Sunday, May 19, 2013

Things To Know And Share About Pentecost

Today is Pentecost Sunday.



“When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly, a sound came from heaven like the rush of a mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire, distributed and resting on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. And at this sound the multitude came together…” [1]   
Acts 2:1-6

Pentecost Sunday is one of the principal celebrations in the liturgical life of the Church. It marks the Descent of the Holy Spirit, the end of Eastertide, and it falls 50 days after the Resurrection of Our Lord.

In ancient Jewish tradition, Pentecost was ‘the feast of weeks’ where Israelites offered ‘first fruits’ to God in thanksgiving of the full harvest which was to come. Also traditionally, Jewish Pentecost came to honor the day Moses received the Law on Mount Sinai. On that day, God spoke to His chosen race through Moses with thunder, lightning and trumpet blasts, guiding his people with the Law of the Ten Commandments. [2][3]

Christian Pentecost, with the Descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles, builds on the Old Law but brings new meaning to it. In this Pentecost, the Holy Spirit is trumpeted and the New Law is Great News; Christ has been crowned in Heaven and he desires for us to join Him. He gives us the birth of the Church and shows us how to be united in faith. When we model Jesus Christ and align with God’s Spirit, it produces in us rich fruits including; “…charity, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, generosity, gentleness, faithfulness, modesty, self-control, and chastity” (Cat.1832). In other words, through the Ten Gifts of the Holy Spirit, we are shown how to live out this closeness with God and with our brothers and sisters. [4][5][6]

Written by Sarah Ciotti
Reviewed by Fr. Hugh Feiss, OSB, STD
[1] Revised Standard Version, s.v. “The Acts of the Apostles.”
[2] Catholicpedia: The Original Catholic Encyclopedia (1917) for iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch. s.v. “Pentecost (Jewish Feast).”
[3] Samuele Bucchiocchi, “Festival Typology,” in God’s Festivals in Scripture and History, vol 2, The Fall Festivals (Berrian Springs, MI: Biblical Perspectives, 2001).
[4] Ibid.
[5] Benedict XVI, “Prayer Vigil and Meeting, Solemnity of Pentecost” June 3, 2006.
[6] Gal. 5:11-23; Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2nd ed., 1832.


by Jimmy Akin

Where did the feast of Pentecost come from? What happened on it? And what does it mean for us today? Here are 8 things to know and share . . .

The original day of Pentecost saw dramatic events that are important to the life of the Church.

But where did the feast of Pentecost come from?

How can we understand what happened on it?

And what does it mean for us today?

Here are 8 things to know and share about it . . .

1. What does the name "Pentecost" mean?

It comes from the Greek word for "fiftieth" (pentecoste). The reason is that Pentecost is the fiftieth day (Greek, pentecoste hemera) after Easter Sunday (on the Christian calendar).

This name came into use in the late Old Testament period and was inherited by the authors of the New Testament.

2. What else is this feast known as?

In the Old Testament, it is referred to by several names:

    The feast of weeks
    The feast of harvest
    The day of first-fruits

Today in Jewish circles it is known as Shavu`ot (Hebrew, "weeks").

It goes by various names in different languages.

In England (and English), it has also been known as "Whitsunday" (white Sunday). This name is presumably derived from the white baptismal garments of those recently baptized.

3. What kind of feast was Pentecost in the Old Testament?

It was a harvest festival, signifying the end of the grain harvest. Deuteronomy 16 states:

You shall count seven weeks; begin to count the seven weeks from the time you first put the sickle to the standing grain.

Then you shall keep the feast of weeks to the Lord your God with the tribute of a freewill offering from your hand, which you shall give as the Lord your God blesses you; and you shall rejoice before the Lord your God [Dt. 16:9-11a].

4. What does Pentecost represent in the New Testament?

It represents the fulfillment of Christ's promise from the end of Luke's Gospel:

“Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be preached in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you; but stay in the city, until you are clothed with power from on high” [Lk. 24:46-49].

This "clothing with power" comes with the bestowal of the Holy Spirit upon the Church.


Read the last four things to know and share about Pentecost here.

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