Following the celebration of Pascha, we enter a most joyous period of the liturgical year, the period of the Pentecostarion, extending from Easter Sunday to Pentecost which is celebrated fifty days after Pascha. Pentecost marks the birth of the Church, the Descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles and first followers of Christ as described in the second chapter of the Book of Acts in the New Testament.

When Christ began His ministry, He was “full of the Holy Spirit.” He came to heal and to preach “in the power of the Holy Spirit.” His goal was to renew people, to make them whole, and to give them the Holy Spirit.

Jesus had charged His disciples not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father: “John baptized with water, but before many days you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” It was by this power from heaven that they were to be witnesses of Christ from Jerusalem to the ends of the earth. On the day of Pentecost they were “filled with the Holy Spirit” and began to proclaim Jesus of Nazareth as Christ the Lord. The power that drove them to proclaim the message of the Risen Lord was the presence of the Holy Spirit in their lives.

As Christians we have received the Holy Spirit in Baptism and Chrismation; and we receive His power anew, again and again, and it grows in us by our faithful response to Christ and the keeping of His commandments. The Holy Spirit is the power by which we know, experience, and rejoice in God personally. That is our calling and our goal as Christians. What an awesome prospect! "To believe in God is one thing, to know God another," said St. Silouan. “Humble yourself, practice Christ's commandments, and fervently pray to God to give you of the wisdom, love, and joy of the Holy Spirit.”

The purpose of the Church as God’s New Community of faith is to redeem, sanctify, and deify its members, to make them truly members of the Body of Christ. “As many of you as have been baptized into Christ, have put on Christ,” we chant at every Baptism, quoting from St. Paul’s letter to the Galatians. It is the sacrament of Baptism that initiates us into God's New Community, the Church, the mystical Body of Christ. We renounce Satan, and acknowledge Christ, the Founder and Savior of the New Community, and Redeemer of the world. We accept, and commit our life to Christ. We are incorporated into His Body and are nurtured and grow by participation in His divine grace.

As a New Community, the Church works within the world, renewing and sanctifying and teaching its members new ways to relate to the other members and to others around them. Jesus several times used the image of hunger and thirst, and their satisfaction, to convey God's precious gift to man: The forgiveness of sins and the grace of the Holy Spirit, which transfigures and nourishes our souls. Are you thirsty? Are you hungry? Learn to nourish yourself with Christ; learn to feed on the bread of His love. Believe in Him. Receive His words as the words of life. Honor and worship Him in spirit and truth. Seek His forgiveness in the Sacrament of Penance (Confession). Receive Him in Holy Communion regularly. Abide in Him through prayer; learn of Him through the reading of Holy Scripture. Whoever you are, wherever you are, and whatever you do, relate your life to Christ, carry out your tasks in His Name and for His honor, and the very work you do will be transformed into spiritual food for you because of Him.