What is Pentecost?

Pentecost is the fiftieth day, “the last and greatest day of the feast.” In the New Testament, this story is told only in the Acts of the Holy Apostles (Acts 2:1-12). On this day, the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples in the form , “as of fire” and they were filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:3). From this event, some observations can be made:

– This fulfills the promise made by the risen Jesus in the Gospel of Luke, “And[behold I am sending the promise of my Father upon you; but stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.” (Luke 24:49)

– This was in the upper room, where the risen Lord came to the disciples through locked doors.

– There were twelve apostles, Matthias having been elected to replace the traitor Judas, as “a witness to [Jesus’] resurrection (Acts 1:22).”

– There were about one-hundred and twenty people present. Perhaps this was a symbolic number, for ten people were needed for a prayer group, hence, twelve apostles plus ten people for each apostle. The Spirit comes upon this gathering of communities.

– “As of fire,” the fire indicates the light of faith and the warmth of love.

– By the power of the Holy Spirit, the apostles are transformed from frightened followers to fearless witnesses. To be a Christian means to be a witness to life, to the Resurrection, this can be done only by the grace of God.

– Bystanders from every nation heard the apostles in their own language. The scripture does not tell us that the apostles spoke simultaneously in a variety of languages, but that the listeners heard them in their own language. What we appropriate, then, is the witness of the apostles to the resurrection and faith in Jesus. This is the wellspring of our faith, which we profess always in “one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church.”

– Can we accept this witness in our lives without fear?

– Today is seen as the birth of the Church, and the East sees it also as the beginning of ordination.

– Mary, the Mother of the Church, is present.

“We have seen the true light, we have found the true faith, and we worship the undivided Trinity, for the Trinity has saved us.”

Meditation by Archpriest David Petras

Pentecost 2023

“Christ our God, praised be thee. Whom thou hast made the fishers of all ways and sent down the Holy Spirit. You captured the world through her. Lover of humanity, glory be to thee” (Pentecost troparion).

Divine Liturgy is at 9:00 a.m. (in English) and 10:30 a.m. (in Ukrainian).

Let us pray these words: “Thou sendest forth thy spirit, they are created: and thou renewest the face of the earth” (Psalm 104:30).


Mid-Pentecost, however, is more than a mathematical indicator of a passage of time. It is really the revelation and manifestation of the reality that Pascha and Pentecost are truly on feast, “God with us.” Our Lord promised his apostle in the Last Discourse, “I tell you the truth, it is better for you that I go. For if I do not go, the Advocate will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you … when he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth. He will not speak on his own, but he will speak what he hears, and will declare to you the things that are coming” (John 16:7.13).

And again, our Lord promised, “Behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). And again, our Lord taught, “And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you; but stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high” (Luke 24:39).

Mid-Pentecost is the celebration of a new reality, that the Lord has not left us orphans, that God is now closer to us than ever before. It is a eucharistic feast of the presence of God. All of this is God’s wisdom, and so the icon is of our Lord teaching in the Temple as a young boy, revealing the wisdom of God to the elders. We sing in joy today: “The midpoint of the feast has arrived; the days which begin with the Resurrection of the Savior and are fulfilled in the divine Feast of Pentecost.

Truly it unites both feasts and draws from their double brightness, giving honor to the ascension of the Lord, which prefigures our glory.”

Meditation by Archpriest David Petras

Green for Pentecost

Reminder – Pentecost is this Sunday (new calendar): Byzantines, remember to wear the green. The tradition of wearing green on Pentecost is mostly a Slavic tradition, but it is one that we all can embrace because of green being a symbol of new life in the Holy Trinity.

Our celebration of Pentecost –the coming of the Holy Spirit promised by Jesus before He ascended to the Father– is a constant reminder of our own ” baptism by the Holy Spirit” (Acts 1 :5)

St. John Chrysostom (d . 407) admonished the faithful of his time not to celebrate the feast superficially, only adorning their homes with garlands (flowers), but rather spiritually adorning their souls with virtues in order to be more able to receive abundant fruits of the Holy Spirit (II Homily on Pentecost).


Byzantine Catholics and the Feast Of Pentecost: “Your good Spirit shall lead me into the land of righteousness. Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia!”


Ascension of the Lord, 2022

The Divine Liturgy for the feast of the Ascension will be served on May 26, at 9:00 a.m. (in English & Ukrainian)

The ascension is our hope for deification. The Word of God came among us and took on our human nature in all it fullness, except for sin, and in the ascension takes this human nature to glory at the right hand of the Father. Yet for all this, the Lord did not leave us, as he says, “ And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age. (Matthew 28:20)” We receive his risen body and blood in Communion, he speaks to us through the Holy Gospel, and he sanctifies us with the power of his Holy Spirit. God cannot leave us, for as our Creator, he loves us and brings us to perfection. From this day, therefore, we greet one another, “Christ is among us.” “He is and will be.”

Meditation by Archpriest David Petras

Ascension of our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ

Today, is the 40th day from the feast of Easter: the Church commemorates the Ascension of our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ to the Father’s right hand.

This brief podcast by Father Volodymyr leads us a little deeper into this mystery of our Faith. This young priest serves in the Archeparchy of Philadelphia.


Enter the Lord’s joy

Traditionally this homily of the great bishop of Constantinople, St. John Chrysostom is read at the Easter Vigil. In fact, the Church asks that the priest make this homily his own in the sense that the theology St. John speaks is the authentic, orthodox teaching of the Church. The experience of the saint of the resurrection becomes the received experience of the faithful. It is offered here now, two weeks following Holy Pascha, for us to reflect upon and to verify for ourselves the truth found in the homily. Christ is risen!

