On the Feast of Pentecost

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O Heavenly King, the Comforter, the Spirit of Truth, Who art everywhere and fillest all things; Treasury of Blessings, and Giver of Life – come and abide in us, and cleanse us from every impurity, and save our souls, O Good One.

On this day (Sunday) the Orthodox Church marks 50 days after the feast of Pascha and commemorates the gift of the Holy Spirit to the Church as recorded in the Book of Acts. In Russian tradition, the feast is known as Troitsa, the Trinity, and is the first of three feast days (including Monday and Tuesday). It is customary to bring boughs and branches into the Church – with the priest vested in Green. Thus, the Temple becomes a very green place on this feast – emphasizing not only the gift of the Spirit to the Church, but the Spirit as the Lord and Giver of Life.

Our secular world (and our culture – even our religious culture in America is decidedly secular) tends to see God and the world in very distinct compartments. This is the essence of secularism – not that there is no God – but that the world can be seen as somehow distinct from Him. From a proper Christian point-of-view the only name for the world existing apart from God is Hell. We do not have a feast which celebrates Hell.

Instead we have this glorious feast of Pentecost in which we once again begin to sing “O Heavenly King.” In this we proclaim that God is everywhere present and fillest all things. There is nothing that exists of its own. “In Him we live and move and have our being,” the Scriptures say.

God and creation are distinct in the sense that God Himself is not created; He is not contingent. But we do not see the world rightly if we see it apart from God. It is difficult for us, given our modern habit of thought, to think of things existing only relationally – but this is the teaching of the faith. When we are united to Christ, we do not become something other than we were created to be – we finally become in fact what we were created to be.

We do not exist alone – we are contingent beings. The truth of our existence is found only as we are known in relation to God and to one another. Thus love becomes the most fundamental existential reality. I love, therefore I am.

May God bless us all on this great Feast.

Come and abide in us, cleanse us from all impurity, and save our souls, O Good One!

11 comments:

  1. We don’t have a feast that celebrates Hell, but we do have one that celebrates the victory over Hell: Holy Saturday!

  2. Fr. Stephen,

    Thanks for this post. Very insightful.

    Lovely icon. It’s in my Orthodox Study Bible.

    I would have loved to attend today with all the green! Or at least a church of any sort. But I had to work today. (As a side note, I was promoted to cashier at Kroger yesterday! ^_^).

    Can you explain this, however? “From a proper Christian point-of-view the only name for the world existing apart from God is Hell.” Isn’t God even in Hell?

  3. When I said something existing apart from God I meant it in terms of from its own point of view. You are correct that God is everywhere present. I suppose you could say it would be our willful absence from God (not that He is absent or that we ourselves are truly absent).

  4. Dear Fr. Stephen,

    I was chrismated nine years ago on the Feast of Pentecost, so today was a very important moment for me. Your comments on compartmentalization are so very accurate, and we see it even in our Orthodox Churches. The secular world is everywhere and so powerful that it’s difficult to keep “first things” in focus. But your blog gives us all hope that we can live our lives united to Christ and make our Orthodox Faith central to our being.

    Keep inspiring me!!!

    Nancy

  5. Many years on your Chrismation! May God give us grace to do all He gives us to do!

  6. Two years ago was my first Divine Liturgy. Today was very meaningful for me as well.

    In other news, Ally got her finger stuck in the door at church today. I’m sort of angry at myself .. I was trying to get her to come to Vespers and she held onto the door frame while someone closed the door. Ouch. 🙁 She’ll be okay, but it broke the skin and she was hurting like heck for a while. No broken bones.

  7. Pentecost Divine Liturgy was the answer to my family’s prayers that God provided two years ago today! God be praised! The prayers of the kneeling vespers were the very expression of love. We were searching for a new church home and then we found it, on our knees! Thank you, Fr. Stephen, for your inspired words. May God continue to bless you and yours!

  8. “O Heavenly King, the Comforter, the Spirit of Truth, Who art everywhere and fillest all things; Treasury of Blessings, and Giver of Life – come and abide in us, and cleanse us from every impurity, and save our souls, O Good One.”

    I was told my priest that between Easter and Pentecost this prayer is not usually said in the Divine Office. I must say that I really missed this prayer, and so all the more appreciate this feast day.

    Happy Pentecost!

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