Saturday, May 22, 2010
Eve of Pentecost
Pentecost is historically and symbolically related to the Jewish harvest festival of Shavuot, which commemorates God giving the Ten Commandments at Mount Sinai fifty days after the Exodus. Among Christians, Pentecost commemorates the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles and other followers of Jesus as described in the New Testament Acts of the Apostles 2:31  during these Jewish "fiftieth day" celebrations in Jerusalem. For this reason, Pentecost is sometimes described as the "Birthday of the Church".
I often wonder how Mary and the Apostles really spent the ten days between the Ascension of Jesus into heaven and the descent of the Holy Spirit. We heard that they were in the temple continuously praising God; I suspect this was a real Christian retreat, perhaps the first, as they spent these days in prayer. They all must have thought about the many memories they had of Jesus; they relived the important moments in their own lives; they pondered what the promise of the Holy Spirit would mean for them; above all, they were filled with longing, and great gratitude for all that they had heard, seen, lived. Jesus was present in their hearts and so they kept praising God.
I will be making my retreat this year alone with God, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. After having had the three wonderful days in retreat on the ocean this month, I will have only six days for retreat in August. I think my retreat may be something like I imagined the first retreat was for Mary and the Apostles: a looking back over memories, a reliving of my own experiences of God; and pondering the gift of the Holy Spirit with great desire to praise God with joy. It is not too soon to begin to pray for these days of retreat and Pentecost is a time of special grace.
In the meantime, I am having a busy day finding room for the papers I cannot allow myself to throw away without looking at them. Some may have been in my files for years, but now is the time to look, throw out, or file. I am not good about the filing! It is much nicer to think about the summer and my retreat at the end of it this year.