kingdom of God, for the coming purification by fire of the consequences of man's sin and the curse that lies on her. She receives the first fruits of sanctification through the descent of the Holy Spirit on her at Theophany in the blessing of the waters and in many other Church rites, so that she may later become a new earth and a new heaven.

This will be accomplished at the time appointed by God the Father, and the Son of God will come in glory to pronounce judgment on the world.

Then those who have loved God and have been united with Him will shine with the rays of Divine light and will eternally delight in the uncreated light of the Triune Godhead of the Consubstantial, Life-creating, and Indivisible Trinity.

To God, our Creator and Saviour, be glory, honor, and worship unto everlasting ages:
"Come, O ye people, let us worship the Godhead in Three Hypostases: the Son in the Father, with the Holy Spirit; for the Father timelessly begat the Son Who is Co-ever-existing and Coenthroned, and the Holy Spirit was in the Father, glorified together with the Son; One Might, One Essence, One Godhead. In worshipping Whom let us all say: O Holy God, Who madest all things by the Son, through the cooperation of the Holy Spirit; Holy Mighty, through Whom we have known the Father, and through Whom the Holy Spirit came into the world; Holy Immortal, the Comforting Spirit, Who proceedest from the Father, and restest in the Son: O Holy Trinity, glory be to Thee"
(Dogmaticon of Great Vespers of Pentecost)."
(http://www.holytrinitymission.org/books/english/sermons_john_maximovich.htm#_Toc100019520)
  
Icon depicting the Descent of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost (http://img-fotki.yandex.ru/get/22/liblion.ea/0_ce45_220a8793_orig)
  
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Homily by St. Gregory the Theologian on Pentecost

The Great and Holy Feast of Pentecost (http://www.rel.gr/photo/displayimage.php?album=33&pos=73)
  
Homily by St. Gregory the Theologian on Pentecost
I. "Let us reason a little about the Festival, that we may keep it spiritually. For different persons have different ways of keeping Festival; but to the worshiper of the Word a discourse seems best; and of discourses, that which is best adapted to the occasion. And of all beautiful things none gives so much joy to the lover of the beautiful, as that the lover of festivals should keep them spiritually. Let us look into the matter thus. The Jew keeps festival as well as we, but only in the letter. For while following after the bodily Law, he has not attained to the spiritual Law. The Greek too keeps festival, but only in the body, and in honor of his own gods and demons, some of whom are creators of passion by their own admission, and others were honored out of passion.

Therefore even their manner of keeping festival is passionate, as though their very sin were an honor to God, in Whom their passion takes refuge as a thing to be proud of. We too keep festival, but we keep it as is pleasing to the Spirit. And it is pleasing to Him that we should keep it by discharging some duty, either of action or speech.

This then is our manner of keeping festival, to treasure up in our soul some of those things which are permanent and will cleave ‘to it, not of those which will forsake us and be destroyed, and which only tickle our senses for a little while; whereas they are for the most part, m my judgment at least, harmful and ruinous. For sufficient unto the body is the evil thereof. What need has that fire of further fuel, or that beast of more plentiful food, to make it more uncontrollable, and too violent for reason?

II. Wherefore we must keep the feast spiritually. And this is the beginning of our discourse; for we must speak, even if our speech do seem a little too discursive; and we must be diligent for the sake of those who love learning, that we may as it were mix up some seasoning with our solemn festival.

The children of the Hebrews do honour to the number Seven, according to the legislation of Moses (as did the Pythagoreans in later days to the number Four, by which indeed they were in the habit of swearing as the Simonians and Marcionites do by the number Eight and the number Thirty, inasmuch as they have given names to and reverence a system of Aeons of these numbers); I cannot say by what rules of analogy, or in consequence of what power of this number; anyhow they do honour to it. One thing indeed is evident, that God, having in six days created matter, and given it form, and having arranged it in all kinds of shapes and mixtures, and having made this present visible world, on the seventh day rested from all His works, as is shewn by the very name of the Sabbath, which in Hebrew means Rest.

If there be, however, any more lofty reason than this, let others discuss it. But this honour which they pay to it is not confined to days alone, but also extends to years. That belonging to days the Sabbath proves, because it is continually observed among them; and in accordance with this the removal of leaven is for that number of days.

And that belonging to years is shewn by the seventh year, the year of Release; and it consists not only of Hebdomads, but of Hebdomads of Hebdomads, alike in days and years. The Hebdomads of days give birth to Pentecost, a day called holy among them; and those of years to what they call the Jubilee, which also has a release of land, and a manumission of slaves, and a release of possessions bought.

For this nation consecrates to God, not only the firstfruits of offspring, or of firstborn, but also those of days and years. Thus the veneration paid to the number Seven gave rise also to the veneration of Pentecost. For seven being multiplied by seven generates fifty all but one day, which we borrow from the world to come, at once the Eighth and the first, or rather one and indestructible.

