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"Today the concept of truth is viewed with suspicion, because truth is identified with violence. Over history there have, unfortunately, been episodes when people sought to defend the truth with violence. But they are two contrasting realities. Truth cannot be imposed with means other than itself! Truth can only come with its own light. Yet, we need truth. ... Without truth we are blind in the world, we have no path to follow. The great gift of Christ was that He enabled us to see the face of God".Pope Benedict xvi, February 24th, 2012

The Church is ecumenical, catholic, God-human, ageless, and it is therefore a blasphemy—an unpardonable blasphemy against Christ and against the Holy Ghost—to turn the Church into a national institution, to narrow her down to petty, transient, time-bound aspirations and ways of doing things. Her purpose is beyond nationality, ecumenical, all-embracing: to unite all men in Christ, all without exception to nation or race or social strata. - St Justin Popovitch

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Monday, 5 June 2017

PENTECOST 2017


Jesus to Mary of Magdala:  “Do not cling to me, because I have not yet ascended to my Father.”

This is a paradox: because Jesus had not ascended into heaven, it was inappropriate for Mary to embrace him.   But, once he  had ascended, it implies, then she can embrace him.   How is this possible?

As we see in the article by Metropolitan Hierotheos:

This is the Church, where every believer is a temple; not only a temple of the Holy Spirit, but also the Body of Christ, having the whole of Christ within him.

 Christ exchanges the this-worldly way of being physically present among his disciples in order to be present in the Spirit.  In this way, he can be fully present everywhere and in whatever situation,  can give himself wholly to anyone ready to receive him and can,at  the same time, bring him into  unity with all his other disciples across time and place: we are one in Christ, one single body, and he is intimately involved with all and with each of us.   Moreover, acting in synergy with the Church and its members by the power  of the Holy Spirit, he can use them  as his instruments for the good of the body and for the salvation of humankind.

Thus, Mary of Magdala can be mystically embraced by him and he can be embraced by her; and, because we each receive him whole and entire at communion, through the power of the Spirit, we too can have an intimate, one-to-one, relationship with him while, at the same time, becoming  more and more united to each other as members of a single body.

Because of Pentecost, the Church is what it is. Without the Spirit nothing would work.   Actually, the act by which Christ gives himself in the Spirit to the Church and to its members is the same act of self-giving, of sacrifice, by which he died for us on the Cross : it was so complete that it became an essential dimension of his risen self.  It was and is once-for-all and unrepeated because it entered eternity, and it is the act by which the Church of all times and places, the Virgin Mother, came to be at the foot of the Cross, "Behold your Son."  Eve being taken from Adam while he slept is really about Mary, the new Eve, becoming "Mother of all the living".  Because Jesus was "obedient unto death", the obedience of Mary - "Behold, the handmaid of the Lord", by which she received Jesus into her womb  - is expanded to make her Mother of all who are in Christ.  At Pentecost, by Christ's same act of self-giving and  by the power of the Spirit, the Church becomes Christ's body and Mary's Son. Because Christ never gives himself in bits but always whole and entire, the whole Church is wherever he manifests his presence. 

Two days before Pentecost this  year was the feast of the Uganda martyrs, a group of Christian youths, both Catholic and Anglican, who died as martyrs of the faith in the 19th century.  I believe that these martyrdoms show us the power of Pentecost and the fact that Jesus never gives himself to us in bits, but always whole and entire through the Spirit, even across barriers which have been set up by man to replace those set up by Christ: we see what Pope Francis calls, the ecumenism of blood..

As you probably know, the Catholic Church does not recognise the validity of Anglican orders: thus, when an Anglican priest becomes a Catholic, he is received as a layman.  In contrast, in ordinary, day-to-day parish life, Catholic and Anglican clergy treat each other as colleagues, and there is much collaboration: we consider ourselves on the same side.   As Catholics, Orthodox, Copts, Anglicans, and others have died for Christ in Africa, Egypt and elsewhere in the Middle East and Asia, this sense of unity has deepened.   

What we have in common is Christ who gives himself in and through the Spirit.  The churches of the Reformation broke with Tradition on which the transmission of the sacrament of orders depends, so their ministry and eucharist are not considered by the Catholic Church as fully equivalent with  our own.  On the other hand, they are ecclesial communities in which, both communally and individually, accept Christ in faith, and it is clear that Christ gives himself to them, not only individually, in spite of their ecclesial structures, but in and through those structures, through the Word, through their ministries and eucharists, and that they are united to us by their completely valid baptisms. 

Moreover, in Our Lord's own words, these martyrs have drunk of the cup that he drank when he was crucified.  Christ uses baptism and Eucharist to describe his death, because we share in his death through these sacraments; and the early Church considered participation in these sacraments as a foretaste of martyrdom.   Hence, St Ignatius of Antioch identified himself in the Epistle to the Romans with the consecrated host because he hoped to be eaten by the wild animals.   Polycarp thanked God for allowing him to drink of the cup, by which he mentioned martyrdom.   By martyrdom, these Anglican share in the reality that the sacraments hold out as a possibility.  When Christ gives himself in the Spirit, he gives himself completely.   In our ecclesiastical squabbles, we too often forget that Christ is the chief player and, however holy and Christ-given our own Tradition and Church structures, Christ is still calling the shots.

Sorry for being late with this post, but I have been cut off from the internet for three days - the system collapsed because of rain - and I am normally in bed with my feet up. 





Praying with St. Augustine on Pentecost


Pentecost Paraklesis
Originally uploaded by traqair57

Breathe in me O Holy Spirit
that my thoughts may all be holy;
Act in me O Holy Spirit
that my works, too, may be holy;
Draw my heart O Holy Spirit
that I love but what is holy;
Strengthen me O Holy Spirit
to defend that is holy;
Guard me then O Holy Spirit
that I always may be holy.

PRAYER OF ST BONAVENTURE

Lord Jesus, as God's Spirit came down and rested upon you,
May the same Spirit rest on us, bestowing his seven-fold gifts.
First, grant us the gift of understanding,
by which your precepts may enlighten our minds.
Second, grant us counsel, by which we may follow in your footsteps on the path of righteousness.
Third, grant us courage, by which we may ward off the enemy's attacks.
Fourth, grant us knowledge, by which we can distinguish good from evil.
Fifth, grant us piety, by which we may acquire compassionate hearts.
Sixth, grant us fear, by which we may draw back from evil and submit to what is good.
Seventh, grant us wisdom, that we may taste fully the life-giving sweetness of your love.

