Archpastoral Letter for Pentecost 2006
Prot. N. 178
June 11, 2006
To the Very Reverend and Reverend Fathers and the Faithful of our Diocesan Parishes:
Christ is Among Us!
Dear Fathers and Faithful:
Pentecost is not really the birthday of the Church, for the Church began with Creation, the bodiless powers, and Adam.
Pentecost is, however, the celebration of something new and radically different, as Peter quoted the Prophet Joel in his homily:
And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out My Spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions. For upon My servants and upon my handmaids in those days will I pour out of My Spirit, and they shall prophesy.
What is the prophecy that will come to the sons and daughters? What is the dream that old men will dream? What is the vision that young men will see?
It is not merely the speaking of foreign languages, or the experience of ecstasy. It is not merely the prediction of the future. - It is something far higher: it is the vision brought by the Comforter to the Apostles, and to all those who have inherited their spiritual legacy, those who are the faithful of the Holy Church, those who belong to the Inheritance of God.
It is a vision of something that could not be deduced from logic, extrapolated from history, nor invented from past experience. It is not wish fulfillment. It is not a cultural institution or a social innovation.
Instead, it is a vision that extends beyond the eyesight of the body, for it can be seen only by the eye of the soul. It is the vision of the Light we celebrate in the Transfiguration, the blinding Light on the road to Damascus that converted the Apostle Paul. It is the Light that is the Uncreated Energy and Grace of the Presence of God. It is the Light of the World, the rays of the Sun of Truth that gleamed in the world at the Incarnation of Jesus Christ.
It is the Light that no man can see without the ministry of the Holy Spirit, which is what happened at the fiery tongues of Pentecost, for that Light revealed a Mystery hidden from man throughout the ages ... that God is God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit; and that the Light shining from that Holy Trinity is the Love of God, which is everywhere present, filling all things ... a Love that is seeking, always calling, man and creation back into the sweet fullness and light of the Trinitarian Fellowship of Love Divine.
"Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Sabbaoth," the Prophet Isaias heard the Seraphim cry out to one another. And at Pentecost, the majestic meaning of those words finally came home to the soul of man.
The Vesperal verse of the Feast tells us exactly what new thing the Holy Spirit brought at Pentecost:
The Holy Spirit provides all things; He gushes forth prophecy; He prefects the priesthood; He has taught wisdom to the illiterate. He has shown forth the fishermen as theologians. He holds together the whole institution of the Church. Wherefore, O Comforter, one in essence and throne with the Father and the Son, glory be to You.
The Holy Spirit at Pentecost brings a revelation of consolation, for this is what His title "Paraklete" actually means. He is our Defender, our Intercessor. He is our Comforter and Consoler, for He comforts us mainly with the awesome, wondrous truth of God's rescuing, redeeming, healing and perfecting Love. God the Father loves the Son and the Spirit, and in this fundamental fellowship, all the universe is illumined with the glory of this Grace.
We are comforted by the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, by His ministry of true Theology. For Theology, the revelation of the Holy Trinity, is the treasure of the Orthodox Church. It is the knowledge we were given, despite the fact that we are the common people, servants, fisherman, coal miners and factory workers, secretaries, short order cooks and waitresses, immigrants and farmers. The Spirit of God makes His children theologians, whose minds are charged with higher things.
In His surprising condescension to us, God has served us by brightening our thoughts with the Trinitarian Vision.
And from that first moment at Pentecost, where the dividing tongues of Holy Fire settled upon each disciple, that same Vision has been the source of the unchanging Light of Holy Tradition for single and timeless generation of the Body of Christ.
You and I, today, must not rest until we are inflamed by this same Light. We must serve each other in meekness and wisdom. We must cling to the Church in the stormy seas of the world's confusion. We must obey those who lead us and teach us. We must humble ourselves in the Presence of the Lord, and bend our knees and bow our heads as the rushing of the Spirit comes upon us.
And the Spirit that hastens all souls to perfection and the End of Days will comfort us with the truth of Love Divine. It is a Love that does not fail and does not dim. It is a Love that never forgets the good things of old. It is a Love that never neglects the small things of truth. It is a Love that knows, without a doubt, that "all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well."
On this Day of Pentecost, let us open our hearts to the Light of Apostolic Vision, and the Fire of Trinitarian Love. Let us kneel and pray today, so that we too shall prophesy, and dream the dreams of Paradise, and see the ineffable vision of God everlasting.
With every prayerful wish for you and yours, together with the bestowal of my hierarchical blessing, I remain
Most sincerely yours in Christ,
+ METROPOLITAN NICHOLAS
This Archpastoral Letter is to be read in lieu of the regular sermon during the Divine Liturgy in all the Parishes of the Diocese on Pentecost Sunday, June 11.