For the present sabbatism of our souls can find its cessation there, that a portion may be given to seven and also to eight (so some of our predecessors have interpreted this passage of Solomon).

III. As to the honor paid to Seven there are many testimonies, but we will be content with a few out of the many. For instance, seven precious spirits are named; for I think Isaiah( loves to call the activities of the Spirit spirits; and the Oracles of the Lord are purified seven times according to David, and the just is delivered from six troubles and in the seventh is not smitten.

But the sinner is pardoned not seven times, but seventy times seven.

And we may see it by the contrary also (for the punishment of wickedness is to be praised), Cain being avenged seven times, that is, punishment being exacted from him for his fratricide, and Lamech seventy times seven, because he was a murderer after the law and the condemnation. And wicked neighbors receive sevenfold into their bosom; and the House of Wisdom rests on seven pillars and the Stone of Zerubbabel is adorned with seven eyes; and God is praised seven times a day. And again the barren beareth seven, the perfect number, she who is contrasted with her who is imperfect in her children.

IV. And if we must also look at ancient history, I perceive that Enoch, the seventh among our ancestors, was honored by translation. I perceive also that the twenty-first, Abraham, was given the glory of the Patriarchate, by the addition of a greater mystery.

For the Hebdomad thrice repeated brings out this number. And one who is very bold might venture even to come to the New Adam, my God and Lord Jesus Christ, Who is counted the Seventy-seventh from the old Adam who fell under sin, in the backward genealogy according to Luke.

And I think of the seven trumpets of Jesus, the son of Nave, and the same number of circuits and days and priests, by which the walls of Jericho were shaken down.

And so too the seven circuits of the City; in the same way as there is a mystery in the threefold breathings of Elias, the Prophet, by which he breathed life into the son of the Sareptan widow, and the same number of his floodings of the wood, when he consumed the sacrifice with fire sent from God, and condemned the prophets of shame who could not do the like at his challenge. And the sevenfold looking for the cloud imposed upon the young servant; and Elisha stretching himself that number of times upon the child of the Shunammite, by which stretching the breath of life was restored.

To the same doctrine belongs, I think (if I may omit the seven-stemmed and seven-lamped candlestick of the Temple) that the ceremony of the Priests’ consecration lasted seven days; and seven that of the purifying of a leper, and that of the Dedication of the Temples the same number, and that in the seventieth year the people returned from the Captivity; that whatever is in Units may appear also in Decads, and the mystery of the Hebdomad be reverenced in a more perfect number.

But why do I speak of the distant past? Jesus Himself who is pure perfection, could in the desert and with five loaves feed five thousand, and again with seven loaves four thousand. And the leavings after they were satisfied were in the first case twelve baskets full, and in the other seven baskets; neither, I imagine, without a reason or unworthy of the Spirit.

And if you read for yourself you may take note of many numbers which contain a meaning deeper than appears on the surface. But to come to an instance which is most useful to us on the present occasion, not that for these reasons or others very similar or yet more divine, the Hebrews honour the Day of Pentecost, we also honour it; just as there are other rites of the Hebrews which we observe … they were typically observed by them, and by us they are sacramentally reinstated.

And now having said so much by way of preface about the Day, let us proceed to what we have to say further.

V. We are keeping the feast of Pentecost and of the Coming of the Spirit, and the appointed time of the Promise, and the fulfillment of our hope. And how great, how august, is the Mystery.

The dispensations of the Body of Christ are ended; or rather, what belongs to His Bodily Advent (for I hesitate to say the Dispensation of His Body, as long as no discourse persuades me that it is better to have put off the body), and that of the Spirit is beginning.

And what were the things pertaining to the Christ? The Virgin, the Birth, the Manger, the Swaddling, the Angels glorifying Him, the Shepherds running to Him, the course of the Star, the Magi worshipping Him and bringing Gifts, Herod’s murder of the children, the Flight of Jesus into Egypt, the Return from Egypt, the Circumcision, the Baptism, the Witness from Heaven, the Temptation, the Stoning for our sake (because He had to be given as an Example to us of enduring affliction for the Word), the Betrayal, the Nailing, the Burial, the Resurrection, the Ascension; and of these even now He suffers many dishonors at the hands of the enemies of Christ; and He bears them, for He is longsuffering. But from those who love Him He receives all that is honorable.

And He defers, as in the former case His wrath, so in ours His kindness; in their case perhaps to give them the grace of repentance, and in ours to test our love; whether we do not faint in our tribulations and conflicts for the true Religion, as was from of old the order of His Divine Economy, and of his unsearchable judgments, with which He orders wisely all that concerns us. Such are the mysteries of Christ.

And what follows we shall see to be more glorious; and may we too be seen. As to the things of the Spirit, may the Spirit be with me, and grant me speech as much as I desire; or if not that, yet as is in due proportion to the season. Anyhow He will be with me as my Lord; not in servile guise, nor awaiting a command, a.s some think. For He bloweth where He wills and on whom He wills, and to what extent He wills. Thus we are inspired both to think and to speak of the Spirit.

