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Ὁμιλία στὴν γιορτὴ τοῦ Ἁγίου Πνεύματος


Anthony Bloom (Metropolitan of Sourozh (1914- 2003))

Εἰς τὸ ὄνομα τοῦ Πατρὸς καὶ τοῦ Υἱοῦ καὶ τοῦ Ἁγίου Πνεύματος.
Ἡ Ἐκκλησία τοῦ Θεοῦ δὲν εἶναι θεσμός· εἶναι θαῦμα καὶ μυστήριο. Εἶναι θαῦμα, διότι πῶς ἀλλιῶς θὰ περιμέναμε νὰ εἶναι αὐτὴ ἡ συγγένεια μὲ τὸν Θεὸ ποὺ μᾶς ἀποκαλύφθηκε μέσα στὴν Ἐκκλησία. Καὶ εἶναι ἐπίσης μυστήριο, μὲ τὴν ἀρχικὴ ἔννοια τῆς λέξης, κάτι ποὺ δὲν μπορεῖ οὔτε νὰ ἐξηγηθεῖ, οὔτε ν’ ἀποδωθεῖ μὲ λόγια, καὶ μποροῦμε νὰ τὸ νοιώσουμε μόνο μέσα ἀπὸ μιὰ μυστικὴ κοινωνία μὲ τὸν Θεό.

Ἡ Ἀγγλικὴ λέξη «Θεὸς», προέρχεται ἀπὸ μιὰ Γερμανικὴ ρίζα ποὺ δηλώνει ἐκεῖνον ἐνώπιον τοῦ ὁποίου κάποιος γονατίζει λατρευτικὰ. Ἀπὸ αὐτὸ τὸ σημεῖο ξεκινᾶ ἡ γνώση μας για τὸν Θεό – εἶναι ἡ αἴσθηση τῆς θεϊκῆς παρουσίας ποὺ μᾶς σπρώχνει νὰ πέσουμε στὰ γόνατα, ἥσυχοι, σιωπηλοί, ὄχι μὲσα σὲ μιὰ ἡσυχία δίχως νόημα ποὺ εἶναι κάποιες φορὲς ἡ δική μας κατάσταση, ἀλλὰ μὲ τὴν ἡσυχία ποὺ δὲν εἶναι παρὰ μιὰ λατρευτικὴ ἐπαγρύπνιση, μιὰ ἐπαγρύπνιση αὐτῆς τῆς παρουσίας ποὺ βρίσκεται στὸν πυρήνα τῆς σιωπῆς. Κι ἐκεῖνος ποὺ μᾶς μιλάει μέσα ἀπὸ αὐτὴ τὴν σιωπὴ εἶναι τὸ Ἅγιο Πνεῦμα ποὺ ἀποκαλύπτει, στὸ νοῦ καὶ τὴν καρδιά μας, τὰ λόγια ποὺ μᾶς μεταφέρει τὸ Εὐαγγέλιο.

 

