Category Archives: Pentecost

THE FEAST OF PENTECOST

John 7:37-52, 8:12 ~ Save and sanctify all who know You as God

I will try to say a few words to analyse this sublime line taken from the hymn for this great day of Pentecost.

In Cyprus, the suffering island, where Greek Orthodox identity is more purely, fully and faithfully upheld, they call this day ‘the day of the flood’. Which means that the heavens and God Himself flooded the world – not with threatening waters, as when the world was destroyed in the time of Noah. Instead, He has flooded the world with endless gifts, which the life-giving death of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Word of God Incarnate, has opened up for all of us on earth.

That is why this is a great and unrepeatable day. Within it, the whole mystery of the divine Economy reaches its pinnacle. God became flesh for this day. Christ was sacrificed for us to reach this day, to reconcile us with God the Father, to wash us of our sins.

And who among us does not have sins? Not only the original sin! This is the least of our concerns today, unfortunately. It was a great sin, but we are washed of it in our Baptism.

Each of us has their own sins: sins of the day and sins of the night, our immeasurable sins. I with mine, and you with yours. However, we are cleansed of these sins by the death of the God-Man, the Theanthropos. It is the precious and holy Blood of the Lord which cleanses us of our sins, and washes us in the font of regeneration. It offers rebirth.

And after all this, the springs of the Holy Spirit gush forth today.

Following the Ascension, God sends the Holy Spirit to guide us unto all truth, and only in so doing is the knowledge of God made complete.

We worship God the Father; we have come to know God the Son as a man; today we shall meet the Holy Spirit poured out, proceeding, being distributed but not divided, in the form of tongues of fire.

After all was finished, we can say that we have now come to the knowledge of the true God. We no longer believe in idols. We no longer believe in ourselves. We believe in God. Not an imaginary god, but God in Trinity. We are, then, “those who know God”. We have come to the awareness of truth. We have seen the true light, we have received the heavenly Spirit. Precisely what we chant at every Liturgy!

However, more is needed. When we know God, and when we confess the true God while knowing the truth, we still need the forgiveness, pardon, benevolence and mercy that come from above. This is why we chant “Save and sanctify all who know You as God”.

It is not enough for us to be saved. It is not enough for Him to take us from the left where the goats are, and deliver us to the right where the sheep are. It is not enough for Him to make us righteous after we were sinners. It is not enough for Him to turn us, out of children of wrath, into children of light and obedience and adoption and love. Justification is not enough for us. We want sanctification.

This is why the cry of the Church reaches sky-high; we heard it in the hymn we chanted this morning: “Save and sanctify all who know You as God”. Not just a few people, or even many people – but all!

This is the prayer of the Church. This is the wish of the Church today. This is the supplication of the Church today. This is the proclamation of the Church today. That no one is condemned forever to death and decay. Because to those who were sitting in darkness and the shadow of death, light has shone in Christ. Now there is light, life, salvation and sanctification. But if even one person remains outside the kingdom of God, we will have sorrow. If only one loses salvation, humanity will mourn.

Because He created all people out of nothing; all creation is His.

For this reason, the flood of the Holy Spirit today will cleanse, enlighten, save and sanctify.

Let us honour this great day with repentance, with edification, with doxology towards the Trinitarian God. Amen.

Writings & Homilies of Archbishop Stylianos of Australia


Orthodox Christian Celebration of the Feast of Pentecost
This great Feast of the Church is celebrated with the Divine Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom on the Sunday that is the fiftieth day after the celebration of Pascha. The Liturgy is conducted on the day of the Feast, and is preceded the evening before by a Great Vespers service and on the morning of the Feast by the Matins service. On the day of the Feast a Vespers service is conducted that includes the kneeling prayers. These prayers mark the beginning of the practice of kneeling during the Liturgy at the time when the holy gifts of bread and wine are consecrated as the body and blood of Christ.

The practice of kneeling has been suspended during the Paschal season. On the Monday following the Feast, the Divine Liturgy is conducted in commemoration of the All-holy and Life-creating and All-powerful Spirit, Who is God, and One of the Trinity, and of one honour and one essence and one glory with the Father and the Son.
From the Synaxarion of the Feast


Prayer of the Holy Spirit
Heavenly King, Comforter, the Spirit of Truth, everywhere present and filling all things, the Treasury of good and Giver of life: come and dwell in us and cleanse us from every impurity and save our souls, Gracious One. Amen.

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On the Holy Spirit, the Comforter

‘But the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He shall teach you all things and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you’ (John 14:26).

What practical meaning have these words other than that we must pray every day that the Holy Spirit be sent to us, just as we pray every day for Our daily bread?

God is willing every day to send us the Holy Spirit, but He seeks from us that we pray every day for Him to be sent to us. For as, with regard to bread, there is sometimes abundance and sometimes dearth, so it is with regard to the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit comes to us and leaves us according to our good works and our patience. Therefore the Church has ordained that the first morning service in church begin with the invocation of the Holy Spirit: ‘O heavenly King, O Comforter, Spirit of truth – come!’, and after that comes the prayer: ‘Give us our daily bread.’ Why? Because, without the Holy Spirit, we cannot even make use of bread in the way that we must for our salvation.