VI. They who reduce the Holy Spirit to the rank of a creature are blasphemers and wicked servants, and worst of the wicked. For it is the part of wicked servants to despise Lordship, and to rebel against dominion, and to make That which is free their fellow-servant. But they who deem Him God are inspired by God and are illustrious in their mind; and they who go further and call Him so, if to well disposed hearers are exalted; if to the low, are not reserved enough, for they commit pearls to clay, and the noise of thunder to weak ears, and the sun to feeble eyes, and solid food to those who are still using milk; whereas they ought to lead them little by little up to what lies beyond them, and to bring them up to the higher truth; adding light to light, and supplying truth upon truth. Therefore we will leave the more mature discourse, for which the time has not yet come, and will speak with them as follows.

VII. If, my friends, you will not acknowledge the Holy Spirit to be uncreated, nor yet eternal; clearly such a state of mind is due to the contrary spirit–forgive me, if in my zeal I speak somewhat over boldly. If, however, you are sound enough to escape this evident impiety, and to place outside of slavery Him Who gives freedom to yourselves, then see for yourselves with the help of the Holy Spirit and of us what follows.

For I am persuaded that you are to some extent partakers of Him, so that I will go into the question with you as kindred souls. Either shew me some mean between lordship and servitude, that I may there place the rank of the Spirit; or, if you shrink from imputing servitude to Him, there is no doubt of the rank in which you must place the object of your search. But you are dissatisfied with the syllables, and you stumble at the word, and it is to you a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense; for so is Christ to some minds. It is only human after all. Let us meet one another in a spiritual manner; let us be full rather of brotherly than of self love.

Grant us the Power of the Godhead, and we will give up to you the use of the Name. Confess the Nature in other words for which you have greater reverence, and we will heal you as infirm people, filching from you some matters in which you delight. For it is shameful, yes, shameful and utterly illogical, when you are sound in soul, to draw petty distinctions about the sound, and to hide the Treasure, as if you envied it to others, or were afraid lest you should sanctify your own tongue too. But it is even more shameful for us to be in the state of which we accuse you, and, while condemning your petty distinctions of words to make petty distinctions of letters.

VIII. Confess, my friends, the Trinity to be of One Godhead; or if you will, of One Nature; and we will pray the Spirit to give you this word God. He will give it to you, I well know, inasmuch as He has already granted you the first portion and the second; and especially if that about which we are contending is some spiritual cowardice, and not the devil’s objection. Yet more clearly and concisely, let me say, do not you call us to account for our loftier word (for envy has nothing to do with this ascent), and we will not find fault with what you have been able to attain, until by another road you are brought up to the same resting place.

For we are not seeking victory, but to gain brethren, by whose separation from us we are torn. This we concede to you in whom we do find something of vital truth, who are sound as to the Son.

We admire your life, but we do not altogether approve your doctrine. Ye who have the things of the Spirit, receive Himself in addition, that ye may not only strive, but strive lawfully, which is the condition of your crown. May this reward of your conversation be granted you, that you may confess the Spirit perfectly and proclaim with us, aye and before us, all that is His due. Yes, and I will venture even more on your behalf; I will even utter the Apostle’s wish.

So much do I cling to you, and so much do I revere your array, and the colour of your continence, and those sacred assemblies, and the august Virginity, and purification, and the Psalmody that lasts all night and your love of the poor, and of the brethren, and of strangers, that I could consent to be Anathema from Christ, and even to suffer something as one condemned, if only you might stand beside us, and we might glorify the Trinity together. For of the others why should I speak, seeing they are clearly dead (and it is the part of Christ alone to raise them, Who quickens the dead by His own Power), and are unhappily separated in place as they are bound together by their doctrine; and who quarrel among themselves as much as a pair of squinting eyes in looking at the same object, and differ with one another, not in sight but in position–if indeed we may charge them only with squinting, and not with utter blindness. And now that I have to some extent laid down your position, come, let us return again to the subject of the Spirit, and I think you will follow me now.

IX. The Holy Spirit, then, always existed, and exists, and always will exist. He neither had a beginning, nor will He have an end; but He was everlastingly ranged with and numbered with the Father and the Son. For it was not ever fitting that either the Son should be wanting to the Father, or the Spirit to the Son. For then Deity would be shorn of Its Glory in its greatest respect, for It would seem to have arrived at the consummation of perfection as if by an afterthought.

