My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:
This Sunday, June 8, is a major Church Holiday, the Pentecost. It is the day when we will witness the descent of the Holy Spirit on the apostles gathered in Jerusalem. This will mark the completion of God's plan to save people from sin and death and reconcile them with God. By the Holy Spirit's entry into our world, Christ's Church is founded on earth and empowered with Grace. In our pursuit of Salvation, we receive this Grace through the mysteries (sacraments) of the Church. Grace empowers us to be able to resist the devil and overcome our sinfulness. It also enables us to live a righteous and pious life according to the commandments given to us by our Savior.
God created man in His image and likeness for a blessed eternal life because He wanted to share His divine love. But, God knew that people could only be truly blessed if they had the ability to freely choose whether or not they desire to be in communion with Him. Therefore, He gave people a wonderful gift, a free will. This is a great gift but also one that has great consequences. Freely accepting God's love enables a person to live with God in his heart which makes a person experience great blessedness. However, each person is free to reject God's love and separate himself from God. This separation, though, brings great misery.
Our forefather, Adam, rejected God's love and became separated from Him. Since we are his children, we are born in this state of separation. And being damaged by sin, we are unable by our own efforts to reestablish communion with God. This is why our Savior had to die and resurrect. He became a human being, and through His dying and resurrecting, He destroyed the power that the devil and sin have over people.
As our Savior, Jesus offers to give us the power to also free ourselves from the control of the devil. After ascending to Heaven, He is sending down to earth the Holy Spirit who is the source of God's power, called Grace. We can freely receive His Grace through the mysteries of the Church. We can then use the Grace to resist evil and live in a holy way. If we do this, we show God our love for Him. And He responds by entering into our hearts to live with us. In this way, communion with God is reestablished and we enter into a blessed life with Him for eternity.
What an incredibly loving God we have! And what a glorious holiday are we celebrating this Sunday! Let us all gather in Church to greet and welcome the Holy Spirit into our world and into our hearts. Please remember that the services schedule on Sunday has been adjusted. The early liturgy will begin at 7:00 AM and the late liturgy will begin at 9:00 Am. After the late liturgy, a vesper service will begin with special beautiful prayers to the Holy Spirit which we listen to on bent knees. And let us freely accept the Grace offered to us by our Savior through the Holy Spirit and live from that day forward truly holy lives that will open to us the doors to Paradise.
With Love in Christ,
Archpriest Serge Kotar