Patriarch Kirill’s Sermon on Holy Pentecost

On June 20, 2021, on the feast of the Holy Trinity (Pentecost), His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia officiated the Divine Liturgy at St. Alexander Nevsky Skete near Peredelkin. At the end of the service, the Primate of the Russian Church delivered a sermon:

I sincerely congratulate all of you on the great feast of Holy Pentecost – the day of the Descent of the Holy Spirit.

The Lord came into the world to save the human race. The coming into the world of the Son of God is a turning point in human history. But after His Ascension, having left the earth, the human race, in a visible way, the Lord did not end His presence among people, and on the 50th day after His Resurrection, He, according to His promise, sent the Holy Spirit to His disciples. Visibly this descent was presented as the descent of fiery tongues, each of which rested on the apostles and bestowed power, wisdom and, most importantly, Divine grace to preach and spread the faith of Christ.

It is difficult to say what would have happened to Christianity if the Savior’s sermon was addressed only to the apostles and a small circle of people who accompanied Him and who accepted this sermon. But, impregnated by the power of the Divine grace, uniting their own powers with the power of God, inspired by God’s grace, the holy apostles spread their faith throughout the world.

But this, perhaps, is not the most important thing. Of course, without faith it is impossible to be saved, but a person is not saved by himself and not even by his own faith. As the Apostle Paul teaches, by grace we are all saved through faith, but this is not of ourselves, it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast (see Eph. 2: 8-9). What is this God’s gift that strengthens faith in every person who is ready to receive this gift? This is the gift of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the third Person of the Holy Trinity, Who has a Divine nature. The Holy Spirit spreads throughout the entire creation of God, preserving the entire cosmos, all Divine creation in order, but in a special way He acts on a person, giving him the strength to overcome the gravity of sin, temptations and do good deeds where and when it seems impossible. But the main thing is that the grace of God keeps faith in the hearts of people.

And what forces were put into expelling this faith? Devilish forces. Because, as Dostoevsky said, the devil is fighting with God, and, of course, this struggle is aimed at expelling faith from the hearts, from the consciousness of people. But by the power of God’s grace, faith lives on, despite the changing eras, despite the changing rulers, despite the changing political regimes, despite the changing views on the world, space, and man, and despite various human teachings and ideologies. Grace acts on everyone who wishes to accept this Divine gift with faith.

Today is dedicated to the Holy Spirit, who fertilizes human life, who gives us the power to find salvation in eternity. Therefore, whenever we call on the Lord, whenever we bring repentance, whenever we partake of the Holy Mysteries of Christ, whenever we touch the holy things, we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. And by this gift we are saved – not by our own strength, not by our mind, not by our skill, not by our will, but only by the power of God’s grace, which is given to us in response to our faith. And therefore, with gratitude to the Lord, accepting this Divine and saving gift, we must pray that the Lord strengthens our faith, that we keep this faith and remember: it is in response to this faith that we are given the greatest Divine power – as much as a man can perceive – the power of the grace of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Translated by

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