Let Us Think of the Fire as A Rose

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You then, beloved, stand your ground and quietly contemplate the fire that He who Is in the highest has sent from on high. Do not be afraid, for the coals do not burn. Do not be amazed, for this fire does not consume, but as prudent men remember how of old the three youths received fire, how their bodies were not burned, nor a single hair, how that which received the three showed them to be four, for it gave up with interest those it had received. …Why then should we be afraid of a flame that does not burn? Let us think of the fire as a rose, as indeed it is, for it has been placed on our heads like flowers with which he has crowned us, adorned us, made us resplendent in the All-Holy Spirit. (St. Romanos, Pentecost Kontakion, Stanzas 11-12)

The Scripture readings for Pentecost describe Christ and the Holy Spirit in various terms.

  • “If anyone is thirsty let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” (John 7:37-38)
  • “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12)
  • When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly a sound came from heaven like the rush of a mighty wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire, distributed and resting on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. (Acts 2:1-4)

As you have discussions with your children on the various meanings of these titles and the description of “tongues as of fire” descending upon the Disciples, remember:

  • We believe in the History of Pentecost, but don’t forget that in the Pentecost Icon, St. Paul is depicted sitting with the Disciples when he had yet to be converted.
  • The Kontakion verses from St. Romanos point to the mystery of this event. The fire is likened to

something deeper and goes beyond the literal meaning of what happened at Pentecost

  • Romanos says the tongues of fire can be likened to “flowers with which he has crowned us, adorned us, and made us resplendent, in the All-Holy Spirit.”
  • These words concern Salvation History, which is the history of the All-Holy Trinity working in the midst of Creation to make God known to us.

The blessing of the Lord be upon you,

Archbishop Paul

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