Yesterday we celebrated the great Solemnity of Pentecost. It is the day we celebrate the birth of the Catholic Church. From this day when the Holy Spirit enkindled the hearts of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Apostles, the Church began to grow. As the Apostles went out into the world to preach the gospel message to all the nations, the Holy Spirit was with them.
Before Pentecost, the Apostles were simple men, but after the Holy Spirit came upon them, they were men of self-sacrifice, strength, and courage. In the book, The Spirit of Catholicism, Karl Adam says, “Twelve simple, uneducated fisherman revolutionized the world, and that with no other instrument than their new faith and their readiness to die for that faith.”
No one knew the message of Pentecost better than Pope St. John Paul II, who as Pope traveled far and wide across the globe, much further than any of the Apostles originally traveled, as well as all his predecessors, to bring the Gospel message of Jesus Christ to many nations and all continents.
To celebrate Pentecost, here are five quotes from Pope St. John Paul II on Mary and her connection to Pentecost –
1. “Thus beginning her invocation to the Holy Spirit, the Church makes her own the substance of the Apostles’ prayer as they gathered with Mary in the Upper Room; indeed, she extends it in history and makes it ever timely… So we pray with Mary, sanctuary of the Holy Spirit, a most precious dwelling-place of Christ among us, so that she may help us to be living temples of the Spirit and tireless witnesses of the Gospel” (Pentecost Homily, 1998).
2. In the Acts of the Apostles Mary is as one of those taking part in the preparation for Pentecost as a member of the first community of the Church which was coming into being. On the basis of Luke’s Gospel and of other New Testament texts a Christian tradition on Mary’s presence in the Church was formed, which the Second Vatican Council summed up by hailing her as a preeminent and wholly unique member of the Church (cf. LG 53), inasmuch as she is the mother of Christ, the Man-God, and therefore the mother of God” (Wednesday Audience – June 28, 1998).
3. After the events of the Resurrection and Ascension Mary entered the Upper Room together with the Apostles to await Pentecost, and was present there as the Mother of the glorified Lord. She was not only the one who “advanced in her pilgrimage of faith” and loyally persevered in her union with her Son “unto the Cross,” but she was also the “handmaid of the Lord,” left by her Son as Mother in the midst of the infant Church: “Behold your mother.” Thus there began to develop a special bond between this Mother and the Church. For the infant Church was the fruit of the Cross and Resurrection of her Son. Mary, who from the beginning had given herself without reserve to the person and work of her Son, could not but pour out upon the Church, from the very beginning, her maternal self-giving” (Redemptoris Mater, #40).
4. “Descending upon the apostles assembled with Mary, Christ’s mother, the Holy Spirit transforms and unites them, “filling them” with the fullness of the divine life. They become “one,” an apostolic community, ready to bear witness to the crucified and risen Christ. This is the new creation which flowed from the cross and was given life by the Holy Spirit, who gave it its historical beginning at Pentecost” (Wednesday Audience – August 30, 1998).
5. “Now, at the first dawn of the Church, at the beginning of the long journey through faith which began at Pentecost in Jerusalem, Mary was with all those who were the seed of the “new Israel.” She was present among them as an exceptional witness to the mystery of Christ. And the Church was assiduous in prayer together with her, and at the same time “contemplated her in the light of the Word made man.” It was always to be so. For when the Church “enters more intimately into the supreme mystery of the Incarnation,” she thinks of the Mother of Christ with profound reverence and devotion. Mary belongs indissolubly to the mystery of Christ, and she belongs also to the mystery of the Church from the beginning, from the day of the Church’s birth” (Redemptoris Mater, #27).
Let us pray…Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful, and enkindle us the fire of your love. O Lord, during this week of Pentecost, give us the grace and strength to go forth from our homes and parishes to bring the Gospel message to the world we encounter each day of our lives. Amen.
Blessed Virgin Mary…Pray for Us.
Pope St. John Paul II…Pray for Us.