Sunday, May 30, 2004

Today the feast of Pentecost is celebrated in both the Eastern and Western Churches. The intricate cycles of the Gregorian and Julian calendars for calculating the date of Easter rotated into agreement this year so Rome, the Protestant denominations and Orthodoxy have shared a rare season of liturgical unity. We Orthodox observe the feast by kneeling at prayer in Vespers, both rejoicing in prayer at the gift of the Spirit, and returning again to the spirit of repentance that, if never completely forgotten, has been overshadowed these past weeks by the joy of the Paschal celebration.

David Melling has an instructive meditation on the prayers of Pentecost at his website. The full services are available online in a translation by Father Eprhraim at his site here.

God, great and eternal, holy and lover of humankind, who have counted us worthy to stand at this hour before your unapproachable glory to hymn and praise your wonders, be gracious to us, your unworthy servants. Grant us grace to offer you without conceit and with a broken heart the thrice-holy hymn of glory and thanksgiving for your great gifts . . . Remember, Lord, our weakness and do not destroy us with our iniquities, but in our humiliation show us your great mercy, so that fleeing the darkness of sin we may walk in the daylight of justice; and having put on the weapons of light we may persevere unassailed by any assault of the evil one, and that with boldness we may glorify you for all things, the only true God and lover of humankind. For indeed, Master and Maker of all things, truly great is your mystery: the temporary dissolution of your creatures and after this their restoration and repose to the ages. We give thanks to you for all things, for our entrances into this world and for our departures, which through your unfailing promise betoken for us beforehand our hopes of resurrection and unending life. Would that we may enjoy it at your future second Coming, for you are the author of our resurrection and the impartial judge who loves humankind of what we have done in life, the Master and Lord of our reward.

The preceeding is particularly appropriate as we in the United States remember those killed in conflict on behalf of their fellow citizens this Memorial Day weekend. We give thanks to you for all things, for our entrances into this world and for our departures. Memory Eternal.

Sheep for the shearing