Veni Sancte Spiritus on Pentecost Sunday

Published: May 23, 2023

"Breathe in me, O Holy Spirit, that my thoughts may all be holy. Act in me, O Holy Spirit, that my work, too, may be holy. Draw my heart, O Holy Spirit, that I love but what is holy. Strengthen me, O Holy Spirit, to defend all that is holy. Guard me, then, O Holy Spirit, that I always may be holy. Amen." — Prayer To The Holy Spirit By St. Augustine

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Jesus promised the Advocate would come. "It is better for you that I go," he told his apostles. "For if I do not go, the Advocate will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you." Knowing they were confused, Jesus said, “I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now. But when he comes, the Spirit of Truth, he will guide you to all truth." (John 16: 7-13) And before Jesus ascended into heaven he instructed his followers to stay together and not leave Jerusalem, "but to wait for 'the promise of the Fatherabout which you have heard me speak, for John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit." (Acts 1: 4-5)

And when the time for Pentecost came, 10 days after the Ascension, the apostles were all together in one place, when "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)

"Filled with the Holy Spirit the apostles began to proclaim 'the mighty works of God,' and Peter declared this outpouring of the Spirit to be the sign of the messianic age. Those who believed in the apostolic preaching and were baptized received the gift of the Holy Spirit in their turn." (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 1287)

The word "pentecost" comes from the Greek "pentecoste," which means 50th. Pentecost Sunday is celebrated 50 days after Easter and concludes the Easter Season. Pentecost is considered the birthday of the Church, because "the Church was made manifest to the world on the day of Pentecost by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. (no. 1076)

"The gift of the Spirit ushers in a new era ... 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."

Through the sacrament of confirmation, we are "sealed with the gift of 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" during confirmation to "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."