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The Descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost

Solemnity - 50 days after Easter Sunday
Third Glorious Mystery of the Rosary


Pope Francis's words at Pentecost in: 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015 (when he gave his encyclical Laudato Si'), 2014 & 2013
Papa Benedict XVI's words at Pentecost in: 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006 & 2005.
St John Paul II's words at Pentecost in: 2004, 2003 (in Croatia), 2002 (canonization of 5 Blesseds), 2001, Great Jubilee 2000, 1997 (in Roman Parish of St Athanasius on his birthday), 1995 (in Belgium), 1992 (in Angola), 1987 (inauguration of the Marian Year), 1985 (in Salerno), 1983 (in Milan), 1982 (in England), 1981, 1980 & 1979 (in Poland).

St John Paul II gave us Dominum et Vivificantem, his encyclical on the Holy Spirit, at Pentecost 1986. Also, between 1989-1991, JPII gave a series of 82 catechesis on the Holy Spirit. Pope Leo XIII wrote his encyclical Divinum Illud Munus on the Holy Spirit in 1897.

3 2us by Father Tony Nye SJ      
"The Holy Spirit could be called God's music, speaking in us, singing through us in loving praise. .. The work of the Holy Spirit is also quiet and still, hidden deep down, as Comforter, very intimate, within each one of us through the quiet working of grace, in the Sacraments and in our prayer. In John's Gospel, the giving of the Spirit is described as the Risen Christ 'breathing on the Apostles.' That is something very basic to life, very quiet and still. You have to be quiet and still to be aware of your breathing. The Holy Spirit is the breath of life, bringing us eternal life, making us temples of God's presence, as St Paul says."

Sunday Evangelium by Father Marcus Holden     
"This feast of Pentecost is the birthday of the Church, it's our birthday. We often think of the Holy Spirit as a personal gift to the individual Christian but more fundamentally the Holy Spirit is first of all a gift to the whole Church and then secondly to all of its members. Without the Holy Spirit, the Church is like a body without life in it, without breath."

Catechesis by St John Paul II on the Holy Spirit & Pentecost
General Audience, Wednesday 30 May 1979 - also in French, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

"1. Already in the first sentences of the Acts of the Apostles we read that Jesus, after his passion and resurrection, "showed himself alive to them ... by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and telling them about the kingdom of God" (Acts 1, 3). Then he announced that they would soon be "baptized with the Holy Spirit" (Acts 1, 5). And before his definitive departure, as St Luke, the author of the Acts of the Apostles, notes in this case in his Gospel, he (had) told them: "... stay in the city, until you are clothed with power from on high" (Lk 24, 49). This is why, after he had left the Apostles by ascending to heaven, "they went back to Jerusalem" (Lk 24, 52) where, as the Acts again inform us, "they joined in continuous prayer, together with several women, including Mary, the mother of Jesus" (Acts 1, 14). The place of this common prayer, explicitly recommended by the Master, was certainly the temple of Jerusalem ,as we read at the conclusion of the Gospel of St Luke (Lk 24, 53). But it was also the Cenacle, as can be deduced from the Acts of the Apostles. The Lord Jesus had said to them: "You will have strength/power from the Holy Spirit who will descend upon you and then you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth" (Acts 1, 8).

Year after year, the Church in her liturgy celebrates the Ascension of the Lord on the fortieth day after Easter. Year after year, she also lives
in prayer to the Holy Spirit the (period of) ten days from the Ascension to Pentecost. In a certain sense the Church, year after year, prepares for the anniversary of her birth. As the Fathers teach, she was born on the Cross on Good Friday; she revealed this birth to the world on the day of Pentecost, when the Apostles were "clothed with power from on high" (Lk 24, 49); when they were "baptized in the Holy Spirit" (Acts 1, 5). "Ubi enim Ecclesia, ibi est Spiritus Dei; ubi Spiritus Dei, illic Ecclesia et omnis gratia: Spiritus autem veritas" (Where the Church is, there is the Spirit of God; where the Spirit of God is, there is the Church and every grace: the Spirit is truth) (St Irenaeus, Adversus Haereses, II,24,1).

