of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Salford

Pentecost Sunday (Year A)

Note: There can be some confusion over the Pentecost ‘Vigil Mass’ (Lectionary Volume I p 596).  If you normally have a Saturday night Mass (First Mass of Sunday) then for the Saturday night before Pentecost you should use the Readings for ‘Mass during the Day’ (Lectionary Volume I p 601-602). The ‘Vigil Mass’ is an optional Mass of Saturday Night (not of the Sunday). It’s theme is ‘waiting in prayer’, and it can be celebrated using all four Old Testament readings, in the same way as the Easter Vigil (in which case there should be a Psalm and a Collect after each reading, taken from the weekdays before Pentecost.) If you have no Saturday night Mass, you may consider having the Pentecost Vigil as a preparation for this feast, which ranks second only to Easter. If you do have a regular Saturday night Mass, it would be difficult to celebrate the Pentecost Vigil.
We arrive at the fiftieth day - the completion of the Easter Season, and the completion of the Paschal Mystery: the Lord has died, is risen, has ascended to heaven and now gives birth to his Church, by sending the Spirit upon the apostles. This feast of the gift of the Spirit is so significant for us, because it marks the handing on of Jesus’s ministry to the Church - in the Church we are guaranteed the presence of the Lord, in his sacraments, in his ministers, in the Blessed Sacrament and in his Celebrated Word. It also marks the fulfilment of our thoughts about baptism throughout this season: the gift of the Spirit which we receive in Confirmation is the ‘seal’ of our baptism, guaranteeing and confirming all that baptism achieves.

Notes for Readers

First Reading: Acts of the Apostles 2:1-11.
The meaning of this reading is obvious: it is the story of this day. There is a great sense of mystery in the first paragraph, seen in the words ‘what sounded like’ and ‘something that seemed like’ - almost as if Luke cannot quite find the words to describe the experience. You must ensure that amazement and astonishment is present in your voice throughout the second paragraph. Don’t worry about the list of strange names - but make sure you practice them out loud beforehand: it would be a shame if the reading was spoiled because your tongue ‘tripped up’ over ‘Phrygia and Pamphylia’ !
Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 12:3-7.12-13.
What does the Spirit do ? The Spirit permeates everyone who is a member of the Church, ensuring that we are all part of the one body of Christ. Take this reading slowly: there is a great list in the second paragraph, contrasting ‘variety’ with the ‘same God’. Emphasise the words ‘for a good purpose’. In the final paragraph the important words to get across are ‘one Spirit’. be careful with the first sentence of the last paragraph: the image of the body is an important one, because it explains how so many of us can be united in Jesus.

From the Catechism

CCC 696, 726, 731-732, 737-741, 830, 1076, 1287, 2623

Apostolic witness on Pentecost
CCC 599, 597,674, 715

The mystery of Pentecost continues in the Church
CCC 1152, 1226, 1302, 1556

The Church, communion in the Spirit
CCC 767, 775, 798, 796, 813, 1097, 1108-1109

CCC 737-741
The mission of Christ and the Holy Spirit is brought to completion in the Church, which is the Body of Christ and the Temple of the Holy Spirit. This joint mission henceforth brings Christ's faithful to share in his communion with the Father in the Holy Spirit. The Spirit prepares men and goes out to them with his grace, in order to draw them to Christ. The Spirit manifests the risen Lord to them, recalls his word to them and opens their minds to the understanding of his Death and Resurrection. He makes present the mystery of Christ, supremely in the Eucharist, in order to reconcile them, to bring them into communion with God, that they may "bear much fruit."

Thus the Church's mission is not an addition to that of Christ and the Holy Spirit, but is its sacrament: in her whole being and in all her members, the Church is sent to announce, bear witness, make present, and spread the mystery of the communion of the Holy Trinity (the topic of the next article):

All of us who have received one and the same Spirit, that is, the Holy Spirit, are in a sense blended together with one another and with God. For if Christ, together with the Father's and his own Spirit, comes to dwell in each of us, though we are many, still the Spirit is one and undivided. He binds together the spirits of each and every one of us, . . . and makes all appear as one in him. For just as the power of Christ's sacred flesh unites those in whom it dwells into one body, I think that in the same way the one and undivided Spirit of God, who dwells in all, leads all into spiritual unity.

Because the Holy Spirit is the anointing of Christ, it is Christ who, as the head of the Body, pours out the Spirit among his members to nourish, heal, and organize them in their mutual functions, to give them life, send them to bear witness, and associate them to his self-offering to the Father and to his intercession for the whole world. Through the Church's sacraments, Christ communicates his Holy and sanctifying Spirit to the members of his Body. (This will be the topic of Part Two of the Catechism.)

These "mighty works of God," offered to believers in the sacraments of the Church, bear their fruit in the new life in Christ, according to the Spirit. (This will be the topic of Part Three.)

"The Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes with sighs too deep for words." The Holy Spirit, the artisan of God's works, is the master of prayer. (This will be the topic of Part Four.)

Gospel Wordsearch