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Symbol of the Holy Spirit

A symbol of the Holy Spirit in stained glass, St. Nicholas Byzantine Catholic Church, Swoyersville, Pa. (Baut Studios, 1974)

“When the time for Pentecost was fulfilled, they were all in one place together. And suddenly there came from the sky a noise like a strong driving wind, and it filled the entire house in which they were.  Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire, which parted and came to rest on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues, as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim.”   Acts 2: 1-4  (NABRE)


Pentecost was originally celebrated as an ancient Jewish festival known as Shavuot that may also be referred to with other titles such as the “Feast of Weeks” or the “Day of First Fruits”.

It is no coincidence that 50 days after Christ’s resurrection, on the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit came to the apostles and others present in the upper room, just as Jesus foretold. In this act of supernatural presence, the Holy Spirit imparted to each the special gifts needed to declare the Gospel with an urgency and understanding in what they were about to do – risk their very lives to preach the love of God to the world.

In the Eastern Churches, we have a beautifully simple prayer to the Holy Spirit that we pray throughout the year. This is a prayer of petition and acknowledgement of how we rely on God for the graces we have received from the Holy Spirit. We also pray to continue to remain in those graces. As we do so, we remember that the Holy Spirit is the Third Person of the Trinity, and we pray to Him for guidance and to seek comfort and wisdom.


Prayer to the Holy Spirit

Heavenly King, Comforter, Spirit of Truth
You are everywhere present and fill all things.
Treasury of blessings and Giver of Life,

Come and dwell within us,
Cleanse us of all stain,
And save our souls O Gracious One.


PENTECOST is a major Feast Day in Catholic and Orthodox churches.

Pentecost may be a short period of time on the liturgical calendar. But the Holy Spirit is with us at all times. Our journey forward would be incomplete without putting our trust in the Holy Spirit, who guides us gently and quietly, even in times of difficulty. We should make every effort to be aware of the actions of the Holy Spirit in our lives and always express gratitude for His Presence in the ways we are blessed.

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The Liturgical color for Pentecost in Eastern Churches is always green.  This is the only time in the entire liturgical calendar this color is used.  Green represents life and the predominant emphasis and the Divine power of the Holy Spirit is as the Giver of Life  In Scripture, Jesus Christ speaks of “living water” and “real food” in reference to the Sacraments that are necessary to life eternal in the Kingdom of God.

The Sacraments of Initiation in the Byzantine Catholic Church are Baptism, Chrismation, and Holy Eucharist.   Infants and adults being received into Eastern Churches receive all three Sacraments in one ceremony.   This was the traditional rite of Initiation in the early Church which Eastern Churches have since retained.  On Pentecost Sunday, the faithful appropriately sing a baptismal verse: “All you have been baptized into Christ, have been clothed in Christ.”

The Holy Spirit is the life of the Church and its members.  The Holy Spirit is the Giver of gifts that help us as faithful believers grow in grace and in love of God.  The gifts of the Holy Spirit are:  Fear of the Lord (adoration and reverential respect), Knowledge, Fortitude, Counsel, Understanding, Wisdom.  We receive these gifts when we strive to follow God’s commandments, seek His Will daily, and remain in sanctifying grace. 

The action of the Holy Spirit is so powerful.  We fail when we take for granted the source of all good and when we fall into the mistaken belief that we are the creators of all of our blessings and our world.  Instead, we should remember to call upon and pray to the Holy Spirit to grant us the graces we need not just in our own lives, but in being a “light” and bringing “The Light” to a world of darkness.


As members of the Body of Christ the mission God has called us to is, as disciples.

We each have a mission in life. 
The mission that began with the apostles and disciples
through the Holy Spirit during that first Pentecost did not end.  
Our mission is to continue the spirit of Pentecost.


¹ According to Scripture, the following were present in the upper room in Jerusalem:  Peter, John, James, Andrew, Philip, Thomas, Bartholomew, Matthew, James son of Alphaeus, Simon, Jude (Judas) son of James; also some women and Mary the mother of God; and other disciples.

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