Holy spirit

Archbishop of America: The Holy Spirit is the divine breath of God

In his address, Archbishop Elpidophoros pointed out that “‘Paraclete’ is not an ordinary word in English. It means one who pleads on your behalf or gives you counsel. And calling the Holy Spirit “another Advocate “, the Lord shows us that the relationship we have with the Holy Spirit is the same intimate and comforting relationship that the Disciples had with their Master. The limitation of time and space that our Lord Jesus Christ had under his incarnation is completely overcome by the One who is everywhere present and who fills all things.

“Sisters and brothers in Christ,

Today, my friends, we speak more directly to the Holy Spirit in our hymns and spiritual songs:

Σῶσον ἡμᾶς, Παράκλητε ἀγαθέ, ψάλλοντάς σοι Ἀλληλούϊα.

Save us, O good Paraclete, who sings Alleluia to you!

When we call the Holy Spirit, “Paraclete”, we call the Spirit by the same name that our Lord Jesus Christ used, when He told His disciples that we would ask His Father to send “another Παράκλητος “to be with them forever.[1]

“Paraclete” is not an ordinary word in English. It means the one who pleads on your behalf or gives you advice. And by calling the Holy Spirit “another Advocate,” the Lord shows us that the relationship we have with the Holy Spirit is the same intimate and comforting relationship that the Disciples had with their Master. The limitation of time and space that our Lord Jesus Christ had by virtue of his incarnation is completely overcome by the One who is everywhere present and who fills all things – ὁ πανταχοῦ παρών, καὶ τὰ πάντα πληρῶν.

The Holy Spirit dwells in every Christian by virtue of our baptism and chrismation. The word itself – πνεῦμα – can mean “wind” or “breath”. Listen to how the Lord describes the Spirit in this verse from the Gospel of John:

τὸ πνεῦμα ὅπου θέλει πνεῖ, καὶ τὴν φωνὴν αὐτοῦ ἀκούεις, ἀλλ ̓ ̓κ οἶδας πόθεν ἔρχεται καὶ ποῦ ὑπάγει….

The spirit – or the wind – blows where it wills; and you hear its sound, but you don’t know where it comes from or where it goes….[2]

There is a freedom in this verse, which concludes by saying that all who are born of the Holy Spirit live in this freedom – something that speaks to the very heart of a person, seeking to live with integrity and authenticity.

The Holy Spirit is the Divine Breath of God that infuses us with life. This is why at each recitation of the Credo we say:

Καὶ εἰς τὸ Πνεῦμα τὸ Ἅγιον, τὸ κύριον, τὸ ζωοποιόν….

And in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the Creator of life….

Think about it for a moment, my dear Christians! If we stopped breathing the natural atmosphere for just a few minutes, our physical life would end. Travel just a few miles above the earth’s surface and there’s nothing to breathe. Think of the vastness of outer space. Nothing to breathe; nothing to live for.

But what about our spiritual life – the life that is destined for eternity?

If we don’t inhale and breathe with the Spirit of God, how will we inherit eternal life? We don’t have to think about our physical inhales and exhales – they happen naturally. But the spiritual breath that manifests the Holy Breath of God – that’s intentional. It’s intentional. And it comes from a practice that cultivates those things which, as the Revelation of John says, “the Spirit speaks to the churches.”[3]

So what counsel does the Spirit offer us? What does he recommend us to do? Saint Paul speaks of nine fruits of the Spirit in his Epistle to the Galatians:

“…love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, kindness, faith, gentleness, self-control.” [4]

All of these virtues have one thing in common: they are attributes that others can experience. These are activities of the inner person manifesting in the world. They are all spiritual exhalations which invigorate others, which nourish others, which give life to others.

Therefore, my beloved brothers and sisters,

Let the Spirit of God fill us with all these virtues, so that we can offer them to others. Let us breathe in the goodness of God with each of our breaths, so that we can in turn fill the world with life-giving fruits – fruits that can nurture and nourish this world.

This is the advice of our Heavenly Advocate – the Paraclete, who is always with us to lead us to eternal life. The Spirit breathes and gives life in all kinds of ways, but always to bring life, to foster love, and to imbue us with joy and peace that we can share with others.

May it always be so! Amen.

[1] John 14:16.

[2] John 14:16.

[3] Revelation 2:11.

[4] Galatians 5:22. »