So, what would you prefer; would you rather lose £10 or find £10?
I think it is safe to say that we all experience ‘loss aversion’ that is our tendency to prefer avoiding losses to acquiring equivalent gains. Loss and giving up can be difficult concepts for us to accept, since both are often equated to failure and it has been suggested that losses are twice as powerful, psychologically, as gains. For many, if not all of us, loss and giving up have been a dominant feature of this pandemic period.
There is however a different dimension to loss a giving up. I refer to the spiritual life. Let me take you back to the start of our life with Covid-19 (Coronavirus). Fr David shared his thoughts and the thoughts of Elder Zacharias of Essex with regard to ‘Hesychia’. This is a state when there is an inner stillness and one abides alone in spirit with God; attained only through loss and giving up!
There is a story of a Japanese sage who served tea to an enquiring professor. The sage poured his visitor’s cup full, and then kept on pouring. The professor watched the overflow until he no longer could restrain himself. “It is overfull. No more will go in!”, he cried. “Like this cup,” the sage replied, “you are full of your own opinions and speculations. How can I show you anything unless you first empty your cup?”
This Sunday is 8th Sunday of Pascha, Holy Pentecost and is followed by The Day of the Holy Spirit on Monday. Pentecost Sunday commemorates the coming of the Holy Spirit in the form of flames to the Apostles, as recorded in the New Testament in Acts, 2. The Holy Spirit allowed the apostles to speak in other languages through 'tongues of fire', and they started preaching the Gospel to the Jews who come to Jerusalem for the feast of Shavuot (Pentecost), a festival that celebrates the giving of the Ten Commandments to Moses on Mount Sinai. We recognise this day as the birth of the Church for two reasons. Firstly, the descent of the Holy Spirit completed the Trinity - the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit - the basis of Christian theology. Secondly, it was the first time that the Apostles had preached to the masses.
And so, Pentecost is a celebration. However, Henri Nouwen reminds us that …
"We cannot celebrate Christmas when there is nothing new born here and now; we cannot celebrate Easter when no new life becomes visible; we cannot celebrate Pentecost when there is no Spirit whatsoever to celebrate. Celebration is the recognition that something is there and needs to be made visible so that we can all say yes to it.’
This is not a time of loss, of giving up or of emptying, but rather This is a time to celebrate the coming and receiving of the Holy spirit. At baptism/Chrismation we each had the name of the Holy Trinity invoked over us. We were washed clean of sin. And coming out of the baptismal font, for those of us who were baptized in the Orthodox Church, we immediately received the sacrament of Chrismation, we received the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit dwells in each of us.
In the Orthodox Church this is the only prayer, among all the prayers of the Church, that is ad- dressed to the Holy Spirit and for the last 50 days we have ‘given up’ saying our introductory Prayer to The Holy Spirit
“O Heavenly King, Comforter, Spirit of Truth, who art everywhere and fillest all things, Treasury of Blessings and Giver of Life: come and abide in us, cleanse us from all impurity and of thy goodness, save our souls.”
The prayer is so important that we should preface all of our prayers with it! But arguably it is just as important that we remember and understand what it is we are saying and why. I therefore invite you, for the next few days to look at the Prayer to the Holy Spirit phrase by phrase; to perhaps use each phrase as a daily meditation.
Meditations on the Prayer to the Holy Spirit.
O Heavenly King,
and cleanse us from all impurity --
This mainly contains homilies and messages from our priests, although there is some scope to share thoughts and interesting articles which we may want to share with others