THE ACQUISITION OF THE HOLY SPIRIT by I. M. Kontzevitch
THE ACQUISITION OF THE HOLY SPIRIT is the main aim of man upon this earth, for it is through the ascetic struggle of “pulling down” the Holy Spirit into a repentant, humble heart that man gains justification before the face of God. Christ is our Savior
only as long as we realize we are perishing; and the acquisition of the Holy Spirit is the actuality of being saved.
When Our Lord Jesus Christ sent down the Holy Spirit as He promised to His faithful followers, it was the personal, individual exploit of people of various nationalities that, having led to the saving state of union with God, transformed whole nations. Having the original apostolic community as a model, countries have built their civilizations on Christian principles, on the Faith of Christ that makes man God like. At various stages in the history of Western civilization, Christianity has made inroads and created saints who have become national heroes; and these heroes have set the tone for the specific characteristics of their respective nations. In one way or another these nations, becoming infused with holiness, have developed indigenous qualities of sanctity which have colored the essence of their arts, literature and customs.
Christian ethnic characteristics are valid only if they stem from the genuine acquisition of the Holy Spirit. This unites all in Christ, and thus to the stare of Adam before the Fall, to the paradisiacal state for which man was mad e. But if there is no link and there is estrangement from that initial source – the traditional, historical path of acquiring the Holy Spirit – then the result is separation, peculiarity and oddity, a source of strife and discord. The historical acquisition of the Holy Spirit as reflected in local, national churches has created a heavenly choir composed of earthly men and women who have
transfigured themselves in to saints – friends of God.
The path to acquire the state of sanctity is not an easy one because it involves the voluntary self-crucifixion of the fallen man – and war with the devil, the flesh and the world. But for today’s God-thirsting neophytes, this 2,000 year-old path has certainly been well-trodden, cleared and sign-posted with knowledge that has been acquired from practice and passed down in the context of various languages and cultures by God-loving pastors and teachers who have known God first-hand.
Taken from the Preface of this classical work, one recognizes the same purpose aired by St. Seraphim that the purpose of the Christian life is to acquire the Holy Spirit.
A professor at the Holy Trinity Seminary and a spiritual son of the Elder Nektary of Optina, Kontzevich is a wonderful resource for us. His writings share this rich spiritual inheritance with other generations. Though the Elders and the spiritual light of Optina has dimmed, the spirit of the elders lives on through the writings of Kontzevich and others of their spiritual children.
We read further concerning heroes, who championed the Orthodox Faith to “the nations”. Unquestionably, the dark times are in need of many such heroes, willing to “pick up the torch” and shine forth the light of Christ to a world falling deeper into darkness.