Nothing can contain the Spirit; it blows where it wills, and fills not only the Church but also the whole world, renewing, regenerating and rejuvenating everything in it from day one. One of the misconceptions about the Spirit, thought Andrewes, was that it had been inactive until Pentecost. Yet nothing is further from the truth. Absolutely nothing has ever been exempted from His power. Hopkins expressed what Andrewes meant in these lines:
The whole word is charged with the grandeur of God.
It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Following in the early Fathers' footsteps, one of Andrewes' favourite descriptions of the Holy Spirit was "breath" to emphasise the giving of life to everything from the beginning of creation. It was not only "dixit Deus, ... the Word, but ferabatur Spiritus, the motion of the Spirit, to give the spirit of life".
When God made man He was not only the Potter who moulded him in His image, but also the Glass Maker who sealed that image with His indwelling. "By breathing into Adam, the Father gave the soul, the Author of life natural; the Son by breathing gives the Holy Spirit, the Author of life spiritual." Yet it is more than just breathing upon, it is breathing into man. "This in shows it pertains within, to the inward parts, to the very conscience Thither goes this breath, and thither is farther than man can go."
Hence every man in his natural state has been given "breath or inspiration". This is known as natural grace. However that is not sufficient for him to perceive "the things of God" and to "come to the life of glory". For that he needs supernatural grace that is given and received in "the waters of Baptism": "Accipite Spiritum, gives to man the life of nature; Accipite Spiritum Sanctum, to the Christian man, the life of grace." Andrewes summed up the "correspondence between the natural and the spiritual" this way. "The same way the world was made in the beginning, by the Spirit moving upon the waters of the deep, the very same was the world new-made, the Christian world, or Church, by the same Spirit moving on the waters of baptism."
Moreover the effectiveness of the Holy Spirit in Baptism can be learnt from observing nature. Here "water, if it be not aqua viva, have not a spirit to move it and make it run, it stands and putrifies." It is the spirit or quickening that makes the water a well, "springing up to eternity". Therefore in Baptism water washes the "soil from our skin", but it is only through the Holy Spirit that the "stain from our soul" is removed. Thus there is "no 'laver of regeneration' without 'renewing of the Holy Ghost.'" Needless to say after Baptism the Holy Spirit is often hindered from working in us by our sins. This Spirit is therefore needed to eradicate sin "if ever it will rightly be put away, the spirit to be searched, and inward hearty compunction wrought there." In one of his loveliest Pentecost sermons, Andrewes spoke of Christ's gift of forgiveness being this breath of the Holy Spirit breathing on penitents to dispel sin just as gently as the dissipating mist. In His breath the Spirit counters the breath of the serpent. It was a breath, a "pestilent breath of the serpent, that blew upon our first parents, infected [and] poisoned them at the first" but now at Pentecost it is "Christ's breath" through the Holy Spirit.
Commenting on the appropriateness of "breath" for forgiving sin, Andrewes stated that so often men "are lost in" "a mist or fog" and "so blown away" or hardened like "a frost". But by "this breath it is as it were "to resolve the frost first and turn it into vapour, and after it is so, then to blow it away." He emphasised that only His breath can "thaw a frost, or scatter a mist" as "the soil of sin is so baked on men, they so hard frozen in the dregs of it, our wind cannot dissolve it." "It is from the breath of His mouth virtue goes" and before it "sin cannot stand" as it is blown "away like a little dust."