2. Let us seek to persevere in this rhythm of the Church. In (the course of) these days she invites us to participate in the novena to the Holy Spirit. It can be said that, among the various novenas, this is the most ancient; it takes its origin, in a certain sense, from its institution by Christ the Lord. It is clear that Jesus did not specify/designate the prayers that we have to recite during these days. But, undoubtedly, he recommended to the Apostles to spend these days in prayer in expectation of the descent of the Holy Spirit. This recommendation was valid not only then. It is valid always. And the period of ten days after the Lord's Ascension carries within itself, every year, the same call of the Master,/; it also contains within itself the same mystery of Grace, connected to the rhythm of the liturgical time. We must take advantage of this time. In it, too, let us seek to recollect ourselves in a particular way, and in a certain way enter the Cencacle (together) with Mary and the Apostles, preparing our souls to accept the Holy Spirit and his action in us. All this is of great importance for the interior maturity of our faith, of our Christian vocation. And it is also of great importance for the Church as a community: year after year may every community in the Church and the whole Church, as a community of all communities, mature through the Gift of Pentecost. "The oxygenating breath of the Spirit has come to awaken dormant energies in the Church, to arouse sleeping charisms, to instil that sense of vitality and joy which in every epoch of history renders the Church young and actual/current, ready and happy to announce to/in the new times her eternal message" (Paul VI, Address to the Cardinals, 21 Dec 1973).

Again this year we must prepare ourselves for the acceptance of this Gift. Let us seek to participate in the prayer of the Church ".. Il est impossible d'entendre l'Esprit-Saint sans écouter ce qu'il dit à l'Eglise" (.. It is impossible to hear the Holy Spirit without listening to what he says to the Church": H. de Lubac, Méditations sur l'Eglise, 1973).

Let us also pray alone. There is a particular prayer which will resonate with due strength/all its force in the liturgy of Pentecost; we can however repeat it often, especially in this present period of waiting: "Come, Holy Spirit / send us from heaven / a ray of your light. // Come, father of the poor, / come, giver of gifts, / come, light of hearts. // ...sweet guest of the soul / most sweet relief. // In fatigue, rest, / in heat, shelter / in tears, comfort // Wash what is dirty, / bathe what is dry / heal what is bleeding. // Bend what is rigid / warm what is cold / straighten what is crooked.

Perhaps one day we will return to this magnificent Sequence and try to comment on it. Let it be suffice for us today briefly to recall (to memory) certain words and sentences.

Let us therefore
in this period address our prayers to the Holy Spirit. Let us pray for his gifts. Let us pray for the transformation of our souls. Let us pray for strength in confessing the faith, for coherence of life with the faith. Let us pray for the Church, that she may fulfill her mission in the Holy Spirit; that the counsel and the Spirit of the Bridegroom and of her God may accompany her (cf St Bernard, In Vigilia Nativitatis Domini, Sermo 3, 1). Let us pray for the union/unity of all Christians. For (the) union/unity in carrying out the same mission.

3. The description of this moment in which the Apostles, gathered in the Cenacle of/in Jerusalem, received the Holy Spirit is in a particular way
linked with the revelation of tongues. We read: "suddenly they heard what sounded like a mighty wind from heaven, the noise of which filled the entire house in which they were sitting; and something appeared to them that seemed like tongues of fire which divided and came to rest on each one of them. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages/tongues as the Spirit gave them the gift of speech" (Acts 2, 2-4).