Μόνο κάτω ἀπὸ τὴν καθοδήγηση τοῦ Ἁγίου Πνεύματος μποροῦμε νὰ πιστέψουμε καὶ νὰ καταλάβουμε τὶ εἶπε ὁ Χριστὸς, ἐπειδὴ οἱ λέξεις ἀπὸ μόνες τους εἶναι πάντα διφορούμενες˙ μπορεῖ νὰ εἶναι ξεκάθαρες ἤ δυσνόητες, μπορεῖ νὰ γράφτηκαν γιὰ νὰ ἐκφράσουν κάτι συγκεκριμένο. Καὶ αὐτὸς εἶναι ὁ ρόλος τοῦ Ἁγίου Πνεύματος – νὰ μᾶς κάνει νὰ κατανοήσουμε τὸν λόγο τοῦ Θεοῦ, ὅπως γεννήθηκε μέσα στὴ θεία σιωπὴ καὶ ξετυλίχτηκε μπροστά μας μὲ λόγια ποὺ μποροῦμε νὰ καταλάβουμε. Ἀλλὰ αὐτὰ τὰ λόγια δὲν εἶναι φυλακή, εἶναι μιὰ ἀνοιχτὴ πόρτα, καθὼς ὁ Χριστὸς εἶναι ἡ θύρα ποὺ ὁδηγεῖ στὸν Πατέρα Του καὶ τὴν αἰώνια ζωή. Εἶναι τὸ Ἅγιο Πνεῦμα, ποὺ σύμφωνα μὲ τὴν ὑπόσχεση τοῦ Κυρίου μας, μᾶς ἀποκαλύπτει τὸ νόημα τῶν Γραφῶν· εἶναι λατρεία, μιὰ λατρεία ποὺ μᾶς ἐπιτρέπει νὰ βρισκόμαστε σὲ κοινωνία μὲ τὸν νοῦ καὶ τὴν καρδιὰ τοῦ Θεοῦ, τὸ Πνεῦμα τῆς ἀληθείας, ἀλλὰ ἐπίσης, μ΄ Ἐκεῖνον τὸν ὁποῖο οἱ Γραφὲς ὀνομάζουν Παράκλητο, μιά σύνθετη λέξη, καθὼς τόσες λέξεις ποὺ προέρχονται ἀπὸ ἀρχαῖες γλῶσσες. «Παράκλητος» εἶναι Ἐκεῖνος ποὺ δίνει παρηγορία. «Παράκλητος» ὑπὸ τὴν ἔννοια αὐτὴ, εἶναι Ἐκεῖνος ποὺ μᾶς δίνει δύναμη, σημαίνει ἐπίσης, «Ἐκεῖνον ποὺ φέρνει εὐτυχία» καὶ τοῦτες οἱ τρεῖς ἔννοιες εἶναι σημαντικὲς, ἀλλὰ μπορεῖ νὰ γίνει γιὰ ἐμᾶς ὁ Παρηγορητὴς, μόνο ἄν τὸν χρειαζόμαστε.

Τὶ εἴδους παρηγορίας χρειαζόμαστε; Οἱ περισσότεροι ἀπὸ ἐμᾶς νοιώθουμε μιὰ τέλεια παρηγοριὰ στὴ ζωή, στὴν λατρεία καὶ στὴν πνευματική μας ζωή, καὶ ποιὸς ἀπὸ ἐμᾶς εἶναι σὲ θέση νὰ πεῖ μὲ τὴν ἔνταση καὶ τὸ βάθος ποὺ εἶπε ὁ Ἀπόστολος Παῦλος αὐτὰ τὰ λόγια, «Γιὰ μένα ζωὴ εἶναι ὁ Χριστός, ὁ θάνατος θὰ ἦταν γιὰ μένα κέρδος, ἐπειδὴ ὅσο ζῶ σ’ αὐτὸ τὸ σῶμα, ζῶ χώρια ἀπὸ τὸν Χριστό». Μποροῦμε τίμια νὰ ποῦμε ὅτι γιὰ ἐμᾶς ζωὴ εἶναι ὁ Χριστὸς, ὅλα ὅσα ἀντιπροσωπεύει εἶναι προσφορὰ ζωῆς, ὅλα ὅσα εἶναι ἐνάντια σ’ Ἐκεῖνον καὶ σ΄ἐμᾶς, εἶναι θάνατος; Μποροῦμε νὰ ποῦμε ὅτι ἔχουμε πεθάνει μὲ τὸν Χριστὸ, γιὰ κάθε τι ξένο πρὸς τὸν Θεό; Μποροῦμε νὰ ποῦμε ὅτι εἴμαστε ζωντανοὶ, ὅταν, ὅ,τι ἔχει νὰ κάνει μὲ τὸν Θεὸ, εἶναι ὅπως τὸ θέλουμε – προσευχή, βαθιὰ σκέψη, τὸ εἶδος τῆς κατανόησης ποὺ τὸ Πνεῦμα τοῦ Θεοῦ μᾶς ἀποκαλύπτει; Και ἔτσι, πρέπει νὰ θέσουμε μὲ αὐστηρότητα ἕνα πρῶτο ἐρώτημα: ὁ Χριστὸς εἶναι ἡ ζωή μου ἤ ὄχι; Θὰ μοῦ ἦταν ἀρκετὸ νὰ νοιώθω ὅτι ἡ ζωὴ μου ἔχει ὁλοκληρωθεῖ, ὅτι εἶναι πλήρης ἐπειδὴ εἶναι ἕνα μὲ τὸν Χριστὸ, ἤ νοιώθω ὅτι ὑπάρχουν τόσα πολλὰ πράγματα ποὺ ἀγαπῶ, καὶ ποὺ δὲν εἶμαι ἕτοιμος ν’ ἀφήσω γιὰ νὰ εἶμαι μαζὶ Του;

