Pentecost Sunday

Antonio P. Pueyo
Reproduced with Permission

As a student in the early 70’s I got invited to a prayer session. That was my introduction to the charismatic movement. It was an inter-denominational group and having only attended Catholic masses, rosaries, benedictions, and processions, I was mildly shocked by the worship activities. Somebody started shouting prophecies and another beside me was praying in an unfamiliar language. Then came the prayers of healing and exorcisms. People were weeping, fainting, and babbling. There was more spontaneity than orderliness. When the session ended I could not quite decide whether to come back or just charge the whole affair to experience.

Action starter: How do you express your devotion to the Holy Spirit?

For the record, a few years later, I joined a Life in the Spirit Seminar sponsored by a parish and had been invited now and then to speak in meetings of Catholic charismatic groups. There were still praying in tongues, healings, exorcisms, prophecies and being “slain” by the Spirit, but under the guidance of the parish priest or the designated moderator. The activities started by the Catholic charismatic movement which were under some controversies in the 1970’s has become a regular part of parish life. Now we are familiar with prayer sessions, bible sharing, prayer healing, and love offerings.

Today we celebrate the feast of Pentecost. It was originally a Jewish harvest celebration timed with bringing in the grain from the fields. It was also the traditional Jewish culmination of the seven weeks ( or fifty days) religious instruction for young people that began with Passover. It therefore connoted thanksgiving, renewal and communion. The coming down of the Holy Spirit on the same day as the Pentecost had a richer meaning for the early disciples who were mostly Jewish. More than a day of bringing in the grain, instructing the believers, and coming together as community, it was seen as the day of being empowered by the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of Jesus brings in the harvest of people from all cultures and walks of life. The community of believers has expanded beyond its original Jewish setting. People of all nations who speak different tongues are called to communion. The Spirit of Jesus brings unity and peace. The Spirit of Jesus brings newness.

Of course when something new comes in, it takes some time for people to adjust. There is resistance. There was some resistance to the charismatic movement in its early years in the Catholic church. Despite our belief in the truth of the Trinity, it seems there is more devotion to God as Father and God the Son than God the Holy Spirit. The charismatic movement brought more awareness about the role of the Holy Spirit whom Jesus sent and who continually renews and vivifies the Church.

When I was taking up the course in Church History under a wise teacher in an American university, he started the course with this introduction, “The history of the Church is a proof of the work of the Holy Spirit. Despite the mistakes made by its members, the Church is still very much alive.” The church is made up of humans. Humans make mistakes. However, with the Spirit’s guidance, even these mistakes become woven into the beautiful tapestry of life.