By Very Rev. Fr. Tadros Yacoub Malaty – Parish Priest from Queen St. Mary & Prince Tadros Church, New Jersey, USA.
YOU ARE GOD’S BEAUTIFUL WORLD!
From time to time a person feels that his life is empty and meaningless, similar to the rugged land “without form,” void of splendor and beauty, a useless life, surrounded by “darkness” (Gen. 1:2). Or like a debased life which deserves to fall under God’s wrath, such as in the time of the flood, from which no one was saved, except Noah and his family in the ark, and when the dove found no resting place (Gen. 8:9).
This is exactly the feeling of many youth today, especially when they find themselves enslaved to their lustful desires, their bodies captivated by sensual pleasure, and their hearts become tombs full of filth!
Will God leave us in such a state? Certainly not! God’s Holy Spirit, who “hovered over the face of the waters” to create a beautiful world out of desolation (Gen. 1:2), is still working in the waters of Baptism to create out of those baptized a glorious spiritual world!
My dear youth, the Spirit of God is still hovering in your heart and mine, through the tears of repentance (the second baptism) in order to renew within us a heavenly world. He is always occupied thinking of you, as you are His beautiful world!
THE SPIRIT OF STRENGTH AND THE STRENGTH OF THE SPIRIT!
Our Lord Jesus Christ came on earth not to present us with mere commandments, but to renew our nature by His Holy Spirit, and to establish His kingdom in us. He came in order to convert our inner beings, which are void of beauty, into a unique, glorious spiritual world. In other words, He crucified our old man, who was in the image of the earthly Adam, and bestowed on us a new man, in the image of the new heavenly Adam. For this, Jesus advised His Apostles not to leave Jerusalem until they received a Power from above (Acts 1:8).
In the Greek language the word “power” is derived from the word “dynamite” or “dynamic.” So our Lord advised His disciples not to depart from Jerusalem, to start their evangelistic work, without the power of the Holy Spirit. He asked them to rely on the Holy Spirit within them, as He shatters the solid sin with dynamic divine power, and creates a new celestial heart suitable for His abode. This dynamic power should be the motivating force of their work, as the Holy Spirit knows no laziness or rest, as He is an influence of love who works unceasingly.
Thus, my dear youth, do not fear the lust of the flesh or sin with all its temptations, or the whole world with all its burdens, as you have attained the Holy Spirit in the Holy Sacraments of Baptism and Chrismation (Mayroun), who works in you with all power! If you accept the work of the Holy Spirit in you, and ask His assistance at any time, trust that He will support you.
CONVICTION, RECONCILIATION, AND GLORY
If your heart has become like the world after the flood, full of dirt and filth, and is rotten and corrupt, this saddens God’s Spirit as He does not find a resting place in your heart. My dear youth, do not fear, the dove (which symbolizes the Holy Spirit) was let loose from the ark (which symbolizes Jesus Christ) three times. The first time, it did not find a resting place in the world; on the second time, it came back carrying in its beak an olive leaf; lastly it rested and found its comfort. This is how the Holy Spirit works, He converts your heart from a corrupt world, conforming it to be the temple of God.
The Spirit of God is hovering over the corrupt world trying to find rest, but cannot as “they have together become corrupt” (Ps. 14:3). People in the Old Testament felt that God was far away from them, so the Psalmist with a loud voice sang, “How long, O Lord? Will You forget me forever?” (Ps. 13:1) and “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Ps. 22:1).
The main function of the Holy Spirit is to illuminate your vision, so that you may discover your weaknesses and sins. You then feel the need for your Savior’s love, who forgives all your transgressions, purifies your nature, and grants you His reconciliation… and you will “not want!” (Ps. 23:1).
Jesus’ last words to His disciples were, “If I depart I will send the Helper, and when He has come, He will convict the world of sin” (John 16:7-8). Always bear in mind that our Lord Jesus sent the Holy Spirit, in the Church, not to cover your sins, but to open your eyes to your own sins, convict your heart with tears of repentance, after which your sins are forgiven.
My beloved youth, take advantage of God’s gracious and endless love which is extended to all sinners. Allow the Holy Spirit to convict you, and uncover all your faults and bestow on you the tears of repentance. Through the holy Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, Savior of both body and soul, you will find that God the Fr. has His arms outstretched with His tender love embracing you through the Cross.
The Holy Spirit who hovers around to create in your heart a holy dwelling for Himself, will expose you to realize your grievous sins to humble oneself before God, after which He uplifts you to the highest heavens.
The Spirit of God will not “leave you as orphans” (John 14:18), but He will come forth to us with the “olive leaf,” the Spirit of peace, and reconciliation to declare within us the power of the precious Blood of Jesus, through which we reconcile with God. Thus we are no more strangers and foreigners but fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God. This is the work of the Spirit which carries the “olive leaf,” who takes of “what is Mine (Jesus) and declares it to you” (John 16:14).