Καὶ πάλι ὁ Χριστὸς βρίσκεται ἀνάμεσα μας ἀοράτως, μυστηριωδῶς. Ναί, ἀλλὰ δὲν εἶναι μαζί μας ὅπως ἦταν μὲ τοὺς Ἀποστόλους. Δὲν μποροῦμε νὰ ποῦμε, ὅπως ὁ Ἅγιος Ἰωάννης, ὅτι μιλᾶμε γι’ αὐτὸ ποὺ ἔχουμε δεῖ, γι΄αὐτὸ ποὺ ἔχουμε ἀκούσει καὶ ποὺ ἔχουν τὰ χέρια μας ἀγγίξει. Γνωρίζουμε πνευματικὰ τὸν Χριστό, κι ὄχι πλέον σαρκικά, καὶ ὅμως ὁ Χριστὸς ἀνεστήθη, ἀνελήφθη καὶ κάθισε στὰ δεξιὰ τοῦ Πατρὸς μὲ τὸ δοξασμένο Του σῶμα. Ὁ Παῦλος ἐπειγόταν νὰ βρεθεῖ μαζί Του γεμάτος ἀπὸ σεβασμὸ, εὐλάβεια καὶ ἀγάπη. Ἤθελε νὰ εἶναι ἕνα μαζί Του, δίχως τίποτα νὰ τοὺς χωρίζει. «Ποιὸς θὰ μὲ ἐλευθερώσει ἀπὸ αὐτὸ τὸ σῶμα τῆς ἁμαρτίας;» – ἀπὸ αὐτὸ τὸ σῶμα ὅπου ὅλες οἱ σκέψεις, οἱ προσευχὲς καὶ οἱ καλύτερες κλίσεις μου καὶ οἱ πιὸ φλογερὲς ἐπιθυμίες γιὰ τὸ καλὸ καταρρέουν; Καὶ ἀντὶ νὰ λέμε, «Κύριε Ἰησοῦ, ἕλα γρήγορα!», δὲν εἴμαστε ἕτοιμοι νὰ ποῦμε, «Ἀργοπόρησε Κύριε, ἀργοπόρησε, δῶσε μου χρόνο», καθὼς προσευχόταν ὁ Ἅγιος Αὐγουστῖνος στὸν Θεὸ ἀφοῦ μετεστράφη˙ «Κύριε, δίνε μου ἁγνότητα, ἀλλὰ ὄχι αὐτὴ τὴ στιγμή.» Δὲν συμβαίνει ἡ κατάσταση μας – νὰ ἀφορᾶ μόνο τὴν ἁγνότητα, ἀλλὰ τὸ κάθε τι στὴν ζωή: ὄχι τώρα Κύριε, θὰ ἔρθει καιρὸς ὅταν θὰ ἔχουν χαθεῖ οἱ δυνάμεις μου, ὅταν θὰ ἔρθουν τὰ γηρατειὰ καὶ θὰ κάνουν τὴ ζωὴ λιγότερο ἐλκυστικὴ ἤ ἀνούσια – τότε πάρε με. Ὄχι, δὲν εἶναι αὐτὸ. Καὶ ἔτσι, ὅταν σκεφτόμαστε τὸ Ἅγιο Πνεῦμα σὰν τὸν Παράκλητο μας, ὡς τὸ πρόσωπο ποὺ μᾶς παρηγορεῖ ἀπὸ τὴν ἀπουσία τοῦ Χριστοῦ μὲ τὸ νὰ μᾶς κάνει νὰ κοινωνοῦμε μὲ τὴν οὐσία τῶν πραγμάτων, ποῦ βρισκόμαστε; Εἶναι ὁ Παρηγορητής μας, ἐνῶ δὲν χρειαζόμαστε παρηγορία;

