In the Descent of God the Holy Spirit on Pentecost the Third Person of the Most Holy Trinity is made manifest.
Jesus Christ, the Second Person of the Trinity was revealed in the mystery of the Incarnation. He is God made man; true God and true man. He is the Son who in the course of His earthly mission reveals God as the Eternal Father.
As Jesus prepares His apostles at the Last Supper for His departure; His Death and Resurrection, His glorious Ascension into Heaven, He promises that, together with the Father, He will send the Holy Spirit. (Jn 14:16; Jn 16:7)
We have already seen glimpses of the Triune God in the Old Testament, (Gn 1:26; Gn 18:1-15; Is 48:16) and in the Gospel accounts, for example, in the Baptism of the Christ when the Spirit descends as a dove and the voice of the Father is heard. (Mt 3:16-17; Mk 1:10-11; Lk 4:22; Jn 1:32)
After the Ascension, the disciples returned to the Upper Room and prayed. (Acts 1:13-14). On the day of Pentecost there suddenly came a “strong driving wind” and the “tongues of fire.” (Acts 2:2-3) They were filled with the Holy Spirit who was manifest likewise in the powerful effects, the distribution of His gifts, which changed the fearful apostles into bold ambassadors of evangelization.
In this way the 50 days of Easter reach a climax and conclusion. Pentecost Sunday is sometimes called the “birthday of the Church,” as with new life and grace the Apostles begin their mission of teaching the Gospel in earnest.
Peter, spokesman of the Church, proclaims in outline the whole plan of salvation reaching its fullness in Jesus Christ. “Therefore let the whole house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Messiah, this Jesus whom you crucified.” (Acts 2:36). Struck by the message of the Gospel, and moved by the Holy Spirit, thousands are baptized. (Acts 3:37-41)
What does the Holy Spirit do? The works of the Holy Spirit in individual souls and in the Church are beyond measure. We can see a few of these works in Sacred Scripture.
God the Holy Spirit seems always to point out Christ. In the form of the dove He shows St John the Baptist the One whom he should baptize. “On whomever you see the Spirit come down, ... is the one.” (Jn 1:33)
Because He is the “Spirit of Truth,” (Jn 16:13), the Holy Spirit tells us about God and also about ourselves. St Paul teaches us that “No one can say Jesus is Lord, except in the Holy Spirit.” (I Cor 12:3). It is the Spirit who allows us to acknowledge the Lordship of Jesus. In knowing Jesus is Lord, we begin to understand our own identity and work as servants of Christ.
St Paul speaks of the Holy Spirit praying within us; He causes us to cry out “Abba! Father!” (Gal 4:6, see also Rom 8:15). The Holy Spirit prompts us to know that God is our Father, and that we, therefore are His true children.
In the discourse at the Last Supper, Jesus teaches the twelve that when the Spirit comes - the Paraclete or Advocate, the Counselor, the Consoler – (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 692), He will teach them all things, and remind them of all Christ said and did. (Jn 14:26)
The unity of the Church depends on the truth which the “Spirit of Truth” confirms and preserves within the Church. Jesus asks that the apostles – and the Church – may be consecrated in the truth (Jn 17:17); and that they may be one even as Jesus and His Father are one. (Jn 17:22). The unity of the Church can only be secure when the Church – docile to the impulse of the Holy Spirit – safeguards and teaches clearly the constant truth from Our Lord Himself and entrusted to the Church as the deposit of faith. (CCC, no. 84). The Second Vatican Council affirms that the “Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture make up a single sacred deposit of the Word of God.” (De Verbum, no. 10; as quoted in CCC, no. 97)
The Holy Spirit came powerfully at Pentecost. He guides the Church. Nonetheless we pray fervently that His Seven-Fold Gift may continue to penetrate hearts; that the Church Herself will never fail to guard and protect the Tradition and the lasting heritage of Truth entrusted to her; that the unity for which Jesus Christ prayed so fervently at the Last Supper, secured in the continuity of the Church’s authentic teaching, may be preserved.
Come O Holy Spirit Come!
The Golden Sequence of Pentecost
Come, Thou Holy Spirit, come!
And from Thy celestial home
Shed a ray of light divine!
Come, Thou Father of the poor!
Come, Thou Source of all our store!
Come, within our bosoms shine!
Thou, of comforters the best;
Thou, the soul’s most welcome Guest;
Sweet refreshment here below;
In our labor, rest most sweet;
Grateful coolness in the heat;
Solace in the midst of woe.
O most blessed Light divine,
Shine within these hearts of Thine,
And our inmost being fill!
Where Thou art not, man hath naught,
Nothing good in deed or thought,
Nothing free from taint of ill.
Heal our wounds, our strength renew;
On our dryness pour Thy dew;
Wash the stains of guilt away;
Bend the stubborn heart and will;
Melt the frozen, warm the chill;
Guide the steps that go astray.
On the faithful, who adore
And confess Thee, evermore
In Thy sev’nfold gift descend;
Give them virtue’s sure reward
Give them Thy salvation, Lord;
Give them joys that never end.