St. Basil, on Pentecost

On the Holy Spirit: St. Basil the Great“Why We Stand to Pray on Sundays”

We say our prayers standing on the first day of the week, but not all know the reason why. By standing for prayer we remind ourselves of the grace given to us on the day of the resurrection, as if we are rising to stand with Christ and being bound to seek what is above. Not only this, it also seems somehow to be an image of the day to come. On account of this, although it is the beginning of days, Moses names it not “first” but “one.” For it is written, “There was evening, and there was morning, one day” (Gen 1.5), as if the same one often repeated. Now, “One” and “Eighth” are the same, which indicates of itself that the really “one” and the true “eighth”–which the Psalmist mentions in some titles of psalms–are the state after this time, the unceasing, unending perpetual day , that never-ending and ever-young age. Necessarily, then, the Church teaches her foster children to pray standing on this day, so that we would not neglect the provisions for our journey to everlasting life by a constant reminder of it. And the whole of Pentecost is a reminder of the resurrection to come in eternity, for that “one” and first day, multiplied by seven seven times, fills up the seven weeks of sacred Pentecost. It begins on the first day and ends on the same day, revolving fifty times through similar days in between. Eternity is like a circular movement, beginning from the same points where it ends. The ordinance of the Church well taught us to prefer to stand at prayer on this day, as if we were leading our minds from the present to the future. With each going down on the knee and rising up we indicate in deed that we have fallen through sin to the earth and are called up to heaven by the love of our creator.

~ St. Basil the Great, in On the Holy Spirit

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