50th day marks birth of church and the start of new season
Pentecost Sunday – celebrating the birth of the church, the day the Holy Spirit descended upon the apostles – also recognizes the Holy Spirit’s actions today.
Two priests of the archdiocese – Father Lydell Lape, pastor of St. Mary Parish in Bellevue, and Father Ross Burkhalter, pastor of St. Anthony Parish in Columbus – reflected on the meaning and significance of the feast, celebrated this year on June 4.
A PROMISE FULFILLED
"Pentecost was a promise fulfilled that Christ would send his consoler, the Paraclete (Holy Spirit), to be with the church to guide her," said Father Burkhalter.
"And it’s not a once-for-all gift," he said. "It’s continually being poured out ... . The Holy Spirit continues to fire up people and strengthen them with the courage and graces to spread the Gospel."
And, that’s a reassuring message for Father Burkhalter.
"It reminds me that it’s ultimately the Spirit that guides the church," he said. "It’s not all incumbent upon me or my abilities, but rather, the Spirit continues to give me these gifts to do the work that God has called me to do."
"Pentecost is also a reminder for us all to renew what we received in confirmation, and ask, what are we doing to keep ourselves open to the power of the Spirit and to be more aware of the Divine presence?" Father Burkhalter said.
"The gift of the Holy Spirit is the power of God working in us and in the church and through the sacraments," Father Lape said.
"We received the Holy Spirit at baptism and confirmation, so we’ve got the tools we need. We’ve got to witness to our faith and be brave enough to share it, because we know it’s a source of joy and happiness, and people are desperate for that."
On Pentecost, the Holy Spirit "gave the apostles the power to let go of their fear and doubt, and gave them the courage to go out and preach," Father Lape said.
And even though they were uneducated, when they preached that day in Jerusalem, people of many languages understood them, he said. "That’s the unity of the Spirit – it’s the Holy Spirit that makes us one."
A NEW SEASON
Pentecost ends "The Great 50 Days" of Easter and opens the door to another season – ordinary time.
Ordinary time (meaning ordered or numbered time), between the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord and Ash Wednesday, and between Pentecost and the first Sunday of Advent, is the longest season of the liturgical year, when the church meditates upon the whole mystery of Christ’s life, miracles and teachings.
"And in ordinary time, we celebrate, right off the bat, two very key and powerful parts of our church’s beliefs – Trinity Sunday (June 11, celebrating the Father, Son and Holy Spirit) and the Feast of Corpus Christi (June 18, celebrating the holy Eucharist)," Father Burkhalter said.
"After celebrating the feasts and receiving the gifts of the Spirit," Father Lape said, "we also go into this part of ordinary time listening and learning how to be a disciple, to live this way that we’ve been initiated into."
"Even though we’re in ordinary time, after these great days and receiving these great graces, we now learn how to put into practice what we’ve been given."