Octave of Pentecost

During Mass at St. Benedict’s Monastery yesterday afternoon, the priest mentioned his sadness that we no longer celebrate the Octave of Pentecost. Although many of the older nuns in the congregation shook their heads appreciatively at his comment, I was puzzled, never having heard of (or at least not remembering it if I did) the Octave of Pentecost.

A little digging last night revealed that in the traditional Roman liturgical calendar, Pentecost was followed by eight days of celebration of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. The practice of celebrating the Octave ended in 1969. (So I guess I should have remembered it since I must have celebrated it during my Catholic youth.) I didn’t delve deeply enough to discover why it did, although I found a number of sites bemoaning the “reforms” that removed the octave from the liturgical calendar.

Whether or not we “officially” recognize an Octave of Pentecost, we have lost something important if we don’t spend time reflecting on the gifts of the Holy Spirit that have been given to us. They were not, after all, gifts given to us to stick in a closet with the fondue set someone gave us 15 years ago that we never use. Rather, they are ours to help us fulfill our role as disciples of Christ.

We don’t need the Octave placed on the liturgical calendar to spend time reflecting on what the coming of the Spirit means to us. So, as one might of done during the “official” Octave, take some time over these days to reflect on the gifts of Wisdom, Understanding, Knowledge, Counsel, Fortitude, Piety and Fear of the Lord.

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