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Photo Credit: Illustration by Abigail Witte

Pentecost is the gift of the Holy Spirit given to the entire Church

The ‘Soul of the Church’ gives us the strength to live our faith

“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.

“Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven staying in Jerusalem. At this sound, they gathered in a large crowd, but they were confused because each one heard them speaking in his own language. They were astounded, and in amazement they asked, ‘Are not all these people who are speaking Galileans? Then how does each of us hear them in his own native language? We are Parthians, Medes, and Elamites, inhabitants of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the districts of Libya near Cyrene, as well as travelers from Rome, both Jews and converts to Judaism, Cretans and Arabs, yet we hear them speaking in our own tongues of the mighty acts of God.’ They were all astounded and bewildered, and said to one another, ‘What does this mean?’ But others said, scoffing, ‘They have had too much new wine.’”

— (Acts 2:1-13)

The scene was quite dramatic as the Holy Spirit descended upon the apostles with wind and tongues of fire, prompting them to proclaim the Good News by simultaneously speaking in multiple languages. No, they weren’t drunk, as St. Peter admonished those making the accusation. This was the arrival of the Holy Spirit, as prophesied in the Old Testament.

Pope Francis has called the Holy Spirit the “Soul of the Church.” The Holy Spirit is one of three persons of the Holy Trinity (Father, Son and Holy Spirit), and whose role is to guide us to the truth.

“He leads us not only to an encounter with Jesus, the fullness of Truth, but guides us ‘into’ the Truth, helping us enter into a deeper communion with Jesus Himself,” the pope said. The Holy Father acknowledges that people cannot accomplish these things on their own, but instead must place their future in faith confidently in the hands of the Holy Spirit.

Pentecost is a solemnity that is observed on the seventh Sunday of Easter, or 50 days after Easter Sunday. It is observed this year on Sunday, June 9.

The Holy Spirit is what makes faith possible. This person of the Trinity is the connection between the believer and God. The faithful are unable to understand who Jesus is and believe in Him without the help of the Holy Spirit. “No one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord’ except by the Holy Spirit” (1 Cor 12:3).

The Holy Spirit also is one of the most important ways in which Jesus fulfills His promise to remain with us until the end of time. The Holy Spirit enhances the relationship between the faithful and God; it is the Holy Spirit that makes it possible for God to dwell in our hearts.

The Holy Spirit also is our advocate. The Catechism of the Catholic Church notes that Jesus calls the Holy Spirit the “paraclete,” meaning “he who is called to one’s side,” or “ad-vocatus” (CCC 692). The Gospel of John notes that “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you always, the Spirit of Truth, whom the world cannot accept, because it neither sees nor knows him” (John 14:16-17).

It should give Christians great confidence to know that God the Holy Spirit is at their side.

“O God, who by the mystery of today’s great feast sanctify your whole Church in every people and nation, pour out, we pray, the gifts of the Holy Spirit across the face of the earth and, with the divine grace that was at work when the Gospel was first proclaimed, fill now once more the hearts of believers.”

(From the Roman Missal, Collect for Pentecost)

Seven gifts of the Holy Spirit

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that “the moral life of Christians is sustained by the gifts of the Holy Spirit. These are permanent dispositions which make man docile in following the promptings of the Holy Spirit” (CCC 1830).

• Wisdom

• Understanding

• Counsel

• Fortitude

• Knowledge

• Piety

• Fear of the Lord

Baptism in the Holy Spirit

The International Catholic Charismatic Renewal Services Doctrinal Commission described Baptism in the Holy Spirit as “a life-transforming experience of the love of God the Father poured into one’s heart by the Holy Spirit, received through a surrender to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. It brings alive sacramental baptism and confirmation, deepens communion with God and with fellow Christians, enkindles evangelistic fervor and equips a person with charisms for service and mission.”

The Holy Spirit gives us the strength to live our faith, said Jane Guenther, director of the archdiocesan Catholic Renewal Center. “It’s what a missionary disciple is,” she said.

Last year, the Vatican announced that it is establishing a new body to provide a “new, single, international service for the needs of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal in the Church.” This body, called CHARIS, exists under the Vatican’s dicastery for Laity, Family and Life, and has its own statutes, which take effect on Pentecost.

This is important news, Guenther said, because the worldwide Renewal movement has never before existed under a Vatican dicastery.

Pentecost Vigil Mass

A Pentecost Vigil Mass will be celebrated at 7 p.m. Saturday, June 8, at St. Elizabeth of Hungary, 1406 South Sappington Road in Crestwood. Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus Robert J. Hermann will be the main celebrant.

The Mass will include the seven readings from the Old and New Testaments, which detail the descent of the Holy Spirit into the Church, as well as extended periods of praise. It is organized by the archdiocesan Catholic Renewal Center.

To learn more about the Renewal Center and its ministries, visit www.archstl.org/catholic-renewal-center.

To read the readings for the Extended Vigil, see www.usccb.org/bible/readings/060919-extended-vigil.cfm.

‘Veni Sancte Spiritus’

By Shemaiah Gonzalez | Catholic News Service

On Pentecost, we celebrate the arrival of the Holy Spirit to the disciples. Before Christ ascended into heaven, He told them His Spirit would arrive to comfort them. It is through the Holy Spirit that we experience God here, with us.

The liturgy of Pentecost includes a very striking medieval texts in the Roman Missal, “Veni Sancte Spiritus,” or “Come Holy Spirit.” To me, the text is poetry. Its truth moves through my body as I read it, reacquainting me to the Holy Spirit. “Veni Sancte Spiritus” gives me new language to use as I call upon him. Through its words I learn more about who the Holy Spirit is and I learn to trust him.

“Come, Holy Spirit, come!/ And from your celestial home/ Shed a ray of light divine!”

In his First Letter to the Corinthians, St. Paul tell us that the gifts of the Holy Spirit include understanding and wisdom. We call upon the Holy Spirit to come from heaven, to bring his light, “shed a ray of light divine,” to enable us to see and understand the spiritual more clearly.

“You, of comforters the best;/ You, the soul’s most welcome guest;/ Sweet refreshment here below.”

“The soul’s most welcome guest.” Isn’t he?

St. Paul writes in his Letter to the Romans that our very crying out, our longing for God, is the Spirit affirming that we are His children. We belong to Him. When we sense His presence, we catch a glimpse of God’s glory, even if just for a moment. And what a refreshment that is to find comfort when we had none.

“O most blessed Light divine,/ Shine within these hearts of yours,/ And our inmost being fill!”

In the Acts of the Apostles, St. Paul says that in the Holy Spirit, “we live and move and have our being.” He fills us up and without the Holy Spirit we are hollow.

At Pentecost, we remember that first arrival of the Holy Spirit. The “Veni Sancte Spiritus” renews our understanding of the Holy Spirit, reminding us to call on Him and He will be near.

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