Sunday, May 12, 2024

Links for Pentecost

From a Bible historiale by Guiard des Moulilns
French (Saint-Omer), 14th Century
Paris, Bibliotheque nationale de France
MS Francais 152, fol. 451r

Over the last several years I have presented several essays on different aspects of the event and feast of Pentecost.  This day on which the Holy Spirit descended on the Apostles following the Ascension of Jesus has frequently been called the birthday of the Church.  That is for good reason.

While the Apostles may have recovered their belief in Jesus and realized his divinity and power during the period from the Resurrection to the Ascension of Jesus they were still incompletely formed for their mission.  However, since Jesus had promised to send them the Spirit they were hopeful.  Retreating in a body to a single place to pray, they spent nine days praying together.  What they prayed for and what they expected we don't know, but we do know what they received and it is mysterious.  

"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)   First Reading for Pentecost Sunday, Masses During the Day

When the moment had passed, the Apostles were changed forever.  No longer timid and afraid, they were now "filled with the Holy Spirit" and able to communicate with others in languages they had not known before.  They were "enabled to proclaim"   (Acts 2:4).  

And proclaim they did, beginning that very day.
For "there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven staying in Jerusalem.
At this sound, they gathered in a large crowd,
but they were confused
because each one heard them speaking in his own language.
They were astounded, and in amazement they asked,
"Are not all these people who are speaking Galileans?
Then how does each of us hear them in his native language?
We are Parthians, Medes, and Elamites,
inhabitants of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia,
Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia,
Egypt and the districts of Libya near Cyrene,
as well as travelers from Rome,
both Jews and converts to Judaism, Cretans and Arabs,
yet we hear them speaking in our own tongues
of the mighty acts of God."  
(Acts 2:4-11)  First Reading  for Pentecost Sunday, Masses During the Day

The ways in which artists have reflected these passages have been varied over the centuries.  Over these last years I have prepared essays that demonstrate the various approaches to this mysterious event in the life of the Church.  Click on the links below to be directed to each.

So, Happy Birthday to all those who make up the current, terrestrial Church and also to those of the Church in Purgatory and of the Church in Celestial Bliss!

© M. Duffy, 2024

Excerpts from the Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States of America, second typical edition © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC. Used with permission. All rights reserved. No portion of this text may be reproduced by any means without permission in writing from the copyright owner.


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