Who's the Holy Spirit anyway?
Happy Pentecost! I tell you, this last month and a half has just been filled with major feasts for our church: Easter, the Ascension, and now Pentecost! Such a joyful time of the year. Our parish had a great time celebrating Pentecost last Sunday:
It was especially fun when the branches started to emit fluff – seriously, allergies aside, it was really quite beautiful to have white fluff flying around everywhere, as if the Holy Spirit Himself was directing its movement.
Which begs the question: so... Pentecost has to do with the Holy Spirit?
Absolutely! Pentecost is the feast 50 days after Easter, 10 days after Christ's Ascension into Heaven, when the Holy Spirit descends upon the apostles and leads them to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ. We read about this event in the Acts of the Apostles:
2:1When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. 2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. (Acts 2:1-4, copied from The Orthodox Study Bible)
Let's break this down a bit, shall we? After the Ascension, the apostles went back to Jerusalem and shut themselves up in the upper room where they had the Last Supper with Jesus. It is widely thought that the apostles would have been terrified being back in Jerusalem, since who's to say that they also wouldn't be crucified, for being Jesus' followers. When the Holy Spirit descends upon the apostles, however, suddenly they could speak in tongues (different languages) and their fear was gone. Nothing else mattered but going out and preaching the Gospel. So that's exactly what they do. Through their words (check out Peter's sermon) three thousand people were converted and baptized that day! All thanks to the Holy Spirit!
So... what's the Holy Spirit anyway?
Aha, great question! The Holy Spirit isn't so much of a "what" as a "who." You may have heard of a little something called the Holy Trinity: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit – the words we say every time we cross ourselves. The Holy Spirit is the third person of the Holy Trinity, who is God. The Holy Spirit is the One who guides the faithful in their relationship with God. In the Ukrainian Catholic Church we receive the Holy Spirit through the second sacrament, Chrismation or Confirmation, which the Roman Catholics do later, as preteens/teens. Have you ever been to a Ukrainian Catholic baptism? The Chrismation part comes when the priest anoints the one baptized with a special oil called chrism (which the Bishop blesses on Holy Thursday) and says the words, "The seal of the gift of the Holy Spirit." From that point forward, the newly-baptized/chrismated is open to the promptings of the Holy Spirit.
Why is this a big deal? Pentecost is basically the birthday of the Church, the bride of Christ. The Holy Spirit is the one who fuels and guides not only individual Christians, but Christians as a whole. It's why we say things like, "inspired by the Holy Spirit," and "the Holy Spirit moved the church in this direction," like when Vatican II happened, or when Pope Francis was appointed as the Bishop of Rome. The Holy Spirit is the glue of the church, what keeps her together at a time when it seems she is so broken.
So, as we continue to celebrate Pentecost, and lead up to All Saints Sunday this weekend, let's take some time to listen to what the Holy Spirit may be telling us so we may continue to grow in faith and sainthood (and remember... saints are not sad!)
God bless and may the Holy Spirit be with you!