Καὶ πάλι, στὴν διακονία μας πόσο συχνά νοιώθουμε ὅτι εἴμαστε έντελῶς ἀβοήθητοι, ὅτι αὐτὸ ποὺ καλούμαστε νὰ κάνουμε εἶναι ἁπλὰ πέρα ἀπὸ τὶς ἀνθρώπινες δυνάμεις; Στὸ ξεκίνημα τοῦ Eὐχαριστιακῆς τελετουργίας τῆς Ὀρθοδόξου Ἐκκλησίας, ὅταν ὁ ἱερέας ἐνδύεται, ὅταν ἔχει ἑτοιμάσει τὰ Τίμια Δῶρα, ὅταν εἶναι ἕτοιμος νὰ ἐκφωνήσει τὴν πρώτη λειτουργικὴ αἴτηση, ὅταν μέσα στὴν ἀφέλεια του ἴσως σκεφτεῖ, «Τώρα θὰ κάνω θαύματα», ὁ διάκονος γυρίζει πρὸς αὐτὸν καὶ λέει, «Καὶ τώρα, Πατέρα, εἶναι ἡ ὧρα τοῦ Θεοῦ νὰ ἐνεργήσει.» Ὅ,τι μποροῦσες νὰ κάνεις, τὸ ἔκανες, προσευχήθηκες καὶ προετοίμασες τὸν ἑαυτό σου, ἀνοίξου στὸν Θεό, ἐνδύθηκες τὴν ἱερατική σου στολή, κι ἔγινες μιὰ εἰκόνα – μοναχὰ εἰκόνα. Προετοίμασες τὸ κρασὶ καὶ τὸ ψωμὶ καὶ τώρα αὐτὸ ποὺ περιμένουμε ἀπὸ ἐσένα εἶναι κάτι ποὺ δὲν μπορεῖς νὰ κάνεις, δὲν μπορεῖς μὲ καμία δύναμη, ἀκόμα καὶ αὐτῆς ποὺ σοῦ δίνει ἡ ἀποστολικὴ διαδοχὴ νὰ μετατρέψεις τοῦτο τὸ ψωμὶ σὲ Σῶμα Χριστοῦ, αὐτὸ τὸ κρασὶ σὲ Αἷμα Χριστοῦ, δὲν ἔχεις καμία ἐξουσία ἐπάνω στὸν Θεὸ, καὶ ἐπάνω στὸν κτιστὸ κόσμο. Μόνο ὁ Χριστὸς εἶναι ὁ μοναδικὸς λειτουργὸς, ἐπειδὴ εἶναι ὁ Μέγας Ἀρχιερεὺς ὅλης τῆς κτίσης, καὶ καθὼς ἀποστέλλει τὸ Ἅγιο Του Πνεῦμα μπορεῖ νὰ ὑπερβεῖ τὸν χρόνο, νὰ τὸν ἀνοίξει τόσο ὥστε νὰ μπορεῖ νὰ κυλήσει μέσα του ἡ αἰωνιότητα καὶ νὰ ἐκραγεῖ μέσα σὲ αὐτὴν τὴν ἐσχατολογικὴ κατάσταση, ὅπου ἡ αἰωνιότητα γεμίζει τὸν χρόνο καὶ κάνει τὸ ἀδύνατο δυνατό˙ μεταβάλλει τὸ ψωμὶ σὲ σταυρωμένο καὶ ἀναστημένο Σῶμα Χριστοῦ, τὸ κρασὶ σὲ σταυρωμένο καὶ ἀναστημένο Αἷμα Χριστοῦ.
Καὶ τὸ λειτούργημα μας ἐξαρτᾶται μόνο ἀπὸ τὸ Ἅγιο Πνεῦμα. Ἡ δύναμη; ὁ Ἀπόστολος Παῦλος ἔλπιζε σ’ αὐτὴν, προσευχόταν γι’αὐτὸ καὶ ὁ Κύριος τοῦ ἀπάντησε, «Ἀρκεῖ σοι ἡ χάρις Μου· ἡ γὰρ δύναμὶς Μου ἐν ἀσθενεὶᾳ τελειοῦται» . Καὶ ὁ Παῦλος χαίρεται γιὰ τὴν ἀδυναμία του, ἔτσι, λέει, ὅτι ὅλα θὰ πρέπει νὰ εἶναι δύναμις Θεοῦ ˙ ὄχι ἡ ἀδυναμία τῆς νωθρότητας μας, τῆς τεμπελιᾶς, τῆς δειλίας, τῆς λησμονεῖας μας, ὄχι, ὄχι αὐτὴ ἡ ἀδυναμία, ἀλλὰ ἡ ἀδυναμία ποὺ τὴν ἀναγνωρίζουμε, ποὺ προσφέρεται στὸν Θεό, ἡ παράδοση τοῦ ἑαυτοῦ μας.