(Prayer of St. Bonaventure to the Holy Spirit)



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SAINT GREGORY PALAMAS-ON THE MANIFESTATION OF THE HOLY SPIRIT ON PENTECOST
 Tom Manakis


After willingly suffering for our salvation, being buried and rising on the third day, He ascended into heaven and sat down on the right hand of the Father, whence He co-operated in the descent of the divine Spirit upon His disciples by sending down together with the Father the power from on high, as Both had promised (see Luke 24.49). Having sat down in the heavens, He seems to call to us from there, “If anyone wants to approach this glory, become a partaker of the kingdom of heaven, be called a son of God and find eternal life, inexpressible honour, pure joy and never-ending riches, let him heed My commandments and imitate as far as he can My own way of life. Let him follow My actions and teachings when I came into the world in the flesh to establish saving laws and offer Myself as a patter.” Truly the Saviour confirmed the gospel teaching by His deeds and miracles, and fulfilled it through His sufferings. He proved how beneficial it was for salvation by His resurrection from the dead, His ascension into heaven, and now by the descent of the Divine Spirit upon His disciples, the event we celebrate today. After rising from the dead and appearing to His disciples, He said as He was taken up into heaven, “Behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endowed with power from on high” (Luke 24.49). “For ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and unto the uttermost parts of the earth” (see Acts 1.8).



When the fiftieth day after the resurrection had come, the day we now commemorate, all the disciples were gathered together with one accord in the upper room, each also having gathered together his thoughts (for they were devoting themselves intently to prayer and hymns to God). “And suddenly”, says Luke the evangelist, “there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the house where they were sitting” (Acts 2.1-11). This is the sound which the prophetess Hannah foretold when she received the promise concerning Samuel: “The Lord went up to heaven and thundered; and he shall give strength and exalt the horn of his anointed” (see 1 Samuel 2.10 LXX). Elijah’s vision also forewarned of this sound: “Behold the voice of a light breeze, and in it was the Lord” (see 1 Kings 19.12 LXX). This “voice of a light breeze” is the sound of breath. You might also find a reference to it in Christ’s gospel. According to John the theologian and evangelist, “In the last day, that great day of the feast”, that is to say Pentecost, “Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink…. This spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive” (John 7.37-39). Again, after His resurrection He breathed on His disciples and said, “Receive ye the Holy Ghost” (John 20.22).



That cry of Christ prefigured this sound, and His breathing upon the disciples foretold the breath, which is now poured down abundantly from above and resounds with a great voice heard far and wide, summoning everything under heaven, pouring grace over all who approach with faith and filling them with it. It is forceful in that it is all-conquering, storms the ramparts of evil, and destroys all the enemy’s cities and strongholds. It brings low the proud and lifts up the humble in heart, binds what should not have been loosed, breaks the bonds of sins and undoes what is held fast. It filled the house where they were sitting, making it a spiritual font, and accomplishing the promise which the Saviour made them when He ascended, saying, “For John truly baptised with water; but ye shall be baptised with the Holy Ghost not many days hence” (Acts 1.5). Even the name which He gave them proved to be true, for through this noise from heaven the apostles actually became sons of Thunder (see Mark 3.17). “And there appeared unto them”, it says, “cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance” (Acts 2.3-4).


Those miracles accomplished by the Lord in the flesh, which bore witness that He was God’s only-begotten Son in His own person, united with us in the last days, came to an end. On the other hand, those wondered began which proclaimed the Holy Spirit as a divine person in His own right, that we might come to know and contemplate the great and venerable mystery of the Holy Trinity. The Holy Spirit had been active before: it was He who spoke through the prophets and proclaimed things to come. Later He worked through the disciples to drive out demons and heal diseases. But now He was manifested to all in His own person through the tongues of fire, and by sitting enthroned as Lord upon each of Christ’s disciples, He made them instruments of His power.



Why did He appear in the form of tongues? It was to demonstrate that He shared the same nature as the Word of God, for there is no relationship closer than that between word and tongue. It was also because of teaching, since teaching Christ’s gospel needs a tongue full of grace. But why fiery tongues? Not just because the Spirit is consubstantial with the Father and the Son—and our God is fire (see Hebrews 12.29), a fire consuming wickedness—but also because of the twofold energy of the apostles’ preaching, which can bring both benefit and punishment. As it is the property of fire to illuminate and burn, so Christ’s teaching enlightens those who obey but finally hands over the disobedient to eternal fire and punishment. The text says, “tongues like fire” not “tongues of fire”, that no one might imagine it was ordinary physical fire, but that we might understand the manifestation of the Spirit using fire as an example. Why did the tongues appear to be divided among them? Because the Spirit is given by measure by the Father to all except Christ (John 3.34), who Himself came from above. He, even in the flesh, possessed the fullness of divine power and energy, whereas the grace of the Holy Spirit was only partially, not fully, contained within anyone else. Each one obtained different gifts, lest anyone should suppose the grace given to the saints by the Holy Spirit was theirs by nature.



The fact that the divine Spirit sat upon them is proof not just of His lordly dignity, but of His unity. He sat, it says, “upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost” (Acts 2.3-4). For although divided in His various powers and energies, in each of His works the Holy Spirit is wholly present and active, undividedly divided, partaken of while remaining complete, like the sun’s ray. They spoke with other tongues, other languages, to people from every nation, as the Spirit gave them utterance. They became instruments of the divine Spirit, inspired and motivated according to His will and power.

By Saint Gregory Palamas


Saint Gregory Palamas, from a sermon given in Thessaloniki on Pentecost, one of the years from 1347 to 1359



Sermon of Saint Augustine for the Feast of Pentecost


I. The Coming of the Holy Ghost with the Gift of Tongues foretells the Unity of the Church throughout all peoples.

This is a solemn day for us, because of the Coming of the Holy Ghost; the fiftieth day from the Lord’s Resurrection, seven days multiplied by seven. But multiplying seven by seven we have forty-nine. One is then added: that we may be reminded of unity.

