Monday, 12 May 2008

Beyond Pentecost Sunday

Easter and Christmas - the two greatest feasts of the year - both have an 'octave': eight days of celebration, keeping each day as though it were the feast itself. Until the liturgical reforms of the 1960s and 70s, several other major feasts were also kept for eight days, amongst them Pentecost. Most of the octaves were omitted in order to simplify the calendar, yet perhaps something was lost when the changes were made. The eighth day after Pentecost is Trinity Sunday, so there is a natural end to an octave celebration, and an octave of Pentecost would help to deepen our awareness of the Holy Spirit's presence and work in our lives.

Aside from Wednesday (the feast of St Matthias), Mass at the Cathedral each day this week will be a votive Mass of the Holy Spirit. In this way we are given a longer opportunity to reflect on the mysteries of Pentecost, which was celebrated yesterday. The red of the tabernacle veil and the stole over the crucifix remind us of the Holy Spirit, who appeared in the form of fire. Our prayer this week will, with God's grace, help us to make better use of the gifts the Holy Spirit has given to us.