Pentecost, celebrated 50 days after Easter Sunday, commemorates the descent of the Holy Spirit upon Christ’s disciples and marks the end of the season of Easter.
Pentecost is referred to as “the birthday of the Church” because it is from this event that the Gospel message began to be carried to all the parts of the world. The Holy Spirit gave the disciples the strength to fulfill their commission to spread the Good News of Jesus.
“The Church takes its life from an act of God, the sending of the Holy Spirit,” said Bishop Robert Deeley. “Mary was asked to be the mother of the son of God. The angel Gabriel told her that the Holy Spirit would come over her. The birth of Christ comes through the Holy Spirit. So, too, does the conception and birth of the Church.”
The timing of this feast is also where Catholics get the concept of the novena because in Acts 1, Mary and the Apostles prayed together “continuously” for nine days after the Ascension leading up to Pentecost. Before Pentecost, the disciples were unsure of what they were to do next and spent most of their time in hiding. After receiving the gifts of the Holy Spirit, they understood their mission was to spread the good news of Jesus. It is the gift of the Holy Spirit that empowers the disciples to begin preaching, bringing others to know and love Christ and to become part of the Church.
At the conclusion of the Mass, the paschal candle is extinguished and moved from the sanctuary to a location near the baptismal font, where it will remain until next Easter. On Pentecost, priests wear red vestments to symbolize fire and the presence of the Holy Spirit. All Christians are invited to also wear red in celebration of this important feast day.