The Holy Spirit and Pentecost

Summary of Catechism paragraphs 683-747:

  • The Holy Spirit has been at work with the Father and the Son throughout salvation history, but was only revealed as a divine Person when poured out upon the disciples at Pentecost.
  • “Spirit” is the translation of the Hebrew ruah, meaning breath or wind; the Holy Spirit evokes a rich array of symbolism, including water, a dove, anointing with oil, the finger or hand of God, cloud, light, and fire.
  • The Son and the Spirit have a joint mission: when the Father sends His Word, He also sends His Breath; the Son is anointed (“Christ”) by the Spirit.
  • According to Old Testament prophecy, God would send His Spirit in the last days to gather people, renew their hearts, reveal His new law, and dwell among them; this expectation grew alongside the cherished hope for the Messiah.
  • Jesus promised to send the Spirit after accomplishing the Paschal mystery; for nine days following His Ascension, the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Apostles were absorbed in prayer – the forerunner of our “novena” – until the Spirit came.
  • The term Pentecost, from the Greek for “fiftieth,” was first used for the Jewish feast on the fiftieth day after Passover; the outpouring of the Holy Spirit likewise occurred seven weeks after Easter, on the fiftieth day after Christ’s Passover.
  • At Pentecost, the Holy Spirit makes the Church manifest, fulfilling the Old Testament prophecy about God’s gathering and renewing His people; the joint mission of the Son and the Spirit now becomes the mission of the Church.
  • Hence the Church is not an optional add-on; it is the sacrament, the sign and instrument, of this divine mission; the Spirit is active in the Church’s sacramental and liturgical life.
  • The Holy Spirit, the Love between the Father and the Son, communicates to us God’s great gift — the very Love of the Holy Trinity.
  • The Spirit’s title of Paraclete comes from the Greek for an advocate who is literally “called to one’s side,” a consoler; He draws us to Christ and reminds us of His words, leads us into truth, helps us to live morally, and sustains our prayer.

Live Your Faith

Pentecost is not simply an historical event, but an ongoing reality in the life of the Church.

We too have received the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in the sacrament of Confirmation, our personal Pentecost, and we come to know the Spirit in the Scriptures, Tradition, the Magisterium, the Church’s various ministries, the saints, the liturgy, and our own prayer.

Let us not neglect this divine Guest in our soul!


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