The Holy Spirit and Pentecost Birthday of the Church

The Ascension of Jesus
When the life and ministry of Jesus on earth was complete, He prepared to ascend into Heaven. Jesus spoke about the Holy Trinity when He said to the Apostles, “I am sending upon you what My Father promised; so stay here in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high. … [Then] 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, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always to the end of the age. … While He was blessing them, He withdrew from them and was carried up into heaven” (Luke 24:49,51, Matthew 28:19,20).

Pentecost, the Descent of the Holy Spirit—The Birthday of the Church
“When the day of Pentecost had come, they [Mary and the Apostles] were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability” (Acts 2:1-4). Attracted by this sound, a great crowd gathered outside the house. The Apostles, filled with zeal by the Holy Spirit, went out to the people and began to speak to them in their own native languages. Peter raised his voice and taught the people about Jesus, explaining His death and resurrection, and that God made Him their Messiah. The people were so impressed that they wanted to join this new Church of Jesus Christ, led by Peter our first pope, and the Apostles. They were baptized, and about three thousand persons were added (see Acts 2:5-47).

“The Church was made manifest to the world on the day of Pentecost by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. … 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 … On that day, the Holy Trinity is fully revealed” (Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC), 1076, 731, 732).

The Gifts and Fruits of the Holy Spirit
Our Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC), 1831, 1832, states, “The seven gifts of the Holy Spirit are wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety and fear of the Lord. … They make the faithful docile in readily obeying divine inspirations (CCC, 1831). The twelve fruits of the Holy Spirit are, “charity, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, generosity, gentleness, faithfulness, modesty, self-control, chastity” (CCC, 1832).

It is interesting and up-lifting to read St. Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians Chapters 12 and 13. He goes into great detail explaining the gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit, pointing out that we are members of the Body of Christ. Also, in his Letter to the Galatians, he gives us food for thought: “I say, walk by the Spirit, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh; for these are opposed to each other, to prevent you from doing what you would. … Now the works of the flesh are plain: immorality, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, anger, selfishness, dissension, party spirit, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and the like. … But the fruit of the Sprit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control … If we live by the Sprit, let us also walk by the Sprit. Let us have no self-conceit, no provoking of one another, no envy of one another. … And let us not grow weary in well-doing, for in due season we shall reap, if we do not lose heart” (5:16,17,19-23, 25,26; 6:9).

The Holy Spirit Guides Our Holy Catholic Church
We are never led astray by our Church because we know that our Church is guided by the Holy Spirit. Jesus said to His Apostles before He ascended into heaven, “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Advocate to be with you forever. This is the Spirit of truth … the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you. … When the Spirit of truth comes He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own, but will speak whatever He hears, and He will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify Me, because He will take what is Mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is Mine. For this reason I said that He will take what is Mine and declare it to you” (John 14:16,17,26, 16:13-15).

Therefore, our Holy Catholic Church has never given us false teachings. Even if the popes were sinners, as we all are, they were guided by the Holy Spirit when they wrote “official” documents for the people. Our Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) explains the infallibility of the pope when he proclaims a doctrine in matters of faith and morals which must be adhered to with the obedience of faith (see CCC, 891). “The Pope, Bishop of Rome and Peter’s successor, is the perpetual and visible source and foundation of the unity both of the bishops and of the whole company of the faithful”. The Pope “has full, supreme, and universal power over the whole Church, a power which he can always exercise unhindered” (CCC, 882). Also, “the college or body of bishops has no authority unless united with the Roman Pontiff, Peter’s successor, as its head” (CCC, 883). So when the popes and the body of bishops in the Magisterium throughout the centuries made some “official” declarations of doctrine in encyclicals, they were given to us through the supernatural assistance of the Holy Spirit who protects the Church from error and from leading the faithful into error.

By Lorraine Vincent
May 22, 2020