Church celebrates birthday on Pentecost

Published: May 15, 2018

Pentecost concludes the Easter Season, which leads into Ordinary Time. It is considered the birthday of the Church, for it was on this day, that the Holy Spirit descended upon the Apostles and filled them with the gifts they needed to lead the Church. This event took place 10 days after Jesus ascended into heaven and promised the coming of the Advocate. This year, Pentecost Sunday is celebrated May 20.

"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)

According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Pentecost instituted the "age of the Church, during which Christ manifests, makes present, and communicates his work of salvation through the liturgy of his Church, 'until he comes.'

"In this age of the Church, Christ now lives and acts in and with his Church, in a new way appropriate to this new age. He acts through the sacraments in what the common Tradition of the East and the West calls 'the sacramental economy;' this is the communication (or 'dispensation) of the fruits of Christ's paschal mystery in the celebration of the Church's 'sacramental' liturgy." (no. 1076).

And through the sacrament of confirmation, specifically, we receive the Holy Spirit and are able to experience how Pentecost is not just a feast day we celebrate, but a special and unique relationship that is always present both in the body of the Church and each of its members individually. 

"Sometimes we may forget that within the Blessed Trinity, the Holy Spirit is a Divine Person distinct from the Person of God the Father and the Person of God the Son, and that he helps us in specific and unique ways. Specifically he gives us seven gifts: wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord. At the sacrament of confirmation we are sealed with the Holy Spirit and receive from him these seven gifts which help us to live out our baptismal promises. These supernatural gifts will increase in strength within us as we deepen our prayer life and grow in virtue." Learn more, including what the saints have said about the Holy Spirit, by reading "After Pentecost: Catechesis on the Holy Spirit from the Saints."