‘He shall teach you all things.’ That is: every day and every night, according in the situation in which you find yourself, He will instruct you, advise you and direct you in what you must think, say and do. Therefore, ask God only for the Holy Spirit, and He will Himself bring all that you need in any given moment. When He has descended upon you, you will know all things and be capable of all that is needful.

‘And bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you’. That is: do not fear that you will forget My teaching and My words. The Holy Spirit knows all that I know; so, when He is present with you, then all My teaching will be present in you together with Him.

O Lord the Holy Spirit, be pleased to descend upon us, not according to our merit but according to the merit of the Lord Jesus, and according to Thine endless goodness. To Thee be glory and praise forever.

St Nikolai Velimiroviċ, The Prologue from Ochrid

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The Meaning and Importance of the Ascension

On the Feast of the Ascension, the Orthodox Church does not merely commemorate an historical event in the life of Christ. On this day, the Church celebrates Christ’s physical departure from the world and His glorification with God the Father.

For forty days after His Resurrection, Jesus remained on earth. Filled with the glory and honour of His Divinity, He appeared to His Disciples at various times and places. By eating and drinking with His followers and conversing with them about the Kingdom of God, Jesus assured them that He was truly alive in His risen and glorified Body. (The glorification of Jesus refers to His Crucifixion, Resurrection, and Ascension into heaven. When we speak of Christ’s glorified Body, we refer to Its honour, splendour, majesty and visible radiance – it gave off rays of bright light!)

The time span of forty days is used symbolically in the Holy Scriptures and by the Church to indicate that an appropriate amount of time has passed for “completeness”. [The rains of the great flood lasted for forty days. Christ prayed in the wilderness for forty days. We fast for forty days to prepare before the feasts of the Nativity and the Resurrection (Pascha).]

Ascension falls on the fortieth day after the Resurrection. On this day, Jesus appeared to His Disciples and gave them His last commandment – to preach the Kingdom of God and the repentance and forgiveness of sins in His name to all nations, beginning with Jerusalem. Then He led them out of Jerusalem toward Bethany to the Mount of Olives. He lifted up His hands and blessed them. As His Disciples were looking on, He was lifted up – or “ascended” – and a cloud took Him out of sight. While they were looking up, two angels in white robes appeared and said to them: “Why are you men from Galilee standing here looking into the sky? Jesus, Who has been taken up from you into heaven, this same Jesus will come back in the same was as you have seen Him go there.”

The Ascension is, therefore, a sign and symbol of the Second Coming. Christ will return to the earth in the same manner as He left it. When the risen Lord returns again in glory, God’s will for mankind will be fulfilled.

Jesus completed His earthly mission of bringing salvation to all people and physically was lifted up from this world into heaven. The meaning and the fullness of Christ’s Resurrection is given in the Ascension. Having completed His mission in this world as the Saviour, He returned to the Father in heaven Who sent Him into the world. In ascending to the Father, He raises earth to heaven with Him!

Before He ascended into heaven, Jesus told His followers to remain in Jerusalem because in a few days they would be baptized with the Holy Spirit (see Acts 1:1-12 and Luke 24:13-53). Christ ascends to heaven and sends the Holy Spirit to the world. The Spirit comes to reconcile and reunite the world with God. Christ’s Body is in heaven and His Spirit is here on earth. Ascension is also a sign of the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.

The Symbol of Faith – the Nicene Creed – which summarizes the important doctrines and teachings of the Church, contains these words: “And ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of the Father.” The importance and meaning of this feast is that Jesus glorified our fallen and sinful humanity when He returned to the Father. In Jesus, Who is perfect God and perfect man, man is reunited with God. At His birth, Jesus took on our human nature. Through His Ascension He deified this human nature by taking His Body to heaven and giving it a place of honour at the right hand of the Father. With Christ, man’s nature also ascends. Through Christ, man becomes a “partaker of divine nature” (II Peter 1:4). When Christ became man, He took up human nature and we share our human nature with Him.

It is through Christ, Who is perfect God and perfect man, that we “partake of divine nature.” When we say that Christ is sitting at the right hand of the Father, we mean that man has been restored to communion with God because Christ gives His humanity – which He shares with us – a permanent place of honour in heaven. Christ honours us by putting us close to the Father.

We celebrate the Ascension with the same great joy the Apostles had when they were promised that the Holy Spirit would come to bear witness to the presence of Christ in the Church. Ascension day is joyful, not only because Christ is glorified, but also because we are glorified with Him. We are joyful because He goes to “prepare a place” for us and because He is forever present before the Father to intercede for us.

This article is reprinted with some minor editing from Ascension and Pentecost, Commission on Religious Education, Romanian Orthodox Episcopate, 1975, pp. 10-11.