What is the meaning of the Coming of the Holy Ghost? What did it accomplish? How did He tell us of His Presence; reveal It to us? By the fact that all spoke in the tongues of every nation. There were a hundred and twenty people gathered in one room; ten times twelve. The sacred number of the Apostles was multiplied ten times. What then, did each one upon whom the Holy Spirit descended speak in one of the tongues of each of the nations: to this man one language, to this man another, dividing as it were among themselves the tongues of all the nations? No, it was not so: but each man, singly, spoke in the tongue of every nation. One and the same man spoke the tongue of every nation: the unity of the Church amid the tongues of all the nations. See here how the unity of the Catholic Church spread throughout all nations is set before us.

II. The Holy Spirit not outside the Church.

He therefore who possesses the Holy Spirit is in the Church, which speaks in the tongues of all nations. Whosoever is without this Church, has not the Holy Spirit. For this reason the Holy Spirit deigned to reveal Himself in the tongues of all nations, that each may understand, that he possesses the Holy Spirit who is nourished within the unity of the Church, which speaks in every tongue. One body, says Paul the Apostle, one body and one Spirit (Eph. iv. 4).

Attend to this, you who are our members. A body is composed of many members, and one spirit gives life to all the members. By the human spirit, by which I am myself a man, I join together all my members: I command my members to move, I direct the eye to see, the ears to hear, the tongue to speak, the hand to work, the feet to walk. The duties of each member are different, but one soul joins all together. Many things are commanded, many done, but one commands, one is obeyed. What our spirit, that is, our soul, is to our own members, this the Holy Spirit is to the members of Christ, to the Body of Christ, which is the Church.

Medieval illustration of Pentecost from the 12th-century Hortus deliciarum of Herrad of Landsberg (details) 
Medieval illustration of Pentecost from the 12th-century Hortus deliciarum of Herrad of Landsberg (details)

And so, where the Apostle speaks of it as a body, let us not think of it as a dead body without life. One body, he says. But, I ask you, is this a living body? It is living. By what does it live? By one spirit. And one Spirit. Be watchful therefore, brethren, within our own body; and grieve for those who are cut off from the Church. As long as we live, while we are in our senses, let all members fulfil their duties among our own members. Should one member suffer anything, let all the members suffer with it (I Cor. xii. 26). Yet, though it may suffer, because it is in the body, it cannot die. For what does to die mean but to lose the spirit? Now if a member be cut off from the body, does the soul follow it? It can still be seen what member it is: it is a finger, a hand, an arm, an ear; besides substance, it has form; but it has no life. So is it with a man separated from the Church. Seek if he has the sacrament. You learn he has. Look for baptism. You find it. The creed? You find it. This is the outward form; but unless inwardly you live by the Spirit, in vain do you glory in the outward form.

III. Unity is put before us in the Creation, and in the Birth of Christ.

Dearly Beloved, God greatly commends unity. Let you dwell upon this, that in the beginning of creation, when God established all things, He placed the stars in the heavens and trees and all green things upon the earth. He said: Let the earth bring forth, and trees and all living things were brought forth. He said: Let the waters bring forth creeping things and flying things; and it was done. Let the earth bring forth the living creature in its kind and cattle and beasts of the earth; and it was done. Did God make the other birds from one bird? Did He make all the fish from one fish? All horses from one horse? All beasts from one beast? Did the earth not produce many things at the same time? Did it not complete many created things with numerous offspring?

Then He came to the creation of man, and He created one man; and from one man the human race. Nor did He will to create two separate beings, male and female, but one man; and from this one man He made woman (Gen. i. II). Why did He do this? Why did He begin the human race from one man, if not to commend unity to mankind? And the Lord Christ was born of one person. Virgin therefore is unity; let it hold fast to its integrity; let it preserve it uncorrupted.

IV. Christ commends to the Apostles the Unity of the Catholic Church.

The Lord commends to the Apostles the unity of the Church. He shows Himself; and they think they are seeing a spirit. They are frightened. He gives them courage, when He says to them: Why are you troubled, and why do thoughts arise in your hearts? See my hands: handle and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as you see me to have. And see how as they wondered for joy He takes food; not from necessity, but for His purpose. He eats it before them. In the face of the unbelieving He commends to them the reality of His Body; He commends the Unity of the Church.








Sermon of Saint Augustine for the Feast of Pentecost


For what does He say? Are not these the words I spoke to you, while I was with you, that all things must needs be fulfilled, which are written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me? Then he opened their understanding, the Gospel says, that they might understand the scriptures. And he said to them: thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise again from the dead the third day (Lk. xxiv. 44). Behold our Head. Behold our Head; but where are the members? Behold the Bridegroom; where is the Bride? Read the marriage contract; listen to the Bridegroom. You seek the Bride? Learn from Him. No one takes away from Him His Bride; no one puts another in Her place. Learn from Him. Where do you seek Christ? Amid the fabrications of men, or in the truth of the Gospels? He suffered, He rose the third day, He showed Himself to His Disciples. We now have Him; we ask where She is? Let us ask Him. It behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise again from the dead, the third day.

Lo, this is now come to pass; already we have seen Him. Tell us, O Lord; tell us Thou, Lord, lest we fall into error. And that penance and remission of sins should be preached. in his name unto all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. It began at Jerusalem, and it has reached unto us. It is there, and it is here. For it did not cease there to come to us. It has grown forth not changed places. He commended this to us immediately after His Resurrection. He passed forty days with them. About to ascend to heaven, He commended the Church to them again. The Bridegroom now about to depart entrusted His Bride to the care of His friends: not that she should love one among them, but that She might love Him as Her Spouse, and them as friends of the Bridegroom; but none of them as the Bridegroom.

They are jealous for Him, the friends of the Bridegroom; and they will not suffer her to be corrupted by a wanton love. Men hate rather when they so love. Listen to the jealous friend of the Bridegroom, when he knew, through friends, that the Bride was in a way to being corrupted. He says: I hear there are schisms among you; and in part I believe it (I Cor. xi. 18). Also, it hath been signified to me, my brethren, (you, by them that are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you, that everyone of you says, I indeed am of Paul; and I am of Apollo; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. Is Christ divided? Was Paul then crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? (I Cor. i. 11-13.) O friend of the Bridegroom! He refuses for himself the love of Another’s Spouse. He wills not to be loved in the place of the Bridegroom, that he may reign with the Bridegroom.


