On 3 June 2012, Sunday of the Descent of the Holy Spirit, His Beatitude Daniel, Patriarch of the Romanian Orthodox Church, celebrated the Divine Liturgy at the Patriarchal Cathedral of Bucharest assisted by a group of priests and deacons, in the presence of many faithful.
After reading the evangelical pericope of Saint Evangelist John (John 7:37-53; 8:12), His Beatitude Patriarch Daniel delivered a sermon in which he emphasised the spiritual meaning of the evangelical pericope: “Both the Holy Gospel and the Apostle read today show us that Christ is the Light of our life and that this Light is given to us through the Descent and work of the Holy Spirit in the world. First of all, He shows us, in the Church, that the presence of Christ and of everything present in Christ as new life, both divine and human in the glory of the Most Holy Trinity, is shared to us. Thus, this feast named Pentecost tells us that the Saviour rose to Heaven 40 days after Easter, and 10 days later, 50 days after Easter, He sent the Holy Spirit over His disciples”.
The reason why we celebrate the Descent of the Holy Spirit ten days after the Ascension of the Lord is “to make us understand better that the Holy Spirit was given to the people, as today’s Holy Gospel tells us, only after the Saviour’s Crucifixion, Resurrection and Ascension to Heaven. Saint John Chrysostom tells us that we cannot receive the Holy Spirit before we, the humans, are reconciled with God. Or, through the Sacrifice of His Cross, through His Resurrection and Ascension to Heaven, Christ, our Lord, brought our human nature to the Father as a ripe, as a sign of complete obedience till death. This is how He reconciled us, the humans with God, because the forefathers Adam and Eve fell because of their disobedience, and Christ, the new Adam, reconciled us with God, obeying God till His death on the cross. Saint John Chrysostom continues his first Homily at the Pentecost saying that Christ, our Lord, put our nature deified through His Crucifixion, Resurrection and Ascension to Heaven, on the Royal Throne of the Most Holy Trinity. And in order to show that the reconciliation was achieved, God-the-Father and His Son sent the Holy Spirit to the world. Some people make it up after quarrelling and then give each other presents. Therefore, the Descent of the Holy Spirit means the fullness of the gifts of God given to the humans and first of all to those who love Christ, and His disciples and apostles, too”, showed His Beatitude.
The Descent of the Holy Spirit over the Apostles on the Pentecost day means the constitution of the Church of Christ where the diversity of the peoples is put in communion, explained the Patriarch of Romania: “The Holy Spirit brings us the gifts of reconciliation, but at the same time He constitutes the Church of Christ because on the Pentecost day, when the Holy Spirit comes down over the Apostles, Judeans, Greeks and Arabs were in Jerusalem, inhabitants of Pamfilia and of Persia and they all hear the Apostles speaking in their mother tongue. Although Peter and the other Apostles were speaking Hebrew, yet each of these pilgrims present in Jerusalem coming from different peoples could hear the wonderful things of God told in their mother tongue. So, we see that God does not dissolve the distinct diversity of the people, who live on the earth, but puts this diversity of nations in communion, in a unity given by the Holy Spirit, not as an external constrain, but as a communion coming from the interior, from man’s soul”.
Further on, the Primate of the Romanian Orthodox Church showed that this day is a very great and holy day, having been the day of the constitution of the Church founded by Jesus Christ, our Saviour: “The Holy Spirit constitutes the Church and deifies all the work of the Church or the Church deifies the life of the humans, the works and nature, through Him. The Holy Spirit makes the gifts we receive at the Baptism bear fruit through the right faith. The first gift is love followed by peace and joy. Whoever does not cultivate humble love stemmed from prayer and shown in good deeds cannot have peace or joy in his soul. Thus, the sign of the presence of the Holy Spirit in our life is the love for God, the effort for the holy things, the desire to pray more and do more good deeds (…). It is a very great and holy day. It is the day of the constitution of the Church founded by Jesus Christ, our Saviour, through His Incarnation as well as through all His saving work. But the constitution or gathering of all those who believe in Christ in a universal community of different persons and peoples is the work of the Holy Spirit. Thus, the Holy Spirit gathers us all together and it is also the Holy Spirit who gathers us in communion with God through prayer”.
To end with, the Patriarch of Romania read the message entitled The Parents and Children in the Light of the Love of God, as a result of the decision of the Holy Synod of the Romanian Orthodox Church of 29 February 2009, that the Romanian Orthodox Church should dedicate the first Sunday after 1 June, every year, to parents and children. This year, the feast of the Descent of the Holy Spirit coincided with the Sunday of the Parents and Children.
After celebrating the Divine Liturgy, His Beatitude Patriarch Daniel, assisted by a group of priests and deacons, celebrated a special service in the Patriarchal Cathedral, named the Pentecost Vespers, when seven prayers were said, four of them loudly and three slowly and the walnut leaves were blessed – symbol of the flames that rested over the heads of the Saints Apostles.
“Today, on this great feast of the Descent of the Holy Spirit, we also have the Vespers when we kneel down as sign of repentance and pray God to forgive our sins. We pray, at the same time, for those passed away and ask for the help of God so that we may accomplish, with the work of the Holy Spirit, the commandments of love that Jesus Christ, that our Lord gave us”, said His Beatitude.
This is the third special Vesper celebrated during the church year. The other two are celebrated on the Good Friday, when the Holy Epitaph is taken into the middle of the church, and on the Sunday of the Holy Easter, at noon, also named, according to tradition “The second Resurrection”.