The Beauty of the Spirit

“Through the Holy Spirit every soul is made alive, and exalted in purity, and illumined in mystical holiness” (Hymn sung during Vigil)

Orthodox Christianity claims to be the Church of the Holy Spirit – and we are. Unlike other Christian communions, we baptize soon after birth; following at the same service, we bestow the gift of the Holy Spirit upon the newborn child, so that he or she is not deprived of entry into the Body of Christ by receiving the Holy Communion. At the consecration of the bread and wine transformed into our Lord Jesus’ body and blood, we invoke the Holy Spirit after the words of institution: “Take, eat, this is My Body…drink of it all of you, this is My Blood of the New Covenant….”

However, if we are to enhance and even exploit the attributes of the Holy Spirit at work within us, we should grow in the grace of recognizing the Spirit at work in the universe. We would see with the eyes of the Spirit that everything is lovely in its uniqueness. One cannot see that beauty without the vision of the Holy Spirit. If we were truly awake to the Spirit’s presence everywhere, and filling all things, we would affirm the distinctiveness pointed out by Aristotle, and we would possess the curiosity of Leonardo da Vinci. We would relish the differences among the races of humanity, exploring the distinctive attributes of nationality traits and the intricate personality types among persons. We would take notice and celebrate the fascinating variations of animal and plant life. Curiosity requires intelligence, both presents from the Holy Spirit.

Alive in the Spirit, you and I would glorify the sheer beauty of all that exists, for it was first in the mind of our Creator. The joy that a newborn child expresses as she adjusts to a whole new way of life outside the womb ought to remain with her all the days of her life, so that she dies with the same curiosity as a companion on into the Kingdom of God. What mother does not know the bliss of watching her infant experimenting with sound, sight, taste and feel of a fresh new world? When does a rancher grow weary of watching a day-old colt feel for the earth on spindly, shaky legs beneath it? What person raised on a farm had been bereft of the adventure of new chicks taking in the experience of light?

It is not possible for anybody in touch with the inner Spirit to grow bored and weary with life. We live in a wonder-filled cosmos, where nothing happens by chance, and the Lord who created it loves to show His glory to those eager to open their minds and hearts to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. Yet we were not anointed with the chrism of the Holy Spirit only to have a greater appreciation of God’s creation. Cleansed from all passions, we are open to discern the life in Christ and share in the divine attributes latent within us. Or as St. Paul put it: “Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit Who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God” (I Corinthians 2:12).

Among the things we might know is wisdom. Beginning with the term proclaimed prior to all reading of the Holy Gospel, when we are in touch with the Holy Spirit, we not only hear the parables of Christ Jesus, we comprehend a deeper evaluation to the extent that we have attuned our ears to spiritual understanding beneath the self-evident meaning of the phrases. The Spirit is speaking to the needs of our hearts. It is for us to apply the text to our life situations. The message of Christ, the love the Father has for you and the peace in the Holy Spirit enlighten us to a greater awareness of the way we should fill our souls with grace and go forth to illumine that world in which we live.