The Church therefore has been entrusted to them (the friends of the Bridegroom). And when He was about to ascend into heaven, He said so to those who thus asked Him about the end of the world: Tell us when shall these things be? And when shall be the sign of thy coming? And He said: It is not for you to know the times which the Father hath put in his own power. Hear, O disciple, what you have learned from your Master: But you shall receive the power of the Holy Ghost coming upon you. And it has come to pass. On the fortieth day He ascended into heaven, and behold, coming upon this day, all who were present are filled with the Holy Ghost, and speak in the tongues of all nations. Once more unity is commended; by the tongues of all nations. It is commended by the Lord rising from the dead; it is confirmed this day in the Coming of the Holy Ghost. Amen.


Pope Benedict on Pentecost as a feast of unity, understanding and sharing

Pentecost 2012


Pope Benedict XVI on Sunday morning celebrated Pentecost Sunday Mass in St. Peter's Basilica.Here is Vatican Radio's translation of the Pope's homily for the occasion.

Dear brothers and sisters

I am happy to celebrate this Holy Mass with you – a Mass animated by the Choir of the Academy of Santa Cecilia and by the Youth Orchestra, which I thank – on this Feast of Pentecost. This mystery constitutes the baptism of the Church, it is an event that gave the Church the initial shape and thrust of its mission, so to speak. This shape and thrust are always valid, always timely, and they are renewed through the actions of the liturgy, especially.
This morning I want to reflect on an essential aspect of the mystery of Pentecost, which maintains all its importance in our own day as well. Pentecost is the feast of human unity, understanding and sharing.We can all see how in our world, despite us being closer to one another through developments in communications, with geographical distances seeming to disappear – understanding and sharing among people is often superfical and difficult. There are imbalances that frequently lead to conflicts; dialogue between generations is hard and differences sometimes prevail; we witness daily events where people appear to be growing more aggressive and belligerent; understanding one another takes too much effort and people prefer to remain inside their own sphere, cultivating their own interests. In this situation, can we really discover and experience the unity we so need?
The account of Pentecost in the Acts of the Apostles, which we heard in the first reading, is set against a background that contains one of the last great frescoes of the Old Testament: the ancient story of the construction of the Tower of Babel. But what is Babel? It is the description of a kingdom in which people have concentrated so much power they think they no longer need depend on a God who is far away. They believe they are so powerful they can build their own way to heaven in order to open the gates and put themselves in God's place. But it's precisely at this moment that something strange and unusual happens. While they are working to build the tower, they suddenly realise they are working against one another. While trying to be like God, they run the risk of not even being human – because they've lost an essential element of being human: the ability to agree, to understand one another and to work together.
This biblical story contains an eternal truth: we see this truth throughout history and in our own time as well. Progress and science have given us the power to dominate the forces of nature, to manipulate the elements, to reproduce living things, almost to the point of manufacturing humans themselves. In this situation, praying to God appears outmoded, pointless, because we can build and create whatever we want. We don't realise we are reliving the same experience as Babel. It's true, we have multiplied the possibilities of communicating, of possessing information, of transmitting news – but can we say our ability to understand each other has increased? Or, paradoxically, do we understand each other even less? Doesn't it seem like feelings of mistrust, suspicion and mutual fear have insinuated themselves into human relationships to the point where one person can even pose a threat to another? Let's go back to the initial question: can unity and harmony really exist? How?
The answer lies in Sacred Scripture: unity can only exist as a gift of God's Spirit, which will give us a new heart and a new tongue, a new ability to communicate. This is what happened at Pentecost. On that morning, fifty days after Easter, a powerful wind blew over Jerusalem and the flame of the Holy Spirit descended on the gathered disciples. It came to rest upon the head of each of them and ignited in them a divine fire, a fire of love, capable of transforming things. Their fear disappeared, their hearts were filled with new strength, their tongues were loosened and they began to speak freely, in such a way that everyone could understand the news that Jesus Christ had died and was risen. On Pentecost, where there was division and incomprehension, unity and understanding were born.
But let's look at today's Gospel in which Jesus affirms: “When he comes, the Spirit of truth, He will guide you to the whole truth”. Speaking about the Holy Spirit, Jesus is explaining to us what the Church is and how she must live in order to be herself, to be the place of unity and comunion in Truth; he tells us that acting like Christians means not being closed inside our own spheres, but opening ourselves towards others; it means welcoming the whole Church within ourselves or, better still, allowing the Church to welcome us. So, when I speak, think and act like a Christian, I don't stay closed off within myself – but I do so in everything and starting from everything: thus the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of unity and truth, can continue to resonate in people's hearts and minds, encouraging them to meet and welcome one another. Precisely because it acts in this way, the Spirit introduces us to the whole truth, who is Jesus, and guides us to examine and understand it. We do not grow in understanding by closing ourselves off inside ourselves, but only by becoming capable of listening and sharing, in the “ourselves” of the Church, with an attitude of deep personal humility. Now it's clearer why Babel is Babel and Pentecost is Pentecost. Where people want to become God, they succeed only in pitting themselves against each other. Where they place themselves within the Lord's truth, on the other hand, they open themselves to the action of his Spirit which supports and unites them.
The contrast between Babel and Pentecost returns in the second reading, where the Apostle Paul says: “Walk according to the Spirit and you will not be brought to satisfy the desires of the flesh”. St Paul tells us that our personal life is marked by interior conflict and division, between impulses that come from the flesh and those that come from the Spirit: and we cannot follow all of them. We cannot be both selfish and generous, we cannot follow the tendency to dominate others and experience the joy of disinterested service. We have to choose which impulse to follow and we can do so authentically only with the help of the Spirit of Christ. St Paul lists the works of the flesh: they are the sins of selfishness and violence, like hostility, discord, jealousy, dissent. These are thoughts and actions that do not allow us to live in a truly human and Christian way, in love. This direction leads to us losing our life. The Holy Spirit, though, guides us towards the heights of God, so that, on this earth, we can already experience the seed of divine life that is within us.St Paul confirms: “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace”. We note how the Apostle uses the plural to describe the works of the flesh that provoke the loss of our humanity – while he uses the singular to define the action of the Spirit, speaking of “the fruit”, in the same way as the dispersion of Babel contrasts with the unity of Pentecost.
Dear friends, we must live according to the Spirit of unity and truth, and this is why we must pray for the Spirit to enlighten and guide us to overcome the temptation to follow our own truths, and to welcome the truth of Christ transmitted in the Church. Luke's account of Pentecost tells us that, before rising to heaven, Jesus asked the Apostles to stay together and to prepare themselves to receive the Holy Spirit. And they gathered together in prayer with Mary in the Upper Room and awaited the promised event.

