Wishing you a blessed feast of Pentecost. This is the feast where the Church celebrates the descent of the Holy Spirit on the disciples and thus the Church, which leads us to the 3rd Deacon Core Value:
A Deacon is Spiritual.
We will briefly discuss what does it mean to be a spiritual person, why is being spiritual important, how to be spiritual, and lastly discuss some obstacles and hindrances to being spiritual.
What does it mean to be Spiritual?
A spiritual deacon is a person who lets the Holy Spirit direct his service.
A spiritual deacon is a person who is very sensitive to the voice of the Holy Spirit, discerning His voice as a guide in every facet of his life.
In short, a spiritual deacon is simply a person who is led by the Spirit of God. The signs of a spiritual deacon is a deacon bearing the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22,23).
Why is it Important to be Spiritual?
If you ever felt overwhelmed in your life (even your service life) by the amount of responsibilities that you carry, then let the Holy Spirit be your “time manager”. He can tell you do this, don’t do this, do this now and that later.
If you ever felt unsure about a big decision you’re about to take, then let the Holy Spirit be your guide. God has this incredible characteristic that we lack which is that He knows the future and what’s best for you.
If you ever felt that your prayer life is stagnant and you want to deepen your relationship with your Heavenly Father, then let the Holy Spirit be your intercessor. After all, nobody can say Jesus Christ is Lord without the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:3)
If you ever felt that your prayer life lacked fervor, then you need to pray in the Spirit. Just a simple “keryaLayson” that is prayed with Spirituality can move mountains… True story!
If you ever felt the need to feel the presence of Christ in your life and want to have Him be your companion throughout your day, then let the Holy Spirit grant that to You. God is Spirit and He is to be worshiped in Spirit and truth (John 4:24). Also, the Holy Spirit takes what is His (Christ’s) and gives to us (John 16:14,15).
If you ever wanted to know more about God, or understand His wisdom behind a certain event in your life, then you need to ask the Holy Spirit for understanding since He searches even the depth of God. (1 Corinthians 2:10)
If you ever wanted to be cleansed from a certain sin in your life, then co-operating with the Spirit of God is the only way. He’s the Spirit of Righteousness.
How to be Spiritual?
The question now is how to be a spiritual person? How do I hear the Holy Spirit and discern His will in my life? There are many practical ways that we can follow:
Pray to God to fill you with His Spirit and let you discern His will. Spiritual requests especially need your tenacity in prayers.
Be regular in your confessions to make sure that you don’t put your sins as a barrier between you and God.
Have a Spiritual Guide and a regular father of confession
Set a “Spiritual Routine” with your father of confession.
Conduct regular self-examinations every day, week, month, year, etc…
Have a Scriptural Mind™. This means a mind that interprets all events, words and actions through the Holy Scripture. For example: if you attend a wedding (event) you immediately bring to mind the Wedding at Cana of Galilee. If you even hear the expression “slap on a face” (words) you immediately remember the verse that says to turn the other cheek. If you go camping and spend a night in a tent (action), this would immediately bring to your mind how our Father Abraham always lived in tents not allowing himself to be tied to this world and always ready to move at God’s command. This is what it means to have a Scriptural Mind™ and it comes from regular reading and researching of the Holy Scripture.
Put to practice what you read from the Bible (Hear and Act).
Learn Theology, not to argue it, but to live it. Theology is not for bishops alone. It is for the everyday Christian. The reason why this is important is because what you believe changes how you worship God, and thus affects your spiritual life.
Attach yourself to the Church like a branch in a vine. Like a member in a body. Like a sheep to a fold/flock. (Did your Scriptural Mind™ bring to your remembrance anything?)
Get in the habit of asking God for His will before starting anything. Even if at first you don’t hear His voice, by the time you become more sensitive to His voice/will in your life then you’d already have this habit developed of asking Him always.
Obstacles to Spiritual Life
Let me just mention 3 things that could hinder a deacon of becoming a Spiritual person:
Sin: When someone sins he puts up a barrier between himself and God.
“Letter of the Rite”: When someone over-emphasizes the rite without understanding the Spirit behind it then they start worshipping the rite itself and forgetting the Lord of the rite. For example: Our Church teaches us to pray towards the East to remind us that we’re praying to the Sun of Righteousness (Malachi 4:2), to remind us of the Garden of Eden which was in the East, to remind us of the start in the East that led to the newborn King (Matthew 2:2), and most importantly to remind us of Christ’s second coming from the East (Matthew 24:27). A person who worships the rite might not pray if he’s in a place where he doesn’t know where East is. However if he were to understand why the Church does this and be always waiting for Christ’s second coming, then he can simply pray in either direction without being offended till he knows which way is East.
“Ignoring the Rite”: On the other extreme is a person who completely ignores the rites of the Church saying that these are all man-made and we should only focus on God. This person does not realize that the rites of the Church were guided by the Holy Spirit Himself and are established to deepen our relationship with God. There is Spirit behind the rite. The best balance is to know the rites of the Church and live in its spirit and let it enrich your spiritual life to add depth and dimension to it.
Wishing you a deeper spiritual life on the feast of the Descent of the Holy Spirit.
Scriptural Mind™ is a term used by Fr. Thomas Hopko. Fr. Thomas Hopko is Dean Emeritus of St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary.
Praying towards the East – http://www.orthodoxprayer.org/Facing%20East.html