1660, stained glass, Throne of St. Peter, St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican
Bernini’s Dove of the Holy Spirit stained glass in St. Peter’s Basilica illustrates the Holy Spirit as our source of light.

Decoding Pentecost

So much of our sacred language is an expression of profound heavenly experiences expressed in the common language of the day. Pentecost is a feast day celebrated 50 days after Easter. The word Pentecost is rooted in Greek for “fiftieth.” You might observe the similarity in a word like “pentagon” which is a five-sided shape.

In the Acts of the Apostles, Jesus explained that he was going to send the Holy Spirit. “While staying with them, he ordered them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait there for the promise of the Father. ‘This,’ he said, ‘is what you have heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now'” (Acts 1:4-5). The original Greek word for “Holy Spirit” used here is also full of meaning that doesn’t necessarily translate well into English, but the term the Church uses preserves the original meaning.

Paraclete means advocate, intercessor, teacher, helper, comforter. All of these describe the third Person of the Trinity. These meanings show us why it’s important to meditate on profound impact of Pentecost. It will change the way we view God and improve the way we live.

The following articles will help you understand more completely and practically why the Church celebrates Pentecost Sunday.