Like when it was born, today the Church still gathers with Mary and prays: 
“Veni Sancte Spiritus! - Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love!”. Amen.








The Mystery of Pentecost

Wednesday, Jun 2014
Posted by DiscerningThoughts

    After Christ’s Ascension into heaven, as He had affirmed, on the fiftieth day after His Resurrection and the tenth after His Ascension. He sent the Holy Spirit, Who proceeds from the Father.

Christ Himself had announced to the Disciples beforehand the sending of the Holy Spirit: “And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper [Paraclete, Comforter], that He may abide with you forever – the Spirit of truth, Whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you” (John 14:16-17). Immediately afterwards He said: “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, Whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you” (John 14:26). Later He said: “It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you” (John 16:7).

The coming of the Holy Spirit to the Disciples took place on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-13). Pentecost had a significant place in the life of the Apostles. Having previously passed through purification of the heart and illumination – something that also existed in the Old Testament in the Prophets and the righteous – they then saw the Risen Christ, and on the day of Pentecost they became members of the risen Body of Christ. This is particularly important because every Apostle had to have the Risen Christ within Him.

At Pentecost the Holy Spirit made the Disciples members of the theanthropic Body of Christ. Whereas at the Transfiguration the Light acted from within the three Disciples, through glorification, but the Body of Christ was outside them, at Pentecost the Disciples are united with Christ. They become members of the theanthropic Body and as members of the Body of Christ they share in the uncreated Light. This difference also exists between the Old Testament and Pentecost.

“All those who saw Christ’s glory before the Ascension saw it twice. On the one hand they were covered by the cloud, because ‘In Your light we shall see light’ (Ps. 35[36]: 10). They were covered by the radiant cloud and, being within the uncreated Light, they see the uncreated Light. However, the human nature of Christ is also a source of the Light, as at the Transfiguration.

The human nature of Christ is a source of Light. The Apostles saw this Light, since they are within the Light, as they are glorified. That is to say, ‘In Your light we shall see light’. That they are within the Light is shown by the fact that they were covered by the radiant cloud and also saw Christ’s human nature as a source of Light. The Light shone from within, but from the body it shone from outside. The Light shone from within, but the Body of Christ, which transmitted the Light, the same Light, was outside. Starting from Pentecost, however, the human nature of Christ sends out the Light ‘now from within’. So there is no experience of the Light from outside, unless there is also an experience of Christ within. The two are now interlinked. In other words, the one is now the same as the other.”

“Why was it necessary for the Ascension to happen and for the Holy Spirit to descend? What was the purpose? Why do we say that the Church was established on the day of Pentecost? The Church was not established on the day of Pentecost. The Church had been established since the time when God called Abraham and the Patriarchs and the Prophets. The Church was established from then. The Church exists in the Old Testament. The Church existed in Hades. But here the Church takes shape: the Church is established in the sense that from now on it is established as the Body of Christ.”

This is an important point because it shows that Pentecost is the birthday of the Church as the Body of Christ, and also that all who are united with the Body of Christ overcome death.

“In the Old Testament there is reconciliation and friendship with God and glorification. Everything is in the Old Testament, the difference being that there is no Pentecost. The Church exists in the Old Testament, but under the domination of death.

What is Pentecost? The revelation of all truth. At that point the Church becomes the Body of Christ, which is why on the day of Pentecost we also celebrate the birthday of the Church that has risen in Christ.”

“On the day of Pentecost Christ comes in the Holy Spirit. The energies of God are present in the world and whoever is in communion with God’s energy understands that through His energies God is indivisibly divided and is multiplied without becoming many. Thus someone who is in communion with God does not have a fragment of God. The whole of God is present in each human being and is present everywhere throughout the world.

At Pentecost Christ’s human nature returns from now on to the Church. This is the day on which the Church was founded, because Christ’s human nature is now indivisibly divided, and the whole of Christ, with His human nature, is in every believer.

This is the Church, where every believer is a temple; not only a temple of the Holy Spirit, but also the Body of Christ, having the whole of Christ within him. This is the new way in which the human nature of Christ is present in the world. That is why Pentecost is also regarded as the day on which the Church was established. All who reach glorification share in this experience of Pentecost. We have examples in Holy Scripture itself: all those who saw Christ after the Resurrection, and those who have seen Christ since Pentecost up until today.”

Pentecost is called ‘the final feast’ because it is the last phase of the incarnation of Christ. A great change now takes place, because the glorified are united in the Holy Spirit with the God-man Christ.

“The final, efficacious, phase was Pentecost. There the great change came about. Whereas the Spirit dwelt in the Prophets, as the Prophets had the Spirit of God, noetic prayer and glorification, from Pentecost onwards this indwelling of the Holy Spirit in someone who is divinely inspired comes about with the human nature of Christ as well. That is why the Church is now the Body of Christ. In other words, the Church became the Body of Christ on the day of Pentecost. And Christ, as man, now dwells within man.

This means permanent participation from now on in the glory of God. We now have permanent glorification, not temporary glorification, as the Prophets who reached glorification had, when it was glory that passes away, and they died. Now the deified do not die. This is the difference. What is different in the ‘Pentecostal’ experience is that the Church becomes the Body of Christ on the day of Pentecost; but it also makes the glorified permanent.”

Starting from Pentecost God is partaken of, without being shared, by everyone in the Body of Christ. The presence of God is powerful.

“The mystery of the presence of God in the world, as described by the Fathers, is that God’s uncreated energy is indivisibly divided among divided beings. It is shared out to each one, but without being divided among separate entities. This means that it is shared out like the Holy Bread in the Divine Eucharist. We say: ‘Being broken yet not divided, being ever eaten yet never consumed’ and so on. This is exactly the same thing. What happens in the Divine Eucharist with regard to the Body of Christ is exactly what happens with the energy of God as well. It is indivisibly divided among individuals.

