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The “Birthday of the Church” – Pentecost is May 11

“Pentecost – The Birth of the Church”

and on the last, and great day of the festivity, Jesus stood and cried, saying: If any man thirst, let him come to me and drink. He that believeth in me, as the scripture saith: Out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. Now this he said of the Spirit which they should receive who believed in him: for as yet the Spirit was not given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.”

-Gospel of St. John 7:37-39

The Feast of Pentecost, celebrated the fiftieth day after Easter, commemorates the descent of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles and the birth of the Church. It is celebrated on the day of the ancient Jewish festival called the ”Festival of Weeks,” also called Pentecost (and the source of the name of the Catholic feast). The Catholic feast of Pentecost has also been known as Whitsunday, from “White Sunday,” in reference to the white garments worn by those being baptized on the feast day.

Historically, this feast dates back to the first century and the days of the Apostles, but it appears that early on, being so closely bound to Easter, it was not observed as much more than the end of Paschaltide. The reference to Pentecost in Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians likely refers to the older, established Jewish feast. The day as a celebration of the Holy Spirit coming down upon the Apostles was well established by the time of the Ecclesiastical writer Tertullian of the second and third century. However, for sometime the duration varied; some fourth century writings describe Pentecost as lasting one week, though it was not kept with an octave, but only as a single day, in the west until a much later date.

-Adapted from the New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia

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“The Church is born primarily of Christ’s total self-giving for our salvation, anticipated in the institution of the Eucharist and fulfilled on the cross. “The origin and growth of the Church are symbolized by the blood and water which flowed from the open side of the crucified Jesus.” “For it was from the side of Christ as he slept the sleep of death upon the cross that there came forth the ‘wondrous sacrament of the whole Church.'” As Eve was formed from the sleeping Adam’s side, so the Church was born from the pierced heart of Christ hanging dead on the cross.

“When the work which the Father gave the Son to do on earth was accomplished, the Holy Spirit was sent on the day of Pentecost in order that he might continually sanctify the Church.” Then “the Church was openly displayed to the crowds and the spread of the Gospel among the nations, through preaching, was begun.” As the “convocation” of all men for salvation, the Church in her very nature is missionary, sent by Christ to all the nations to make disciples of them.

So that she can fulfill her mission, the Holy Spirit “bestows upon [the Church] varied hierarchic and charismatic gifts, and in this way directs her.” “Henceforward the Church, endowed with the gifts of her founder and faithfully observing his precepts of charity, humility and self-denial, receives the mission of proclaiming and establishing among all peoples the Kingdom of Christ and of God, and she is on earth the seed and the beginning of that kingdom.”

- from the Catechism of the Catholic Church 766 – 768

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First Holy Communion season is here!

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The Novena for Pentecost

(To begin 9 days before the feast – on May 3)

O Holy Spirit, who descended upon the Apostles and filled them with power and wisdom, watch over me and guide me in all my thoughts and acts. Never let me forget to call on you whenever I need help. Amen.
O Holy Spirit, Spirit of Truth, come into our hearts, shed the brightness of Your light on all nations, that they may be one in faith and pleasing to You.

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