Volume 31 Issue 8 - 7 June 2019

Pentecost

As Catholics, we celebrate the birth of our Church on Pentecost Sunday, this year falling on 9 June. The word Pentecost comes from the Greek word pentecoste, meaning "50th day." Fifty days after Easter Sunday, we celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles and their followers, and the beginning of their earthly ministry to make disciples of all nations.

 

At Pentecost, the Apostles and their followers were gathered in a room. Jews from all over the world were gathered with Peter, the leader of the Apostles and the Eleven. At this time, a great wind blew, and a flame appeared as a tongue of fire, which split itself into many individual flames above the heads of all those present. The Holy Spirit came upon these people and each began to speak in tongues. Despite the fact many had no common language, they were perfectly able to understand one another.

Others who were not so blessed, accused those speaking in tongues of being drunk, but Peter arose and addressed the crowd, explaining that it was only 9 o'clock, and that this phenomenon was not intoxication, but rather this was the work of the Holy Spirit, prophesised in the scripture.

Peter then called all those present to be baptised and about 3,000 people were baptised that day. These people were among the first Catholics, and Peter is the first Pope of the Catholic Church.

The symbols of Pentecost are the flame, wind and the dove, which represent the Holy Spirit. The colour of Pentecost is red and the priest wears red vestments on this day.

The timing of these feasts is also where Catholics get the concept of the Novena - nine days of prayer - because in Acts 1, Mary and the Apostles prayed together “continuously” for nine days after the Ascension leading up to Pentecost. Traditionally, the Church prays the Novena to the Holy Spirit in the days before Pentecost.

Louise East - Acting RE Coordinator