When someone who is glorified is in communion with the uncreated energy of God, he does not have a fragment of God within him – as if God could be broken up into pieces, so that each of us would have a portion of God – because God cannot be divided up. Nevertheless He is divided and multiplied, but without multiplying.

These contradictions are not a figure of speech. This is the mystery of God’s presence in the world. God in His entirety is omnipresent, in everything, everywhere, without being divided, and He is divided without division. This is the mystery. This mode of God’s presence in the world, particularly in the glorified, starts for the first time from the Ascension and Pentecost.

When Christ returns to the Church in the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, Christ’s human nature now shares this characteristic of being indivisibly divided among individuals. For that reason, when we take Holy Communion in the Divine Eucharist, one does not receive the finger, another the foot, another the nose and ear, but at the Divine Eucharist everyone receives the whole of Christ within him.

This is the mystery of Pentecost, which is why Pentecost is regarded as the Church’s birthday. It is the Church of Pentecost that is born, although the Church existed in the Old Testament. The Church, in its fullest sense, is the uncreated Church, the glory of God, the uncreated dwelling where God abides and where we should also abide. This dwelling multiplies, so there are many dwellings, as Christ says in the New Testament. There is one dwelling, yet many dwellings. Why? Because it is indivisibly divided among individuals. This is the mystery of Pentecost.”

In addition, on the day of Pentecost, the Disciples attained to “all truth”. Before His Passion, Christ told His Disciples: “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth” (John 16:12-13).

These words of Christ are closely linked with the coming of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, with the revelation of the whole truth, which the Disciples were unable to bear; they could not receive it earlier, without the Holy Spirit.

This “all truth” revealed on the day of Pentecost to the Apostles is the truth of the Church as the Body of Christ: that the Disciples will become members of this rise Body and that in the Church they will know the mysteries of the glory and rule (vasileia) of God in the flesh of Christ. On the day of Pentecost they knew the whole truth. It follows that the complete truth does not exist outside the Church. The Church has the truth, because it is the Body of Christ and a community of glorification.

“Apart from Christ’s teaching and miracles, we also have another kind of revelation, which is the essence of the teaching of Holy Scripture on revelation.

As Christ teaches the Apostles and prepares them, He reaches the point when He tells them that He also has other things to reveal to them, but they cannot bear them now. However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth’ (John 16:13).

In the patristic tradition these words He will guide you into all truth’ were fulfilled on the day of Pentecost, so on that day ‘all truth’ is revealed. This means that Christ Himself (before His Resurrection) did not reveal all the truth to the Apostles. Why not? Because they could not bear all the truth. They were not yet sufficiently prepared.”

This truth, which the Holy Spirit revealed to the Disciples on the day of Pentecost, is that the Church is the Body of Christ and the Disciples will become members of the Body of Christ. There is no other truth beyond that truth.

“This is the key to the patristic interpretation, that He will send another Comforter, Who will ‘guide you into all truth’. What is this ‘all truth’! In the Old Testament we have the unincarnate Christ Who was revealed. After that we have the incarnate Christ, Who is revealed and Who reveals Himself through human words, but is also revealed through His glory to some Apostles, to certain Disciples. Then we come to the Resurrection. And after the Resurrection He is revealed now in glory to His Disciples, to the women, and so on. We have all these appearances of Christ after the Resurrection. Later we have the Ascension, and then we have Pentecost.

Now, at Pentecost, we have a change in the Church. In the Old Testament the Church is the people of God, which is made up of those who pass through purification and reach illumination. Some of them get as far as glorification and become leaders of Israel, Prophets and Patriarchs. We have the same thing in the New Testament until the Ascension. Afterwards something happens that gives the Church of the Old Testament and of the New Testament, up until then, a new dimension.

Before that, God is indivisibly divided among separate people, which means that He appears to every glorified human being as God in His entirety, in His glory. The Prophets are not in communion with a fragment of God, because God is not fragmented, but is indivisibly divided among divided beings. So we have this paradoxical mystery concerning God’s presence in the Old Testament. In every action in which God multiplies Himself, without becoming many, God is wholly present in each action. He is present according to energy, but absent according to essence. He is present by His will, but absent in essence. He is both absent and present. Divided and undivided. Whole in every case, the same everywhere.

At Pentecost the distribution of the energies of the Holy Spirit takes place, so that the entire energy of the Holy Spirit is present in each Apostle. One tongue for each Apostle. With the descent of the Holy Spirit, however, we also have the descent of Christ. That is to say, it is like a second incarnation. The Church is changed into the Body of Christ.

So anyone nowadays who progresses from purification to illumination is not only a temple of the Holy Spirit, as were the Prophets in the Old Testament. He is not only a Church as the temple of God, but he is also a Church as the dwelling-place of Christ’s human nature. Every believer who is in the state of illumination has the whole of Christ within him.

For that reason we also have the reflection of this fact in the Mystery (Sacrament) of the Divine Eucharist, when the bread and wine are changed into the Body and Blood of Christ, but the whole of Christ is present in every particle of the Holy Bread and Wine. The communicant does not receive a fragment of Christ when he takes Holy Communion. He receives the whole of Christ within himself. Thus we say, ‘Broken and distributed is the Lamb of God, being broken yet not divided, being ever eaten yet never consumed…’

This prayer, which the priest reads at the Mystery of the Divine Eucharist, is the key to the mystery of Pentecost. This is ‘all truth’, which has now been revealed. After this revelation of the truth nothing more is revealed. That is to say, on the day of Pentecost the mystery of the Church, with its new dimension, was revealed. This was revealed, nothing else.

So the words ‘He will guide you into all truth’ were fulfilled on the day of Pentecost. Therefore, in the interpretation of the Fathers, chapters 15, 16 and 17 of John were all fulfilled on the day of Pentecost. This is the patristic interpretation concerning Pentecost.”

“According to the Fathers of the Church, ‘all truth’ on the day of Pentecost also refers, of course, to the revelation that the Holy Spirit is a hypostasis, that He has His own hypostasis, as do the Father and the Word. In addition, though, the fact that the Body of Christ, which was outside and was revealed to people from outside, this Body of Christ is inside from the day of Pentecost onwards. The Body of Christ itself is inside man.