Therefore He was ever being partaken, but not partaking; perfecting, not being perfected; sanctifying, not being sanctified; deifying, not being deified; Himself ever the same with Himself, and with Those with Whom He is ranged; invisible, eternal, incomprehensible, unchangeable, without quality, without quantity, without form, impalpable, self-moving, eternally moving, with free-will, self-powerful, All-powerful (even though all that is of the Spirit is referable to the First Cause, just as is all that is of the Only-begotten); Life and Lifegiver; Light and Lightgiver; absolute Good, and Spring of Goodness; the Right, the Princely Spirit; the Lord, the Sender, the Separator; Builder of His own Temple; leading, working as He wills; distributing His own Gifts; the Spirit of Adoption, of Truth, of Wisdom, of Understanding, of Knowledge, of Godliness, of Counsel, of Fear (which are ascribed to Him) by Whom the Father is known and the Son is glorified; and by Whom alone He is known; one class, one service, worship, power, perfection, sanctification.

Why make a long discourse of it? All that the Father hath the Son hath also, except the being Unbegotten; and all that the Son hath the Spirit hath also, except the Generation. And these two matters do not divide the Substance, as I understand it, but rather are divisions within the Substance.

X. Are you laboring to bring forth objections? Well, so am I to get on with my discourse. Honor the Day of the Spirit; restrain your tongue if you can a little. It is the time to speak of other tongues–reverence them or fear them, when you see that they are of fire. To-day let us teach dogmatically; to-morrow we may discuss. Today let us keep the feast; to-morrow will be time enough to behave ourselves unseemly–the first mystically, the second theatrically; the one in the Churches, the other in the marketplace; the one among the sober, the other among the drunken; the one as befits those who vehemently desire, the other, as among those who make a joke of the Spirit. Having then put an end to the element that is foreign to us, let us now thoroughly furnish our own friends.

XI. He wrought first in the heavenly and angelic powers, and such as are first after God and around God. For from no other source flows their perfection and their brightness, and the difficulty or impossibility of moving them to sin, but from the Holy Spirit. And next, in the Patriarchs and Prophets, of whom the former saw Visions of God, or knew Him, and the latter also foreknew the future, having their master part molded by the Spirit, and being associated with events that were yet future as if present, for such is the power of the Spirit. And next in the Disciples of Christ (for I omit to mention Christ Himself, in Whom He dwelt, not as energizing, but as accompanying His Equal), and that in three ways, as they were able to receive Him, and on three occasions; before Christ was glorified by the Passion, and after He was glorified by the Resurrection; and after His Ascension, or Restoration, or whatever we ought to call it, to Heaven.

Now the first of these manifests Him–the healing of the sick and casting out of evil spirits, which could not be apart from the Spirit; and so does that breathing upon them after the Resurrection, which was clearly a divine inspiration; and so too the present distribution of the fiery tongues, which we are now commemorating. But the first manifested Him indistinctly, the second more expressly, this present one more perfectly, since He is no longer present only in energy, but as we may say, substantially, associating with us, and dwelling in us. For it was fitting that as the Son had lived with us in bodily form–so the Spirit too should appear in bodily form; and that after Christ had returned to His own place, He should have come down to us–Coming because He is the Lord; Sent, because He is not a rival God. For such words no less manifest the Unanimity than they mark the separate Individuality

XII. And therefore He came after Christ, that a Comforter should not be lacking unto us; but Another Comforter, that you might acknowledge His co-equality. For this word Another marks an Alter Ego, a name of equal Lordship, not of inequality. For Another is not said, I know, of different kinds, but of things consubstantial. And He came in the form of Tongues because of His close relation to the Word. And they were of Fire, perhaps because of His purifying Power (for our Scripture knows of a purifying fire, as any one who wishes can find out), or else because of His Substance. For our God is a consuming Fire, and a Fire burning up the ungodly; though you may again pick a quarrel over these words, being brought into difficulty by the Consubstantiality.

And the tongues were cloven, because of the diversity of Gifts; and they sat to signify His Royalty and Rest among the Saints, and because the Cherubim are the Throne of God.

And it took place in an Upper Chamber (I hope I am not seeming to any one over tedious), because those who should receive it were to ascend and be raised above the earth; for also certain upper chambers are covered with Divine Waters, by which the praise of God are sung. And Jesus Himself in an Upper Chamber gave the Communion of the Sacrament to those who were being initiated into the higher Mysteries, that thereby might be shewn on the one hand that God must come down to us, as I know He did of old to Moses; and on the other that we must go up to Him, and that so there should come to pass a Communion of God with men, by a coalescing of the dignity. For as long as either remains on its own footing, the One in His Glory the other in his lowliness, so long the Goodness of God cannot mingle with us, and His lovingkindness is incommunicable, and there is a great gulf between, which cannot be crossed; and which separates not only the Rich Man from Lazarus and Abraham’s Bosom which he longs for, but also the created and changing natures from that which is eternal and immutable.

XIII. This was proclaimed by the Prophets in such passages as the following:–The Spirit of the Lord is upon me; and, There shall rest upon Him Seven Spirits; and The Spirit of the Lord descended and led them; and The spirit of Knowledge filling Bezaleel, the Master-builder of the Tabernacle; and, The Spirit provoking to anger; and the Spirit carrying away Elias in a chariot, and sought in double measure by Elisha; and David led and strengthened by the Good and Princely Spirit.

