The Feast of Pentecost (1995)

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The descent of the Holy Spirit, the feast which this year we commemorate and experience again on the 11th of June, is an event which happened in a definite place and time. Concerning this event, the Evangelist Luke says to us in the book of the Acts of the Apostles: And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them [Acts 2:2­3].

Further, the book of the Acts of the Apostles informs us that the gifts of the Holy Spirit that were received by the Apostles and transmitted by them to their followers and disciples through the prayer of ordination, not only imparted to them the ability to preach Christ in various languages, which up to that time they did not know, but also filled them with such inspiration, wisdom and power that enemies could not withstand their sermons.

The day of the descent of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles was the birthday of the Church, the beginning of its salvific action in the world. Only by means of the gifts of the Holy Spirit may one explain both the miracle of the apostolic age and the mysterious invincibility of the Church in history: persecuted and rejected, she arises again, is born anew in the inspired faith of those who accept Christ as their God and Saviour. Only by means of the gifts of the Holy Spirit is the Church in much­suffering Russia also born again today.

Only when they were filled with the gifts of the Holy Spirit could the Apostles describe for us with exactness not only the earthly life of Jesus Christ, but also His teaching and His words, which even today sound as if they were addressed directly to each of us.

The event of Pentecost, the descent of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles is a miracle; it is impossible to explain it in concepts taken from everyday life, for they are revealed only to the podvig of faith. But that which in human thought we call inspiration can help us approach the miracle of Pentecost.

In a state of inspiration, a man can sense in himself the presence of powers usually not inherent in him, and he discovers new, unexplored capabilities in his consciousness. In a state of inspiration, concealed or slumbering powers of a man's own spirit are discovered.

But that which was given to the Church in the miracle of Pentecost is not simply a kind of mobilization of the creative capabilities placed in man, but the masterful entrance of God and His creative power into the life and and reason of the creature. Everything that is performed in the Church ­ all the prayers, all the mysteries which sanctify our life, all the beauty of the Church revealed to us in Her wondrous hymnody and iconography ­ all these are the gifts of the Comforter, the Spirit of Truth, the Third Person of the Holy Trinity, which abide in the world. One of the hymns of Pentecost speaks of this to us: "The Holy Spirit provideth all things; He gusheth forth prophecy; He perfecteth the priesthood; He hath taught wisdom to the illiterate. He hath shown forth the fishermen as theologians. He holdeth together the whole institution of the Church." [Third sticheron on Lord, I have cried at Great Vespers].

Without the gifts of the Holy Spirit the world would be doomed to disintegration and corruption, and only in Him do all the manifestations of life blossom and bring forth fruit.

June, 1995

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