At the Transfiguration the Body was outside. The revelation comes from inside as well, but the Body is outside. Now, however, the Body is inside. And the reason why the day of Pentecost is regarded as the birthday of the Church is that from then onwards the Church becomes the Body of Christ. In other words, Christ dwells within believers also as man. We have the founding of the Church from this point of view.

We can summarise by saying that we have a full revelation in the Old Testament. In the Old Testament we have a revelation of the truth, from the point of view of the dogma of the Holy Trinity. Later we have the revelation in Christ of the incarnation. After that we have the revelation of the divinity of Christ, when Christ reveals Himself, not only through words, sayings and miracles, but also by revealing His divinity through the experience of glorification. Subsequently, the final form of the revelation is on the day of Pentecost, when not only the Light shines within man, but also the human nature of Christ shines within those who reach the experience of glorification.

From Pentecost onwards, anyone who reaches perfection passes through the stages of purification and illumination, and when he arrives at glorification, he reaches the same experience – to varying degrees, of course – that the Apostles had on the day of Pentecost.”

“We have the finishing touch to the teaching of the Gospel of John at the Feast of Pentecost, which is the supreme fulfilment of the Gospel of John. After that we have the finishing touch to Pentecost with the Sunday of All Saints, which is the fruit of Pentecost. The fruit of Pentecost is that the members of the Church are made into saints. We speak now about becoming a saint as though it were only for a few extraordinary monks. In those days it was definitely the aim of all Christians: to progress from purification to illumination and so on.

This is the context in which we see the Fathers of the Church telling us that the Holy Spirit ‘will guide… into all truth’, and that this was fulfilled on the day of Pentecost. Everything that Christ taught before the Passion in chapters 14, 15 and 16 of John has now been accomplished.”

When someone who knows Christ “face to face” from experience and has unceasing inner prayer reads the Old Testament, he sees Christ everywhere, and he sees that the Prophets have experience of noetic prayer and theoria of the Angel of Great Counsel, the Angel of Glory. And he is capable of interpreting the Old Testament.

“What is important is that from Pentecost onwards, when Christ’s human nature shares in the energy of God, which is indivisibly divided among individuals, the whole Christ dwells in every believer, but only if Christ has been ‘formed’ in him. The Apostle Paul uses this term. Christ is ‘formed’ in each one. This comes about through prayer.

It follows that this man has Christ within him and is a temple of the Holy Spirit. He is the Body of Christ and participates in the gift of grace of Pentecost. For that reason, as he knows Christ personally within him and is a temple of God, he reads the Old Testament and understands it. Because he sees what the Prophets saw. Each one had this personal contact with Christ, but again through prayer. This is the prophetic gift.”

In Western theology, however, Christ’s words, that the coming of the Holy Spirit would reveal “all truth” to them, were differently interpreted.

“In the Augustinian tradition, Augustine interpreted this passage from John, what Christ says to the Apostles, as meaning not only that the individual is led ‘into all truth’, but also that the Church is gradually led into the whole truth.

For the Fathers, the Apostles were led ‘into all truth’ on the day of Pentecost, when the revelation was completed, and there is nothing beyond Pentecost. Everyone who reaches glorification is led into all truth, because he shares in the experience of glorification of Pentecost. This means that the work of the theologians of the Church is not to improve or delve more deeply into the teaching of the Church, as Papal Christians and certain Protestants suppose, but is something very different.”

“This whole problem about the gradually deepening understanding of the faith by the Church itself is the line taken by the Papal Church. According to the Papal Church, with the passage of time, the Church itself comes to a better understanding of the faith. For us, however, the deepest understanding of the faith that surpasses understanding is Pentecost.”

“We have Pentecost, when ‘all truth’ was revealed. There is no ‘prophecy’ about things to come; ‘prophecy’ from now on is the interpretation of the Prophets’ prophecy. What does one need, however, in order to interpret the Prophets correctly? Noetic prayer.”

“There is no understanding beyond Pentecost. Every glorification is a repeat of Pentecost within the Church. And this experience of Pentecost goes beyond understanding, beyond words and concepts, because in this experience both words and concepts are abolished, though not in the sense that they are wiped out, as the words and concepts remain as a form of expression. The one who is glorified has a knowledge that surpasses knowledge, but he uses both words and concepts to speak to other people.”

“There is no deeper understanding beyond this experience of Pentecost. Essentially, the experience of Pentecost surpasses understanding and expression. I repeat what St Gregory the Theologian says: ‘It is impossible to express God and even more impossible to conceive Him.’

Those who have experience of Pentecost and glorification neither express God nor understand God, because the experience transcends understanding and expression. All the same, Pentecost is expressed, in the sense that, although we do not pass on the revelation to others, because this experience is a revelation, we do pass on things about the revelation.”

Another important point connected with the mystery of Pentecost is Christ’s prayer to the Father that the Disciples may acquire unity between themselves. In His high-priestly prayer Christ says: “that they may be one as We are” (John 17:11). Elsewhere He says, “And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one” (John 17:22). Further on He prays: “I desire that they… may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me” (John 17:24). Of course, beholding this glory they will become perfect: “that they may be made perfect in one” (John 17:23).

” ‘Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world’ (John 17:24). ‘Where I am’, as He said previously: 7 go to prepare a place for you’ (John 14:2). This place is the glory of God. So the glory that 7 have given them’, the glory that they have already received, refers to something different. Afterwards He speaks about the place: where I shall be they too will be. What does this mean? ‘That they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world.’ The Apostles received glory in the past, but they will see the glory in the future. They have received glory, but they will see glory. In other words, they have reached illumination and will progress to glorification.”

“Christ prays this for the future. Now, all our own people and the Protestants believe that He is praying for the union of the Churches. It has nothing to do with that. He is praying for glorification. It is a glorification prayer. ‘That they may be one as We are’ (John 17:11). As We have one glory, they too will be united among themselves, as they will have the same glory. So all together we become one with each other, and one with God, because all of us, we and the Holy Trinity, have the same glory. This means unity in the glory of God.”

At Pentecost the Apostles saw the glory of God as members of the Body of Christ, as they had become in the Holy Spirit, and received the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

The Apostles received the tongues of fire and acquired the gift of teaching. They spoke to the people and the people heard the revelational teaching in their own language.

