The celebrations for Pentecost, the solemnity which crowns the Easter period and together with it represents one of the most important moments in the liturgical year, took place on 27 and 28 May in the Custody of the Holy Land.
Pentecost is celebrated 49 days after Easter, when the Holy Spirit descends on the Cenacle, on to the Apostles and the Virgin Mary and the Church is born as a community animated by the “Paraclete”, i.e. the Comforter: this allows believers to have missionary enthusiasm and at the same time builds up the Church with the contribution of a multiplicity of different gifts, charismas and ministries.
The celebrations for the solemnity of Pentecost in Jerusalem started in the afternoon of Saturday 27 May, with the first vespers presided by the Custos of the Holy Land, fr. Francesco Patton, at St Saviour’s church in the Convent of the Custody.
At 9.30 p.m., numerous pilgrims, faithful and religious took part in the Solemn Mass of the Vigil, celebrated by the Father Custos: the red liturgical colour of the vestments recalled the Holy Spirit descending on the Apostles in the form of tongues of fire.
“Without the gift of the Spirit we are and we remain locked inside a world and a story that seems dominated by incomprehension, conflict and death,” the Custos said in his homily. “On the other hand, with the gift of the Sprit everything is possible: to live in an authentic way, to communicate and have the experience of communion, to love to the point of giving ourselves, to bear testimony without fear, to feel part of the created that God wanted and called to take part in the redemption achieved in the Easter of Jesus.” Fr. Francesco Patton then invoked the Spirit for the city of Jerusalem and for the whole of this Land, tormented by war and conflicts. “We ask for the gift of the Spirit for this Land and for the peoples who live in it, who have Abraham as their father and need to draw on the gift of the Spirit to find once again their authentic vocations in God’s design and always progress in the love of his name towards the fullness of his knowledge.”
On the day of Pentecost, 28 May, the friars of the Custody then went to the Cenacle, on Mount Zion, “a unique place which brings together the experience of the Last Supper with that of Easter and Pentecost,” the exact place where there was the effusion of the Holy Spirit on the disciples, to remember this manifestation.” Here the Father Custos once again recalled, in his comment on the Word, just how essential and fundamental the gift of the Spirit is. “The Spirit is the very breath of God. Just as we cannot survive without breathing, we cannot live an authentic Christian life or be authentically a Church, without the gift of the Spirit.” This Spirit is the source of the different gifts and “makes humanity and the Church alive and organic, beautiful and varied, it makes it a body, it makes it a relationship of love in the image of the Trinity.”
It is therefore urgent, in the words of fr. Patton, to regain awareness “of that personal effusion of the Spirit which descended on us in baptism and confirmation.” The Custos emphasized how St Francis “with an intuition of mystical depth tells us that “above everything we have to desire having the Spirit of the Lord and his holy operation.” In other words, we have to desire having in us the gift of the Holy Spirit and leave it to act in us freely, without putting obstacles in its way or curbing it, acting so that the verse ‘Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love’ becomes a litany, a soundtrack capable of accompanying us through our life.”
Lastly, on Sunday afternoon, the friars of the Custody went again to the Cenacle in pilgrimage where the second Vespers were celebrated.
The solemnity of Pentecost ended with the words of the prayer composed by Pope St. John Paul II in preparation for the Jubilee in the year 2000: “It is a very beautiful prayer echoing the hymn of “Veni creator”,” the Father Custos said, who wanted to share this invocation to the Spirit with all the faithful gathered on Mount Sion, because “today is Pentecost, which we want to celebrate so that we can be transformed by the action of the Spirit.”