Giver of Life: the Holy Spirit in Orthodox Tradition, by Fr John W. Oliver.

Published by Paraclete Press, 2011.


In Giver of Life: the Holy Spirit in Orthodox Tradition, Father John Oliver provides an excellent study of the daily-recited prayer ‘O Heavenly King, the Comforter, the Spirit of Truth…’. He draws from Biblical and Liturgical tradition, theology, and the writings of the Church Fathers, who personally experienced and wrote in the revelation of the Spirit, to delve into the deeper meanings of this profound prayer to the Holy Spirit.

Each line of the prayer is examined in detail over nine chapters and the author covers a wide variety of topics, such as the development of Pneumatology, perspectives on world religions, and meditations on the Sacraments. The book slowly reveals the identity of the Holy Spirit, distinguishing it within the Trinity, and explains the Spirit’s significance and role in the salvation of the world. Father Oliver also meditates on the fruit of the Spirit. He writes: “Christian life is about becoming a new creation in Christ; it’s the daily renewal of the inward man. It is to follow Saint Seraphim’s advice to acquire not peace in and of itself, but the Spirit of peace.” The acquisition of the Holy Spirit is necessarily a slow process which requires patience, love, and a lived experience of the heart.

Father Sophrony Sakharov of Essex is quoted at the end of the book in a beautiful explanation of this point: “The Holy Spirit heals us from the consequence of the fall, regenerates us and hallows us. But all this He accomplishes in an invisible manner, like some marvellous diffident Friend Who does not want to burden us with gratitude to Him.” The author concludes his fine study with the observation, “gradually, the Holy Spirit leads the willing soul through the struggle of purification, the sweetness of illumination, and the grace of perfection, until all that remains is union with God — the highest, most exalted, yet most natural state for which the human being was created. This is the life for which we were made; this is the life of the saints.”

Source: Lychnos June – July 2017