Liturgy: Pentecost Sunday - The Descent of the Holy Ghost

May 29, 2020
Source: Priory Denver

 This coming Sunday is Pentecost Sunday, the second greatest feast of the liturgical year, after Easter. Pentecost Sunday is the birthday of Mother Church, and the day on which the Gospel began to be preached to the nations. The events of that day are contemplated in the third Glorious mystery of the Rosary.


    Only Easter and Pentecost have a first class octave. What this means is that each day of the week following Easter and Pentecost is treated as an extension of the feast and so also a feast of the highest class. It is striking that the only other feast in the year that has an octave, Christmas, has a second class octave.

- Fr. Paul Robinson

Our Lord laid the foundations of His Church during His public life, and after His resurrection He gave it the powers necessary for its mission.

It was by the Holy Ghost that the apostles were to be trained and endued with strength from on High (Gospel). At Pentecost we celebrate the first manifestation of the Holy Ghost among our Lord's disciples and the foundation of the Church itself.

We read in the Gospel that our Lord foretold the coming of the Paraclete to His disciples and the Epistle shows us the realization of that promise. It was at the third hour of the day (Terce, nine o'clock a. m.) that the Spirit of God descended upon the Cenacle and a mighty wind which blew suddenly upon the house, together with the appearance of tongues of fire within, were the wonderful tokens of His coming. Taught by the "light of Thy Holy Ghost" (Collect), and filled by the gifts of the same Spirit poured out upon them (Sequence), the apostles become new men to go forth and renew the whole world (Introit). It is at High Mass, at the third hour, that we also receive the Holy Ghost whom our Lord "going up above all the heavens, on this day sent down ... on the children of adoption" (Preface); for each of the mysteries of the cycle brings forth its fruits of grace in our souls on the day which the Church keeps as its anniversary.

Almighty God, in making known to us that His one divine Nature is possessed by three distinct Persons, reveals to us something of His own interior life. Let us, with the Church, say to the Holy Ghost, "Come, O Holy Ghost, and fill the hearts of Thy faithful, and kindle in them the fire of Thy love" (Alleluia).

- Dom Gaspar Lefebvre, OSB, 1945, adapted and abridged.