Every person carries seeds of goodness. But no seed can germinate and ripen without moisture and light. For this reason everyone who truly craves righteousness has to recognize that without God's help, without His support and guidance, any progress in spiritual life is impossible. Being aware of the lack of godly feelings within himself, a pious man of Old Testament times appealed to God: "My soul yearns for Thee, as the barren soil" (Ps. 143).
God's grace renews our soul, purifies our conscience, enlightens our mind, strengthens in us the faith, directs our will to goodness, warms our heart with genuine love, elevates our thoughts, and revives our whole nature. As witnessed by many holy men and women, God's grace brings so much peace and joy into the human soul that all earthly advantages and pleasures seem to be negligible in comparison with it.
Since the day of the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles, everyone newly baptized is linked to the miracle of Pentecost through the sacrament of Chrismation. In this Sacrament, which usually is performed right after Baptism, the newly baptized is favored with the same gifts of the Holy Spirit which the Apostles received 2000 years ago. The power of this sacrament is so great and everlasting that it, like Baptism, is not repeated. Subsequent sacraments such as Confession and Eucharist, church services, private prayers, fasting, acts of mercy and a virtuous life are aimed at strengthening in a Christian the divine gift he has already received in Chrismation.
God's grace possesses the extaordinary power of renewal. This becomes apparent in the profound inner and outward changes which take place in the person who has opened his heart to God. As a most vivid example we may refer to the Apostles, who were known first as simple, uneducated fishermen possessing no obvious talents. But once the Holy Spirit descended upon them, they became so enriched spiritually and gained such wisdom and strength that they brought to faith not only simple peasants but philosophers and noblemen as well. Their words, inspired by God's grace, penetrated into the most hardened hearts. They disposed the sinners to repentance, the selfish to righteousness and pointed the idle to diligence. The Apostles, after the descent of the Holy Spirit were transformed into bold preachers of the Kingdom of Heaven. Thus, owing to their enthusiasm, Christianity began spreading all over the world, bringing with it the renewal of society. The humanitarian principles of helping the poor and protecting the weak, the equality of all before God, and the recognition of human dignity were first proclaimed by the Apostles. These principles were unknown to the pre-Christian pagan society.
As our Savior teaches, the desire for spiritual life comes to a person only from the Holy Spirit. It is not a naturally occurring disposition. "Unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the Kingdom of God ... That which is born of flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit" (John 3: 5-6). The Savior taught that the Holy Spirit guides a person in the truth, comforts him in sorrow and satisfies his spiritual thirst. The Apostle Paul calls all Christian virtues gifts of the Holy Spirit. He says: "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control" (Gal. 5: 22-23). It often occurs that the inner spiritual growth and activity of a Christian is developed unbeknownst to him, as the Lord explained in the parable of a scattered seed. The Savior told about the miraculous effect of the Holy Spirit on the human soul: "The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit" (John 3: 8).
Every Christian, being a living temple of the grace of the Holy Spirit, must preserve himself from any foulness and sin. Saint Paul admonished some Corinthian Christians who forgot about this: "Do you know that you are God's temple and that God's Spirit dwells in you? ... If any one destroys God's temple (by his immoderation) then God shall destroy him. For God's temple is holy, and that temple is you" (1 Cor. 3: 16-17).
In His parable about the Ten maidens the Lord spoke of the necessity of preserving and increasing spiritual gifts. Without them a Christian becomes like a lamp without oil (Mat. 25: 1-13). When explaining this parable, Saint Seraphim Sarovski said that the main purpose of our life is the acquisition of the grace of the Holy Spirit.
Although the beneficial power of the Holy Spirit is given to a believer not according to his merits but by God's mercy, it increases in him in proportion to his diligence in the Christian life. Saint Isaac the Syrian writes in this connection: "To what degree a man advances towards his God intentionally, in like manner God advances towards him with His Grace." Thus Saint Peter directs Christians: "His Divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us to His own glory and excellence, by which He has granted to us His precious and very great promises, that through these you may escape from the corruption that is in the world because of passion, and become partakers of the Divine nature. For this very reason make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love" (2 Pet. 1: 3-7).
The Apostle Paul urges Christians to invite God's grace by righteous living and prayers, saying: "Walk as children of light, for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true ... be filled with the Spirit, addressing yourselves with psalms and words of glory, singing praises to the Lord with all your hearts" (Eph. 5: 8-19).