Pentecost: The Birthday of the Church



Nine days after the celebration of Jesus' Ascension into Heaven, the Church celebrates the coming of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost Sunday. It is a joyous day, one that concludes the Easter season and ushers in a time during the liturgical year that is focused on the Holy Spirit's actions in the Church.

The event is recorded in the book of Acts:
"When the time for Pentecost was fulfilled, they were all in one place together. And suddenly there came from the sky a noise like a strong driving wind, and it filled the entire house in which they were. Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire, which parted and came to rest on each one of them. And they were all filled with the holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues, as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim." (Acts 2:1-4)
As a note, the apostles were all gathered for the celebration of the Jewish feast of Pentecost. It was called the "Feast of Weeks" and commemorated the giving of the Law to Moses at Mount Sinai. God chose this day to impart the Holy Spirit upon His Church to show how the Old Law was passing away, making way for the New Law in Christ Jesus. 

Liturgically the color of vestments for Pentecost is red and symbolizes the fire of the Holy Spirit that rested on the apostles. It is a tradition in some churches to throw red rose pedals from the ceiling to commemorate the descent of the tongues of fire. 

Pentecost is also known as the birthday of the Catholic Church, for from that point onward the apostles went out to baptize and spread the Gospel. Before then, they had locked themselves in the upper room in fear of the Jews. This event gave Peter and the twelve the strength and courage to fulfill the mission they were given by Jesus.

The descent of the Holy Spirit also fulfills the promise of Jesus of an Advocate who would abide with them until the end of time. We believe that the Holy Spirit is with us today and continues to animate the Church's life, especially through the teachings on faith and morals of the Pope. This allows us to believe with certainty that the Pope can teach without error in official Church documents that pertain to teachings on faith and morals. We believe the Holy Spirit is with us and that we can rest assured that the Advocate will not lead us astray.

Pentecost also ushers in the continuation of Ordinary Time and is meant to be a time of growth, reflecting on the action of the Holy Spirit in the Church.


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