The event, which took place in the cenacle, did not pass/go unnoticed outside, among the people who were then in Jerusalem, and were — as we read — Jews from different nations. "... The crowd gathered and were in amazement because each of them heard them speaking in their own language" (Acts 2, 6). And those who marveled thus/(in) this way, hearing them speak their own language, are later enumerated in the description of the Acts of the Apostles: "Parthians, Medes, Elamites and inhabitants of Mesopotamia, Judea, Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and parts of Libya near to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome. Jews and Proselytes, Cretans and Arabians" (Acts 2, 9-11). On the day of Pentecost all of them heard the Apostles, who were Galileans, speak in their own languages and announce the great works of God (cf Acts 2, 11).

So, therefore, the day of Pentecost carries within itself the visible and perceptible announcement/proclamation of the realization of Christ's mandate: "Go... and make disciples of all nations..." (Mt 28, 19). Through/By means of the revelation of tongues/languages we already see, in a certain way, and hear the Church which, fulfilling this mandate, is born and lives among the various nations of the earth.

In a few days, for the occasion of the jubilee of St Stanislaus, I will have the good fortune to go to Poland, my homeland. Precisely/Right there I will celebrate Pentecost, the feast of the descent of the Holy Spirit. I have already more than once expressed my thanks to the Episcopate
for this occasion and to the Polish state authorities for this invitation. Today I do so once again.

In this perspective, I desire/wish to express my particular joy because to that revelation of languages on the day of Pentecost there have also been added, during history, the individual Slav languages from Macedonia through Bulgaria, Croatia, Slovenia, Bohemia, Slovakia, Lusatia, in the West. And in the East: Rus (now called the Ukraine), Russia and Belorussia. I desire to express my very special joy because to the revelation of languages in the cenacle in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost there has also been added my nation and its language: the Polish language. Since I am offered the opportunity to visit my Homeland on the solemnity of Pentecost, I desire to express my thanks that the Gospel has been announced for so many centuries in all these languages and particularly in my national language. And at the same time I desire to serve this important cause of our times: so/in order that "the great works of God" may continue to be announced with faith and courage as (the) seed of hope and love which Christ has grafted in/onto us,
through the Gift of Pentecost.

My visit to Poland, from 2nd to 10th June, will take place while events of great scope/importance are being held in Italy and other European countries: in Italy, on 3 and 4 June, the elections for the national Parliament; on 10 June, in the nine countries of the European Community, the election
of the first Parliament of this Community, designated by/on a popular base/the people.

Far away physically, I will feel close in heart to the tens and tens of millions of men and women who will be preparing to carry out a duty which is, at the same time, an act of service to the common good. I will pray to the Lord, and I am sure that you will pray with me, that every one will know how to carry out their duty with a sense of responsibility and maturity, inspired by the profound dictate of their own conscience."

Pope Paul VI - General Audience of 12/6/1974

"We turn out thoughts today towards an effect proper to Pentecost: the supernatural life produced by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit into the visible, social and human body of Christ's disciples. This effect is the eternal youth of the Church... The human persons making up the Church undergo the fate of time; they are entombed in death. But this neither suspends nor interrupts the witness of the Church through the ages. As Jesus declared and promised: “I am with you always even to the end of the world” (Mt 28,20). He likewise gave Simon to understand the same thing when he gave him a new name: “You are Peter and on this rock I will build my Church, and the power of death will not prevail against it” (Mt 16,18).

Along with so many other people today we could immediately raise the objection: concerning the permanency of the Church, maybe, it has lasted twenty centuries; but it is precisely because it has lasted for so long that it is old... The Church, people say, is venerable because of its antiquity..., but it doesn't live now by that breathing that is always new: it is no longer young. This is a powerful objection...; a long treatise would be needed to reply. But for minds open to the truth it would be enough to say that the Church's continuation is synonymous with youth. “It is wonderful in our eyes” (Ps 118[117],23; Mt 21,42) : the Church is young.

What is most astonishing is that the secret of its youth is its unchanging continuation through time. Time does not cause the Church to age; it makes it grow, stimulating its life and fulness... True, all its members die just like other mortal beings; but the Church herself not only contains an invincible principle of immortality outside of history; she also possesses an incalculable force for renewal."