JERUSALEM – On Sunday, June 4, 2017, Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Apostolic Administrator of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, celebrated Mass for Pentecost at the Dormition Abbey on Mount Zion, just a few steps from the Cenacle (Upper Room). It was an unusual date and place for the ten young people who had the joy of receiving the sacrament of Confirmation on this special day.
The Church celebrates Pentecost on the fiftieth day after the Resurrection of Jesus in commemoration of the day when the Apostles and the Virgin Mary received the Holy Spirit in the Upper Room, where they had hidden from the Jews who were celebrating Shavuot. This Jewish thanksgiving celebration for the wheat harvest and the Law given to Moses on Mount Sinai is certainly at the origin of the Christian celebration. This important event marks the birth of the Church because, having received the Holy Spirit, the apostles had the strength to witness to the resurrection of Christ, to make known his teaching and to baptize. In Jerusalem, Pentecost is traditionally celebrated with solemnity in the German Benedictine Abbey of the Dormition. It is forbidden to celebrate Masses in the Cenacle since the expulsion of the Franciscans from that place five centuries ago.
In his homily, Archbishop Pizzaballa recalled that “the finality of Easter is not that Jesus is risen and that he returns to the Father, but that His life dwells within us”. “The Spirit is a gift that does not remain outside the person, but enters within[…] The Spirit is not simply something extra, an accessory, but it is precisely what makes us live” he added. Archbishop Pizzaballa concluded by presenting the work of the Spirit as “a manifestation of communion that creates fraternity, which is made up of differences, which makes unity possible. […] He is at the origin of the Church. ”
This invitation to live the Spirit was particularly addressed to the ten young people who on this day received the Sacrament of Confirmation. Among them, five Americans, two French, two Lithuanians and one Polish. All of them had written a letter addressed directly to the Apostolic Administrator expressing their desire to fully live their baptized life and to ask for the Sacrament of Confirmation. Throughout the year, they attended catechism classes in preparation to receive the Holy Spirit and to live this transition to adulthood in faith.
It was an event that will forever mark these young people who came from the West.