By His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America
On the Feast of Pentecost
Holy Trinity Archdiocesan Cathedral
New York, New York
June 4, 2023
Brothers and Sisters in the Lord,
Today, the grace of God has gathered us together, to once again call upon the Holy Spirit of God, in order for our lives to be infused with the sanctification and blessings that only the Paraclete brings.
The Holy Spirit is revealed on the day of Pentecost in tongues of fire, the fiftieth day after the Resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The Spirit was promised to the Disciples before the Passion, so that they would have the assurance that their experience of Christ was authentic and true. The Lord said to them, and to us all:
The Spirit of truth will come and guide you into all truth. For the Spirit will not speak of Itself, but will relate what It hears, and will declare to you the things that are to come. The Spirit will glorify Me, because It will receive from Mine and declare it to you. [*]
This experience of our faith is to be the interior side of everything that we do in the Church and in the world, which expresses our devotion to Christ. This Divine Liturgy today, the Kneeling Service, and the wonderful panoply of the Church’s services, together with our charitable and philanthropic activities, are all external manifestations of internal realties. The energy of the Holy Spirit – witnessed in the fiery tongues dancing over the heads of the Apostles – is an energy that speaks truth to us about our faith in Christ.
Throughout the ages, this energy has been experienced directly by our spiritual ancestors. One of the greatest mystics of our Church, Saint Symeon the New Theologian – whose prayers we employ in the Thanksgiving after Holy Communion – is one of the most articulate narrators of the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Saint Symeon, whose life spanned the Tenth and Eleventh Centuries, was a monk of the famous Stoudion Monastery in Constantinople. His life was filled with ups and downs, as they say. He even endured persecution within the Church, and all because he was so exuberant over his experience of God, and his desire to guide others into the direct knowledge of the Grace of God.
His Mystical Invocation of the Holy Spirit says, in part:
Come, my breath and life. Come, my joy, my glory and my unceasing consolation. I give thanks to you because here, amid turbulence, change and dizzying motion, you have become one spirit with me; and though you are God above all, you have become for me all in all.
What we are listening to in this powerful prayer is nothing less than a full consciousness of the presence of God in the deepest self, amidst all the noise and confusion of the world.
It is this presence of the Holy Spirit – a presence that is always within us and available to us – that often seems to subside beneath the crashing waves of everyday life. That is why the holy fathers and mothers of the Church who held fast to this awareness are called “Hesychasts;” for it requires a marked degree of quiet and stillness to enter into this presence.
On the Fiftieth Day after Pascha, the Disciples of the Lord experienced the presence of the Holy Spirit with such exuberance that bystanders thought they were flush with wine! What those standing there did not understand is that the “mighty wind” of God – το Ἅγιον Πνεῦμα – blows as it wills.[†] God moves through this world in ways marvelous to behold. But within our souls, that breath of life is as steady as our inhalations and exhalations. The Spirit abides within us, and as we abide in the Spirit, our awareness increases, and our experience of God is enriched.
My beloved Christians,
On this Day of Pentecost, let us invoke the presence of God once again with all our fervor and all our might, that we may know in the depths of our hearts, the miraculous, glorious and joyful power of God’s Spirit, Who is worshipped with the Father and Son, unto ages of ages. Amen.