“At Pentecost, first the Apostles had the gift of tongues and then they spoke. A whole tongue, the grace of the Holy Spirit, descended upon each Apostle. Afterwards, however, the result of this gift was that they spoke and preached to the people. The people did not see the tongues; the Apostles received the tongues and spoke to the people. Everybody understood in his own dialect, even in Arabic, what the Apostles were saying. Everyone heard in his own language.

The Apostle Paul writes to the Corinthians, ‘For he who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God, for no one understands him; however, in the spirit he speaks mysteries’ (1 Cor. 14:2). It seems that even at Pentecost no one heard the gift of the tongue that each Apostle received, but they heard the preaching of the Apostle and understood in their own language.”

The experience of Pentecost is the greatest experience of divine vision.

“The experience of Pentecost is the supreme experience of glorification, before the Second Coming. There is nothing higher than Pentecost.”

“Why in Orthodox theology can there be no further revelation after Pentecost, but the revelation came to an end with Pentecost and there are no other revelations? Every time someone reaches the experience of glorification, the same experience of Pentecost is repeated. One can reach the experience of Pentecost. One cannot reach any other experience, because the revelation comes to an end: all truth is revealed at Pentecost.”

Another important point connected with the mystery of Pentecost is that, although the experience of Pentecost is a unique event in the history of the Church, people who have the appropriate prerequisites ascend to the same height as the experience of Pentecost. Thus the mystery of Pentecost is repeated down through the centuries.

“After Pentecost all the experiences of glorification are on a scale: higher or lower within the framework of the experience of Pentecost. The same experience is always repeated in the glorified throughout the life of the Church. This experience produces holy relics and the entire worship and devotion of the Orthodox Church which, I very much fear, simple believers understand better than at least some theologians. Those who feel reverence for relics understand or sense something of this phenomenon of holy relics. This repetition of the experience of Pentecost within the history of the Church is the backbone both of ecclesiastical history and tjje history of dogmas in the Orthodox Church.”

“According to patristic tradition, this experience of Pentecost is repeated even after Pentecost. The first example that we have is from Holy Scripture, in the case of Cornelius, who attained to the gift of tongues and the glorification of Pentecost, and for that reason Peter baptised him.

When he was called to account by the conservative Hebrews, he described the experience of Cornelius, that before being baptised Cornelius had ‘the same gift’ (Acts 11:17) as the Apostles. The Apostle Peter himself tells us that Cornelius, before he was baptised, had the same grace that the Apostles had on the day of Pentecost. I would ask you to take the Acts of the Apostles and read very carefully what it says about Pentecost and the two chapters referring to Cornelius, to see that they are the same (see Acts ch. 10-11).

Holy Scripture bears witness that there is Pentecost after Pentecost, and it is in the lives of those who reach glorification. Throughout the course of the history of the Church we have innumerable examples of people who reach the same experience of Pentecost as the Apostles, Cornelius and others reached.

From a geographical point of view, these things not only happen in the East but in the West as well, because the experience of Pentecost also exists in the West, at least until the Middle Ages. If you want to see examples of this, take the lives of the saints, especially those preserved from the era of the Merovingian Franks in the Papal States of the West. Here we not only have the testimony of John Cassian, but particularly of Gregory of Tours, who wrote many lives of saints, in which this experience of glorification is clearly to be seen. We also have examples of people in the West who attained to such holiness that their bodies were preserved. Thus we have holy relics and all the consequences associated with the experience of glorification.

We observe the strange phenomenon that, although we have holy relics in the West, we have, by contrast, the scholastic theology of the Franks of the Middle Ages, which does not completely go along with this experience of glorification.”

“As every experience of glorification is a repetition of Pentecost, and in every age people have reached this experience, from this point of view, who are all these saints of the Church, and what is the highest understanding of Orthodoxy? If it is not Pentecost, what is it? The Pope of Rome? Or is it a Protestant who has no idea what he is talking about and who interprets Holy Scripture?”

Certainly the experience of Pentecost is a mystery and is not connected with reason.

“Orthodox theology is circular in form. It is like a circle. Wherever you touch the circle, you know the whole circle, because the whole of the circle is the same. Everything leads up to Pentecost: the Mysteries of the Church, such as Ordination, Marriage, Baptism, Confession etc., the decisions of the Councils and so on. That is the key to Orthodox theology: Pentecost. So someone who reaches glorification after Pentecost is led ‘into all truth’.

What is ‘all truth! It is something that transcends man’s reason. It includes Christ’s human nature and dwells within the one who has reached illumination and glorification. The whole mystery of the incarnation and the Holy Trinity, concerning divine grace, the cure of the human personality, salvation in the past in the Old Testament, about the future and the Second Coming: all these things are included in the mystery of Pentecost.

For that reason, Orthodox theology is amazingly simple. It is a different matter if necessity dictates, when dealing with heretics, that the one who speaks on behalf of Orthodoxy should be familiar with heretics and have a good knowledge of philosophy and so on. This, however, is not the essence of Orthodox theology. The essence of Orthodox theology is purification, illumination and glorification.”

“There is no understanding beyond Pentecost. Certainly the rational faculty participates in this experience – the body participates in this experience – but God and the incarnation and the human nature of Christ, which is the source of Light due to the incarnation of the Word in human nature: all these remain mysteries. They cannot be understood philosophically or speculatively.”

Because the experience of glorification and Pentecost continues down through the centuries, Pentecost is also the basis of the real history of the Church. When in any era there are saints who reach glorification in the experience of Pentecost, that age is described as a ‘golden age’ of the Church.

“Whenever an Orthodox Christian reaches illumination, he is already participating in the results of the experience of glorification. Illumination gives a foretaste of this experience, and it will be perfected when he reaches glorification. So in my opinion ‘the golden age’ can be described as follows. When the majority of Christians reach illumination and purification of the heart, and many of them also reach glorification, we have a ‘golden age’. So this is the criterion for judging where we are. Were the Christians in this position in the early centuries? They certainly were. The many relics of Martyrs that we have from that period bear witness to this.”

Consequently, the centre of the Pentecost-revelation is Christ, Whom the Prophets experienced as unincarnate and the Apostles and Fathers as incarnate. This is the essence of the Orthodox tradition.

—Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos. “Empirical Dogmatics of The Orthodox Catholic Church. According to the Spoken Teaching of Father John Romanides.” Volume 2. 2013



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