Gleanings: Fiery Spirit!


“Gleanings” offers spiritual reflections from some of the Christian tradition’s most insightful and beloved authors.

Our Pentecost offerings are gleaned from that remarkable woman of God, Hildegard of Bingen (12th century), Cyril of Alexander (5th century), and Basil of Caesarae (4th century). All three are canonized saints.


Sequence for the Holy Spirit

By Hildegard of Bingen

Fiery Spirit,
fount of courage,
life within life
of all that has being!

A medieval portrait of the Holy Spirit descending on Hildegard as she composes.

Holy are you, transmuting the perfect
into the real.
Holy are you, healing
the mortally stricken.
Holy are you, cleansing
the stench of wounds.

O sacred breath O blazing
love O savor in the breast and balm
flooding the heart with
the fragrance of good,

O limpid mirror of God
who leads wanderers
home and hunts out the lost,

Armor of the heart and hope
of the integral body,
sword-belt of honor:
save those who know bliss!

Guard those the fiend holds
free those in fetters
whom divine force wishes to save.

O current of power permeating all
in the heights upon the earth and
in all deeps:
you bind and gather
all people together.

Out of you clouds
come streaming, winds
take wing from you, dashing
rain against stone;
and ever-fresh springs
well from you, washing
the evergreen globe.

O teacher of those who know,
a joy to the wise
is the breath of Sophia.

Praise then be yours!
you are the song of praise,
the delight of life,
a hope and a potent honor
granting garlands of light.


The Role of the Holy Spirit

By Cyril of Alexandria

All of us who have received the one and the same Spirit, that is, the Holy Spirit, are in a sense merged together with one another and with God. For if Christ, together with the Spirit of the Father and himself, comes to dwell in each one of us, even though there are many of us, then it follows that the Spirit is still one and undivided. He binds together the spirit of each and everyone of us and makes us all appear as one in him. For just as the power of the holy flesh of Christ united those in whom it dwells into one body, I think that, in much the same way, the one and undivided Spirit of God, who dwells in us all, leads us all into spiritual unity.

The Work of the Holy Spirit

By Basil of Caesarea

All who are in need of sanctification turn to the Spirit; all those seek him who live by virtue, for his breath refreshes them and comes to their aid in the pursuit of their natural and proper end. Capable of perfecting others, the Spirit himself lacks nothing. A light perceptible to the soul, he supplies through himself illumination to every force of reason searching for the truth. By nature inaccessible, he can be understood by reason of his goodness; filling all things with his power, he communicates himself only to those who are worthy of him. Simple in essence, varies in his miracles, he is wholly present to everyone and wholly everywhere at the same time.

The Spirit is present to all who are capable of receiving him as though given to them alone, and yet he sends forth full and sufficient grace for all humanity, and is enjoyed by all who share in him, according to the capacity, not of his power of of their nature. Souls in which the Spirit dwells, illuminated by the Spirit, themselves become spiritual and send forth their grace to others.


Sources: Hildegard, Scivius; Cyril, In Ioannis evangelium; Basil, De spiritu sancto

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