by +Dimitry, Archbishop of Kherson and Odessa
Having embarked upon the Apostles’ fast, the Church calls us to reflect upon the gifts of the Holy Spirit, which descended upon those gathered in the high room on the day of Pentecost and which grace remains within us as members of Christ’s Holy Body, the Church. Yet we may find ourselves wondering why such clear and visible signs of divine grace as were bestowed upon the apostles are not given to us as prevalently in our day. We therefore offer this brief reflection by a luminary of the 19th century Russian Church.
How can we be sure that the Holy Spirit is present in us? The Apostles were convinced of this by visible signs which were so striking that even the unbelievers themselves could not but notice them, even though they misinterpreted them. But how can we assure ourselves of this, when God does not will to manifest such signs to us? We cannot assure ourselves of the dwelling within us of the Holy Spirit by any outward signs; but we can be assured by His actions, by His fruits. The tree is known by its fruits: every good tree bringeth forth good fruit: but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit (Mt. 7:17). But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance (Gal. 5:22–23). By these signs we can recognize whether the Holy Spirit dwells in a man or not.
Are you joyful in your soul while you go about your work, and especially when you stand before God in prayer, and are you so disposed to Him that you sense in Him your Father, while in yourself His son? That is a fruit of the Holy Spirit dwelling within you.
Are you at peace in your conscience, not finding within it anything to reproach you, and are the weaknesses in you, which you as a human may feel, cleansed within you by repentance? That is a fruit of the Holy Spirit dwelling within you.
Do you endure the diverse temptations and calamities of this world patiently, without murmuring, do not become angry, do not bear malice, do not seek vengeance, assuring yourself that everything exists by the will of the righteous God? That is a fruit of the Holy Spirit dwelling within you.
Are you disposed to doing good to everyone under any circumstances to the extent that you are able, while to insult and offend anyone you consider a deed unnatural for a son of the Church of Christ? That is a fruit of the Holy Spirit dwelling within you.
Is your heart moved by the misfortunes of others, and do you consider yourself fortunate when you help the unfortunate? That is a fruit of the Holy Spirit dwelling within you.
Are you convinced of the truth of the word of God, considering all the sophistries of yourself and others madness, when they raise themselves higher than the mind of God, revealed in His word? That is a fruit of the Holy Spirit dwelling within you.
Do you have a gentle disposition, as is proper for the domestic of Christ Who, being reproached, did not reproach in return, and did not render evil for evil? That is a fruit of the Holy Spirit dwelling within you!
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance (Gal. 5:22–23). By these signs we can without question recognize whether the Holy Spirit dwells within us.
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