~ Troparion (Tone 4) ~
You ascended in glory, O Christ our God, making the Disciples joyful with the promise of the Holy Spirit. And this blessing convinced them that You are the Son of God, the Saviour of the World!


SOURCE: Theologic.com
http://www.theologic.com/oflweb/feasts/ascen.htm

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Pentecost

John 7:37-52, 8:12

“Save and sanctify all who know You as God”

I will try to say a few words to analyse this sublime line taken from the hymn for this great day of Pentecost.

In Cyprus, the suffering island, where Greek Orthodox identity is more purely, fully and faithfully upheld, they call this day ‘the day of the flood’. Which means that the heavens and God Himself flooded the world – not with threatening waters, as when the world was destroyed in the time of Noah. Instead, He has flooded the world with endless gifts, which the life-giving death of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Word of God Incarnate, has opened up for all of us on earth.

That is why this is a great and unrepeatable day. Within it, the whole mystery of the divine Economy reaches its pinnacle. God became flesh for this day. Christ was sacrificed for us to reach this day, to reconcile us with God the Father, to wash us of our sins.

And who among us does not have sins? Not only the original sin! This is the least of our concerns today, unfortunately. It was a great sin, but we are washed of it in our Baptism. Each of us has their own sins: sins of the day and sins of the night, our immeasurable sins. I with mine, and you with yours.

However, we are cleansed of these sins by the death of the God-Man, the Theanthropos. It is the precious and holy Blood of the Lord which cleanses us of our sins, and washes us in the font of regeneration. It offers rebirth.

And after all this, the springs of the Holy Spirit gush forth today.

Following the Ascension, God sends the Holy Spirit to guide us unto all truth, and only in so doing is the knowledge of God made complete. We worship God the Father; we have come to know God the Son as a man; today we shall meet the Holy Spirit poured out, proceeding, being distributed but not divided, in the form of tongues of fire.

After all was finished, we can say that we have now come to the knowledge of the true God. We no longer believe in idols. We no longer believe in ourselves. We believe in God. Not an imaginary god, but God in Trinity. We are, then, “those who know God”. We have come to the awareness of truth. We have seen the true light, we have received the heavenly Spirit. Precisely what we chant at every Liturgy!

However, more is needed. When we know God, and when we confess the true God while knowing the truth, we still need the forgiveness, pardon, benevolence and mercy that come from above. This is why we chant “Save and sanctify all who know You as God”. It is not enough for us to be saved. It is not enough for Him to take us from the left where the goats are, and deliver us to the right where the sheep are. It is not enough for Him to make us righteous after we were sinners.

It is not enough for Him to turn us, out of children of wrath, into children of light and obedience and adoption and love. Justification is not enough for us. We want sanctification. This is why the cry of the Church reaches sky-high; we heard it in the hymn we chanted this morning: “Save and sanctify all who know You as God”. Not just a few people, or even many people – but all!

This is the prayer of the Church. This is the wish of the Church today. This is the supplication of the Church today. This is the proclamation of the Church today. That no one is condemned forever to death and decay.

Because to those who were sitting in darkness and the shadow of death, light has shone in Christ. Now there is light, life, salvation and sanctification. But if even one person remains outside the kingdom of God, we will have sorrow. If only one loses salvation, humanity will mourn.

Because He created all people out of nothing; all creation is His. For this reason, the flood of the Holy Spirit today will cleanse, enlighten, save and sanctify.

Let us honour this great day with repentance, with edification, with doxology towards the Trinitarian God.

Amen.

† Archbishop Stylianos of Australia, Writings & Homilies of Archbishop Stylianos

PENTECOST John 7:37-52, 8:12

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The Ascension of Our Lord

The Lord Jesus passed forty days on earth after His Resurrection from the dead, appearing continually in various places to His disciples, with whom He also spoke, ate, and drank, thereby further demonstrating His Resurrection. On this Thursday, the fortieth day after Pascha, He appeared again in Jerusalem. After He had first spoken to the disciples about many things, He gave them His last commandment, that is, that they go forth and proclaim His Name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. But He also commanded them that for the present, they were not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait there together until they receive power from on high, when the Holy Spirit would come upon them.

Saying these things, He led them to the Mount of Olives, and raising His hands, He blessed them; and saying again the words of the Father’s blessing, He was parted from them and taken up. Immediately a cloud of light, a proof of His majesty, received Him. Sitting thereon as though on a royal chariot, He was taken up into Heaven, and after a short time was concealed from the sight of the disciples, who remained where they were with their eyes fixed on Him. At this point, two Angels in the form of men in white raiment appeared to them and said, “Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into Heaven? This same Jesus, Who is taken up from you into Heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into Heaven” (Acts 1:11). These words, in a complete and concise manner, declare what is taught in the Symbol of Faith concerning the Son and Word of God.

Therefore, having so fulfilled all His dispensation for us, our Lord Jesus Christ ascended in glory into Heaven, and sat at the right hand of God the Father. As for His sacred disciples, they returned from the Mount of Olives to Jerusalem, rejoicing because Christ had promised to send them the Holy Spirit.

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