If you’ll excuse the paraphrasing for a moment, St Gregory of Nazianzus once explained that the Old Testament revealed God the Father and pointed towards the revelation of Jesus. In turn, the Gospels reveal the person of Jesus Christ and points to the revelation of the Holy Spirit. And now, the ‘time’ of the Church (from the Acts of the Apostles to the present day), is when the Holy Spirit is fully revealed.  

By the time I reached the age of 17, I think I had been taught well about who God the Father was. I had even experienced His providence and love for me in a practical and personal way. By this point, Catholic education had also introduced me well to the person of Jesus and again, through prayer encounters, particularly the Sacrament of Reconciliation, I had begun a friendship with Him.

However, I then met people who spoke about the Holy Spirit as someone they knew personally, and this baffled me. It wasn’t something that I’d really come across before, in spite of knowing and praying regularly many prayers mentioning the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Holy Trinity was a bit of a mystery to me.

This season in my life coincided with me receiving my first Bible – a youth Bible. I loved it! I was so intrigued about who the Holy Spirit was and how He could impact my life like He had impacted the lives of the people I’d met, that I looked up ‘Holy Spirit’ and then subsequently read all of  the New Testament references about the Holy Spirit mentioned in the index!

Now, to save you having to do the same, you might like to watch the video below which gives an introduction to who the Holy Spirit is:

The Feast of Pentecost in the Jewish Tradition

The Feast of Pentecost in the Jewish tradition is a feast to remember the Law (the Torah) given by God to Moses on Mount Sinai on tablets of stone. Like other words starting with ‘pent’ (for example, pentagon meaning a five sided shape, or pentathlon meaning a five part sporting event) the word Pentecost has links to the number five. In Jewish tradition the Torah is also known as the Pentateuch which is the first five books of the Hebrew scriptures (Genesis, Exodus, Deuteronomy, Leviticus and Numbers). The feast was also celebrated 50 days after Passover. This helps explain why the feast was named Pentecost.

The Feast of Pentecost in the Christian Tradition

We read in the New Testament (Acts 2: 1 – 13) that it was on this same Feast of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit descended upon the Apostles. Pentecost is the birthday of the Church! Whereas in the Jewish tradition the day marks the giving of the Law to Moses on tablets of stone, Christians celebrate the gift, not of the law, but of the law-giver, the Holy Spirit. This fulfils the promise of God given to the Prophet Ezekiel when God said:

“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” (Ezekiel 36:26) 

In this era of the Holy Spirit – that is, the era of the Church – like the Apostles we welcome the Holy Spirit into our hearts so that we can know the laws of God, and have His Holy Spirit guide us and encourage us to live out the laws that will bring us to eternal life. More often than not, receiving the Holy Spirit into our hearts is a calm and peaceful affair, however, it’d be remiss not to mention the dramatic power of the Holy Spirit as described in the book of Acts. You can watch a short dramatisation of the Feast of Pentecost below:

My Favourite Prayer

From those days in my late teens of discovering who the Holy Spirit is, my favourite (and most prayed!) prayer is three simple words, “Come, Holy Spirit!” In times of joy I ask the Holy Spirit to be with me as I celebrate and in times of trial or sorrow I pray, “Come, Holy Spirit!” knowing with confidence that when we call on God to be with us, He rushes to our aid. It’s a simple prayer, but a powerful one.

A Pentecost Novena

Finally, as I write this article, we’re in the days between the Feast of the Ascension and the Feast of Pentecost. These nine days are the time of the original ‘novena’ (a novena is a tradition of 9 days of prayer). Christians all over the world will be praying a Novena to the Holy Spirit – but there’s never a wrong time to pray a novena, so whenever you read this, perhaps you’d like to begin praying a Novena to the Holy Spirit – you could even simple commit to praying, those simple three words for 9 days, “Come, Holy Spirit!”