Ἄν μπορῶ νὰ χρησιμοποιήσω μιὰ εἰκόνα, εἶναι αὐτὴ τοῦ πανιοῦ ἑνὸς καραβιοῦ. Ἀπὸ ὅλα τὰ μέρη τοῦ πλοίου, τὸ πανὶ εἶναι τὸ πιὸ ἀδύναμο καὶ ὅμως ὅταν φουσκώσει ἀπὸ τὸν ἄνεμο – ἡ λέξη «ἄνεμος» στὶς ἀρχαῖες γλῶσσες εἶναι ἡ ἴδια μὲ τὴν ἀγγλικὴ λέξη «spirit», τὴν ἑλληνικὴ «πνεῦμα» – μπορεῖ νὰ μεταφέρει τὴ βαριὰ κατασκευὴ τοῦ πλοίου στὸ λιμάνι του. Αὐτὴ εἶναι ἡ μορφὴ ἀδυναμίας ποὺ πρέπει νὰ προσφέρουμε στὸν Θεό, μιὰ τέτοια ἀδυναμία ὥστε νὰ μπορεῖ εὔκολα νὰ τὴν χρησιμοποιήσει, δίχως ἀντίσταση, καὶ τότε ἡ δύναμη μας θὰ γίνει πιὸ δυνατὴ ἀπὸ ὅλη τὴν κτίση. Οἱ μάρτυρες ἦταν ἀδύναμοι, τόσο ἀδύναμοι ὅσο εἴμαστε κι ἐμεῖς, ἀλλὰ ἀφέθηκαν στὰ χέρια τοῦ Θεοῦ καὶ ἔζησαν καὶ πέθαναν μὲ τὴ δύναμη τοῦ Πνεύματος. Αὐτὴ τὴ δύναμη χρειαζόμαστε.
Κι ἔπειτα ὁ Παράκλητος εἶναι ἐκεῖνος ποὺ δίνει χαρά, ἡ χαρὰ νὰ εἰσέλθουμε ἀπὸ τώρα στὴν αἰωνιότητα, ἡ χαρὰ νὰ ἑνωθοῦμε μὲ τὸν Χριστὸ σὲ κοινωνία μὲ τὸ ἕνα σῶμα, τὴ χαρὰ νὰ προσφέρουμε τὴ ζωή μας γιὰ Ἐκεῖνον καὶ ἄν εἶναι ἀπαραίτητο – τὸν θάνατό μας, μιὰ χαρὰ ποὺ ὁ κόσμος δὲν μπορεῖ νὰ δώσει, ἀλλὰ καὶ ποὺ δὲν μπορεῖ νὰ ἀφαιρέσει.

