“And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit . . . ” (Acts 2:2-4)
Pentecost is the culmination of the 50-day liturgical season of Easter. On this day, we commemorate the day in which the promised Holy Spirit descended upon Mary and the Apostles.
Prior to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, the Apostles were uncertain and afraid of what was to come. Even on the day of Pentecost, they remained hidden for fear of death.
But as soon as they received the Holy Spirit, a new courage and passion for the faith welled up in their hearts, and it flowed out and covered the entire earth, as they set out to spread the Gospel.
“The grace of the Holy Ghost is above all inward, but it ought to have outward effects … The grace of the Holy Ghost … leads us to be proud of our Faith” (Eastertide Day by Day).
A Change of Seasons
Most of us know the liturgical season that comes after Pentecost as Ordinary Time.
However, prior to the changes to the Mass in the late 1960s, the liturgical season after Easter was called the Time After Pentecost.
I had never heard of this until three years ago, when my family and I began attending the Traditional Latin Mass, where the season’s name remains unchanged.
I noticed the distinction in my missal. And I was drawn to the ancient title of this particular liturgical season.
Time After Pentecost
I liked the sound of that.
And it drew me to contemplate how I can more deeply live out a season of Pentecost.
How can an entire season of Pentecost allow me to be more open to the Holy Spirit? How can it allow Christ’s Spirit to expand within my soul to the point where He flows into all corners of my “ordinary” life?
What is the Time After Pentecost?
This liturgical season obviously begins where the Easter season ends, with the Solemnity of Pentecost. It is the longest liturgical season, taking up most of the second half of the calendar year.
The liturgical seasons preceding it (Advent, Christmas, Lent, and Easter) tell the miraculous story of our redemption. The Time After Pentecost sheds new light on various dogmas of faith and the furtherance of the Christian life (see The Liturgical Year).
In other words, this season invites us to root ourselves in the Catholic faith and to allow Christ to shape every aspect of our lives. It gives us opportunities to practice what we proclaim.
“Now, it is during the period called, by the Liturgy, The Time after Pentecost, that there is signified and expressed this regenerated life, which is to be spent on the model of Christ’s, and under the direction of his Spirit.” (The Liturgical Year).
Embracing the Mystery
A thread of mystery runs throughout our Faith.
The concept of the Triune God remains mysterious even to the most learned of theologians. The reality of how Mary conceived the Christ Child is a mystery to behold. And the mystery of transubstantiation of bread and wine into the Holy Eucharist requires us to put our faith and trust in a God who can do the impossible.
In order to believe in these mysteries with a faith that surpasses all understanding, we need God to breathe the Holy Spirit into every nook and cranny of our being.
“Yes, it was necessary that the Holy Ghost should come, so that he might increase our light, and enkindle a fire within us that should never be quenched. This divine Paraclete came down from heaven; he gave himself to us; he wishes to take up his abode within us, and take our life of regeneration entirely into his own hands.” (The Liturgical Year)
Putting Pentecost into Practice
The purpose of this Time After Pentecost is to not just to understand our faith as mystery but to live it as reality.
How do we cooperate with God’s purpose for this season?
We begin by looking at what this season offers us: days, devotions, and divine readings.
Three important feast days are set at the very beginning of this liturgical season. They have much to teach us about Who we believe in and how we practice our faith:
- Feast of the Most Holy Trinity
- Feast of Corpus Christi
- Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus
These feasts invite us to dive into the teachings of the Catholic Church. They encourage us to ponder how we pray to a Triune God, how we live a Eucharistic life, and how we find refuge in the very heart of Christ.
In addition, the Time After Pentecost includes numerous feast days of Saints. Their lives are a gateway to growing more intimately with Christ through the Holy Spirit, because in their varied life experiences, they show us how to tangibly live out the Paschal Mystery.
We can celebrate feast days practically by:
- Attending a Eucharistic procession
- Reading the biography of a saint
- Enthroning our homes to the Sacred Heart of Jesus
Each month of the liturgical year, the Catholic Church gives us a special dedication. These dedications are a beautiful way to focus our prayer time and grow in our devotion.
Within the Time After Pentecost, three of these dedications are reserved for Our Lady:
- August // Immaculate Heart of Mary
- September // Our Lady of Sorrows
- October // Holy Rosary
This means that throughout the Time After Pentecost, we have several opportunities to contemplate the glories of Mary. We can ponder her fiat and how her yes sustained her during some of the most painful suffering any human has ever endured. In addition, we can grow in our relationship with her, as she leads us ever closer to her Son.
On a practical level, we can:
- Increase our recitation of the Holy Rosary
- Plant a Mary garden
- Consecrate our lives to Mary
Divine Readings //
The sacred Liturgy can have a “sweet and healthy influence” on our souls, when we enter into her rhythm of prayer (The Liturgical Year).
Prior to the liturgical changes that took place in 1970, the Scripture readings for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass were prayerfully placed on particular days many centuries ago. But even if we follow the readings of the newer form of the Mass, we can still marvel at how perfectly they fit whatever we may be going through in the present moment.
This is because the Word of God is alive and active. It is always moving in the world and stirring in the souls of those who seek the Lord and strive to follow Him.
When we pray with the Church’s Liturgy, we become more rooted in the life of Christ and grounded in His Word.
What’s even more incredible is that “the Cycle of the Liturgy, with its rays of light and grace for the soul, is not a phenomenon that occurs only once … it returns each year” (The Liturgical Year).
What a merciful design of God! For every year, He puts within our reach the most powerful of all means for leading us to Himself.
We can practically incorporate divine reading by:
- Praying with the daily Gospel
- Pursuing the practice of lectio divina
- Reading a book on prayer
Knowing the importance of this Time After Pentecost, and how the Holy Spirit reigns in a special manner over this second half of the year, how do you plan on living out your Faith as we begin this new liturgical season?