Therefore after Baptism the breath of the Holy Spirit continues to sustain us all our lives. "By Him after, confirmed in the imposition of hands. By Him after, renewed to repentance, 'when we fall away,' by a second imposition of hands. By Him taught all our life long that we know not, put in mind of what we forget, stirred up in what we are dull, helped in our prayers, relieved in 'our infirmities,' comforted in our heaviness; in a word, 'sealed to the day of our redemption,' and 'raised up again in the last day.' Easter may be the Queen of all feasts, but without Pentecost other festivals would not be observed, declared Andrewes. It is the lynch-pin for all Christian festivals. "All the feasts hitherto ... from His Incarnation to the very last of His Ascension, though all of them be great and worthy of all honour in themselves, yet to us they are as nothing, any of them or all of them, even all the feasts in the Calendar, without this day, the feast which now we hold holy to the sending of the Holy Spirit." The Holy Spirit is indeed both the "Alpha" and "Omega" in the process of man's salvation, beginning "at the Annunciation, when He descended upon the Blessed Virgin, whereby the Son of God did take our nature, the nature of man" and ending "in His descending this day upon the sons of men, whereby they actually become 'partakers of His nature, the nature of God.'" Thus at Pentecost "the Spirit of God first set His seal upon the Fathers of our faith, the blessed Apostles. On which He then did, and on which He ever will, though not in like manner yet in like effect, it being His own way." Pentecost thus celebrates the "dedication of Christ's Catholic Church on earth" as well as "proclaiming the Apostles' commission" who then first published the Gospel. On that day He came "to take the charge, and to establish an order in the Church", and to set His seal upon it. It is through Christ's Church, stated Andrewes, that the Spirit conveys God's Truth. "From Christ It comes, if It be true; He breathes It. It cannot but be true, if It come from Him, for He is 'the Truth' [but] if it savour of falsehood or folly, it came not from Him, He breathed it not. But His breath shall not fail, shall ever be able to serve His Church." It is the Holy Spirit who must "govern the Church". The only place to receive this Spirit therefore is in "the Sanctuary, and to no other place." The Church as being Christ's sanctified body was well illustrated, Andrewes believed, in the speaking of tongues and the appearance of fire on Pentecost. "The seat of the tongue is in the head, and the 'Head of the Church' is Christ. The native place of heat, the quality in us answering to this fire, is the heart, and the heart of the Church is the Holy Spirit. These two join to this work, Christ to give the tongue, the Holy Spirit to put fire into it." This could not have happened if Christ had not ascended. That is why as Andrewes emphasised, Christ had told His disciples "It is expedient I be gone." "The corporal therefore to be removed, that the spiritual might take place; the visible, that the invisible; and they, not in sight or sense as hitherto, but in spirit and truth henceforth to cleave unto Him."
Indeed the Spirit was inseparable from Christ during His whole life and ministry, beginning with His conception.
When He came as Jesus, the Spirit conceived Him. When He came as Christ, the Spirit anointed Him. When He came in water at His Baptism, the Spirit was there; 'came down in the shape of a dove, rested, abode on Him.' When He came in blood at His Passion, there too. It was 'the eternal Spirit of God, by which He offered Himself without spot unto God.'
Without the Holy Spirit even Christ's Resurrection and Ascension were incomplete.
If the Holy Spirit come not, Christ's coming can do us no good; when all is done, nothing is done. No? Said not He consummatum est? Yes, and said it truly in respect of the work itself; but quod nos, 'in regard of us' and making it ours, non consummatum est, if the Holy Spirit come not too. ... if the Seal come not too, nothing is done.
Furthermore the teachings of Christ, even though He "is the Word" remained "but words spoken or words written" until Pentecost. "There is no seal put to till this day; the Holy Spirit is the seal or signature, in Quo signati estis. ... In all of these of Christ's there is but the purchase made and paid for, and as they say, jus ad rem acquired; but jus in re, missio in possessionem, livery and seizin, that is reserved till this day; for the Spirit is the Arrha, 'the earnest' or the investiture of all that Christ has done for us."
What Andrewes was stressing here was that without Pentecost with its abundant outpouring of the Spirit the redemptive work of Christ cannot continue; it remains in the past tense. "It is so. For all He hath done, redemption or no redemption goeth by this seal; all that Christ has wrought for us, by that Holy Ghost doth work in us.
This teaching of Andrewes was reflected in an address given in 1968 by the Metropolitan Ignatius of Latakia:
Without the Holy Spirit God is far away.
Christ stays in the past,
the Gospel is simply an organization.
authority is a matter of propaganda,
the liturgy is no more than an evolution,
Christian loving a slave morality.
But in the Holy Spirit
the cosmos is resurrected and grows
with the birth pangs of the Kingdom,
the Risen Christ is there,
the Gospel is the power of life,
the Church shows forth the life of the Trinity,
authority is a liberating science,
mission is a Pentecost,
the liturgy is both renewal and anticipation,
human action is deified.
Pentecost is also the feast connected with the harvests of spring. Andrewes explained that this festival under the Old Covenant was the offering of the first-fruits, and so it signified the beginning of the harvest when "they first put their sickle to the corn". Under the New Covenant it now signified the beginning of "the great spiritual harvest." Andrewes maintained that the Holy Spirit was actually sent fifty days after Easter so as to coincide with this "great feast under the law". Thus at Pentecost the "Law of Christ" supplanted the Old Law, and was "written in our hearts by the Holy Ghost."
Under this New Covenant, Andrewes indicated, Christians, received these "first fruits" firstly "in our Baptism, which is to us our 'laver of regeneration, and our renewing by the Holy Spirit.'" Nevertheless we grow stale in our faithfulness and therefore we need a feast like Pentecost to re-consecrate our lives.
