In the face of two distinct risks, I begin this post by saying: I’m quite happy with the fact that God ordained we would come into the Church on Pentecost. First of all, it’s simply stating a rather obvious, if not always accomplished, imperative: Anything God ordains should make me happy. But secondly, the statement, and the subsequent reflection below, assumes I have the wisdom of maturity and hindsight to actually make such a cogent claim.
But since my folly is already manifest, I might as well go ahead and confirm it. Here’s why being chrismated on Pentecost has been so appealing to me.
First of all, chrismation is definitely a Holy Spirit sacrament. All such mysteries are, of course, but chrismation is the sealing of the Holy Spirit in a person’s body and soul. How utterly appropriate that the sacrament would be enacted on the day we celebrate the birth of the Church by the Holy Spirit.
Pentecost is the Church’s birthday, and so how appropriate that we would be added to the Church on its feast celebrating its origination.
Everybody does Pascha! 😉
Okay, more seriously, Pascha is a huge, huge celebration, which lasts for 50 days. One is transported to heaven. Liturgically, one is in celebrating mode for seven weeks. One sings my daughters’ favorite hymn: “Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death and upon those in the tombs bestowing life.” But with Pentecost, you have one fast-free week, and then it’s “To work!” No dilly-dallying. Get to it. Pentecost is the commissioning feast. It sends one out into “ordinary” time: “This is your life now. Daily struggle for holiness and virtue. Witness for God’s mercy. Git’r done.”
I know I, for one, need that sort of thing. There I am, still basking in the “glow” of the sacrament, and faced immediately with a myriad of pragmatic concerns. How does one do a daily moral inventory? How often, and what, to confess? How to start fasting? How do I establish a sensible prayer rule? And so it goes.
Don’t get me wrong, obviously, in the catechumenate one has already begun asking these questions and taking on these practices. But, at least for me, I’ve been spent so long “waiting for the day,” that it now seems as though it’s here too fast. “Wait! I don’t know everything yet!” Pentecost says: “You’ve tarried till you’ve received the gift. Now you’ve got it. Be Christ’s witnesses. Get to it.”