21st September

‘Acquire’ The Holy Spirit

‘Give us some of your oil for our lamps.’ They replied ‘We may not have enough; go and buy some for yourselves.’ Matthew 25: 8, 9.

The oil in this parable, as we shall see, represents God’s Holy Spirit.

The Celtic tradition of hermits living close to God and nature was lost or overlaid in the West; but in the East this tradition continued and, in a country such as Russia, it flowered in the tradition of the Staretz, or holy hermit who lived alone, but in deep solidarity with the people of his neighbourhood. Seraphim was a notable Russian Staretz of the nineteenth century whom I look upon as a Soul Friend for followers of Celtic spirituality. He once had this conversation about the Holy Spirit, sitting on a stool by his cell in the forest, with young Nicholas Motovilov, whom he called Friend of God:

‘When you were a child you wanted to know the purpose of the Christian life but none of the ecclesiastics told you. I will try to tell you. Prayer and good works are good, but they are only means to an end. The true end of the Christian life is to acquire the Holy Spirit’. ‘What do you mean by acquisition?’ Nicholas asked. ‘You know what it means to earn money, don’t you? Well, the Holy Spirit is also capital, but eternal capital. Our Lord compares our life to trading and says “Buy gold from me” (Revelation 3.18). Good works, if they are done for the love of Christ, bring us the fruits of the Holy Spirit.

In the parable of the virgins at a wedding (Matthew 25. 9-15) the foolish virgins were told to buy oil for their lamps. What they were lacking was the grace of the Holy Spirit. So you see that the one essential thing is not just to do good, but to acquire the Holy Spirit as the one eternal treasure which will never pass away….

This Holy Spirit, the All-powerful, takes up his dwelling in us and prepares in our souls and bodies a dwelling place for the Father.’
Seraphim of Zarov

Come Holy Ghost, our souls inspire
And lighten with celestial fire.
Thou the anointing Spirit art,
Who dost Thy sevenfold gifts impart.
Veni Creator, Nineth. Century