What or Who is the Holy Spirit?

These days you often hear a person claim to be “spiritual” rather than proclaim a religion or aspire to be “religious”.  Religion it seems smacks of something suspect. “Spirit” and the “spiritual” are the stuff of spiritual devotees or wannabees. So what is this “spirit” that makes one “spiritual”,  but not, God forbid, “religious”?

Is it raw, ethereal, but available energy to be plucked from the life-stream by a mantra or posture. How about a super-force, an impersonal force, as “the Force” of movie fame. We can ask what is asked of Superman, “Is it a bird? .. .;  we’ll stop short of asking “is it a plane?’, perhaps, just, maybe, of another plane, It’s hard to tell.  With New Age jargon, eastern religious explanations in pop culture and  literature, making claims for apprehending it for our use, health, wealth and happiness or the simple the purity of bliss, the matter of the immaterial is evasive.

For the undiscerning Christian, the airways are ripe with confusion, which is the way the spirits of the air like it. Religious truth be told, truth holds the answer for the discerning, if we, indeed, are seeking Truth, rather than novelty and the exotic.

The answer to what or who,is “Who” is the Holy Spirit. “The Advocate, the holy Spirit that the Father will send in my name—he will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you” (John 14: 26), operative words: “Advocate”  and “He”, a mission and a person, not a thing, a vibration, a feeling, or impersonal force. Where Satan and his minions confuse and accuse, the Holy Spirit advocates on behalf of those who call on the Father and the Son.  “The Spirit intercedes” (Romans 8:27). He also directs, as in: “Holy Spirit said, ‘Set apart for me..’ (Acts 13:2), also,  “And the Spirit said to Philip, Go up..” (Acts 8: 29).

Just as we seek to know ourselves, through experience, introspection, observing as objectively as possible, our inner workings,conversations, intentions, and desires, so the Spirit knows the Father and the Son, their inner workings and intentions and desires, “Among human beings, who knows what pertains to a person except the spirit of the person that is within? Similarly, no one knows what pertains to God except the Spirit of God.(I Cor 2:11)

As for the gifts, health, provision and happiness or the simple the purity of the peace that passes understanding: “.. one and the same Spirit produces all of these, distributing them individually to each person as he wishes” 1Cor 12:11

So, while the world, the flesh, and the devil, may appeal to a “what” or a “something”, and be lost in a soup of foggy warm fuzzies and cold prickly vibs, you can seek the Paraclete, the Advocate, intervener, director, gifter and producer of good fruit growing on the vine of the One Who identifies Himself as Truth and sends the Spirit.

As for spiritual, that you already art, in part.  You are a synthesis of matter and spirit, a natural Human Being called to be more, invited to be supernatural, to be incorporated with the Divine. These days are no different than the days of old, Man seeking hid God or a handy substitute.  Choose wisely; your eternity begins with Who you choose to serve.

Two bodies, but a single spirit

From a sermon by Saint Gregory Nazianzen, bishop Two bodies, but a single spirit

Basil and I were both in Athens. We had come, like streams of a river, from the same source in our native land, had separated from each other in pursuit of learning, and were now united again as if by plan, for God so arranged it.

I was not alone at that time in my regard for my friend, the great Basil. I knew his irreproachable conduct, and the maturity and wisdom of his conversation. I sought to persuade others, to whom he was less well known, to have the same regard for him. Many fell immediately under his spell, for they had already heard of him by reputation and hearsay.

What was the outcome? Almost alone of those who had come to Athens to study he was exempted from the customary ceremonies of initiation for he was held in higher honor than his status as a first-year student seemed to warrant.

Such was the prelude to our friendship, the kindling of that flame that was to bind us together. In this way we began to feel affection for each other. When, in the course of time, we acknowledged our friendship and recognized that our ambition was a life of true wisdom, we became everything to each other: we shared the same lodging, the same table, the same desires, the same goal. Our love for each other grew daily warmer and deeper.

The same hope inspired us: the pursuit of learning. This is an ambition especially subject to envy. Yet between us there was no envy. On the contrary, we made capital out of our rivalry. Our rivalry consisted, not in seeking the first place for oneself but in yielding it to the other, for we each looked on the other’s success as his own.

We seemed to be two bodies with a single spirit. Though we cannot believe those who claim that “everything is contained in everything,” yet you must believe that in our case each of us was in the other and with the other.

Our single object and ambition was virtue, and a life of hope in the blessings that are to come; we wanted to withdraw from this world before we departed from it. With this end in view we ordered our lives and all our actions. We followed the guidance of God’s law and spurred each other on to virtue. If it is not too boastful to say, we found in each other a standard and rule for discerning right from wrong.

Different men have different names, which they owe to their parents or to themselves, that is, to their own pursuits and achievements. But our great pursuit, the great name we wanted, was to be Christians, to be called Christians.