And He was promised by the mouth of Joel first, who said, And it shall be in the last days that I will pour out of My Spirit upon all flesh (that is, upon all that believe), and upon your sons and upon your daughters, and the rest; and then afterwards by Jesus, being glorified by Him, and giving back glory to Him, as He was glorified by and glorified the Father. And how abundant was this Promise. He shall abide for ever, and shall remain with you, whether now with those who in the sphere of time are worthy, or hereafter with those who are counted worthy of that world, when we have kept Him altogether by our life here, and not rejected Him in so far as we sin.

XIV. This Spirit shares with the Son in working both the Creation and the Resurrection, as you may be shewn by this Scripture; By the Word of the Lord were the heavens made, and all the power of them by the breath of His Mouth; and this, The Spirit of God that made me, and the Breath of the Almighty that teaches me; and again, Thou shalt send forth Thy Spirit and they shall be created, and Thou shalt renew the face of the earth. And He is the Author of spiritual regeneration.

Here is your proof:–None can see or enter into the Kingdom, except he be born again of the Spirit, and be cleansed from the first birth, which is a mystery of the night, by a remoulding of the day and of the Light, by which every one singly is created anew.

This Spirit, for He is most wise and most loving, if He takes possession of a shepherd makes him a Psalmist, subduing evil spirits by his song, and proclaims him King; if he possess a goatherd and scraper of sycamore fruit, He makes him a Prophet. Call to mind David and Amos. If He possess a goodly youth, He makes him a Judge of Elders, even beyond his years, as Daniel testifies, who conquered the lions in their den. If He takes possession of Fishermen, He makes them catch the whole world in the nets of Christ, taking them up in the meshes of the Word. Look at Peter and Andrew and the Sons of Thunder, thundering the things of the Spirit. If of Publicans, He makes gain of them for discipleship, and makes them merchants of souls; witness Matthew, yesterday a Publican, today an Evangelist. If of zealous persecutors, He changes the current of their zeal, and makes them Pauls instead of Sauls, and as full of piety as He found them of wickedness.

And He is the Spirit of Meekness, and yet is provoked by those who sin. Let us therefore make proof of Him as gentle, not as wrathful, by confessing His Dignity; and let us not desire to see Him implacably wrathful. He too it is who has made me today a bold herald to you;–if without rest to myself, God be thanked; but if with risk, thanks to Him nevertheless; in the one case, that He may spare those that hate us; in the other, that He may consecrate us, in receiving this reward of our preaching of the Gospel, to be made perfect by blood.

XV. They spoke with strange tongues, and not those of their native land; and the wonder was great, a language spoken by those who had not learnt it. And the sign is to them that believe not, and not to them that believe, that it may be an accusation of the unbelievers, as it is written,

With other tongues and other lips will I speak unto this people, and not even so will they listen to Me saith the Lord.

But they heard. Here stop a little and raise a question, how you are to divide the words. For the expression has an ambiguity, which is to be determined by the punctuation. Did they each hear in their own dialect so that if I may so say, one sound was uttered, but many were heard; the air being thus beaten and, so to speak, sounds being produced more clear than the original sound; or are we to put the stop after “they Heard,” and then to add “them speaking in their own languages” to what follows, so that it would be speaking in languages their own to the hearers, which would be foreign to the speakers?

I prefer to put it this latter way; for on the other plan the miracle would be rather of the hearers than of the speakers; whereas in this it would be on the speakers’ side; and it was they who were reproached for drunkenness, evidently because they by the Spirit wrought a miracle in the matter of the tongues.

XVI. But as the old Confusion of tongues was laudable, when men who were of one language in wickedness and impiety, even as some now venture to be, were building the Tower; for by the confusion of their language the unity of their intention was broken up, and their undertaking destroyed; so much more worthy of praise is the present miraculous one. For being poured from One Spirit upon many men, it brings them again into harmony. And there is a diversity of Gifts, which stands in need of yet another Gift to discern which is the best, where all are praiseworthy. And that division also might be called noble of which David says, Drown O Lord and divide their tongues. Why? Because they loved all words of drowning, the deceitful tongue. Where he all but expressly arraigns the tongues of the present day which sever the Godhead. Thus much upon this point.

XVII. Next, since it was to inhabitants of Jerusalem, most devout Jews, Parthians, Medes, and Elamites, Egyptians, and Libyans, Cretans too, and Arabians, and Mesopotamians, and my own Cappadocians, that the tongues spake, and to Jews (if any one prefer so to understand it), out of every nation under heaven thither collected; it is worth while to see who these were and of what captivity. For the captivity in Egypt and Babylon was circumscribed, and moreover had long since been brought to an end by the Return; and that under the Romans, which was exacted for their audacity against our Savior, was not yet come to pass, though it was in the near future.