It is with us, as with the fields, that we need a feast of first fruits, a day of consecration every year. By something or other we grow unhallowed, and need to be consecrated anew, to re-seize us of the first fruits of the Spirit again. That which was given us, and by the fraud of our enemy, or our own negligence, or both, taken from us and lost, we need to have restored; that which we have quenched, to be lit anew; that which we have cast into a dead sleep, awaken up from it.
This re-consecration of our Christian lives at Pentecost, Andrewes suggested, should always be done in the context of the Eucharist.
And if we ask, what shall be our means of this consecrating? [The writer to the Hebrews] telleth us, we are sanctified by the 'oblation of the body of Jesus.' That is the best means to restore us to that life. He has said it, and shewed it Himself; 'He who eats Me will live by Me.' The words spoken concerning that, are both 'spirit and life.' ... Such was the means of our death, by eating the forbidden fruit, the first fruits of death; and such is the means of our life, by eating the flesh of Christ, the first fruits of life.
"Thus when ... we say Accipite corpus, we may safely say with the same breath Accipite Spiritum; and as truly every way. For that body is never without this Spirit." Indeed Andrewes believed that there was no better way to manifest this equality than by sending Him "to the presence of the most holy mysteries". When Christ spoke in St. John's gospel "'if any thirst, let him come to Me and drink,'"... He meant ... "'of the Spirit.'" Hence Christ's "flesh and blood ... are not spiritless. ... "His Spirit is with them" and makes them that "'meat that perisheth not, but endures to life everlasting.'" It is also the Holy Spirit who gives unity to all who partake in the Sacrament. Here we all "drink of one Spirit, that there may be but one spirit in us."
So it is obvious that the Holy Spirit can never be divorced from the sacraments. His Spirit is always present in them. Indeed the sacraments are "pledges of His love and favour, to our great and endless comfort." The "Comforter" which God sent to His Church on Pentecost "is Christ" in the Blessed Sacrament so that "by the flesh we eat, and the blood we drink at His table, we be made partakers of His Spirit, and of the comfort of it". Pentecost like Spring bestows gifts, gifts of many kinds of which the most precious is new life, and through that life we can experience so many moments of sheer delight. It is His "dies donorum." "Some gift He will give, either from the wind, inward, or from the tongue, outward." The most special of all His gifts is love, and thus Pentecost should be known as the festum charitatis, when love itself is especially honoured, remarked Andrewes. Yet if we are to be given this gift of love, then Love must dwell within. The Spirit is thus the "love-knot" as it binds us to Christ, and unites the Godhead. Indeed He "is the very essential unity, love and love-knot of the two persons, the Father and the Son; even of God with God." If we want to discover this love Andrewes directed us once again to the Sacrament. The undoubted both sign and means of His dwelling, what better way, or how sooner wrought, than by the sacrament of love, as the feast of love, upon the feast day of love; when love descended with both his hands full of gifts, for very love to take up His dwelling with us?
He left us the gifts of His body and blood. His body broken, and full of the characters of love all over. His blood shed, every drop whereof is a great drop of love. To those which were sent, these which were left, love, joy, peace, have a special connatural reference, to breed and to maintain each other. His body the Spirit of strength, His blood the Spirit of comfort; both, the Spirit of love.
After receiving the Sacrament the Holy Spirit directs us to be united to one another in love. For here is 'spiritual meat,' that is breeding the Spirit; and here we are all made drink of one Spirit, that there may be but one spirit in us. And we are all made 'one bread, and one body,' kneaded together, and pressed together into one - as the symbols are, the bread, and the wine - so many as are partakers of one bread and one cup, 'the bread of life,' and 'the cup of blessing,' the communion of the Body and Blood of Christ. Once the Spirit implants Himself within us He will lead us to the "perfection of life to come;" that is, to where Christ has ascended. Will you now hear the end of all? By this means 'God will dwell with us' - the perfection of this life; and He dwelling with us, we shall dwell with Him - the last and the highest perfection of the life to come. For with whom God dwells here, they will dwell with Him there, certainly. Grace He does give, that He may 'dwell with us;' and glory He will give, that we may dwell with Him. So may He dwell, He with us: so may we dwell, we with Him, eternally.
As we celebrate Pentecost:
Resolve then not to send Him away, on His own day, and nothing done, but to receive His seal, and to dispose ourselves, as pliable and fit to receive it. And that shall we but evil do, no not at all, unless it please Him to take us in hand and to work ready for it. To pray Him then so to do, to give us hearts of wax that will receive this impression; and having received it, to give us careful minds ... to look at it, that it take as little harm as our infirmity will permit. That so we may keep ourselves from this unkind sin of grieving Him Who has been, and is, so good to us.