Pentecost: The Descent of the Holy Spirit

Blessed and Holy Pentecost! The Feast of Pentecost commemorates the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples and the Theotokos. In the Byzantine rite of the Catholic Church, it is remembered through the lens of the final revelation of the dogma of the Trinity, to which most hymns of the holy office refer.

The Bible relates: “When Pentecost day came round, they had all met in one room, when suddenly they heard what sounded like a powerful wind from heaven… and something appeared to them like tongues of fire… They were filled with the Holy Spirit, and begun to speak foreign languages as the Spirit gave them the gift of speech.” (Acts 2:1-4)

Pentecost is also known as the feast of the foundation of the Church, of the beginning of her mission to the world, and of Christian unity within the diversity of nations, languages, and cultures.

Todays Troparion (Tone 8) cries out to the Lord reciting:

Blessed are You, O Christ, our God, for you have given us wise fishermen, after sending them Your Holy Spirit, You caught all the world through them, O Loving Master, glory to You!

Todays Kondakion (Tone 8):

When once You confused the tongues, You divided the nations, O Mighty One. When You bestowed the tongues of fire, You called all to unity, therefore with one voice, we glorify the Holy Spirit!

1st Sidalen Hymn (Tone 4):

Come, O Faithful, let us celebrate the feast of the Fiftieth day; the day on which the pre-ordained promised is fulfilled! The day when the Comforter descends upon the earth in tongues of Fire; the day of the disciples’ enlightenment! They are revealed as initiated into the heavenly Mysteries, for truly the light of the Comforter has illumined the world.

–  In the Second Sidalen, i.e. the Hymns following the 2nd Reading from the Book of Psalms, the Spirit’s descent is likened to a fountain whose waters gush down to the earth rather than up from the ground. The flames are compared with the Divine Wind (literally Spirit) that saved the three youths Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the fiery furnace of Nebudchadmezaar’s Babylon (see Book of Daniel, chapter 3.) The youths were condemned to death for worshipping the One True God rather than to idols such as the golden statue. It is the same Divine Wind which accompanied the appearance of the Son of God, through Whom the Spirit preserved from burning but brought a cool dew of life.

2nd Sidalen Hymn (Tone 4):

The fountain of the Spirit rushes down to earth, mystically divided into flaming streams, both refreshing and enlightening the Apostles; the fire became for them a cloud of dew, raining enlightenment upon them. From them we have received grace by fire and water, for truly the light of the Comforter has illumined the world. Extol, O my soul, extol the One God in Trinity of Persons!

–  Fact: In Ukrainian, the feast is called “Zeleni Svyata” or “Green Holidays.” The Church and the homes of the faithful are decorated throughout with green branches and flowers, signifying the new life conferred upon us by the life-creating Spirit.



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