LET ALL PIOUS MEN and all lovers of God rejoice in the splendor of this feast; let the wise servants blissfully enter into the joy of their Lord; let those who have borne the burden of Lent now receive their pay, and those who have toiled since the first hour, let them now receive their due reward; let any who came after the third hour be grateful to join in the feast, and those who may have come after the sixth, let them not be afraid of being too late, for the Lord is gracious and He receives the last even as the first. He gives rest to him who comes on the eleventh hour as well as to him who has toiled since the first: yes, He has pity on the last and He serves the first; He rewards the one and is generous to the other; he repays the deed and praises the effort.

Come you all: enter into the joy of your Lord. You the first and you the last, receive alike your reward; you rich and you poor, dance together; you sober and you weaklings, celebrate the day; you who have kept the fast and you who have not, rejoice today. The table is richly loaded: enjoy its royal banquet. The calf is a fatted one: let no one go away hungry. All of you enjoy the banquet of faith; all of you receive the riches of his goodness. Let no one grieve over his poverty, for the universal kingdom has been revealed; let no one weep over his sins, for pardon has shone from the grave; let no one fear death, for the death of our Savior has set us free: He has destroyed it by enduring it, He has despoiled Hades by going down into its kingdom, He has angered it by allowing it to taste of his flesh.

When Isaiah foresaw all this, he cried out: “O Hades, you have been angered by encountering Him in the nether world.”

Hades is angered because frustrated, it is angered because it has been mocked, it is angered because it has been destroyed, it is angered because it has been reduced to naught, it is angered because it is now captive. It seized a body, and, lo! it discovered God; it seized earth, and, behold! it encountered heaven; it seized the visible, overcome by the invisible.

O death, where is your sting? O death is your victory?

* Christ is risen and you [death/Hades] are abolished,
* Christ is risen and the demons are cast down,
* Christ is risen and the angels rejoice,
* Christ is risen and life is freed,
* Christ is risen and the tomb is emptied of the dead:

and was Hades, where for Christ, being risen from the dead, has become the Leader and Reviver of those who had fallen asleep. To Him be glory and power for ever and ever. Amen.

Orthodox Easter: A People’s Holiday of Freedom –the oppressor is overthrown

The following reflection is written by Deacon Nicholas Denysenko, PhD. Deacon Nicholas is a professor of theology and holder of the Jochum Chair at Valparaiso University (IN). He is a greater thinker and preacher. Here is a key for our reflection at Easter (Pascha).

Of all the religious observances that belong to the people, Orthodox Easter is among the greatest. People spend hours on their feet, kneading, baking, preparing foods, both savory and sweet. They perfect their grooming, wearing their finest clothes for the occasion.

For many, Orthodox Easter is pure joy. Laughing, sharing stories, playing games, and hanging out with your loved ones. Breathing the fresh air together, lighting candles, and singing. It is joy for one simple reason: God has made all things well. God has opened the doors to us and said, come home. God has set a table with the finest foods, has appointed musicians to play the loveliest music.

There is no end time to the party. It’s like being separated from your beloved family for a long time. You don’t want to let go when you hug them.

God embraces us tightly because we are home. God has given us the most precious gift – amnesty, freedom from our alienation from him. Jesus destroyed Hades and the cherubim withdrew the sword separating us from paradise. There is NO better news. We will be with God forever.

How do you prepare for the most joyful event?

You dress your best. You sing, You laugh. You make your favorite foods. That’s Pascha.

This gift of amnesty to alienated humanity is God’s alone to give. God reaches out and says, “you are my people.” Everyone who accepts that invitation is free. They’re subordinate to no one, no government, no ruler. They’re free.

Vladimir Putin’s narcissism and hatred for Ukrainians is well known. He is trying to subordinate them through fear, to make them HIS own. Sadly, some bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church are supporting him in this blasphemous act. Thankfully, there are always some in the world who stand up to bullies instead of paying their tax.

For all of Putin’s crimes, the worst is that he is trying to steal God’s gift of freedom to the people and possess it himself. The Ukrainians will fight Putin and his cronies to the end and beyond. We mourn the dead. In death, they have defeated Putin – because they remain free, and they refused to sell God’s gift to the impostor. They will always be God’s people, never Putin’s – because Christ has shown us that death has become nothing more than a passage to new, eternal life with God.

The living have purpose. Their lives of the present are meaningful. In spite of threats and bombs – not only in Ukraine, but throughout the world, too – Christians will continue to gather on this feast of feasts and holy days of holy days to perform the most important liturgical act of all – to receive God’s gift of freedom and amnesty, of restoration and return to Paradise, with joy and thanksgiving. Yes, receiving God’s gift is the true Paschal liturgy.

On this day of Orthodox Easter – no matter what happens – the tyrant trying to steal from God is overthrown. God’s people are free. And God’s gift to us tells us everything we need to know about this God – God sets us free and receives us completely because God is love. Love does not intimidate or compel. Love does not possess and bear false witness. Love does not bomb innocents and rape their women. The one who loves accepts and embraces you AS YOU ARE.

Thank you, God, for your love. Give us strength and meekness to love the least of your brothers and sisters as you have loved us.

Ascension of the Lord 2020

The mystery of the incarnation is not simply a historical commemoration. It is entering into the reality of God sharing our bodiliness. For in Jesus, God becomes a human being that we might share in his divinity. This is the deeper meaning of Christ’s birth — a process that is continued through his life, ministry, passion, death, resurrection and ascension. Ultimately Jesus brings the whole of creation with him when he ascends to the Father. He ‘ascends’ so that he can be universally present — indeed omnipresent — through the very matter that seemingly hides his presence.

New Skete Monastery