Venice | “There appeared to them tongues as of fire, which parted and came to rest on each one of them. And they were filled with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:3-4).
The readings on Pentecost Sunday note that Jesus appeared before the Apostles for the final time, but at that moment Jesus confers on them their mission to spread the word of God, which marks the beginning of the Catholic Church.
“The Holy Spirit gave the disciples the courage of a new strength — a new beginning — to focus on the mission, to speak openly about who Jesus was and what He accomplished by dying and rising,” said Bishop Frank J. Dewane during the May 20 Pentecost Sunday Mass at Epiphany Cathedral. “This is a lesson today’s faithful should follow. Pentecost gives us a chance to rededicate ourselves to call upon the Holy Spirit for strength and guidance in our own life.”
Pentecost, which literally means 50, falls 50 days after Easter and is 10 days after the Ascension of the Lord. As a symbol of Pentecost and the Holy Spirit, the clergy wear red vestments, and as a sign of unity many of the parishioners also wore red.
“We are all called by the Holy Spirit to be witnesses of the Faith,” he continued. “Faith is the gift we receive in Baptism; and in Confirmation the Holy Spirit is awakened in us and we become doers of our faith. Be a witness as the disciples were.”
During the Mass at the Cathedral, Bishop Dewane also conferred the Sacrament of Confirmation on 80 candidates from 20 parishes across the Diocese of Venice. These candidates were unable (for whatever reason) to be confirmed at their own Parishes during the past several months. The group also represented the faithful from 20 different countries. During the sacrament, the Bishop made the sign of the cross on the forehead of each person being confirmed with chrism oil and said, “Be sealed with the gifts of the Holy Spirit.” Those gifts are: wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety and fear of God.
Bishop Dewane thanked the candidates for coming forward to be confirmed and said that the Sacrament of Confirmation must change them, as they have been given a new beginning in their lives and must go out to “give witness about who you are, and who you are becoming.”
Of the confirmandi, 13 were from Holy Cross Parish in Palmetto. Their Pastor, Father Bernard Evanofski, concelebrated the Mass to offer his support and encouragement.
Two of the Holy Cross group expressed their joy of being confirmed by the Bishop. “I feel so blessed to be here, to present myself to the Bishop and become a full participant in the Catholic faith,” one woman said. A young man said his journey took place with the support of his mother who recognized the importance of receiving the Sacrament of Confirmation. “I started the instruction reluctantly, but after today I can thank my mother for being there and understanding what I needed in my life: to be sealed in the faith by the Bishop on this day.”
During a Pentecost address at the Vatican, Pope Francis suggested since the Holy Spirit provoked change that Catholics turn to the Holy Spirit for a “powerful jolt” when “we are in need of real change.” He is “the power of God” and the “giver of life.”
“How good it would be for us each day to feel this jolt of life. To say when we wake up each morning:
The Holy Father recalled that as the soul of the Church, the Holy Spirit renews it with hope, fills it with joy, and causes it to blossom with new life. Even after 2,000 years, “the Spirit reminds the Church that … She is always the youthful bride with whom the Lord is madly in love.”