Image: mid-day.com; Artist: Paul Bhosle
Pentecost was always a feast day that made a lot of sense to me. Growing up in southern Louisiana it would not be surprising at all to see 12 guys and their mama stumbling out of an attic appearing a little drunk even though it’s only 9 in the morning. After spending this week reflecting on Steven, I mean–the Holy Spirit (see Stirring Things Up, Part I), I stumbled upon a little gem from one of the great Eastern Doctors of the Church. Rather than looking at who the Holy Spirit is NOT, let’s take a look at who He is.
This beautiful (and thorough) passage on the Holy Spirit is from one of our great St. Gregorys–not Gregory the Great, or Gregory the Wonderworker, rather this is Gregory the Theologian, St. Gregory of Nazianzus. This passage is from The Fifth Theological Oration (aka Oration 31 On the Holy Spirit).
St. Gregory is specifically writing in response to a number of erroneous and heretical teachings going around about the relationship, nature, consubstantiability (in theology you can make up words too!), function, personhood or hoods, etc. within the Trinity. He implicitly addresses the “Anomeans” or “dissimilarians” whom he considers “excessively stupid.” It includes over 50 Scripture references. Enjoy!
NOTE: Emphasis, endnotes, & formatting added.
SOURCE: Translated by Charles Gordon Browne and James Edward Swallow. From Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series, Vol. 7.Edited by Philip Schaff and Henry Wace. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1894.) Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight. <http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/310231.htm>. Endnotes from St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, Popular Patristics Series #23.
On the Holy Spirit
XXIX. This, then, is what may be said by one who admits the silence of Scripture. But now the swarm of testimonies shall burst upon you from which the Deity of the Holy Ghost shall be shown to all who are not excessively stupid, or else altogether enemies to the Spirit, to be most clearly recognized in Scripture.
Look at these facts:—Christ is born; the Spirit is His Forerunner (1).
He is baptized; the Spirit bears witness (2).
He is tempted; the Spirit leads Him up (3).
He works miracles; the Spirit accompanies them (4).
He ascends; the Spirit takes His place (5).
What great things are there in the idea of God which are not in His power? What titles which belong to God are not applied to Him, except only Unbegotten and Begotten? For it was needful that the distinctive properties of the Father and the Son should remain peculiar to Them, lest there should be confusion in the Godhead Which brings all things, even disorder itself, into due arrangement and good order. Indeed I tremble when I think of the abundance of the titles, and how many Names they outrage who fall foul of the Spirit.
He is called the Spirit of God (6),
the Spirit of Christ (7),
the Mind of Christ (8),
the Spirit of The Lord (9), and
Himself The Lord (10),
the Spirit of Adoption (11), of Truth (12), of Liberty (13);
the Spirit of Wisdom, of Understanding, of Counsel, of Might, of Knowledge, of Godliness, of the Fear of God (14).
For He is the Maker of all these, filling all with His Essence, containing all things, filling the world (15) in His Essence, yet incapable of being comprehended in His power by the world; good (16), upright (17), princely (18), by nature not by adoption; sanctifying, not sanctified (19); measuring, not measured (20); shared, not sharing (21); filling, not filled (22); containing, not contained (23); inherited (24), glorified (25), reckoned with the Father and the Son (26); held out as a threat (27); the Finger of God (28); fire like God (29); to manifest, as I take it, His consubstantiality; the Creator-Spirit (30), Who by Baptism (31) and by Resurrection (32) creates anew; the Spirit That knows all things (33), That teaches (34), That blows where and to what extent He lists (35); That guides (36), talks, sends forth, separates (37), is angry (38) or tempted (39); That reveals (40), illumines (41), quickens, or rather is the very Light and Life (42); That makes Temples (43); That deifies (44); That perfects so as even to anticipate Baptism (45), yet after Baptism to be sought as a separate gift (46); That does all things that God does (47); divided into fiery tongues (48); dividing gifts (49); making Apostles, Prophets (50), Evangelists, Pastors, and Teachers (51); understanding manifold, clear, piercing, undefiled, unhindered (52), which is the same thing as Most wise and varied in His actions (53); and making all things clear and plain; and of independent power, unchangeable, Almighty, all-seeing, penetrating all spirits that are intelligent, pure, most subtle (54) (the Angel Hosts I think); and also all prophetic spirits and apostolic in the same manner and not in the same places; for they lived in different places (55); thus showing that He is uncircumscript.
NBD. Veni Sancte Spiritus!! Now, get out there and celebrate Pentecost. Even if you are accused of day drinking, you can convert 3000 and perform wonders even greater than these… all you need is a little Holy Spirit!!
Cf. Lk 1:31 and 3.
Mt 3:13-17; Lk 3:21-22.
Mt 4:1; Lk 4:2
Mt 12:22 and 28.
Acts 1:9 and 2:3-4.
1 Cor 2:11
1 Cor 2:14-16
2 Cor 3:17
2 Cor 3:17
1 Cor 6:11
Cf. Rom 8:15; Phil 2:1
I Cor 6:19-20
1 Jn 5:7-8; cf. Mt 28:19
Acts 2:3-4; Deut 4:24
Jn 3:5; cf.1 Cor 12:13
1 Cor 2:10
Cf. Job 4:9
1 Cor 2:10; cf. Jn 16:13
Cf. Jn 14:26
Jn 6:63; Rom 8:10
Cf. 1 Cor 3:16, 6:11
Cf. Jn 16:12-13
Cf. Acts 10:47
1 Cor 12:4 and 11
Eph 4:4 and 11
1 Cor 12:11
This post was originally published on TheCatholicOutpost.com on June 5, 2017.