Only the Holy Spirit Can Make Us “Spiritual”

31 May

0530151630How often do you hear someone say, “I’m not religious, but I am spiritual” ?

Nowadays, being “spiritual” can mean many things. Perhaps a person believes in another realm, ruled by a Higher Being. Perhaps a person practices a form of meditative silence or mindfulness, or some other discipline that requires focusing thoughts and harnessing emotions. Or perhaps a person simply claims to be non-materialistic and sensitive to the needs of others.

However, did you know that the word “spiritual” is Christian in its origin? The English word derives from Old French (spirituel, esperituel, 12th century) or directly from a Medieval Latin ecclesiastical (i.e., churchly) use of Latin spiritualis, which pertained to breath, breathing, wind, or air. Essentially, the term “spiritual” referred back to the Holy Spirit, Who is the Breath of God that gives life to every living 0530151631ccreature. In fact, the name for the Spirit in Hebrew is ruach, or “wind.”

Today, we celebrate the Feast of Pentecost, the descent of the Holy Spirit on the Christ’s Apostles and the Church. The services remind us of this mighty Breath of God, Who from the moment of creation has enlivened the world but Who now comes to dwell personally in those who believe in and who follow in the footsteps of our Lord Jesus Christ.

At the vesperal service for this Feast we read from the Book of Joel 2:23–32, which predicted the day when God would pour out His Spirit onto all flesh. And, during Divine Liturgy, we read from the Book of Acts 2:1–11, which reported how Joel’s prophecy was fulfilled when the Holy Spirit descended as tongues of fire on the Apostles, the Virgin Mary, and the young Church that had believed in the Crucified and Risen Lord, Jesus Christ.

0530151632bWhen the Apostles and young Church had received the gift of the Holy Spirit, they were so filled with joy that those witnessing the event thought they were “drunk with wine”! The joy, peace, and love that characterized the nature of our Lord Jesus was flowing from their innermost being, and the crowd could not help but notice that something was different about these people.

So, today is a good day for us Orthodox Christians to ask ourselves: Are we “spiritual” in the original sense of the word? Do we have the Spirit of God dwelling within us? Have we Divine Life inside of us, which trumps any other “high” humankind has ever experienced?


If not, we need only surrender our will and life to our King and Lord Jesus Christ, and He will fill us with the Breath of God, and make us one with Himself and His Father in Heaven (John 20:21–24). Then, people around us will notice that we too “have been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13).

O Holy Spirit, come and live in us!

Your Pastor, Father Steven

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