Maybe it's time to clear away some debris.
For Christians, Pentecost marks the joyous culmination of the Easter season.
But for the Jews of antiquity, the feast of Pentecost, celebrated fifty days after Passover, was originally a day of thanksgiving for the harvest. Later it became a time to commemorate the Ten Commandments given by God to Moses. And many Jews made pilgrimages to the Temple in Jerusalem for this feast.
Recalling the words of Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew– “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have come not to abolish but to fulfill” (5:17)—we can see that Pentecost was a fitting time for the Lord God to send down his Holy Spirit upon the Apostles and Mary.
Jesus’ return to his Father made it possible for God to come to us in a way more active and more powerful than before—unlimited by time and space.
Jesus now lives and rules through the Catholic Church, which the Holy Spirit brings to life. From the Church, through the power of the Holy Spirit, Christ brings every believer to a new existence, to deeper intimacy and directs our deeds and our journey to eternal life.
Although it is true that the Holy Spirit can make his presence known through external signs and through special gifts for the sake of unbelievers (1 Cor 12: 4-11), our personal Pentecost begins with the Sacrament of Baptism and is made deeper through the Sacrament of Confirmation.
Through the Sacrament of Baptism, Original Sin is washed away and we become temples of the Holy Spirit, children of God and living members of the Church.
Through the Sacrament of Confirmation, baptismal grace comes to completion. It is through this sacrament that we are bound more perfectly to the Church and endowed with a special strength of the Holy Spirit to fulfill the promises made at Baptism.
Through these sacraments, the Holy Spirit enlightens us with ten special gifts.
The three gifts that we receive at our Baptism are faith, hope and charity.
The seven gifts that we receive at our Confirmation are wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety and fear of the Lord.
How little thought we give to this amazing treasure of gifts we’ve received through these sacraments! But through our daily spiritual life, these gifts enable us to persevere on our journey to eternity and empower us to be effective and courageous witnesses of the Gospel.
The gift of faith makes us capable of seeing the invisible in the visible world. Hope gives us the ability to trust in God who loves us as our Father. Charity provides us with the grace that we need to love God above all things and to love our neighbor just as Jesus loves us.
Wisdom detaches us from the things of this world and leads us to desire only the things of heaven. The gift of understanding helps us to penetrate the truths of our Catholic faith. Counsel enables us to see and choose correctly the actions that will help us give glory to God and ensure our salvation.
Fortitude gives us the strength to overcome the obstacles and difficulties that present themselves during our sojourn on earth.
The gift of knowledge shows us the path to follow and alerts us to the dangers that we should avoid in order to attain eternal life in heaven.
Piety enlightens us with a tender and filial confidence in God and allows us to joyfully embrace all that pertains to our discipleship with Christ.
Finally, the gift of fear of the Lord fills us with a deep respect for God and makes us dread anything that may offend him.
Sometimes the gifts that we have already received through Baptism and Confirmation have not become fully effective in our lives because our attachments, inclinations and sins are blocking the action of grace in our souls. Think of how a build-up of plaque in our arteries can block the flow of blood to our heart and brain.