Blessed are You O Christ Our God, You have revealed the fishermen to be most wise by sending down upon them the Holy Spirit, and through them you have caught the whole world in Your net. Glory to You, O Lover of Mankind. ~Troparion of Pentecost
When the Most High came down and confused the tongues He divided the nations, but when He distributed the tongues of fire He called all to unity. Therefore with one voice we glorify the Holy Spirit. ~Kontakion of Pentecost
The gathered apostles–the Church–were filled with the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. So too, we gather in the Holy Spirit to be transformed by Him. As Saint John of Damascus wrote, “We celebrate the day of Pentecost, the coming of the Holy Spirit, the appointed day for the promise, the fulfillment of our hope, a breathing which is the breath of God, a present share in the tongues of fire.” The matins canon says that “all of us, upon whom the grace of God has blown, have become radiant as lightning, transformed with an alteration strange and beautiful.” We the faithful–the Church–gather to be continually transformed by the grace of the Holy Spirit which was poured out upon the apostles in the upper room on Pentecost and is continually poured out on us.
The Feast of Pentecost (“fifty days”) is the end of the fifty days begun at Pascha. The celebration of Pentecost comes from the Jewish Feast of Weeks, since a week of weeks (seven times seven) plus one day makes fifty days. The Paschal season is one of rejoicing in the triumph of Christ’s resurrection and conquering of sin and death. Thus, the apostolic tradition that has been passed on to us is that this period of fifty days is free of the penitential expressions of fasting and kneeling. It is not until the Monday after Pentecost Sunday that we kneel in Church–that is, at the kneeling vespers on Sunday evening. After the prokeimenon of vespers (thus, liturgically Monday) on Pentecost three lengthy prayers are prayed. The people and the priest–facing the people–kneel in the center of the church, gathered together as the disciples were in the upper room on the day of Pentecost.
The interior of the church is decorated with green–the vestments and altar linens are green, and green branches from trees adorn the iconostasis. Green is the color of the Holy Spirit because green is the color growth and new life. The Holy Spirit is the “giver of life,” and as God breathes life and grace into us all.
Here are some pictures from our celebration of the feast day.