Pentecost this year falls on 23rd May. The feast is especially important this year because not only does it symbolise the origins of the Christian church, and its sacred mission, but it will also symbolise the beginning – we pray – of renewed freedoms after a year of unprecedented fasting, penance and penitence, as though Lent 2020 never ended. Most of us have been deprived of the sacraments for months on end, and have become used to kneeling in front of a screen at home for liturgies. There is a curious paradox in how many people’s faith has deepened since last March; we have been forced on our knees to pray, and praise and thank God, as it were. Also, many of us have rediscovered traditional private devotions, since we have been unable to worship publicly.
What have we learnt? There may be an illustrative example in Saint Philip Neri’s experience on the Vigil of Pentecost in 1544, who was alone in the dark in the Catacomb of St Sebastian when he had a spectacular baptism of the spirit. This was how he renewed the Church and provides us with a lesson to ponder as we go back to our old lives.
This article appears in the May issue of the Catholic Herald. Subscribe now.