The work of the Holy Spirit does not stop at reconciliation, furthermore, He gives one a newly fellowship with Christ. Then, when the Holy Spirit finds comfort in your heart, and rejoices in working through you, you will experience the pledge of eternal glory: interior happiness, unspeakable hearty Joyce and being after the image of God carrying Christ’s features of love, humility and sanctity. That is how the Holy Spirit works in you. First, He starts by self conviction, where He uncovers all your inner corruption and leads you to reconciliation through the Blood of the Savior. This is followed by a taste of the everlasting glory, where the Spirit finds comfort in your heart.
YOU HAVE DOVE’S EYES
The work of the Holy Spirit is to imprint His spiritual vision in you. Thus, the Bridegroom will say to you, “You have dove’s eyes” (Song 1:15). If you stand close to a friend and look into his eyes, you will discover your image imprinted in his eyes, as you are standing close to him. That is how the Lord Jesus sees the image of the Holy Spirit (the dove) imprinted in your eyes. As long as your heart is in continuous contact with Him, realizing His capabilities and is cooperating with Him, He will always be active in you.
Do not be afraid of your weaknesses, as your eyes are “dove’s eyes,” a sign that the Holy Spirit dwells within you. He is the One who is working in you, who transforms your weaknesses to power or to dynamite, and destroys the power of evil. He does not destroy your heart or your efforts, but destroys the evil in order to establish God’s Kingdom in you.
My dear youth, you have “dove’s eyes” as the Holy Spirit, who is in the shape of a dove, is manifested deep inside you.
It is not surprising that the Holy Spirit, who is active in you, is referred to as a dove. In the beginning the Holy Spirit hovered over the face of the waters (Gen. 1:2), similar to a mother-dove who stretches out her wings to gather to her bosom the eggs in order to hatch them, or stretches her wings in order to protect her little chicks.
We see in God a Fr. purposefully bringing about our salvation. In the Incarnate Son we see the Bridegroom, embracing His bride, the Church, who is adorned with abundant spiritual beauty. As for the Holy Spirit, it can be said that He somehow holds the qualities of Motherhood. He holds the affection and unique tenderness of Motherhood, from which spring all gifts and virtues. At the beginning He hovered with great love over the face of the waters, in order to create the world for us. In the New Testament, He hovered over the waters of baptism to embrace the one baptized, bestowing upon him the image of his Creator and bequeathing the Church love
and affection that she may care for the baptized with the same Spirit of God giving birth to new members unceasingly.
My dear youth, the role of the Holy Spirit is not only to nourish you with divine love, but to fill you with a kind of maternal affection. You will be full of tremendous love to the extent that you would want to embrace the whole world, and you will be filled with this internal urge and desire to extend this fiery love to the whole universe. This kind of love-giving does not know any selfishness, unlike the suffocating and domineering love of some parents, where the children despise this imprisoning and stifling-love which is full of selfishness, and long to get rid of it! But the Holy Spirit lavishes on you sincere, charitable, generous and spiritual love, where the believer asks for nothing from those who are dear to him, but to see them crowned with glory just as he himself long to be. Moreover, he rejoices and feels glad that everyone surpasses him, even concerning eternal reward. This Spiritual affection cannot be attained unless your life is holy and blessed. Both love and holiness are the essence to a spiritual life, a new life with Jesus Christ who is holy and full of true love!
That is why our Lord sees your eyes as those of doves. One eye represents Spiritual love, the other symbolizes holiness. Thus the eyes carry the same image of holy love or loving sanctity.
SAYINGS OF THE FATHERS
+ God fills Man’s nature with the joy of the Holy Spirit. He then crowns this nature with true glory. Because of His love for righteousness He restores to us the pure nature we once had before sin. ~ St. Macarius the Great
+ There is no way a person can attain any of God’s gracious gifts unless he attains the Holy Spirit Who has all God’s gifts. ~ St. Didymus the Blind
+ The Holy Spirit makes all God’s work sweeter than honey and the honeycomb, whether they come in the form of fatigue, fasting, vigil, solitude, or charitable deeds…With the Spirit we were sanctified in the Lord. ~ St. Anthony the Great
HOVER OVER ME, O SPIRIT OF GOD
At the beginning You hovered over the face of the waters!
And created a beautiful world for me,
You sufficed me with all things created,
and You made me in need of nothing!
Now You hover over the waters of Baptism,
to create out of my corruptible life, a new spiritual world!
God’s joyous Kingdom!
A lively icon of heaven itself!
You are the perpetual accomplisher, the essence of love!
If I have ruined what You gave me,
still You can sanctify me once more.
Work within me, O Spirit of God.
As Noah’s dove which declared reconciliation and peace through an olive leaf.
Rest in my heart, deep down,
For You can wholesomely sanctify me!
Be manifested in my eyes so that they become dove’s eyes.
Work in them, that they may be full of sanctified love or loving sanctity!
Spirit of God, You descended on the Incarnate Word, in the shape of a Dove!
You who are One with Him, Inseparable!
I beg You to abide in me,
granting me unity with my Redeeming Savior!
Spirit of God, create from me a holy and blessed
sanctuary, fit to be Your sacred abode.