Θὰ τελειώσω μ’ ἕνα παράδειγμα ποὺ δείχνει αὐτὴ τὴ χαρὰ τοῦ Πνεύματος. Συνάντησα πρὶν μερικὰ χρόνια στὴν Ρωσσία ἕναν ἠλικιωμένο ἱερέα ποὺ εἶχε περάσει τριάντα ἕξι χρόνια στὶς φυλακὲς καὶ στὰ στρατόπεδα συγκέντρωσης. Κάθισε ἀπέναντί μου μὲ μάτια ποὺ ἔλαμπαν ἀπὸ χαρὰ κι εὐγνωμοσύνη καὶ εἶπε, «Συνειδητοποιεῖτε, μπορεῖτε νὰ φανταστεῖτε πόσο ἀπείρως καλὸς ὑπῆρξε ὁ Θεὸς μ’ ἐμένα; Οἱ Σοβιετικὲς ἀρχὲς δὲν ἐπέτρεπαν σὲ κανέναν ἱερέα νὰ βρίσκεται εἴτε στὶς φυλακὲς εἴτε στὰ στρατόπεδα˙ καὶ ἐπέλεξαν ἐμένα, ἕνα νέο, ἄπειρο ἱερέα καὶ μὲ στέλνει πρῶτα στὴ φυλακὴ κι ἔπειτα σὲ στρατόπεδο γιὰ νὰ φροντίσω «τὸ χαμένο του πρόβατο». Δὲν ὑπῆρχε μέσα του τίποτε ἄλλο παρὰ χαρὰ κι εὐγνωμοσύνη. Καὶ αὐτὴ ἡ χαρὰ, αὐτὴ ἡ μορφὴ εὐγνωμοσύνης πρὸς τὴν προσωπική του ἱστορία ἦταν ἀληθεινὰ ἕνα ξεχείλισμα τοῦ Ἁγίου Πνεύματος.

Γι΄αὐτὸ, σὲ ὅλη μας τὴ ζωή, ἄν προσευχόμαστε, ἄς ἀκοῦμε τοὺς ἄρρητους ἀναστεναγμοὺς τοῦ Πνεύματος μέσα μας, ποὺ μᾶς διδάσκει νὰ ὀνομάζουμε τὸν Θεὸ τῶν Οὐρανῶν, Πατέρα μας ἄν ζοῦμε ἐν Χριστῷ, καὶ σύμφωνα μὲ τὰ λόγια τοῦ Εἰρηναίου τῆς Λυὼν, παιδιὰ τοῦ Μονογενοῦς Υἱοῦ τοῦ Θεοῦ. Ἄς ἀνοιχτοῦμε καὶ ἄς ἀκοῦμε προσεχτικὰ ὅταν πρόκειται νὰ κηρύξουμε, ἔτσι ποὺ νὰ μὴν εἶναι τὸ κήρυγμα ἔργο τοῦ νοῦ ἤ γνώση, ἀλλὰ νὰ μοιραζόμαστε κάτι ποὺ μᾶς ἔμαθε ὁ Θεός˙ ὅσο φτωχό, παιδικὸ, καὶ ἁπλὸ μπορεῖ νὰ φαίνεται, ἄς εἶναι τοῦ Θεοῦ. Καὶ ὅταν φθάσουμε νὰ ἑορτάσουμε τὰ Ἅγια Μυστήρια, ἄς θυμηθοῦμε ὅτι βρισκόμαστε ἐκεῖ ὅπου κανένας δὲν μπορεῖ νὰ σταθεῖ, παρὰ μόνο ὁ Μέγας Ἀρχιερεὺς ὅλης τῆς κτίσης, ὁ Κύριος Ἰησοῦς Χριστὸς καὶ ἄς στραφοῦμε πρὸς τὸ Ἅγιο Πνεῦμα, καλώντας Το νὰ μεταβάλλει τὸ ψωμὶ καὶ τὸ κρασὶ σὲ Σῶμα καὶ Αἷμα Χριστοῦ μέσα ἀπὸ μιὰ πράξη Θεϊκὴ, στὴν ὁποία μποροῦμε νὰ μεσιτεύσουμε μόνο διὰ τῆς πίστεως καὶ τῆς ὑπακοῆς στὶς ἐντολὲς τοῦ Χριστοῦ. Ἀμήν.

