Two words on Pentecost with pastors of St. Tikhon’s

This great feast of Pentecost is an inseparable
continuation of the Lord’s Cross and Resurrection
and Ascension to the right hand of the Father, in which
the Holy Spirit is poured out upon the Church, recalling
to mind the words of our Savior, and guiding our steps
towards perfection in Christ. On this great feast we offer
the words of two inspiring voices from St. Tikhon’s
Monastery and Seminary in South Canaan, PA—those of
Archimandrite Sergius, the abbot of
St.
Tikhon’s Monastery
, and of Abp. Michael
(Dahulich) of New York and New Jersey, rector and
professor at St. Tikhon’s Seminary:

Dearly Beloved of God,

We are reminded by the Holy Fathers of our Church that
“without the Holy Spirit, God’s commandments
are beyond man’s conception and beyond his power to
fulfill.” Consequently, “our salvation is not
accomplished through faith only, nor through good works,
but springs from the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in both
soul and body.” (Fr. Zacharias, Man the Target
of God
, pg. 191.)

It is our task then to ceaselessly invoke the aid, help
and indwelling of the Holy Spirit. This is our task as
Orthodox Christians: to become the abode of the Holy
Trinity. And how do we do this? By opening ourselves to
the Grace of the Most Holy Spirit which is given at
Pentecost, the gift of Grace that will abide with us
forever
(John 14:16.)

It is through this gift that we are empowered not only to
be Christians, to believe the Truth through Grace, but
also to do the “greater work” promised by the
Lord. Our calling and task is not of this world and we are
not expected to carry it out by our own efforts. Ours is
to offer ourselves, our poverty, our hope and our life to
the One Who is able to do abundantly above all that we ask
or think. The Feast of Holy Pentecost again offers us the
reminder: Without the Lord and His All Holy Spirit we can
do nothing (John 15:5).

The Great Gift of the Comforting Holy Spirit was poured
out on the Day of Holy Pentecost and was foretold by the
prophets of old and by our Lord Himself. It was His
promise to be with us always through this same Holy
Spirit, even to the end of the world. Let us renew the
indwelling of this Most Holy Spirit through our
repentance, our sincere sacramental confession, and by
uniting ourselves to the Most Holy Body and Blood of our
Lord God and Savior Jesus Christ. Let us liken ourselves
to God through the life that we live so that the Holy
Spirit will “come and abide in us, cleanse us from
every impurity and save our souls.” Wishing you a
blessed Feast of Holy Pentecost and blessed summer season,
we remain,

Fr. Archimandrite Sergius

Abbot of St. Tikhon’s Monastery

and the Monastery Brotherhood

*   *   *


Archpastoral Letter of His Eminence Archbishop
Michael,

For the Feast of Holy Pentecost 2016 Sunday,
June 19, 2016

Beloved Concelebrants at the Holy Altar and Dear Brothers
and Sisters in the Lord:

Christ is in our midst! He is and ever shall be!

Today we celebrate the Feast of Pentecost, the Birthday of
our Holy Orthodox Church! It is also the holy day that
enables us to understand God as the Holy Trinity. But most
importantly, it is the commemoration of the Descent of the
Holy Spirit upon the Apostles in the form of fiery
tongues.

One might ask the question, just exactly who is the
Holy Spirit? The Holy Spirit is the third Person of the
Holy Trinity, of the same essence and of equal rank as the
Father and the Son. We find that the Holy Spirit as God is
revealed in many verses of Scripture; for example: Go,
make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the Name
of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit…

(Matthew 28:19) … Why has Satan filled your hearts
to lie to the Holy Spirit… you have not lied to men, but
to God
(Acts 5: 3-4) … There are varieties of
gifts, but the same Spirit… the same Lord … it is the
same God
(I Cor. 12: 5) … The grace of our Lord
Jesus Christ, and the love of God the Father, and the
communion of the Holy Spirit be with all of you
(II
Cor. 13:13) … And the Spirit is the witness, because
the Spirit is the truth
(I John 5: 7-8).

The Godhead of the Holy Spirit comes directly from the
Father. Just as the Son is begotten of the Father, so the
Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father. Christ said,
When the Comforter (the Holy Spirit) comes, Whom I
will send to you from the Father, even the Spirit of
Truth, Who proceeds from the Father, He will bear witness
to Me
(John 15:26). The Church has proclaimed that
the Holy Spirit is of the same essence with the Father and
the Son in the Trinity. The Church has enshrined this
truth in the Nicene Creed, pronounced by the Second
Ecumenical Council in 381. It states: “And (I
believe) in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the Giver of Life,
Who proceeds from the Father, Who together with the Father
and the Son is worshipped and glorified, Who spoke by the
prophets.”

