Gleanings from Orthodox Christian Authors and the Holy Fathers

pentecost

8 Entries

'And my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.' My friends, consider the greatness of this solemn feast that commemorates God's coming as a guest into our hearts! If some rich and influential friend were to come to your home, you would promptly put it all in order for fear something there might offend your friend's eyes when he came in. Let all of us then who are preparing our inner homes for God cleanse them of anything our wrongdoing has brought into them. the homily of St. Gregory the Great on Pentecost in Be Friends of God



'And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit' (Acts 2:3-4). They partook of fire, not of burning but of saving fire; of fire which consumes the thorns of sins, but gives luster to the soul. This is now coming upon you also, and that to strip away and consume your sins which are like thorns, and to brighten yet more that precious possession of your souls, and to give you grace; for He gave it then to the Apostles. And He sat upon them in the form of fiery tongues, that they might crown themselves with new and spiritual diadems by fiery tongues upon their heads. A fiery sword barred of old the gates of Paradise; a fiery tongue which brought salvation restored the gift. St. Cyril of Jerusalem (Catechetical Lectures: Lecture 17 no. 15)

Brothers, we shall hymn with praise the tongues of the disciples, because, not with elegant speech, But in divine power they have revived all men. Because they took up His Cross as a reed, So that they might again use words as fishing lines and fish for the world Since they had speech as a sharp fishhook, Since the flesh of the Master of all Has become for them a bait, it has not sought to kill But it attracts to life those who worship and praise The All-Holy Spirit. St Romanos the Melodist - On Pentecost

But as the old Confusion of tongues was laudable, when men who were of one language in wickedness and impiety, even as some now venture to be, were building the Tower; for by the confusion of their language the unity of their intention was broken up, and their undertaking destroyed; so much more worthy of praise is the present miraculous one. For being poured from One Spirit upon many men, it brings them again into harmony. And there is a diversity of Gifts, which stands in need of yet another Gift to discern which is the best, where all are praiseworthy. St. Gregory Nazianzen, Oration on Pentecost

Regarding the manner in which the Holy Spirit descended upon the disciples, Saint Symeon the New Theologian makes a remark that is most helpful for properly understanding this event. He says that this mode of acting of the Holy Spirit - by means of a loud noise as of a rushing mighty wind, and with tongues of fire - was something unique. The Holy Spirit, he observes, comes very calmly, in the form of spiritual light, and evokes joy. The passage in which he touches upon this point is this:

The power of the Holy Spirit, which is bestowed upon him who loves God and keeps His commandments, does not appear visibly in the form of fire, nor does it come with a loud sound like a violent wind - for this happened only in the time of the Apostles for the sake of the unbelievers. Instead, it is seen spiritually in the form of spiritual light, and comes with all calm and joy. Guide to Byzantine Iconography, Vol. 1, by Constantine Cavarnos



The holy mystery of the day of the Holy Spirit, Pentecost, is to be understood in the following manner: the spirit of man must be completed and perfected by the Holy Spirit, that is, it must be sanctified, illuminated, and divinized by the Holy Spirit. This holy mystery is realized continually in the Church of Christ and because of this the Church is really a continuous Pentecost.... From Holy Pentecost, the day of the Holy Spirit, every God-like soul in the Church of Christ is an incombustible bush which continuously burns and is inflamed with God and has a fiery tongue within it. (St.) Fr. Justin Popovich, Orthodox Faith and Life in Christ

The power to bear Mysteries, which the humble man has received, which makes him perfect in every virtue without toil, this is the very power which the blessed apostles received in the form of fire. For its sake the Saviour commanded them not to leave Jerusalem until they should receive power from on high, that is to say, the Paraclete, which, being interpreted, is the Spirit of consolation. And this is the Spirit of divine visions. Concerning this it is said in divine Scripture: 'Mysteries are revealed to the humble' [Ecclus 3:19]. The humble are accounted worthy of receiving in themselves this Spirit of revelations Who teaches mysteries St. Isaac the Syrian, Ascetical Homily 77, page 384

Was it upon the twelve that it [the Holy Spirit] came? Not so; but upon the hundred and twenty. For Peter would not have quoted to no purpose the testimony of the prophet, saying, 'And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith the Lord God, I will pour out of My Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams' (Joel 2:28). 'And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit.' For, that the effect may not be to frighten only, therefore it is both 'with the Holy Spirit, and with fire. And began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance' (Mt. 3:11). St. John Chrysostom, Homilies on the Acts of the Apostles





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