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Pentecost Sunday: Three essential truths about the Holy Spirit

On the Readings for June 5, 2022, Pentecost Sunday

[Image: Wikipedia]

• Acts 2:1-11
• Psa 104:1, 24, 29-30, 31, 34
• 1 Cor 12:3b-7, 12-13
• Jn 20:19-23

“Spirit and fire are united—a true miracle, air and fire are joined together—awesome sight!”

So wrote the sixth-century Church father, St. Romanus the Melodist, in a kontakion, or hymn, celebrating the solemnity of Pentecost. In another verse, he wrote, “Do you, then, dearly beloved, stand and simply observe the fire, which the One who is in heaven has sent from on high.” And, “Then brothers, let the One descended upon us cast out fear from our minds.”

His beautiful hymn emphasizes three essential truths about the Holy Spirit, each of which is revealed in today’s readings. First, the Holy Spirit is a heavenly gift from the Father and Son; secondly, he transforms and empowers those who receive him; thirdly, he unites the people of God—the Church—in an inimitable, supernatural way.

Let’s begin with John’s account of the apostles in the upper room, which describes a frightened group of men behind locked doors. Despondent and shattered, they were like lifeless clay or dry bones. But when Jesus entered, they rejoiced, and when he breathed upon them, they came alive with the gift of the Holy Spirit (cf. Gen 2:7; Ezek 37:5). This shows how closely united are the death-destroying resurrection of Christ and the life-creating gift of the Holy Spirit.

Seven weeks later, the disciples were once again in the upper room, but filled with expectancy, not dread. Again, the presence of God came suddenly, this time with a noise like a strong wind and what appeared to be “tongues of fire”. God had once led the people of Israel out of Egypt under the appearance of a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. On Pentecost, his presence was represented by wind and fire, and so began the pilgrimage of the newly revealed people of God, the Church. “By his coming, which never ceases, the Holy Spirit causes the world to enter into the ‘last days,’ the time of the Church, the Kingdom already inherited though not yet consummated” (par. 732).

This brings us to the second point, for in the Church, as St. Paul told the Corinthians, the “manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit.” The Holy Spirit is manifest—that is, he acts and empowers—through the sacrament of baptism, by which man is filled with divine life and united to the mystical body of Christ. This transformation was dramatically evident in the upper room on Pentecost, for the Spirit-filled disciples, having been touched by tongues of fire, were able to “speak in different tongues” and “to proclaim”. And what was proclaimed that day? The gospel of Jesus Christ, which culminated in Peter’s exhortation to the people to repent and be baptized, so “you will receive the gift of the holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38).

That call to repentance was also a call to unity. At Babel, men desired to establish unity and dominion through human power and ingenuity—a timeless temptation—by building a great city and tower (Gen 11:1-10). At Pentecost, God established unity and peace through the Holy Spirit, revealing to the world himself and his household, “the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of truth” (1 Tim 3:15). The Catechism states of Pentecost: “On that day, the Holy Trinity is fully revealed” (par 732).

God is one but also Triune—one God in three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. He is perfect unity, but also perfect relationship and communion (cf. CCC, 253-6). The unity and catholicity of the Church is rooted in this great mystery of the Trinity. And from it, St. Paul wrote, flows a real and authentic diversity of gifts, service, and workings, for “we were all given to drink of one Spirit.”

St. Romanus, at the conclusion of his hymn, asked, “Why, then should we be afraid of a flame that does not burn?” This solemnity is a call to repentance and unity, as well as to joy and peace, each given by the All-Holy Spirit.

(This “Opening the Word” column originally appeared in the June 12, 2011, edition of Our Sunday Visitor newspaper.)