It remains then to understand it of the captivity under Antiochus, which happened not so very long before this time. But if any does not accept this explanation, as being too elaborate, seeing that this captivity was neither ancient nor widespread over the world, and is looking for a more reliable–perhaps the best way to take it would be as follows. The nation was removed many times, as Esdras related; and some of the Tribes were recovered, and some were left behind; of whom probably (dispersed as they were among the nations) some would have been present and shared the miracle.

XVIII. These questions have been examined before by the studious, and perhaps not without occasion; and whatever else any one may contribute at the present day, he will be joined with us. But now it is our duty to dissolve this Assembly, for enough has been said. But the Festival is never to be put an end to; but kept now indeed with our bodies; but a little later on altogether spiritually there, where we shall see the reasons of these things more purely and clearly, in the Word Himself, and God, and our Lord Jesus Christ, the True Festival and Rejoicing of the Saved–to Whom be the glory and the worship, with the Father and the Holy Spirit, now and for ever. Amen."
© 2010, Preachers Institute: The Orthodox Christian Homiletics Resource. All rights reserved. (http://preachersinstitute.com/2010/05/on-pentecost-by-st-gregory-nazianzus-the-theologian/)

Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Selected hymns from the Feast of Sts. Constantine and Helen

Sts. Constantine and Helen, the God-crowned and Equals-to-the-Apostles - Commemorated on May 21st (http://ia301508.us.archive.org/3/items/Icoane/0521SfImpConstantinSiElena17.jpg)
  
Kathisma I in the Third Tone
You became a new David in manner. * You received the oil of the kingdom, * as an honor from heaven, upon your head. * The Lord and Logos transcending all essences * anointed you with the Spirit, O glorious one. * Therefore you received the scepter to rule, as one most wise. * And you entreat that we obtain the great mercy.

Kathisma II in the Plagal of the Second Tone
The Maker of the sun and all creation was led once to the Cross. And now to himself He leads you, the shining star, by stars from heaven. And to you first He bestowed imperial power. Therefore, O most pious emperor Constantine, we extol you and your mother Helen the godly‐minded.

Idiomelon following the 50th Psalm in the Second Tone
The memorial of Constantine the pious, like perfume that is poured out, has arisen today. He longed for Christ and therefore held the idols in contempt. On earth he erected a temple to the One who was crucified for us; while in heaven he received the crown of hope.

Prosomoia of the Praises in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone
Full of wisdom, Constantine, rejoice! * The well of Orthodox Faith, * that has watered in every age * the entire universe * with its waters most sweet, rejoice! * Glorious root, out of which has burgeoned forth * the fruit that feeds the entire Church of Christ, * you are the pride and joy * of the fathers; O rejoice! You are the first * of all Christian emperors. * Rejoice, believersʹ joy!

He who rules over creation all, * O all‐wise Ruler, foresaw * the obedience of your heart, * and through reason captured you * when unreason was ruling you; * and He illumined your thoughts and reasoning * with certain knowledge of Orthodox belief; * glorious Constantine, * to the world He showed you as a shining sun, * radiating brilliant beams * of godly words and deeds.

Full of wisdom, Helen, praised by all, when you accepted the Lordʹs * saving teachings, like chosen earth * you abundantly produced * many fruits of your virtuous deeds. * And by displaying a holy way of life * for imitation, you thereby feed our minds. * Therefore we celebrate * your divine memorial, O royal Saint, * festively observing it today with heightened joy.

Doxastikon of the Praises in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone
Glory to the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.
The King of kings and God, who adorns the worthy with abundant gifts, caught you in His net, through the sign of the Cross, like He did to Paul the glorious, O Constantine. He said to you, ʺIn this sign conquer your enemies.ʺ Thus having sought Him, as did your godly‐minded mother, and having found Him for whom you longed, you utterly defeated them. In company with your mother, earnestly pray for Orthodox rulers, and the Christ‐loving armed forces, and all of us who loyally observe your memory, entreating Him who alone loves humanity, to deliver us from all wrath.
Sts. Constantine and Helen the Equals-to-the-Apostles (source)
   
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Selected Quotes of the Fathers on Pentecost and the Holy Spirit

Icon depicting the Comforter, the Holy Spirit (http://www.pigizois.net/galery/diafores/paraklitos.jpg)
  
Selected Quotes of the Fathers on Pentecost
"'And my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.' My friends, consider the greatness of this solemn feast that commemorates God's coming as a guest into our hearts! If some rich and influential friend were to come to your home, you would promptly put it all in order for fear something there might offend your friend's eyes when he came in. Let all of us then who are preparing our inner homes for God cleanse them of anything our wrongdoing has brought into them."
St. Gregory Dialogos, on Pentecost in Be Friends of God

