The Gifts of the Holy Spirit
Sophia’s work, as the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity, is to raise up the Father’s creation, restoring it to its original form. The Father created it, the Son, Jesus, lived and loved it, and Sophia, the Holy Spirit, raises it up, restores it, renews it, bringing it back to its original unity of love with the Father.
Sophia raised up Jesus, beginning with his conception, filling him with wisdom and grace (Luke 2:52). At his baptism “the Holy Spirit descended on him in visible form like a dove.” (Luke 3:22) When he began his ministry he quoted Isaiah referring to himself, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me; therefore he has anointed me. He has sent me to bring glad tidings to the poor, to proclaim liberty to captives, recovery of sight to the blind and release to prisoners.” (Luke 4:18) These passages show us that he was not only filled with the Holy Spirit, but also with what are called the Gifts of the Holy Spirit.
In Isaiah (11:2ff) we are given a list of the traditional Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit: Wisdom, Understanding, Counsel, Fortitude, Knowledge, Piety and Fear of the Lord. Paul in 1 Corinthians (12:8ff) lists: Wisdom, Knowledge, Faith, Healing, Miraculous Powers, Prophecy, Discernment, Tongues and Interpretation of Tongues. All these gifts dwelt and functioned within Jesus.
Now, Sophia raises us up also by our baptism and confirmation. We are filled with the indwelling of Sophia who gives us the above gifts. It is our confirmation that gives us power to live the Christian life, a power that will lead us little by little into the fullness of the risen life as a Christian. The presence of Sophia, given to all of us for the common good (1 Cor 12:7), is visibly manifested and present through these gifts. They remove us from our original darkness into our original Light and Love.
Our human body today seems to be caught between two extremes. The one extreme struggles hard to exalt it in many different ways, and the other looks at it as something disposable. Few people seem to be interested in integrating their body, soul and spirit dwelling within. It seems, therefore, that knowledge of who we are is still needed, that the experience and knowledge of the risen life given by Sophia, along with all its attributes, is as necessary today as it was from the beginning of the world.
The most blessed event that could ever happen in anyone’s life is the experiencing and knowing the Risen Lord, knowing the power that flows from his risen body, soul and spirit; feeling that same power flowing through their body, soul and spirit, lifting them up, healing them, loving them, becoming like Jesus, risen to glory in body, soul and spirit. This is the work of Sophia, the Holy Spirit through Her baptism and gifts.
Our Heavenly Father sent his only begotten son to become one of us. Jesus took a body like ours. He dwelt within that body. He loved that human body. Even though he was killed, on the third day the Spirit of God, Sophia, raised him up, and since then, the Son of God has never left his body.
This is the Christian life, a path that leads us to the Father and Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit, a path that does not deny, put down, ignore and crucify the flesh, the body. That is not to say that one would not “save” one’s soul by walking a path that punishes and rejects the body, but it is not the way the Lord chose. Even St. Francis of Assisi repented of his lack of love for his body at the end of his life. Remember, he loved all of creation, but he called his own body “brother ass.”
Jesus came to show humanity how to remove the original darkness within. He sent the Holy Spirit so that She could restore unity to the Father’s creation, restore Wisdom and Love in all by restoring one’s original Light and Love. Darkness had torn it asunder. Darkness still tears it asunder. He did not come to tell us to leave the body and all creation behind in order to become angelic. He showed us our way as human beings, and the way is risen human life. Consequently, in order for us to grow into becoming fully developed risen human beings, we must know how to grow and become fully developed children of our Heavenly Father, that is, we must allow Sophia to raise us out of original darkness so that we can be united with the risen Christ, and be children of our Heavenly Father.
There is an old spiritual principle that says the supernatural is built on the natural. We cannot grow spiritually if we do not have a natural foundation on which to grow. We are human. In other words, we cannot acquire spiritual virtue, if at the same time we are not acquiring the corresponding human virtue.
The spiritual virtue is the power of Sophia that penetrates the natural virtue, raising it up into the risen life. The natural virtue becomes transformed, becomes a risen natural virtue. The natural virtue does not cease to exist. It is merely expanded, amplified, magnified by the power of Sophia. And so the spiritual life is nothing more than the allowing of Sophia to raise up every aspect of our human nature into a more all-embracing level of divine Love. This is a growth process. Both the natural and supernatural aspects of life are to grow side by side.
Let us look at wisdom, for example. Wisdom is the ability to see relationships in all things. A child has the potential for the virtue of wisdom. As it grows into adulthood it learns relationships from being taught by experience and by adults. They learn not to play with matches, to look both ways before crossing the streets, that unrepented anger destroys one’s peace, that two plus two equals four, etc. The greater is their learned experience, the more profound their teachers, the greater will be their wisdom in life. This is natural wisdom.
