His Beatitude Daniel, Patriarch of Romania, presided over the Divine Liturgy and read the kneeling prayers at Pentecost Vespers celebrating the Descent of the Holy Spirit at the Patriarchal Cathedral in Bucharest.
Concelebrants of His Beatitude for the Divine Liturgy celebrated on Pentecost Sunday included Their Graces Varlaam of Ploiesti, Assistant Bishop to the Patriarch, and Timotei of Prahova, Assistant Bishop to the Archdiocese of Bucharest, as well as an assembly of priests and deacons.
During his homily delivered June 4, Patriarch Daniel focused on the work of the Holy Spirit in the Church and in the entire creation.
To begin with, the Patriarch recalled the moment of the Descent of the Holy Spirit and stressed the significance of the feast.
Pentecost is the feast through which the Holy Spirit sent by God the Father at the request of God the Son, descends into the world and sanctifies the Saviour’s disciples, preparing them for their mission. They have been sanctified for a great work, namely to spread the Gospel of salvation to all nations, the Patriarch said.
Today’s celebration marks the foundation of the Church and the establishment of communion among humans. The day of Pentecost is the day when the Church was formed from different persons and nations, the patriarch said adding that the Holy Spirit gathers in the love of the Most Holy Trinity persons that differ from one another as compared to their temperament, character, age, social status or geographic area.
Jews from different nations were gathered in Jerusalem on the feast that commemorated the anniversary of the day God gave Moses the Law on Mount Sinai, the patriarch recalled referring to the reading for the Divine Liturgy. But now, he explained, they received something greater than the Law of Sinai, they received the Holy Spirit himself, who proceeds from the Father and rests in the Son.
Communion is made perfect by the Holy Spirit, he said. Through Him we become brothers with one another and sons of God. The Holy Spirit adopts us in the love of God the Father through the faith in God the Son, he said.
The Patriarch reflected on the forms the Holy Spirit was made manifest as recounted in the Bible and on how these forms express his work into the world.
The Holy Spirit does not have a human face because he does not compete nor complete the God-Man, but rather confirms and communicates him. He shares him with the people who believe in Jesus Christ and do the will of the heavenly Father, the patriarch said.
Paradoxically, according to the passage from the Acts of Apostles, the Holy Spirit comes down in the form of tongues of fire, while in the gospel reading the Saviour talks about the Holy Spirit as the living water, the patriarch noted. These forms help us understand the greatness of the work of the Holy Trinity in the Church.
Referring to the Holy Spirit as fire, the patriarch said that He is the fire of divine love that gathers in unity that which is estranged and divided, separated and hostile. He is a holy fire that purifies from sins and passions, he said. He warms up the hearts of those who are cold-hearted and makes them communicative and fiery intercessors. The Holy Spirit also illuminates our minds to understand the Scripture and the eternal life.
As living water, the grace of the Holy Spirit gives man the incentive to spring forth unto heavens. The living water purifies from sins too and responds to our thirst of endless love. A thousand loves are limited, passing and often deceiving, but the love brought into the human soul by the living water of the Holy Spirit is a pure, holy, everlasting, humble and merciful love.
Both the living water and the purifying fire are made manifest in the tears of repentance, His Beatitude noted, when under the fire of regret for the sins committed, man begins to weep. That is why repentance was called the second Baptism, he explained.
At the end of his speech, Patriarch Daniel urged everyone to pray to the Most Holy Trinity so that the Holy Spirit who is sent by the Father together with the Son and founds Christ’s Church to purify, to illumine, to sanctify us and grant us holy and fiery love for God.
During the Pentecost Vespers officiated after the Divine Liturgy, the three hierarchs read the kneeling prayers and blessed the leafy branches symbolizing the tongues of fire that descended on the Apostles.