Most of us are very familiar with the celebration of Pentecost in the Christian Church. On Pentecost, we celebrate the time when the Holy Spirit descended upon the Apostles in the form of tongues of fire. The power of the Holy Spirit came upon the Apostles and each of them were able to proclaim the Word in various languages that they had not previously known. Think about how amazing this must have been! Suddenly the Apostles were able to teach and preach about the Kingdom of Heaven in whatever language their audience understood. That would be like you and I suddenly being fluent in languages like French, German, Spanish or even less common languages like Tagalog or Swahili! Plus, you and I would suddenly be able to explain all of the details and nuances about God’s Kingdom! It’s no wonder that Pentecost is one of the most important feasts that is celebrated in the Catholic Church. While we’re familiar with the story of Pentecost, how familiar are we with the history of Pentecost in the Catholic Church?
Before His ascension, Jesus had promised His Apostles that He would send His Holy Spirit, and, on Pentecost, they were granted the gifts of the Spirit. The Apostles began to preach the Gospel in all of the languages that the Jews who were gathered there spoke, and about 3,000 people were converted and baptized that day. That is why Pentecost is often called "the birthday of the Church." On this day, with the descent of the Holy Spirit, Christ's mission is completed, and the New Covenant is launched.
In years past, Pentecost was celebrated with greater solemnity than it is today. In fact, the entire period between Easter and Pentecost Sunday was known as Pentecost. During those 50 days, both fasting and kneeling were strictly forbidden, because this period was supposed to give us a preview of the life of Heaven. In more recent times, parishes celebrated the approach of Pentecost with the public recitation of the Novena to the Holy Ghost.
The Novena to the Holy Ghost has a long and beautiful history. A novena is a nine-day prayer recalling the time the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Apostles spent in prayer between Ascension Thursday and Pentecost Sunday. When Christ ascended into Heaven, He told them He would send His Holy Spirit, and so they prayed for the coming of theSpirit.
Today we are still awaiting the Second Coming of Christ and so we continue to pray for that special day. As we celebrate Pentecost, let us also pray that we are given the power to teach others about our faith in a language that they can understand.
He Would Love First!
October 24, 2020
A July Faith Formation Series – Part IV – APOSTOLIC