Regína sacratíssimi Rosárii, ora pro nobis!

Ave Maria!

Pentecost—24 May AD 2015

  The Virgin Mary and the Apostles at Pentecost

[Ordinary of the Mass]
[English Mass Text]
[Latin Mass Text]
[Pentecost Holy Water]

“When the days of Pentecost were accomplished, they were all together in one place; and suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a mighty wind….”[1]

    The plans of God for the human race are inscrutable.  God is not subject to the limitations of time and place, so we see that the roots of things that occur today are often found in the remote past.  This is the case with both Easter and Pentecost, which go back to the Exodus from bondage in Egypt, with God commanding the Jewish people to observe three agricultural festivals every year thereafter in Jerusalem.[2]

    There was the Passover, the “feast of the unleavened bread,” which brought crowds to Jerusalem and provided the ritual background for the Last Supper, in which the Sacrifice of the Cross would be offered under the appearances of the Passover unleavened bread and wine.

    Fifty days after the Passover came the harvest of the newly sprung wheat, called “Shavuot, the Feast of Weeks,” by the Jews—and called “Pentecost,” the fiftieth day, by Hellenistic Jews who spoke Greek.  In addition to being a harvest celebration, it also commemorated the giving of the old Law to Moses by God.  Also, King David is said to have been born and to die on this day, Shavuot. 

    The third festival falls at the end of the harvest season, and does not have a corresponding Christian feast.

    The point is that all able-bodied Jewish men in Israel were supposed to attend the sacrifices offered in Jerusalem on these days.  This ensured a substantial crowd to witness our Lord’s entry into Jerusalem and His crucifixion a few days later around the Passover, and a similar crowd to hear Saint Peter preach at Shavuot.   That three thousand souls were baptized that first Pentecost[3] was a triple working of God, Who brought the crowd to Jerusalem, Who inspired Peter to preach fearlessly, and Who enabled Peter to be understood and believed in the minds of all who heard him, regardless of the language which they spoke.

    Pentecost is often referred to as “the birthday of the Church.”  On the very day in which the Jews received the Torah (the Old Law), that Law was fulfilled by the Baptism of Jesus Christ and by Baptism in the Holy Ghost.  I say “fulfilled,” rather than “taken away,” as the moral principles of the Old Law still remain, while the material disciplines of the Law (like circumcision and keeping kosher) have yielded to the spiritual dimension of the Sacraments instituted by Christ, and the gifts and fruits of the Holy Ghost.

    Those Gifts of the Holy Ghost are another example of God’s long term plan.  The Jews before Christ, of course, did not know that God existed in Trinity. yet we read the Messianic Prophet Isaias saying

[1] And there shall come forth a rod out of the root of Jesse, and a flower shall rise up out of his root.

    Jesse, of course, was the father of King David, who was born on this day—a great-grand ancestor of Jesus Christ Himself, about Whom the Prophet spoke.

[2] And the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him: the spirit of wisdom, and of understanding, the spirit of counsel, and of fortitude, the spirit of knowledge, and of godliness. [3] And he shall be filled with the spirit of the fear of the Lord.[4]

    The “spirit of the Lord shall rest on” Jesus Christ, and indeed the “Spirit of the Lord”—the Holy Ghost would begin to come upon the men and women who accepted the preaching of Peter and the apostles and who prepared by receiving Baptism.  The gifts of the Holy Ghost “rested upon” Jesus Christ because He was God—they rest upon us, for Faith and the Sacraments make us Christ-like.

    We all memorized them for our Confirmation, But to be sure we all understand what these gifts mean, I will quote the renowned preacher of the Liturgical Year, Father Leonard Goffine:

1. The gift of wisdom, which enables us to know God, to esteem spiritual more than temporal advantages, and to delight only in divine things.

2. The gift of understanding, by which we know and understand that which our faith proposes to our belief; children and adults should pray fervently for this gift, especially before sermons and instructions in the catechism.

3.The gift of counsel, which gives us the knowledge necessary to direct ourselves and others when in doubt, a gift particularly necessary for superiors, for those about choosing their state of life, and for married people who live unhappily, and do not know how to help themselves.

4. The gift of fortitude, which strengthens us to endure and courageously overcome all adversities and persecutions for virtue's sake.

5. The gift of knowledge, by which we know ourselves, our duties, and how to discharge them in a manner pleasing to God.

6. The gift of piety, which induces us to have God in view in all our actions, and infuses love in our hearts for His service.

7. The gift of the fear of the Lord, by which we not only fear the just punishment, but even His displeasure at every sin, more than all other things in the world.[5]

    In his letter to the Galatians, Saint Paul gives us a summary of what these gifts of the Holy Ghost produce in us—the effects that are usually called “the fruits of the Holy Ghost”:

[22] But the fruit of the Spirit is, charity, joy, peace, patience, [kindness], goodness, [forbearance], [23] Mildness, faith, modesty, [faithful self-discipline], and chastity. [6]

    The plans of God are indeed inscrutable!  Today we celebrate the descent of the Holy Ghost—an event prepared in our remote past. An event that we date with reference to the Exodus, perhaps four thousand years ago—but truly a timeless event with God who transcends both space and time.  Pentecost marks the completion of God's preparation for our salvation, the first day of our eternity!


[5]   Fr. Leonard Goffine, The Church’s Year (The Festival of Pentecost)

[6]   Galatians v: 22-23   The words in brackets are more modern terms for the words of the Douay translation.





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