by Fr. Vladimir Berzonsky
from The Word, May 1971
Pentecost means graduation, in a way. It is the time when the earthly life of Jesus Christ is fulfilled, and our life in Christ begins. We have honored his life of devoted service to fulfilling the will of the Father in heaven: now we should know and see clearly what God wants from our lives. It is our turn.
What do we respond; that we are too weak or too few, that we need to learn more, or that the forces of evil are too great to overcome? Remember Jesus’ words: “Be brave, for I have conquered the world.”(John 16:33). The victory is already won; we have only to complete it. Do we say we cannot do anything ourselves? Do we now claim humility and weakness? “The Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you every thing and remind you of all I have said to you.” (John 14:25). It means that you are never alone; not only is that said for your comfort, but for the means by which you personally can do the will of God in a way that nobody else but you is able.
We must come to know the meaning of the Holy Spirit at work within each one of us, as the power by which our unique personality is enhanced. This is not individualism for the sake of individuality, but that the idiosyncrasies of God’s creative work will be manifested, and that He will be glorified in them. We too are against uniformity for its own sake; we also encourage newness and variation, which is the sign of creativity, and the opposite of dehumanizing repetition. In fact, it is the mark of our godlikeness that we do more than duplicate endlessly what has gone before us.
From the mountains, to the prairies, to the oceans white with foam, and especially in our alabaster cities, America is today one raging volcano. Last year, the death of God was joyously proclaimed; the most popular book, required reading for all clergymen, was “The Secular City,” which would be built over the bulldozed sites of our stone cathedrals and long-empty churches. Do-it-yourself salvation was proclaimed as having replaced the antiquated formalized and stilted liturgical worship, with our fossilized dogmas and stereotyped prayers. Modern man was now alive, and had taken over. Now the God spelled MAN has obviously failed. Not because his technology is imperfect, nor because his science is inadequate. Ironically, in his rejection of God and affirmation of humanity, man has dehumanized himself. When we set as our goal the perfect society, whether in the future or now, and when we proclaim that the happiness of humanity is our consummate end, we forget that we, that I, am humanity also. The perfectly ordered beehive may be the Socialist goal, where the individual is valuable only in his relation to the social group, but the Christian knows that he matters, and what he is or fails to be is of concern to Him who made him.
I know that I can wear a uniform in a uniform society: march in step and look like ten thousand others in a squadron, or wear a white nylon dress with white sponge shoes, be a faceless “Miss” to hundreds of customers or patients. To my draft board, I am a number, and to my insurance agent, my banker, even to my employer, a punched-out IBM card. My voice can be muted in the din of a factory, or I can hide in the masses of fellow-students. Yet there is Somebody who knows the number of hairs on my head, as he knows of what He has made me, and just what he expects from me, in this time and place of history in which I am alive. Only in God am I truly a man.
St. Isaac of Dalmatos - May 30
Thou wast a model of abstinence and a foundation of the Church, O Isaac, bright light of the Fathers; for thy life was radiant with virtues and thou didst openly proclaim the Orthodox Faith. O righteous Father, pray to Christ our God to grant us His great mercy.
Kontakion of St. Isaac, Tone 8
Thou model of observance for monks and teacher of piety, thy servants praise thee, O Godbearer. As thou art the dwelling-place of divine grace, make us temples of the light of the Spirit, for we cry to thee: Rejoice, O Father Isaac.