Archpastoral Letter for Pentecost 2004
May 30, 2004
To the Very Reverend Protopresbyters, the Very
Reverend and Reverend Fathers, Monastics and the Faithful of our Diocese:
Glory to Jesus Christ!
Dear Fathers and Faithful:
"Put a ring upon his right
hand!" Luke 15:22
Our days of feasting and celebrating the
Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ have come to their forty-day closure,
when we take leave of the Feast and behold Christ ascended in glory. But ten
days later, on the Fiftieth day, the Day of Pentecost, we receive the fullness
of the Promise that was sounded on the Eve of the First Day of Eternity.
"When it was evening on that very same
day, Sunday - the first day of the week - the disciples were gathered together
in one place, with the doors fastened shut ... Jesus came and stood in their
midst, saying 'Peace be with you. ... Just as the Father sent Me, even so send
I you.' Then, after saying this, Jesus breathed on them and said, 'Receive the
Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of someone, those sins are forgiven unto
that person. If you hold fast their sins, held fast they remain." (John
20:19 - 23)
We receive the Holy Spirit! The Promise is
enjoined! The pledge - the betrothal of the life and resurrection to come is
gifted to our souls, and as the witness of this, the Spirit appears in tongues
of fire of the heads of the Apostles.
Just as in Holy Baptism, when the water that
becomes the Life-giving Tomb precedes the Chrism that is our gift of the Holy
Spirit, so too does the Resurrection precede Pentecost. Or as in the parable of
the Prodigal Son, the first robe precedes the ring that is joyfully put upon
his right hand. And then comes the Fatted Calf, just as the Eucharist follows
the Sacraments of Baptism and Chrismation.
But it is a ring, a symbol of perfection, unity
and infinity, i.e., a circle that portrays the restoration of the Holy Spirit
in the parable. For the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives is a promise,
a pledge, a betrothal, and it prefigures the blessings to come. And the Holy
Spirit is the source of all perfection, all unity, and is inexhaustible in His
The Holy Spirit is symbolized by a ring
throughout the Scripture, for it is by the Holy Spirit that we are wed to God.
As we hear in the Sacrament of Marriage, by a ring the truth of Thamar was made
manifest, for the Holy Spirit brings us to the truth of our own lives before
God. And we recall that by a ring Joseph was given power over Egypt, for the
Holy Spirit is the source of all power. And we remember that by a ring Daniel
was exalted in Babylon,
signifying that we, even when we are separated from all that we hold dear are
never separated from the love of God. As Saint Paul reminds us:
"Truly, I am convinced that neither death
nor life, nor Angels, nor Principalities, nor Powers, nor things present, nor
things future, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing will be able
to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus, our Lord!"
Truly, because the Holy Spirit is the One Who
is "everywhere present and fills all things", we can never be separated from
the love of God. But we can run away, as once did the Prodigal Son. Not that
God ever leaves us, but we do leave Him.
So like the Prodigal on his return, we can
renew the Right Spirit within us. We can receive the Pledge of promise as we
confess our sins to our Heavenly Father.
This Day of Pentecost, let us learn that every
day can become a day of Pentecost, when we accept the in-filling of the Holy
Spirit, when we come before God in honesty and sincerity, as once did the
Prodigal Son. Each day let us receive the Holy Spirit, and embrace with joy the
words of our Father when He says:
"Put a ring upon his right hand!"
Assuring you of a remembrance in prayer in the
Liturgy of Pentecost, and imparting my hierarchical blessing on you and yours,
Most sincerely yours in Christ,
THIS ARCHPASTORAL LETTER IS TO BE READ IN ALL PARISHES OF THE DIOCESE AS THE
SUNDAY, MAY 30, 2004