Fifty days after Jesus’ resurrection (and 10 days after his Ascension), the apostles were gathered together, probably confused and contemplating their future mission and purpose. On the day of Pentecost, a flame rested upon the shoulders of the apostles and they began to speak in tongues (languages), by the power of the Holy Spirit. Thus, Pentecost is a time for many Catholics and other Christians to celebrate two important realities: the Holy Spirit and the Church. Pentecost has been a very important feast in The Catholic and Orthodox Churches because it celebrates the official beginning of the Church. Pentecost always falls on a Sunday, fifty days after Easter Sunday (including Easter Sunday), and occurs during mid-to-late Spring in the Northern hemisphere, and mid-to-late autumn in the Southern hemisphere.
Pentecost is also the Greek name for Jewish Feast of Weeks (Shavuot), falling on the 50th day of Passover. It was during the Feast of Weeks that the first fruits of the grain harvest were presented (see Deuteronomy 16:9). New Testament references to Pentecost, in all likelihood, refer to the Jewish feast and not the Christian feast, which gradually developed during and after that period.
In the English speaking countries, Pentecost is also known as Whitsunday. The origin of this name may come from the Old English word for “White Sunday,” referring to the practice of baptizing converts clothed in white robes on the Sunday of Pentecost. In the English tradition, new converts were baptized on Easter, Pentecost, and All Saints Day, primarily because people went to church these days.
The Season After Pentecost is essentially the part of the year that is left after everything has been accounted for. The name of this season varies widely from church to church—it can be called Kingdomtide or Ordinary Time. In most churches, the general theme of Scripture readings and sermons concerns the church’s mission in the world.
The Season After Pentecost begins on the day after Pentecost. In the western Church, it ends on the Saturday before the First Sunday of Advent. In the eastern Church, it ends on November 14th.
The main holy days, in the Western Church tradition, during this season are:
- Trinity Sunday, the Sunday after Pentecost, the celebration of the Holy Trinity.
- The Transfiguration is the commemoration of the Transfiguration of Jesus Christ on Mount Tabor. In the Revised Common Lectionary, it is observed on the Last Sunday After the Epiphany.
- All Saints’ Day, November 1st, the Christian Memorial Day on which all who died for their testimony of Jesus are remembered. Many American churches use All Saints’ Day as an educational, Christian alternative to Halloween. The practice of having a harvest festival to avoid Halloween is ironic, since that puts us right back into the pagan things we were doing our best to avoid. The word Halloween itself is a contraction of All Hallows’ Evening, or All Hallows’ Eve, which is the original Christian term for All Saints’ Eve. (‘Hallow’ is an old word for ‘saint’ or ‘holy…’ “Our Father, Who art in Heaven… you get the picture!)
I hope your summer and fall, the year’s last spectacular display of nature, will be happy, healthy, full of joy… and peace.