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The Novena in honor of the Holy Spirit is the oldest of all Novenas, since it was first made at the direction of our Lord Himself when He sent His apostles back to Jerusalem to await the coming of the Holy Spirit on the first Pentecost.
It is still the only Novena officially prescribed by the Catholic Church. Addressed to the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity, it is a powerful plea for the light, strength and love so sorely needed by every Christian, especially in these challenging times.
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The 11 remaining Apostles returned to Jerusalem after the Ascension of Jesus into Heaven. Acts 1:14 says, “All these with one accord devoted themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jes1us, and with his brethren.” During this time, the Apostles chose a replacement for Judas Iscariot. They cast lots between two men, and the lot fell on Matthias.
After nine days of prayer, the Holy Spirit descended upon the disciples. They heard a sound like a “mighty wind,” and “tongues as of fire” were resting on their heads.
Going out, Peter to the crowd that had gathered. Even though, just a few weeks earlier, he had denied Christ three times, Peter courageously proclaimed the Gospel. That day, three thousand people believed in Christ and were received into His Church.
St. Luke describes the setting of the descent of the Holy Spirit as “the day when Pentecost had come” (Acts 2:1). This Fiftieth Day (pentekoste) was for Israel a spring harvest feast ending the days of celebration after Passover. It was also a celebration of the giving of the Law on Mt. Sinai. For the Christian, it remains the “fiftieth day,” but after Jesus’ Passion, Death and Resurrection, and the celebration of the Gift of the Holy Spirit.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church (paragraphs 731-732) says:
On the day of Pentecost when the seven weeks of Easter had come to an end, Christ’s Passover is fulfilled in the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, manifested, given, and communicated as a divine person: of his fullness, Christ, the Lord, pours out the Spirit in abundance.
On that day, the Holy Trinity is fully revealed. Since that day, the Kingdom announced by Christ has been open to those who believe in him: in the humility of the flesh and in faith, they already share in the communion of the Holy Trinity...
“The Spirit of the Lord within you is so overwhelming that it should be the most important and visible thing in your entire life.” – Mother Angelica
In John 14:26, Jesus said, “[T]he Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.”
Thus, Pentecost is not only an historical event. As the fulfillment of Jesus’ promise, it continues to bear fruit in the Church today, especially in the sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation.
Both Jews and Christians celebrate this feast––– for Jews it is the culmination of the Passover from slavery to freedom in the giving of the Divine Law; for Christians the fulfilment of Christ’s Passover from sin and death in the giving of the Divine Spirit. These feasts occur at different times, however, as Passover and Easter only occasionally coincide.
When the Holy Spirit descended on the disciples, they immediately began proclaiming the Gospel. In fact, three thousand people were baptized that day. The disciples, through the gift of the Holy Spirit, were answering Jesus’ call to “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19). The Holy Spirit is vital in the mission and witness of the Church, so we consider Pentecost the birthday of the Church.
“How good God is to give me His Holy Spirit to supply what I need to strive for holiness.” – Mother Angelica
The feast is celebrated on the 50th and final day of the Easter season. The Greek word “pentekoste” means “fiftieth.”
Whitsunday, or White Sunday, refers to the white garments of Christians who were recently baptized. This is particularly used in England.
In the Old Testament, Pentecost was a harvest festival for the grain harvest. This is known as the Feast of Weeks or the Feast of Harvest (Deuteronomy 16:9-11). Among modern Jews, it is called Shavu`ot.
“But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be my witnesses… to the end of the earth.” Acts 1:8. Join Father Mark Mary as he discusses the witness of faith through the power of the Holy Spirit in the world today.
The Holy Spirit is the Third Person of the Most Blessed Trinity. God the Father is the First Person, and God the Son (Jesus) is the Second Person of the Holy Trinity.
According to the Catechism (paragraph 691):
“Holy Spirit” is the proper name of the one whom we adore and glorify with the Father and the Son. The Church has received this name from the Lord and professes it in the Baptism of her new children. [Cf. Mt 28:19]
The term “Spirit” translates the Hebrew word ruah, which, in its primary sense, means breath, air, wind. Jesus indeed uses the sensory image of the wind to suggest to Nicodemus the transcendent newness of him who is personally God’s breath, the divine Spirit. [Jn 3:5-8] On the other hand, “Spirit” and “Holy” are divine attributes common to the three divine persons. By joining the two terms, Scripture, liturgy, and theological language designate the inexpressible person of the Holy Spirit, without any possible equivocation with other uses of the terms “spirit” and “holy.”
“If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will pray the Father, and he will give you another Counselor, to be with you for ever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him; you know him, for he dwells with you, and will be in you.”
- John 14:15-17
Videos About Pentecost
Romans 5:5 says, “… God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”
The Catechism says: “Knowledge of faith is possible only in the Holy Spirit: to be in touch with Christ, we must first have been touched by the Holy Spirit. He comes to meet us and kindle faith in us” (CCC, 683).
“If people were to listen to the Holy Spirit, they would hear him say, ‘God loves you.’” – Pope Francis
The Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit are wisdom, understanding, knowledge, counsel, fortitude, piety, and fear of the Lord (cf. Is. 11:2-4).
The Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church says, “The fruits of the Holy Spirit are perfections formed in us as the first fruits of eternal glory. The tradition of the Church lists twelve of them: charity, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, generosity, gentleness, faithfulness, modesty, self-control, and chastity (Galatians 5:22-23, Vulgate)” (Compendium, 390).
“The Holy Spirit… leads us to the heights of God, so that we may already experience on this earth the seed of divine life which exists within us.” – Pope Benedict XVI
Even though the Holy Spirit has been at work from the beginning forming creation (Gen. 1:1), through the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Church He forms a new creation in Christ. As the Catechism says, “The Holy Spirit, whom Christ the head pours out on his members, builds, animates, and sanctifies the Church….” (CCC 747)
The two signs were the “sound… from heaven like the rush of a mighty wind” (Acts 2:2) and “tongues as of fire” over the disciples’ heads (Acts 2:3).
The original “nine days of prayer” occurred when the disciples gathered to await and pray for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. (cf. Lk. 24:49; Acts 2:1-5)