Sunday, May 13, 2012

The Church of the Holy Spirit

Those of us in the Eastern Church are still in the Paschal or Easter season which is quickly coming to a close. Soon we will celebrate the Feast of Pentecost, the celebration of the gift of the Holy Spirit.

This black and white picture is of the late Father Nicholas Afanasiev; priest, theologian, professor, and mentor to Fathers Alexander Schmemann and John Meyendorff. He spent most of his career teaching at the the St. Serge Orthodox Institute in Paris. Fr. Afanasiev wrote a lot about the Church emphasizing above all else the role of the Holy Spirit.

All too often I think we quash the Spirit by putting our own agendas, plans, and authority first. When I was in seminary a visiting bishop told us that our job as parish priests is go get out of the way of the Spirit! I never forgot that advice! Too often clergy abuse or over extend their authority in the Church, using their power for material or professional gain rather than using their gifts and talents for the good of the entire Church. Clergy and bishops sometimes overstep their bounds not allowing the laity to use their gifts for the good of all.

Afanasiev writes a lot about lay ministry and the fact that by virtue of our own baptism we are all members of the royal priesthood and have to use our time, talents, and treasures for the good of the whole.

I have been thinking about Afanasiev lately, especially since we are preparing for Pentecost soon.