Faith and Illumination
The Holy Spirit has descended!
From heaven to earth!
In this second podcast about Faith, during the season of Holy Spirit, we will explore the relationship between faith and illumination, our regeneration in grace, and our second baptism.
My resources for this podcast are:
St. Nickolai Velimirovic, The Prologue
Remember Thy First Love, Archimandrite Zacharias
Fr. George Calciu
Let’s start with St. Nickolai:
‘Awake, thou that sleep, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light’
“The holy Apostle Paul, in common with all the other Christian apostles and saints, teaches all that he teaches from personal experience. For the Christian, faith is experience, not theory or human sophistry.”
We cannot convince people of our faith, rather as Fr. George Calciu, who spent 17 years in Romanian prisons says, “I had learned from experience that, people are changed only by the fire of your faith, by the dedication of your attitude to them and to God, because this is the most powerful proof.”
“Paul had lain as one spiritually asleep. He was dead in spirit while he opposed the Christian faith. But he awoke and got up and, with a risen spirit, was illumined by Christ. He could see himself in the time when he fell into spiritual sleep, then in the time when he awoke, then when he got up, then when he rose in spirit and finally when he was illumined by Christ…
The illumining of Christ is necessary to a man at the beginning as well as at the end. For, without Christ illumining, he cannot awaken or get up or rise from the dead, as neither can he later by himself live in faith or die in hope… the apostle himself received the illumining of Christ at the beginning, on the road to Damascus, then later again. The first illuminating brought him to Christ and the second established him in Christ. We all receive the first illumining at baptism, and the second through faith and the fulfilling of the commandments of the Lord.”
St. Nickolai Velimirovic, The Prologue, April 30th
Here St. Nickolai is referring to our second baptism, our regeneration by grace: the second through faith and the fulfilling of the commandments of the Lord. Fulfilling our part – is what draws the grace of the Holy Spirit to us, to allow our love of Christ to help us fight against our passions and be obedient and humble.
Back to St. Nickolai:
“The heart is apparently a small organ, but God can abide in it. And when God abides in it, it is filled to overflowing and nothing else can stand in it. If, however, the whole world were to dwell in it, without God, it would remain empty. My brethren, let Christ the risen and living Lord dwell in your hearts by faith, and your hearts will be filled to overflowing. For he can in no other way abide in your hearts other than by your faith. If you have no faith, Christ will remain only on your tongue or on paper, or on the wall or in a museum.”
Bishop Nikolai Velimirovic, The Prologue, April 21
Are there some of you that struggle with “let Christ dwell in our hearts”? I did for years.
How I prayed for years to understand “let Christ dwell in our hearts” I still struggle with keeping the fire of my faith and love for Christ before me.
Here is what Elder Zacharias says about acquiring Faith and Christ in our hearts:
“This wonderful account shows clearly how the mind of man gradually ascends to true knowledge of God once he accepts the word of Christ. First he discovers the divine power of this word and his faith is strengthened.”
Believing in the words of Christ written in the gospels and by his eye-witnesses, the apostles, opens our hearts to illumination by the Holy Spirit – often when we least expect it… Then our faith is strengthened.”
“He then accepts the truth of Christ–God, being guided by right doctrine.”
We must entreat God and his Saints to help us accept this Truth if we as of yet do not fully grasp it or lose it frequently. We must continue to ‘fight the good fight’ with our fallen nature and allow God to cleanse our nous – our spiritual inner eye…
“His inner eye is cleansed and he begins to see clearly with Whom he is in contact. Light spreads throughout his soul until his heart is flooded with the divine light of the Sun of Righteousness. He becomes a child of the day, for the Daystar has risen in his heart. He is then united to God and worships Him in spirit and in truth. With his whole heart he worships this God who has honored him with His grace, knowing that He alone is the one true God and Savior of the world.”
Remember Thy First Love, Elder Zacharias
This is the reward of our labors.
Our Lord has Risen! He has Ascended! And He has sent His Holy Spirit to us! How wonderful it is to share this joy with our neighbors – this Light in the darkness of our fallen world.
In this after season of the Holy Spirit following Christ’s Resurrection, let’s turn to Fr. George Calciu again to help us understand how to share our Faith in the Risen Lord:
“Christ is Risen! In truth He is Risen! This is the single argument we have for the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. We can invoke the information of the Bible: to the unfaithful it means nothing. We can speak from the Holy Fathers; again it is nothing to them. Therefore it was enough for me to say in front of the colonel, ‘Christ is Risen!’ We need no other proof. Because of just trying to prove to the colonel that Jesus really rose from the dead, I felt something wrong in my orientation. Since then I gave up trying to give proofs to the guards or to the inmates, the criminals. I had learned from experience that, people are changed only by the fire of your faith, by the dedication of your attitude to them and to God, because this is the most powerful proof.”
The convicts sent to murder Fr. Calciu found themselves converted, kneeling, weeping in their cell while Fr. Calciu was serving Divine Liturgy bathed in Uncreated Light!
Let us go forth with the Light of Christ we faithfully hold in our hearts. O Holy Spirit purify and illumine our hearts, and deepen our faith.
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