the day in the year when those many who were not, or could not for the sake of the numbers be celebrated. It is good there are too many, Saints that is, more than the days even when stacked on top of each other. It is a sign of God’s grace to realize that far from being extraordinarily rare there is a bounty of holy people to assist our lives and imaginations, to call us to something higher and to hear our struggling calls for their help.
It is a truth as well, perhaps even a higher one, that is expressed in the timing of the Feast in the Orthodox Churches. It is the week after Pentecost and the link reminds us it is the grace of the Holy Spirit that gives us what we need to fulfill the saintly call on our lives. I think sometimes we think of Orthodox Saints as people of extraordinary effort or dedication, and that is true only to the extent that we don’t disconnect them from the power, the grace, the source of what they did, the Holy Spirit.
After years of spending time in and around the charismatic movements of Protestant life I have many examples of people saying “This or that things…” usually an emotional state or a sign is the mark of the presence of the Holy Spirit. Yet the true mark of the presence of Pentecost in any person, as in the Saints, is the hunger for God and a life of virtue. People claim there is revival when they fall down on the church floor or sing in a mystical language but Orthodoxy seems to teach that virtue, everyday holiness, faithfulness in moments, comes first and then, as God wills, other signs. After all which is more important, five minutes of singing in tongues or a lifetime consecrated to God?
This was a relief to me, a freedom to know that I wasn’t expected to be anything but faithful or do anything but orient my life to God. It didn’t have to be splashy or appear miraculous or even holy by whatever definition that term is used, just one foot in front of another, the greatest sign of them all. It is truthful to say that I am more, on this week of Pentecost, truly charismatic in Orthodoxy that I ever was in the myriad parishes, groups, and studies I wandered through on the way.