"'And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit' (Acts 2:3-4). They partook of fire, not of burning but of saving fire; of fire which consumes the thorns of sins, but gives luster to the soul. This is now coming upon you also, and that to strip away and consume your sins which are like thorns, and to brighten yet more that precious possession of your souls, and to give you grace; for He gave it then to the Apostles. And He sat upon them in the form of fiery tongues, that they might crown themselves with new and spiritual diadems by fiery tongues upon their heads. A fiery sword barred of old the gates of Paradise; a fiery tongue which brought salvation restored the gift."
St. Cyril of Jerusalem (Catechetical Lectures: Lecture 17 no. 15)

"Brothers, we shall hymn with praise the tongues of the disciples, because, not with elegant speech, But in divine power they have revived all men. Because they took up His Cross as a reed, So that they might again use words as fishing lines and fish for the world Since they had speech as a sharp fishhook, Since the flesh of the Master of all Has become for them a bait, it has not sought to kill But it attracts to life those who worship and praise The All-Holy Spirit."
St Romanos the Melodist - On Pentecost

"But as the old Confusion of tongues was laudable, when men who were of one language in wickedness and impiety, even as some now venture to be, were building the Tower; for by the confusion of their language the unity of their intention was broken up, and their undertaking destroyed; so much more worthy of praise is the present miraculous one. For being poured from One Spirit upon many men, it brings them again into harmony. And there is a diversity of Gifts, which stands in need of yet another Gift to discern which is the best, where all are praiseworthy."
St. Gregory Nazianzen, Oration on Pentecost

"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

"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. 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 ]. The humble are accounted worthy of receiving in themselves this Spirit of revelations Who teaches mysteries."
St. Isaac the Syrian, Ascetical Homily 77

"Was it upon the twelve that it [the Holy Spirit] came? Not so; but upon the hundred and twenty. For Peter would not have quoted to no purpose the testimony of the prophet, saying, 'And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith the Lord God, I will pour out of My Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams' (Joel 2:28). 'And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit.' For, that the effect may not be to frighten only, therefore it is both 'with the Holy Spirit, and with fire. And began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance' (Mt. )."
St. John Chrysostom, Homilies on the Acts of the Apostles
   
"If from one burning lamp someone lights another, then another from that one, and so on in succession, he has light continuously. In the same way, through the Apostles ordaining their successors, and these successors ordaining others, and so on, the grace of the Holy Spirit is handed down through all generations and enlightens all who obey their shepherds and teachers.”
St. Gregory Palamas, “On how the Holy Spirit was manifested and shared out at Pentecost”

"What is the aim of the incarnate dispensation of God's Word, preached in all the Holy Scriptures but which we, who read them, do not know? The only aim is that, having entered into what is our own, we should participate in what is His. The Son of God has become Son of Man in order to make us, men, sons of God, raising our race by grace to what He is Himself by nature, granting us birth from above through the grace of the Holy Spirit and leading us straightway to the kingdom of heaven, or rather, granting us this kingdom of heaven within us (Luke 17:21), in order that we should not merely be fed by the hope of entering it, but entering into full possession thereof should cry: our 'life is hid with Christ in God' (Col. 3:3).
St. Simeon the New Theologian, “Practical and Theological Precepts” (The Philokalia)
  
The Preparation of the Throne, with the Holy Spirit depicted (source)
  
"...One must clean the royal house from every impurity and adorn it with every beauty, then the king may enter into it. In a similar way one must first cleanse the earth of the heart and uproot the weeds of sin and the passionate deeds and soften it with sorrows and the narrow way of life, sow in it the seed of virtue, water it with lamentation and tears, and only then does the fruit of dispassion and eternal life grow. For the Holy Spirit does not dwell in a man until he has been cleansed from passions of the soul and body.”
St. Paisius Velichkovsky, “Field Flowers"

"If the Lord has left us ignorant of the ordering of many things in this world, then it means it is not necessary for us to know: we cannot compass all creation with our minds. But the Creator Himself of heaven and earth and every created thing gives us to know Him in the Holy Sprit.
St. Silouan the Athonite, “Wisdom from Mount Athos

"Whatever the soul may think fit to do itself, whatever care and pains it may take, relying only upon its own power, and thinking to be able to effect a perfect success by itself, without the co-operation of the Spirit, it is greatly mistaken. It is of no use for the heavenly places; it is of no use for the kingdom - that soul, which supposes that it can achieve perfect purity of itself, and by itself alone, without the Spirit. Unless the man who is under the influence of the passions will come to God, denying the world, and will believe with patience and hope to receive a good thing foreign to his own nature, namely the power of the Holy Spirit, and unless the Lord shall drop upon the soul from on high the life of the Godhead, such a man will never experience true life, will never recover from the drunkenness of materialism; the enlightenment of the Spirit will never shine in that benighted soul, or kindle in it a holy daytime; it will never awake out of that deepest sleep of ignorance, and so come to know God of a truth through God's power and the efficacy of grace.”
St. Macarius the Great, “Spiritual Homilies (Homily 24)"

