06 June 2019, The Tablet

Fired by the Paschal Spirit


Celebrating Pentecost

Fired by the Paschal Spirit

Rose petals dropped by Rome firefighters to symbolise the tongues of fire that came upon the apostles at Pentecost fall from the oculus of the Pantheon at the end of Pentecost Mass
Photo: CNS, Paul Haring

 

The liturgy is for Christians an immediate and effective contact with the Resurrection, and, as a leading biblical scholar explains, the Mass celebrated at Pentecost both brings Easter to completion and launches the Church into the world, to bring the Gospel to the ends of the Earth

The most important event of human history, indeed, the most important event that has ever happened in the created universe, is the death of Jesus Christ on the cross and his being raised from the dead by the one whom he called God and Father. Easter is the annual celebration of this totally transformative event, just as every Sunday Eucharist is its weekly celebration.

Every year, we prepare for Easter with 40 days of Lent. We enter Easter Day by means of the liturgies of the Paschal Triduum, and these launch us into the 50 days of Eastertide. All this culminates in the Feast of Pentecost, which we celebrate tomorrow: an unimaginable outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the whole world.

Resurrection is the deep structure and message of each of the four gospels. It is the deep structure of the birth of the Church as narrated in the Acts of the Apostles. All of Paul’s letters are constructed and move within this same deep structure. “If Christ has not been raised, then empty is our preaching; empty, too, your faith” (1 Corinthians 15:14). Likewise, the liturgy, in all of its constitutive parts, echoes the same deep structure represented in all these New Testament texts.

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