Archpastoral Letter for Pentecost 2009
Protocol N. 192 - June 7, 2009
To the Reverend Clergy and Beloved Faithful of this
Glory to Jesus Christ! Glory Forever!
you in the spiritual joy of the Feast of Pentecost, for on this Day, we
celebrate the outflowing of the Holy Spirit from God the Father, through Jesus
Christ and His Church, and to the entire world.
Pentecost, the Holy Spirit came down upon only a few individuals. But after Pentecost, the Holy Spirit visited
all who believe in Christ and are baptized in His Church. The Holy Mystery of Chrismation is the
individual Pentecost for every Orthodox Christian.
Holy Spirit began a healing revolution in the entire world on the fiftieth day
after the Resurrection.
One of the Stichera for Pentecost
Vespers says this about the revolutionary gifts of the Holy Spirit: "The
Holy Spirit gives all things: makes prophesies flow, perfects priests, taught
the unlettered wisdom, revealed fishermen to be theologians, welds together the
whole institution of the Church.
Advocate, consubstantial and equal in majesty with the Father and the
Son, glory to You!".
Prophecy is the proclamation of God's
transforming wisdom to the world, and the Holy Spirit makes such prophecy
flow. "Your young men shall see
visions," the Prophet Joel said, speaking of Pentecost, "and your old men shall
dream dreams" (Acts 2:17;
The perfection of priests is
accomplished only by the Holy Spirit, Who draws the priest into deeper
righteousness, and inspires the priest with prayer and vision. The uneducated fishermen are taught wisdom by
the Holy spirit, and they are transformed into theologians, who have taught the
world that God is One in Essence, Three in Person....that Jesus Christ is One
Person, but Two in Nature, completely God.
And the song for Vespers proclaims that
the Holy Spirit welds together the whole institution of the Church. The church is unified and inspired, guided
and empowered by the Holy Spirit. In
fact, the Church is made real by the
Spirit. There is no Church without the
Holy Spirit. It is impossible to think
Listen to what we read in the liturgical
commentary The Year of Grace of the Lord: "We cannot enter into Pentecost without preparation. We need first to have assimilated the whole spiritual
substance that the fifty days between Easter and Pentecost have offered
us......They were all with one accord in one place.
Some other verses in Acts picture for us the eleven assembled in the
'upper room' with Mary, mother of Jesus, and the women. It was the Church being born. They all prayed together. We find in this the necessary conditions for
receiving the Holy Spirit. At certain
moments we need to retire from the world and to shut ourselves in the upper
room of our soul.....we must be together with the Apostles and with the mother of
Jesus. Whoever seeks to ignore the
authority of the Apostles, or to do without the maternal presence of Mary,
cannot receive the Holy Spirit".
Through the Church, the Holy Spirit has
invaded the world and continues to do so.
There was a long and glorious millennial reign of the Byzantine
Empire. For over eleven
centuries, the Kingdom
of Constantinople brought the spiritual gifts of the Orthodox
Church to the world at large. It was the
only Christian Empire that ever existed.
And indeed, the Byzantine Empire lasted
longer than any other realm.
In the West, the Catholic Church gave
European Christendom many of the same gifts.
From the fourth century until the Reformation, the Roman Church kept the
light of humanity and civilization burning brightly, even during the so-called
In both places - East and West - the
Church brought gifts to civilization that had not been seen before. The Church labored with zeal for the
liberation of slaves. It crusaded
against the brutality of gladiator combat.
It provided liberal care for the widows, the orphans, the poor and
destitute. It constructed hospitals: indeed, the Church invented the concept of
the hospital. The entire tradition of
Western medicine is not from pagan Rome
or from the Arab world (as is usually taught in schools). Western medicine, as we know it, was
established and flourished in the Byzantine Empire....and after the Moslems
invaded the Middle East, the doctors that
spread throughout the Arab world were Christian, far more so than any other.
Everything that we know today about
philanthropy and social generosity is really a legacy of the Christian
Church. Welfare, health care, universal
education, and equal justice under the law are all ideas that are rooted deeply
within the Christian revolution that started at Pentecost.
I wish the Western world would take
notice of its Christian roots. There
would be no Western Civilization without the Church, and without the Gifts of
Pentecost. The church is salt and light
to the world, in America, in
Europe and beyond. Without the Church, and without her
Pentecostal witness to Orthodoxy, there is no salt, there is no light, and the
world will be left in decay. Indeed,
this is what is happening as we speak.
Let us, at least, in this time when the
West is becoming less, make the most of our Orthodoxy. Let us wait, as the Apostles did, in the
Upper Rooms of our prayer and the Sacraments.
Let us be fed at the Table by Our Lord with His Eucharist. Let us listen to His Voice, echoing in the
Spirit, and let our minds be filled with the Wisdom of the Trinity and the
Let us be welded together by the Holy Spirit
in humble prayer and compassionate service.
Let us look back to the days before the fall of Constantinople,
before the Reformation and the Renaissance, and let us look to the gifts of the
Church and return to her wisdom. Let us
pray and learn, let us pray and serve, let us pray and love each other. Let us learn wisdom and become theologians
and servants. Let us carry on the
healing Revolution of Orthodoxy, started at Pentecost, and waiting to begin
With blessings to you and your house on
this Feast of Pentecost, I remain
sincerely yours in Christ,
+ Metropolitan Nicholas
Archpastoral Letter is to be read in all diocesan churches in lieu of the
sermon on Pentecost Sunday.