“The aim of all those who live in God is to please our Lord Jesus Christ and become reconciled with God the Father through receiving the Holy Spirit, thus securing their salvation, for in this consists the salvation of every soul. If this aim and this activity is lacking, all other labour is useless and all other striving is in vain. Every path of life which does not lead to this is without profit.”
St. Simeon the New Theologian, "Writings from the Philokalia"

“Everything that breathes, breathes by air and cannot live without air; similarly all reasonable free creatures live by the Holy Spirit, as though by air, and cannot live without Him. "Every soul is quickened by the Holy Spirit." Recognise that the Holy Spirit stands in the same relation to your soul as air stands in relation to your body.”
St. John of Kronstadt, My Life in Christ

“The Saviour and the Comforter, two Persons of the Godhead: the One ever saves from sins, and the Other comforts him who is saved. Their very names are taken from their deeds, and are always actually justified. He comforts! The Holy Spirit comforts the believing soul, as a mother comforts her child.”
St. John of Kronstadt, My Life in Christ

“...In proportion to your humility you are given patience in your woes; and in proportion to your patience the burden of your afflictions is made lighter and you will find consolation; in proportion to your consolation, your love of God increases; and in proportion to your love, your joy in the Holy Spirit is magnified. Once men have truly become His sons, our tenderly compassionate Father does not take away their temptations from them when it is His pleasure to 'make for them a way to escape' (1 Cor. ), but instead He gives His sons patience in their trials. All these good things are given into the hand of their patience for the perfecting of their souls.”
St. Isaac the Syrian, "Ascetical Homilies" (Homily Forty-Two)

“Jesus tells us that His holy Disciples will be more courageous and more understanding when they would be, as the Scripture says, Endowed with power from on high (Luke 24:49), and that when their minds would be illuminated by the torch of the Spirit they would be able to see into all things, even though no longer able to question Him bodily present among them. The Saviour does not say that they would no longer as before need the light of His guidance, but that when they received His Spirit, when He was dwelling in their hearts, they would not be wanting in any good thing, and their minds would be filled with most perfect knowledge.”
St. Cyril of Alexandria

“The Saints in Heaven through the Holy Spirit behold the glory of God and the beauty of the Lord's Countenance. But in this same Holy Spirit they see our lives too, and our deeds. They know our sorrows and hear our burning prayers. When they were living on earth they learned of the love of God from the Holy Spirit; and he who knows love on earth takes it with him into eternal life in the kingdom of Heaven, where love grows and becomes perfect. And if love makes one unable to forget a brother here, how much more must the Saints remember and pray for us!”
St. Silouan the Athonite, "Wisdom from Mount Athos"

“As the Lord put on the body, leaving behind all principality and power, so Christians put on the Holy Spirit, and are at rest.”
St. Macarius the Great, "Spiritual Homilies" (Homily 26)

“...Filled with love, the holy Apostles went into the world, preaching salvation to mankind and fearing nothing, for the Spirit of God was their strength. When St. Andrew was threatened with death upon the cross if he did not stay his preaching he answered: 'If I feared the cross I should not be preaching the Cross." In this manner all the other Apostles, and after them the martyrs and holy men who wrestled against evil, went forward with joy to meet pain and suffering. For the Holy Spirit, sweet and gracious, draws the soul to love the Lord, and in the sweetness of the Holy Spirit the soul loses her fear of suffering.”
St. Silouan the Athonite, "Wisdom from Mt. Athos"

“The true aim of our Christian life consists in the acquisition of the Holy Spirit of God.”
St. Seraphim of Sarov, "A Wonderful Revelation to the World"

“...For as of old on the fiftieth day after the Sacrifice of the Lamb, the Law was given on Mount Sinai to the Hebrew people, now delivered from the Egyptians, so, after the Passion of Christ, in which the True Lamb of God was slain, on the fiftieth day after His Resurrection, the Holy Spirit descended upon the Apostles and upon the people who believed (Acts ii.3); so that an earnest Christian might know beyond any uncertainty, that the sacred rites of the Old Testament had served as foundations for the Gospel, and that by this same Spirit was the Second Covenant laid down, by Whom the first had been established.”
St. Leo the Great, “The Work of the Holy Spirit"

“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 in a pious life, and everything good - "going through all understanding, pure and most subtle spirits" (Wisdom of Solomon vii, 23). "We have been all made to drink into one Spirit" (I Cor. xii.13). All pious people are filled with the Spirit of God similarly as a sponge is filled with water.”
St. John of Kronstadt, "My Life in Christ"

“Through the Holy Spirit comes our restoration to paradise, our ascension into the kingdom of heaven, our return to the adoption of sons, our liberty to call God our Father, our being made partakers of the grace of Christ, our being called children of light, our sharing in eternal glory, and, in a word, our being brought into a state of all "fulness of blessing," both in this world and in the world to come, of all the good gifts that are in store for us, by promise hereof, through faith, beholding the reflection of their grace as though they were already present, we await the full enjoyment.”
St. Basil the Great, "On the Holy Spirit"
  
The descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost (source)
   
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!