St. Luke Core Value IV: Gaining Direction and Power Through the Holy Spirit
By Pearl Homiak
"The true aim of the Christian life consists in acquisition of the
Holy Spirit of God."--St. Seraphim of Sarov
At St. Luke we know we must seek the Holy Spirit to guide us in our
actions and deliberations. Although we received the gift of the Holy Spirit during
Chrismation, striving to acquire the fullness of the Holy Spirit is our life-long task.
This requires prayer, fasting, keeping vigils, almsgiving and other good deeds. But these
must be done only for the sake of Jesus Christ, not for their own sake. ("He who gathers
not with Me, scatters" -Luke 11:23).
St. Seraphim of Sarov, the deeply spiritual 19th century Russian
hermit, indicates that acquiring the Holy Spirit is exactly like obtaining and saving
money. "Accumulate capital, " he instructs, "from the superabundance of God's grace [and]
deposit it in God's eternal bank which will bring...100% interest for one spiritual [dollar]
and even infinitely more than that. For example, if prayer and watching [keeping vigil]
gives you more of God's grace, watch and pray; if fasting gives you more of the Spirit of
God, fast; if almsgiving gives you more, give alms."
"As we acquire the gifts of the Holy Spirit," St. Seraphim further
explains, "Jesus Christ brings into our hearts the kingdom of God and opens the way for us
to win the blessings of the [Heavenly] life." This may sound easy enough, but it actually
requires sacrifice and work. As St. John Chrysostom points out, "Labors come first, and
the crowns after."
According to St. Seraphim, we busy, modern people actually have almost
completely abandoned the true, Christian life. We have ceased to "hunger and thirst
wholeheartedly for God's righteousness...We have increased in stature, but not in grace, and we are inattentive to the work of salvation." We don't really seek divine knowledge, as we should. In fact, "we misinterpret many…words in Holy Scripture, all because we do not see the grace of God and in the pride of our minds do not allow it to dwell in our souls. That is why we are without true enlightenment from the Lord."
St. Seraphim states that we can begin to refocus on the Holy Spirit in
five simple ways:
"Seek Him again in His goodness."
"Attack the enemies [temptations] that drive us away from Him until even their dust
is no more."
"Hasten to offer true repentance for all...sins and...practice the virtues which are
opposite to the sins committed."
Be watchful to avoid being "condemned with that wicked and slothful servant who hid
his talent in the earth" (Matthew 25:25).
"Try to imitate those good and faithful servants who brought their master...ten
talents instead of five" (Matthew 25:20).
"Most of all," St. Seraphim adds, "[the Holy Spirit] is given through
prayer." This is always available and "always possible for everyone, rich and poor, noble
and simple, strong and weak, healthy and suffering, righteous and sinful."
We will know we are acquiring the Holy Spirit when His grace appears
within us as "an ineffable light." When the Spirit manifests Himself within a person,
there is "such calmness and peace in [the person's] soul that no words can express it."
There is also "an extraordinary sweetness...an extraordinary joy in all [the person's]
heart and "an extraordinary warm fragrance" like nothing on earth.
As each of us works to acquire the Holy Spirit, He will increase within
us, both individually and in St. Luke parish. All of us will more gladly follow Jesus
Christ, no matter what the cost, and bring joy both to ourselves and to those God sends