St. Irene Rector’s Message – June 2020

Today I posted this Rector’s Message for June at our parish website,

O Heavenly King, Comforter, Spirit of Truth, Who art everywhere present and fillest all things.  Treasury of good things and Giver of life, come and dwell in us, and cleanse us of all impurity, and save our souls, O Good One.     
  – The Prayer to the Holy Spirit  

  On the night before He died, Our Lord at the Mystical Supper gave His last teaching and testimony to His disciples.  Among other great and precious promises, He told them the following:  “But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me.” (John 15:26).   A few minutes later, after finishing His discourse to the disciples, the Lord  lifted His eyes to heaven and prayed to the Father, and when He asked the Father to sanctify the disciples, these were His words:  “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth.”    

  Truth, then, is an inseparable attribute of the Holy Spirit Whom the disciples received at Pentecost, when ten days after the Lord’s Ascension He fulfilled His promise to send them the Comforter, and truth is inseparable from the sanctification (being made holy) of those who believe in Christ, which is the purpose of Christ’s Sacrifice – He “sanctified Himself” (i.e., He offered Himself to the Father in the Sacrifice of the Cross) that we might be “sanctified through the truth.”  

  Today it is popular to say that truth is relative or perhaps unknowable.  This deceptive teaching is attractive to two kinds of people: 1. The broad masses who voluntarily enslave themselves to desires, fears, and irrational habits, and resist  objective  standards of belief and morality as an assault on the “freedom” to sin, and 2. The global power elite who hate the objective, God-given truths that reveal and denounce their demonic pursuit of arbitrary domination over the rest of the human race.  These two groups of people are made for each other – the sheep and the butchers, as it were, and the sheep, sadly, are probably going to get what they are asking for.     

  We need not, however, fall into the temporal insanity and eternal horror which are the fruits of relativism.  On the great Sunday of Pentecost, we will once again, at the Vespers of Holy Spirit Monday, say the Kneeling Prayers for the reception of the Holy Spirit, Who, as Christ said, is the Spirit of truth.  As we read these awesome and sacred prayers, let us ask the Holy Spirit to enlighten our minds and make our hearts firm as rock in the truth of Christ, and to enable us to resist, to the death if necessary, the seductive snare of the illusions preached by the powers of this world.  Standing firmly on the revealed Truth of Christ, in the Church, we can by His grace resist all the tricks and threats of the Enemy.  Without the Truth, we cannot receive grace, we cannot be in the Church.  When we distort or resist or compromise the Truth, we cut ourselves off from the Church and lose the grace of God.  May this not be our fate, but rather may we stand firmly in the Truth of Christ – unto eternal life.    

 Cooperating with Grace The grace of the Holy Spirit which is given mystically to every Christian when he is baptized acts and is manifested in proportion to our obedience to the commandments of the Lord. That is, if a Christian obeys the commandments of the Lord more, grace acts within him more, while if he obeys them less, grace acts within him less. Just as a spark, when covered in the ashes of fire becomes increasingly manifest as one removes the ashes, and the more firewood you put the more the fire burns, so the grace that has been given to every Christian through Holy Baptism is hidden in the heart and covered up by passions and sins, and the more a man acts in accordance with the commandments of Christ, the more he is cleansed of the passions and the more the fire of Divine grace lights in his heart, illumines, and deifies him.    – St. Nicodemus of the Holy Mountain, Christian Morality 

  The Dignity and Proper Use of the Human Mind Since according to the holy theologians, the mind is an image of God, the more the loving mind ascends to its beloved God through the contemplation of His Divine perfections, the more God Who is loved condescends from His height towards the loving mind, and becomes united with it, deifies it, and fills it with gifts. And thus through the ascent to God is achieved the blessed and marvelous union and contact of God with the mind, of the beloved with the lover, of the archetype with the image.     – St. Nicodemus of the Holy Mountain, Handbook of Counsel     

B085JB mosaic of the Pentecost, Katholikon church, Hosios Loukas monastery Greece
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