Απόδοση στὴν νεοελληνική: www.agiazoni.gr

Πρωτότυπο κείμενο
In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost.
The Church of God is not an institution, it is a miracle and it is a mystery. It is a miracle because how could we expect that closeness of God which is revealed to us in the Church. And it is also a mystery in the original sense of the world, something which cannot be either explained or conveyed in words, something that can be known only through a spellbound communion with God. The English word “God” comes from a Germanic root that means “him, before whom one prostrates in adoration”. This is where our knowledge of God begins – the sense of the divine presence that forces us down to our knees, spellbound, silent, not with an empty silence that is ours at times but with a silence which is nothing but intent worshipful listening, listening to the presence, listening to that presence which is at the core of the silence. And he who speak to us within this silence is the Holy Spirit, who unveils before our minds and hearts what the words spoken by God, revealed to us in the Gospel truly convey. It is only under the guidance of the Holy Spirit that we can both believe and understand what Christ spoke because words in themselves are always equivocal, they may be clear or obscure, they may be made to mean what they never meant. And this is the role of the Holy Spirit – to make us understand God’s word as it was born in the divine silence and unfolded before us in words which we could understand. But these words are not a prison, they are an open door as Christ is the door leading to the Father and leading to eternal life. It is the Holy Spirit who according to the promise of our Lord unveils for us the meaning of the Scriptures, it is not scholarship, it is worship and a worship that allows us to commune with the mind of God and the heart of God. The Spirit of truth, but also Him whom the Scripture calls the Paraclete, a complex word as so many of the words of ancient languages. It means “the Comforter”, Him who gives consolation. It means ‘Comforter’ in the sense that He gives us strength, it means also “Him, who brings joy”. And these three meanings are important but He can be to us the Comforter in these various ways only if we are in need of His comfort.

What kind of consolation do we need? Most of us feel perfectly comfortable in our lives and indeed in our worship and our spiritual life, and who of us is in a position to say with all the intensity and depth with which St. Paul spoke these words, “For me life is Christ, death would be a gain because as long as I live in the body, I am separated from Christ”? Can we honestly say that for us life is Christ, that all that He stands for is life-giving, all that is contrary to Him, to us is death? Can we say that we have died with Christ to everything which is alien to God? Can we say that we are alive only when the things of God come our way – prayer, deep meditation, the kind of understanding which the Spirit of God reveals to us? And so we must ask ourselves very sternly a first question: is Christ my life or not? Would it be enough for me to feel that life is fulfilled, complete to be at one with Christ in all things or do I feel that there are so many things which I love and which I am not prepared to let go off even to be with Christ?

And again, Christ is in the midst of us invisibly, mysteriously. Yes, but He is not with us in the way in which He was with the Apostles. We cannot say with St. John that we speak of what we have seen, what we have heard, what our hands have touched. We know Christ in the spirit, no longer in the flesh, and yet Christ rose in the flesh, Christ ascended and is seated at the right hand of the Father in His body glorified. Paul longed to be with Him in this companionship full of veneration, of reverence, of love. He wanted to be at one with Him without anything separating from Him. “Who shall make me free of this body of corruption?” – of this body against which my thoughts and my prayers and my best inclinations, and my most passionate impulses for good break down? Can we say that? Is death what we expect longingly because it will unite us to Christ? Or are we still pagan at heart and do we wish to flee from death? And instead of saying, “Lord, Jesus, come and come soon!” aren’t we prepared to say, “Tarry, o Lord, tarry, give me time,” in the way in which Augustine prayed to the Lord after his conversion, “Lord, give me chastity but not just now.” Isn’t it that our condition – not concerning chastity alone but everything in life: not just now, o Lord, the time will come when all my energies will be spent, when age will have come and made life much less attractive or unpalatable – then take me. No, this is not it. And so when we think of the Holy Spirit as our Comforter, as one who consoles us from the absence of Christ by making us to commune with the essence of things, where do we stand? Is He our Comforter while we need no comfort?