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About Carl E. Olson 1227 Articles
Carl E. Olson is editor of Catholic World Report and Ignatius Insight. He is the author of Did Jesus Really Rise from the Dead?, Will Catholics Be "Left Behind"?, co-editor/contributor to Called To Be the Children of God, co-author of The Da Vinci Hoax (Ignatius), and author of the "Catholicism" and "Priest Prophet King" Study Guides for Bishop Robert Barron/Word on Fire. His recent books on Lent and Advent—Praying the Our Father in Lent (2021) and Prepare the Way of the Lord (2021)—are published by Catholic Truth Society. He is also a contributor to "Our Sunday Visitor" newspaper, "The Catholic Answer" magazine, "The Imaginative Conservative", "The Catholic Herald", "National Catholic Register", "Chronicles", and other publications. Follow him on Twitter @carleolson.


  1. The Most Holy Trinity

    “The wind blows where it wills, and you can hear the sound it makes, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes; so it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

    In past times a Quickening (The first known movement of the fetus within the uterus) was an acceptance of a new life (Creation). Those born anew of the Holy Spirit do not fully understand the time and place (Whereof) of that birth as initially He enlightens our minds with the ‘sound’ of His living Word given within the Gospels (True knowledge of God) while quickening/moving our hearts into obedient, truthful tender compassionate ones as we are gradually been transformed into a New Creation.

    The Holy Spirit prompts us to cry out Father! With His beloved Son, as His Holy Spirit inspired/gave His Beloved Son the Pray which glorifies His Name as we are taught to say in Unity of Purpose while being guided by the light of the Holy Spirit to reflect and absorb the words within the pray.

    Our Father, who art in heaven
    Hallowed be thy name (sacrosanct, worshipped, divine, INVIOLABLE )
    thy kingdom (Of Grace)come (via your Holy Spirit, then)
    thy will, (Will) be done, on earth as it is in heaven
    Give us this day our daily bread (While with your Mercy we would be fed)
    Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us
    Lead not into (*The Test of) temptation but deliver us from evil.

    *Our Father does not lead us into temptation but God allows us to be tempted because of our fallen nature which hopefully becomes a normal part of our spiritual development, but he does permit us to be put to the test.

    Job1:6-12: Job’s afflictions began from the malice of Satan, by the Lord’s permission, for wise and holy purposes.
    Proverbs 17:3 A crucible is for silver and a furnace for gold, but the LORD tests the heart
    Matt 4:1 Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil

    So, pray not to be put/’led to the Test/of temptation’ as He was, rather, ”Father protect/keep us ‘awake’ and deliver us from evil”
    Because: When Jesus returned to the disciples and found them sleeping, He asked Peter “Were you not able to keep watch with Me for one hour?” Then teaching him and all of us also to “Watch and pray so that you/we will not enter into temptation”
    For “the spirit is willing, but the body is weak.”

    kevin your brother
    In Christ

  2. – Blog site about the wide spread prevalence of Freemasonry ( and effects of related pagan spirits ) that can be in even generations , along with prayers at the You tube site that can be recited with an exorcist priest ,with the powerful intercession of St.Michael McGivenny .
    Pagan and related faiths having the polluting aspect of glorifying carnality , gods themselves seen as afflicted with same ..

    The Love in the Most Holy Trinity as a holy innocent pure love with nothing that is carnal , we as ‘little children ‘ in the Divine Will meant to take in ever more the holiness and purity in same –

    – the influence of pagan faiths and Freemasonry likely having holds in hearts that make it difficult to grasp the truth of the nature of that innocent , holy pure Love , thus having likely contributed to the errant demands even in certain sectors of the Church ( Germany – with likely vast ongoing debts in the area )
    The Holy Father likely desiring to see the steps and preparation and all for the Synod as an occasion for the outpouring of The Spirit , many more getting to know about the gift of the Divine Will that is also well linked to Divine Mercy and Flame of Love devotions as well , to thus rekindle faith to live the Sacramental life more fully .
    May the Holy Spirit speedily bring same to frution !
    FIAT !

  3. In baptism “we are filled with Divine life.”

    If we truly understood that Christ’s death, resurrection and ascension made possible our being divinized, we’d be so awestruck that it would take time to once again get our bearings..

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