Pentecost Puts the Holy Spirit at the Centre of the Church

Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese,
22 May 2015

An artist's depiction of the disciples gathered with Our Lady when the Holy Spirit manifested itself as tongues of fire

The festive season of Easter concludes this weekend with the Feast of Pentecost, celebrated at the Cathedral by Archbishop Anthony Fisher at the Pentecost Solemn Mass which will include the confirmation of several adults. Here and throughout the parishes of the Archdiocese, Pentecost Sunday will be celebrated as a great feast, commemorating the moment in Church history that is sometimes considered the birthday of the Church.

From ancient times it has been traditional for confirmations to take place at Pentecost, a time of rejoicing and thanksgiving and a time of recognising the centrality of the Holy Spirit in the life of the Church.

Across Australia on Pentecost Sunday 24 May, Bishops will confer the Sacrament of Confirmation for Adults for many candidates coming from parishes all around the country.

In Rome, Pope Francis will celebrate Pentecost with Mass at St Peter's Basilica.

Pope Francis has made the centrality of the Holy Spirit a topic of his homilies in January this year at his morning Mass in the Santa Marta residence reported by Vatican Radio.

"Only the Holy Spirit, not a thousand yoga, zen or spirituality courses has the power to open our hearts to God and his love" said the Holy Father.

Speaking of the ailment of many people today of being closed in on themselves, fearful and incapable of love, Pope Francis recommended the Holy Spirit as the perfect antidote, "The Spirit makes us free and docile as a child of God."

The upper room in Jerusalem considered the place where the first Pentecost occured

In the Catholic calendar, Pentecost is the third great festival of the Christian year after Christmas and Easter and celebrates the Holy Spirit who through the Word and Sacraments gives Christians the power to believe and to go out and bear witness to the truth of Jesus Christ.

Pentecost is celebrated 50 days after Easter and 10 days after the Ascension of Our Lord and commemorates the miracle of the Holy Spirit that swept through a house in Jerusalem where the disciples had gathered. Praying together, there was a sudden almighty rush of wind that filled the house. Seconds later great tongues of fire descended and rested on each of their heads.

"Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting" (Acts 2:2)

Empowered by the Holy Spirit, the Apostles were able to proclaim the Gospel of the Risen Christ throughout the world, fulfilling Christ's directive "Go make disciples of all the nations, baptising in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" (Matt 28:19).

The Holy Spirit window above the high altar in St Peter's Basilica in Rome

Across the Archdiocese, events initiated by lay people are being held to mark Pentecost. "Downpour" youth rally held at Engadine Community Hall and hosted by lay communities and parish youth groups will feature high profile musicians and performers such as US based Steve Angrisano, Australia's Got Talent winner Andrew De Silva, Australian Catholic songwriter Steve Kirk and Fr Chris Ryan MGL. The event is expected to draw hundreds of young people and focus on asking the Holy Spirit to unify young people and send them out on mission.

To Catholics and other Christian denominations, Pentecost remains as significant as the religious festivals of Christmas and Easter.

Uplifting and joyous, the Feast of Pentecost brings with it an overwhelming sense of renewal along with the mission to evangelise and spread the Word that brings life to the world.