And again, in our ministry how often do we feel that we are totally, ultimately helpless, that what we are called to do is simply beyond human possibilities? In the beginning of the Eucharistic celebration in the Orthodox Church, when the priest is vested, when he has prepared the Holy Gifts, when he is about to give the first liturgical exclamation, when in his naivety he may think, “Now I will perform miracles on earth,” the deacon turns to him and says, “And now, father, it is for God to act.” All you could do, you have done, you have prayed and prepared yourself, made yourself open to God, you have vested yourself and become an image – but only an image, not the thing. You have prepared the bread and the wine and now what is expected of you is something which you cannot do, you cannot by any power including apostolic succession make this bread into the Body of Christ, this wine into the Blood of Christ, you have no power over God and you have no power over the created world. It is only Christ who is the only celebrant because He is the High Priest of all creation who sending the Holy Spirit can break through into time, open it up so that eternity can flow, indeed, make eruption into it and within this eschatological situation in which eternity fills time make possible the impossible, make bread into the Body of Christ crucified and risen, the wine into the Blood of Christ crucified and risen.

And all our function depends only on the Holy Spirit. Strength? St. Paul hoped for strength, he prayed for it and the Lord answered him, “My grace suffices unto thee, My strength is made manifest in weakness.” And Paul rejoices in his weakness, so, he says, that all should be the power of God. Not the weakness of our slackness, of our laziness, of our timidity, of our cowardice, of our forgetfulness, no, not that weakness but the frailty recognised, which is given to God, the surrender of ourselves.
If I may use an image, it is that of the sail of a sailing ship. Of all the parts of the ship the sail is the frailest, the weakest and yet filled with the wind, and the word “wind” in ancient languages is the same as “spirit” “ruah”, “pnevma” it can carry the heavy structure of the ship to its haven. This is the kind of weakness, of frailty which we have got to offer to God, such frailty that He can use it freely, without resistance, and then our strength will be stronger than anything which the created world can possess. The martyrs were frail, as frail as we were, but they abandoned themselves to God and they lived and died in the power of the Spirit. We need that strength.

And then the Paraclete is the one that gives joy, the joy of entering already now into eternity, the joy of being joined to Christ in the communion of the one body, the joy of giving our lives for Him and if necessary – our death, a joy which the world cannot give but which the world cannot take away.
I will end on one example of this joy of the Spirit. I met a few years ago in Russia an elderly priest who had spent 36 years in prisons and concentration camps. He sat opposite me with eyes shining with joy and gratitude and he said, “Do you realise, can you imagine, how infinitely good God had been to me? The Soviet authorities did not allow a priest either into prisons or into camps; and He chooses me, a young, inexperienced priest and sends me first to prison and then to camp to look after His lost sheep.” There was nothing in him but gratitude and joy. And that joy, that kind of gratitude against the history of his life was truly an outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

Let us therefore in all our life, whether we pray, listen to the unutterable groanings of the Spirit within us, teaching us ultimately to call the God of Heaven our Father if we are in Jesus Christ, in the words of Irenaeus of Lyon, sons of God in the Only-Begotten Son of God. Let us open ourselves and listen intently when we have got to preach, so that it should not be a work of our intellect or learning but a sharing of something which we have learnt from God. However poor, childlike, simple it may seem, let it be God’s. And when we come to the celebration of the Holy Mysteries, let us remember that we stand where no-one can stand but the High Priest of all creation, the Lord Jesus Christ and let us turn to the Holy Spirit calling Him to make the bread and the wine into the Body and Blood of Christ in an act Divine which we can only mediate by faith and in obedience to Christ’s own command. Amen.

Πηγή

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