The Holy Spirit abides in the Church, protects and
preserves Her truths, and sanctifies Her members. The Holy
Spirit is the Power and Comforter of the believers, as
Christ promised. Being the third Person of the Holy
Trinity does not mean that the Holy Spirit is not equal in
essence to the Father and the Son. Rather, the Spirit is
the life-giving energy and power making the Church the
pillar and ground of the truth
(I Tim. 3:15). The
Holy Spirit was the divine instrument in the Incarnation
of the Son of God, in the Birth of Jesus Christ as the
God-Man: The Holy Spirit will come upon you (the
Virgin Mary) and the power of the Most High will
overshadow you; therefore, the Child to be born of you
will be called Holy, the Son of God
(Luke 1:35).

The Holy Spirit is the Author of the Bible and the Source
of inspiration for its writers through the centuries. That
is why the Scripture, though it was written by different
persons and in different eras over the span of a thousand
years, is coherent and consistent in its substance and its
meaning. There is no other literature in the history of
the world which has this outstanding coherence, while
penned over such a long period of time and by different
writers. What was prophesied in the Old Testament, dating
back hundreds of years, was fulfilled in time, and in
exact detail, in the New Testament—a process of
divine promise and its realization over the course of
time, guided by the Holy Spirit. This was not because of
any change in the Truth, but because of its development
for human acceptance, for when the fullness of time
had come, God sent forth His Son … and God has sent the
Spirit of His Son into our hearts
(Gal. 4:4-6).

Likewise, the decisions of the seven Ecumenical Councils
on the teachings of our Orthodox Faith were inspired and
guaranteed by the Holy Spirit. At each of these Councils,
the Holy Fathers used the same formula of proclamation of
our faith, as was pronounced at the Apostolic Council of
Jerusalem in 49 A.D.: It seemed good to the Holy
Spirit and to us
… (Acts 15:28).

The Holy Spirit throughout the centuries revealed divine
truths and inspired chosen prophets, apostles and saints
to spread and proclaim those truths to all peoples of the
inhabited earth. It was in the design of Almighty God that
those personalities would be indispensable in teaching and
preaching—not proclaiming their own ideas or
philosophies, but using their own abilities, inspired by
the Holy Spirit, to serve the will of God. The prophets,
apostles, and all the saints considered themselves
instruments of the Holy Spirit, speaking with His
authority, just as Christ said to the Twelve Apostles:
Receive the Holy Spirit (John 20:22).

The “gift” of the Holy Spirit that we have
received is not a static one, but a transforming and
sanctifying power leading human beings to accomplish the
will of God. The Church’s leaders are exhorted:
Take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, in which
the Holy Spirit has made you guardians, to feed the Church
of the Lord
(Acts 20:28). This “gift” of
the Holy Spirit is given to both the clergy and the laity
who belong to the true Church in the Sacrament of
Chrismation, our personal Pentecost, following Baptism
(our personal Pascha). The Spirit gives to each of us His
fruits: love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness,
goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control

(Gal. 5:22).

It is the Holy Spirit Who endows members of the Church
with varieties of spiritual gifts for their illumination
and sanctification. The faithful Orthodox Christian
invokes the Holy Spirit in times of both joy and sorrow to
strengthen his faith, to accomplish his purpose in life.
He should humbly pray that he will not be led astray by
“movements” outside the Church, where there is
no salvation. Our dire need today is that we reawaken to
realize that we already possess the greatest spiritual
gift—our Orthodox Christian Faith.

On this glorious Feast of Pentecost, we Orthodox
Christians must dedicate ourselves to the true living out
of our faith in God, and not allow ourselves to stray away
in moments of weakness. The Holy Spirit bestows gifts on
those who believe and practice the faith delivered
once for all to the Saints
(Jude 1:3). As members of
His Church, we are admonished to Pray at all times in
the Spirit… with all prayer and supplication … To that
end keep alert with all perseverance
(Ephesians 6:18)
to the glory of the God Who loves us more than we love
ourselves—the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit,
the One True God glorified in the Holy Trinity.

Assuring each of you of my humble prayers, my archpastoral
blessing and my sincere love, I remain

Devotedly yours in His service,

+ MICHAEL

Archbishop of New York and the Diocese of New York and New
Jersey

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