The Church celebrates 3 days of great significance at this time, including both the days before and after the feast of Holy Pentecost. The day prior to Pentecost is All Souls or Ancestral Saturday and the day after is the feast of the Holy Spirit. These are important days of prayer for the salvation of the faithful, both living and reposed.
The feast of Holy Pentecost or Trinity Sunday commemorates the miraculous and promised descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles that took place on the fiftieth day after Our Lord and Savior’s resurrection.
“And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.” Acts 2:1–2
Saint Gregory Palamas explains “We celebrate Pentecost and of the coming of the Spirit, and the appointed time for the promise, and the fulfillment of hope!” A beautiful and extensive explanation of this holy feast can be found here
As Saint Philaret of New York tells us on Trinity Sunday “… we need to pray to the Lord, especially on this bright day of Pentecost, so that the Lord might heal and strengthen us by the grace of His Holy Spirit.” A brief and insightful explanation of Pentecost here by Saint Philaret.
On the evening of Pentecost Sunday, during the Vespers service in our parish directly following the meal, we kneel for the first time since Pascha during the Kneeling Vespers. “We do not kneel from Pascha until the evening Vespers of Pentecost “in that they are consecrated to the commemoration of the glorious victory of Jesus Christ over sin and death, it was required to perform the public divine service brightly and with solemnity, and in particular without kneeling, which is a sign of repentant grief for one’s sins.” Orthodox Life
You may want to note especially the three very special kneeling prayers by Saint Basil the Great on pages 6, 8 and 10 of the Kneeling Vespers service.
The following is an excerpt from the second kneeling prayer: O Lord Jesus Christ our God, Who hast given Thy peace to mankind and, being present still in this life, doth ever grant the gift of the All-holy Spirit to the faithful, as an inheritance that can never be taken away, Thou hast sent down today in a manner most clear, this grace upon Thy holy Disciples and Apostles, and didst place into their mouths and on their lips the tongues of fire. Through them all mankind, through the hearing of the ear, hath received knowledge of God in their own languages. We have been enlightened by the light of the Spirit, being emancipated from delusion as from darkness, and through the distribution of the perceptible tongues of fire and the wondrous action of the same, we have been taught the faith that is in Thee, and we have been illumined so as to praise Thee with the Father and the Holy Spirit, in one Godhead, Power and Authority.
The three kneeling prayers are particularly beautiful and are well worth reading even on their own. Click here for a full and wonderful Explanation of the Kneeling Vespers from the Orthodox Life publication from 1977.
Feast of the Holy Spirit
The Monday following Pentecost is the feast of the Holy Spirit. On this day, we commemorate the all-Holy, good, and life-creating Spirit, Who descended upon the Apostles at Pentecost in the form of fiery tongues in fulfillment of the Lord’s promise to send the Comforter to His disciples (JN 14:16). That same Holy Spirit remains within the Church throughout the ages, guiding it “into all truth” (JN 16:13). The following is the Prayer of the Holy Spirit:
This begins Trinity Week which is FAST FREE
The Apostles Fast begins on June 11th
All Souls / Ancestral Saturday
The Saturday prior to Pentecost is the first commemoration of the reposed after Pascha. Families bring dishes of koliva/sitari or boiled wheat to church which is blessed after the liturgy during the memorial service. The faithful hold lighted candles during the service and the Kontakion for this day is probably one of the most moving in all of the Orthodox services:
With the saints grant rest, O Christ, to the souls of Thy servants,
where there is neither sickness, nor sorrow, nor sighing, but life everlasting.
A lovely version of both the above hymn and Eternal memory in Russian here.
Click here for a simple, traditional recipe for koliva/sitari. This recipe is perfect for All Souls Saturday memorial services and also for 40 day/1 year memorial services. The next All Souls Saturday will be November 8th.
As mentioned last week, remember to check out pictures from 6 of the recent ordinations in Greece this spring. May Our Savior grant our new hierarchs many years! Axios! Axios! Axios! You can view the beautiful pictures from the ordinations here.
And our News page has been recently updated to include pictures from many events of the past few months including Great Lent, Holy Week, Pascha, the Spring cleanup and recent baptisms. Our parish has been busy, Glory be to God, and these pictures are more wonderful examples of our living Faith.
Also, the coffee hour schedule for June, July and August has been posted. Note that, for the summer months, coffee hour will be coffee and sweets only and not a full meal. This change has been requested as many Sundays during the summer months have significantly less attendance and there is often a great deal of leftover food after trapeza and it gives us all more time outside in the sunshine and not over the church kitchen sink! Remember to switch with another group if you are unable to take your scheduled week.