This weekend, as we celebrate the Solemnity of Pentecost, our churches in the Diocese of Palm Beach will be open for the celebration of Mass. While we must make a very careful decision in whether to come to church at this time and while we must be cautious in following the protocols insuring everyone’s safety in church, Pentecost reminds us of the centrality of the celebration of the Eucharist in the life of the Church.
At the celebration of the Eucharist, the Holy Spirit is present in the Liturgy of the Word when the Scriptures are read and contemplated. Here the Holy Spirit is active in giving life to the Word of God. The Holy Spirit is present in the Liturgy of the Eucharist when Christ's sacrifice is offered to the Father, bread and wine are changed into His Body and Blood and we give thanks for entering into the saving act of Christ's Passion, Resurrection and Ascension. The Spirit is especially present in the epiclesis, consecration and anamnesis of the Eucharistic Prayer.
The epiclesis takes place immediately before the consecration when the priest calls down the Holy Spirit upon the bread and wine which will become the Body and Blood of Christ. The word actually means "invocation upon." After the consecration of the Mass, when the bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Christ, the priest prays the anamnesis. This is the "remembrance" of Christ's Passion, Resurrection and Ascension which now transcends time and space and become present through the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit awakens the memory of the Church and inspires thanksgiving and praise.
The communion of the Church was accomplished at Pentecost. Many speaking different languages understood the apostles in their own language through the action of the Holy Spirit. We are most fully united as one body in Christ at the Eucharist. By receiving the Lord's Body and Blood, we become one body through Him in the Holy Spirit.
The apostles were renewed at Pentecost. They went from being a confused, uncertain and cowardly group to a focused, committed and courageous communion. It was the Holy Spirit who renewed the sense of their purpose. The same happens to us through the Mass. Our sense of purpose is renewed when we receive the Body and Blood of Christ and realize that our dignity and value come from God who not only created us but redeemed us. Our purpose in life is not in what we do but in who we are. It is the Holy Spirit who brings our purpose to its full realization.
At Pentecost the apostles went forth from the upper room into the world. The Holy Spirit compelled them to do so. At Mass, we are likewise commissioned to go forth and to put into action what we have celebrated. The Holy Spirit truly commissions us through the Eucharist to live as followers of Christ.
Whether we participate at Mass this Sunday at our parish or through its live stream in our homes, we give thanks for the gift of the Eucharist as central to our lives and faith. Pentecost truly occurs at Mass. The Holy Spirit speaks to us and comes down in matter that transforms bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ and brings us into Christ's saving action. Through Christ we become one with Him and with His Body, the Church. We go forth from Mass, renewed in spirit, to live the life of the Gospel, to know the joy of Christ and to share it with others.
Most Reverend Gerald M. Barbarito
May 29, 2020