The Overshadowing of the Holy Spirit

Icon of the Mother of God “the Unburnt Bush”

Icon of the Mother of God “the Unburnt Bush”

At the Annunciation, the angel Gabriel said to the Virgin Mary: “Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women”; and again: “Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God”; and yet again: “The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee” (Luke 1:28, 30, 35). We may well ask how can these things be? In what manner was she prepared for the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit, and can we prepare ourselves in like manner?

St. Innocent of Alaska (August 26, 1797 – March 31, 1879) writes of how we too can receive the Holy Spirit.

The true and recognized means of receiving the Holy Spirit, according to the teaching of Holy Scripture and the experiences of great saints, are the following: (1) purity of heart and chastity, (2) humility, (3) listening to the voice of God, (4) prayer, (5) daily self-denial, (6) reading and listening to Holy Scripture, and (7) the sacraments of the Church, and especially Holy Communion.

Every faithful soul is filled with the Holy Spirit, if she is cleansed of her sins and not encumbered or closed by self-love and pride. For the Holy Spirit always surrounds us and wishes to fill us, but our evil deeds that surround us like a hard stone wall are like evil guards that do not allow Him to come near us and keep Him away from us. Every sin can keep the Holy Spirit away from us, but bodily impurity and spiritual pride are especially repellent to Him. The Holy Spirit, Who is the most perfect purity, cannot possibly be in a man defiled by sins. How can He be in our heart when it is filled and encumbered by different cares, desires, and passions? (St. Innocent of Alaska (2013-02-01). Indication of the Way into the Kingdom of Heaven: An Introduction to Christian Life (Kindle Locations 624-631). Holy Trinity Publications. Kindle Edition.)