When one allows Sophia, the Spirit of God, to dwell within their natural wisdom, it is raised up to a new life, a risen life, and a transformed life. Its ability to see relationships is expanded, amplified, enlarged, because the teacher is God himself, the Father, Jesus and Sophia. Thus, our everyday use of wisdom is the amplified, expanded wisdom. Wisdom is one. The greater is our teacher the greater is our wisdom.
Another example: the virtue of love. Love is the ability to abandon one’s self to another, to have a concern for another, an affection for another. It is a power that captures us, giving us the ability to share ourselves completely. Love is drawn forth from within us by the presence of the one or ones to whom we are attracted. The stronger the attraction, the greater the love called forth.
When one allows Sophia to dwell within their natural love, then it is raised up to a fuller, more amplified love, to a more all-embracing love, a risen love, and a love that has far more capabilities than the natural love. We call it unconditional love.
The natural ability of love to abandon oneself to another in an overwhelming affection and concern for the other is raised up, is greatly increased, because the love that is drawn forth from within is called forth by the presence of the three Persons of God themselves. It is they who are attracting us, and that attraction, being stronger than any human attraction, calls forth a greater love from within, a greater power, a greater ability. We are able to respond with greater love because our natural love has been penetrated, imbued, inhabited by Sophia, raised up by the Spirit of God. It becomes unconditional.
It is very important to realize that the supernatural virtues do not in any way destroy nor replace the natural virtues, nor do the supernatural virtues live and function separately from the natural virtues. The supernatural virtue has existence because it, as well as the natural virtue, belongs to and dwells within Sophia. They both come from the same source. Their only difference in function lies in a relationship, either a relationship to creation only, or a relationship both to the three Persons of God and creation. Without being raised up, without being further empowered by Sophia, our natural virtues would not be able to give us the ability to relate to Them and others in an all absorbing way, an unconditional way.
Risen life is the ability to live in such a way that our every action on this earth is one that flows from the transforming power of Sophia’s gifts. Our every action on this earth, no matter how mundane, is one that is united with and embraced by Her. The risen life is the ability to use our natural virtues in our every day life enfleshed with the power of the supernatural virtues, our natural virtues raised up and filled with more power. It’s something like a car that begins to run on a very high-octane gas instead of regular. The high octane gives the car far more power.
The risen Jesus was still very human after his resurrection. He walked, talked, ate, shared, etc. Yet, his natural body experienced the capability of doing far greater things. Even the human person of Jesus after his baptism in the Spirit was able to do things that he could not do before the baptism. So it also is with us. We, too, begin with our baptism in the Holy Spirit, an experiential moment in our lives when we become aware that we have expanded, that our human capabilities have increased beyond the normal, so called, experience.
As we continue to allow Sophia to raise us up, the more we will become like unto the Risen Jesus, namely, a resurrected child of the Father. Consequently, our human bodies, our human nature, are not left behind. They are a very essential part of the whole process of being raised up. When the spiritual path is seen in this way, it is not necessary to constantly punish the body, to repress one’s feelings, to destroy one’s emotions. Feelings and emotions are good in themselves.
That which does need to be changed, to be raised up within us, are the possessive attitudes, the craving desires, the fears of rejection, all of which flow from a darken heart, not the body. These exaggerated attitudes, feelings and desires can be purified by letting go of them, by not holding on to them, not clinging to them. This ability to let go comes from Sophia’s presence within us, from experiencing Her love, and by living in a loving environment. This love gives us the courage to release our grip, a grip that is holding us down.
Each time we let go, we are raised up again and again to a new experience, a fuller life, a new release of love, a stronger pulling towards the beloved, becoming a more united person within ourselves and with the Father, Jesus, Sophia as well as others.
A spiritual path that is founded upon ‘letting go’ is free from pride, from self-control. Since our work is negative, namely, the ‘letting go,’ the rest belongs to Sophia. We have nothing to glory in. Other spiritual paths can slowly feed the flames of pride and vainglory within, leading us into trouble down the road, because the emphasis is upon what we are doing to purify ourselves.
Love is the path. Love is the Father, Jesus and Sophia, and they are Love. Love is the total abandonment of one’s self to the beloved, the letting go of one’s own desires and the acceptance of the other. There is no need for abusing one’s self and others in order to be like the Risen Jesus. By abusing self in order to win control we can unconsciously abuse others too, because we would be growing in the ability to abuse rather than to love. There is only a need to love, to love the other, the Father, Jesus and Sophia, all human beings and creation. This is possible when we allow Sophia to raise us up.
So, do not look for methods of mortification and austerities. Rather, simply look within the self and recognize the pushy desires, the controlling impulses, and the tightening fears. Then let them be. Let them go. And love will come in flowing like a river.
This letting go, you will find, is harder than any mortification or
austerity. We tend to run from letting go because it is difficult, and also
because there is no way our vanity or ego can be fueled by it. The way of
mortification, penance and austerity feeds vainglory very well. Begin to live
the risen life. Let the power of the resurrection that flows through the Sophia
flow through you, dwell within you. This is our heritage. This is our glory. We
are risen even now.