Dear brothers and sisters, greetings, as we continue to celebrate the after-feast of the Lord’s Ascension.
We now find ourselves in that waiting period between Ascension and Pentecost, remembering the contemplative days in which the Holy Apostles awaited the revelation of the meaning of the Saviour’s words: “And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever…” (John 14:16) and “It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.” (John 16:7)
At the celebration of Vespers on Saturday evening, we will sing the prayer “O Heavenly King” for the first time since Pascha, and our supplications for the gift of the Holy Spirit will be intensified with the kneeling prayers of Pentecost Vespers.
As we prepare to celebrate the birthday of the Church, at Pentecost-Trinity, we need to embrace the ascetic-spiritual need for participation in this feast through concrete action, for when we pray to the Holy Spirit to “Come and dwell in us, cleanse us of all impurity, and save our souls…” we need to consciously prepare the place within our hearts and lives for the Holy Spirit to dwell.
We would not invite an earthly king into a filthy, dilapidated and decrepit house, with peeling paint, dirty and cracked windows, and unwashed and unswept floors. Yet week after week, we repeat the prayer to the Holy Spirit – sometimes unthinkingly and robotically – asking the Heavenly King to come and dwell in us, even though we have made no effort to make ourselves worthy and fitting dwellings for the Holy Spirit, the Comforter.
St. Paisius Velichkovsky said that,
“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.”
As such, we would do well to spend the week ahead examining our lives and trying to turn away from all that is impure and sinful; mending what is broken; rejecting all that comes between us and God; going to confession and recognising the way of repentance as the way to acquire the Holy Spirit.
Let us make ourselves busy spiritually cleaning, making ourselves ready and heed he words of St Seraphim:
“But if a man is stirred by the wisdom of God, which seeks our salvation and embraces everything, and if he is resolved for its sake to devote the early hours of the day to God and to watch in order to find His eternal salvation, then, in obedience to its voice, he must hasten to offer true repentance for all his sins and must practice the virtues which are opposite to the sins committed. Then through the virtues practiced for Christ’s sake, he will acquire the Holy Spirit Who acts within us and establishes in us the Kingdom of God.”
Let us make haste to the feast, and let us struggle to acquire the Holy Spirit through our spiritual-life and podvig!
In Christ – Hieromonk Mark