Why We Don’t Sense the Holy Spirit

The Reading from the Holy Gospel according to St.
John. 7:37-52; 8:12

During the last few weeks we were blessed enough to spend
some time focusing on the story of St. Photeini, the
Samaritan woman at the well. In the course of our reading
we found that the Lord offered her living water and that
nearly all of the Fathers of the Church declare that this
“living water” is indeed the Holy Spirit. They
are further justified in their thoughts as we see the
Lord’s words given to us today on this great feast
of Pentecost. “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me
and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has
said, “Out of his belly shall flow rivers of living
water.”” St. John the Theologian further
clarifies for us so that there will be no mistake.
“Now this He said about the Spirit, which those who
believed in Him were to receive; for as yet the Spirit had
not been given, because Jesus was not yet
glorified.”

If Christmas is the celebration of God taking flesh and
becoming one of of us. We can say that the Feast of
Pentecost is a celebration of God choosing to dwell within
us! St. Paul writes about this when he says “for ye
are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will
dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God,
and they shall be my people” 2 Corinthians 6:16

Pentecost is a chance to remember the promises that were
given to each of us on the day we became sons and
daughters of the most high God. Today we did not sing
“Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal…”
Rather we sang “As many of you as have been baptized
into Christ, have put on Christ.” This is a clue. It
is a reminder that each and every person receives a
personal Pentecost on the day that he or she is baptized
and receives the holy anointing by Chrism. Unfortunately
we can go about our lives and forget the amazing gifts
that we’ve been given. We can obscure the work of
the Holy Spirit in our lives.

The Holy Spirit is not some magical gift, but a personal
encounter with the person of the Holy Spirit through His
energies. The energies of God are given to us by His grace
and not because we deserve them. Although this is the
case, there are certain dispositions and attitudes that
will allow God to magnify His grace within us. There are
certain things that we must do in order to cultivate the
grace of the Holy Spirit within us. Without such
cultivation we will be left with a gift which is a seed
that cannot put down roots and sprout and bear fruit. What
separates the saints from the rest of the people of God is
their ability to work with the Holy Spirit and allow His
gifts to be magnified and multiplied in their lives. But
how?

Our Church is a wise mother. Within her cycle of services
we learn so much of what is necessary for our growth and
health within the body of Christ. This morning we are
celebrating the descent of the Holy Spirit and tonight the
Church will celebrate kneeling Vespers, which is our
personal descent of repentance. The modern saint Silouan
had a tremendous experience of God who visited Him in the
Holy Spirit. St. Silouan who knew God intimately would
tell others that the Lord had given him a personal message
“Keep thy mind in hell and despair not.” It
was this attitude towards repentance that
“endeared” God to him. God sees our struggles
and he knows the condition of our hearts quite intimately.
He cannot energize us by His Holy Spirit when we are full
of strength and pride.

He knows those who are of like spirit with Him. As the
Lord Himself writes “Learn from me, for I am meak
and lowly of heart.” The Scriptures also say
“God resists the proud, but gives grace to the
humble” (James 4:6). And we must not forget the
words of the psalmist King David who writes “The
sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a
contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise” (Ps
51:17). We no longer offer sacrifices of goats and lambs
and birds. God offered up the eternal sacrifice of His
only Son who humbled Himself to the point of death. We can
enter into this sacrifice only through our own humility.

So we learn from all of these clues given to us by the
words of the Lord, by the words of the Holy Scriptures and
New Testament and by the cycle of our beloved Church
itself. Our personal Pentecost begins at our baptism and
chrismation but the renewal of this gift of the Holy
Spirit cannot come without deep struggle and contrition of
heart and acknowledgement of our sinful condition and our
distance from God. This point is not simply one to
remember on the feast of Pentecost but each and every day.
God is not limited to working on feast days. He is ready
to work every day and He desires to be with us and dwell
in us. He is looking for a suitable place to dwell and
that place is the heart that is softened by real, genuine,
heartfelt repentance. We should ask ourselves “when
was the time that I prayed with genuine tears?” And
if not with tears, at least with great depth of emotion.
We understand that God is waiting patiently to have
communion with us but we have neglected our part of the
equation although it is very small.

Humility is the answer. St. Anthony the great once said
“I saw the snares that the enemy spreads out over
the world and I said groaning, “How can one get
through such snares?” Then I heard a voice saying to
me, “Humility.”” So we start with
humility by looking at ourselves seriously and
understanding that if you think you pretty good, you are
already in a deep delusion and God has already withdrawn
His grace for a time.

Here is the advice of another recent saint. St. Nektarios
of Aegina (who lived a true life of humility) said
“Seek god daily. But seek Him in your heart, not
outside it..…..But in order to find God, become
humble as dust before the Lord, for the Lord abhors the
proud, whereas He visits those that are humble in heart,
wherefore He says: “To whom will I look, but to him
that is meek and humble in heart? The Holy Spirit loves
us. He wants to enflame our hearts with His love. God has
come to us. But is our heart prepared to make space for
His living water? Glory be to God Forever, AMEN.

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