The Language of Divine Love and the Grace of the Holy Spirit

A Homily for the Feast of Pentecost


In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit!

Today we celebrate the day of Pentecost, the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles, the fulfillment of the promises of our Lord Jesus Christ when He said that we, as His disciples, would receive a special grace, that rivers of living water will flow from our hearts.

The Apostles were all together, praying and waiting for, according to Christ, something they themselves didn’t fully understand. We Christians two thousand years later know even better what the Lord gives us than the Apostles did in that moment. So, the Holy Spirit descended upon them in the form of fiery tongues and a miracle happened—they began to speak in languages they didn’t know, so that everyone understood them. The language of Divine evangelical love, the language of the grace of the Holy Spirit knows no bounds; it unites everyone in love. St. Sergius of Radonezh dedicated his monastery to the Holy Trinity, and as some fathers note, he thereby wanted to unite the Russian people in the love of the Holy Spirit. What was lacking then is still lacking now, and therefore, we have so many misunderstandings between us, so much enmity and so much sin. And we ourselves don’t receive the grace of the Holy Spirit in our hearts as much as we should, and it doesn’t change our lives. How well our ancestors knew what value this grace has! That’s why they built so many churches all over our land. They built so many that all these years later, we can’t even restore them all after they were destroyed.

Why did they do this? Moreover, they didn’t live very richly—of course, not in the way they talked about it for many years to show how dark Russia was. But nevertheless, they didn’t enjoy the riches and comforts that we’re accustomed to now. Why did these people who lived in rather harsh conditions, when they acquired some kind of material values, invest them all in the construction of churches—and such churches?! Modern architects study them and are amazed with what love they were built and how much was invested in them. So why did our ancestors do this? Because they knew that without the grace of the Holy Spirit, they wouldn’t be able to save anything they achieved in this life. Therefore, such wisdom, such strength there was among the people, who perhaps didn’t read as many Holy Fathers as we do now, didn’t have the opportunity to so actively immerse themselves in various branches of theology as we do now. But the grace of the Holy Spirit worked in their hearts, and they were faithful to God, and the Lord gave them visible gifts, not abandoning His children.


A man can achieve much in his life—he can become very rich and famous; he can become very physically strong, influential, or handsome. But the greatest wealth is the grace of the Holy Spirit, which the Lord sends down to us, as He sent it down upon the Apostles. And we see how many Christian nations neglect this grace, how they refuse it, how they blaspheme it. And what happens to them—they become even more absurd and worse than nations that don’t know Christ. They’re dying out, simply put. Now all Christian nations are nations that are dying in the physical sense, but most importantly, they’re dying in the spiritual sense, because they neglect the grace of the Holy Spirit as something unnecessary.

What prevents us from abiding in the Holy Spirit? Of course it’s our pride and sin— terrible, heavy, disgusting sins that we commit; they can’t abide together with this grace, and grace doesn’t enter into the heart of a man who sins. No matter how much we hope for good friends from among the clergy who will forgive us everything and allow us to do everything because we do something good for the Church, we shouldn’t delude ourselves—our sins repel this Divine grace, and it doesn’t work in us fully. Therefore, each of us, striving for communion, for union with Christ, must truly change our lives. Then the grace of the Holy Spirit will begin to act both in his life and in the lives of those around him to the fullest degree, in power, and then everything will be transfigured.

The grace of the Holy Spirit is our greatest treasure. There’s nothing in this world more precious, nothing stronger, and more effective than this grace. How many people have come here today who don’t usually go to church? What is this if not the action of the grace of the Holy Spirit? Why do so many people suddenly come on Pentecost? Because the Divine Spirit is at work; He rouses these people, and sobers them up.

Let us preserve Divine grace and let us not neglect it ever, in any situation, when the devil tells us that we’ll change our lives and find time to communicate with God next time, or the time after that, or just not now. Let us not hear him or listen to him. We’ve been far from God for too long so that now, when the Lord gives us freedom, communion with Him, we neglect it.

May the grace of the Holy Spirit be with you all, always, now and ever and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Hieromonk Ignaty (Shestakov)
Translation by Jesse Dominick


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