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Director of Faith and Mission

02 May 2024

Emblazoned With The Holy Spirit To Serve Others Through Love
If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit. – Gal 5:25

As many celebrate the beginning of the season of Autumn, the new season of MasterChef or a new sporting season, at Thomas Carr College we celebrate a new term – the Pentecost term. Some of you may not know what ‘Pentecost’ means, or how as a College, we celebrate it. For Christians and Jews – Pentecost is a very important celebration in their Liturgical Calendars. Not only is it important for two religions, but because of events in history, it has two different meanings which dates back over three thousand years.

Definition: Pentecost is a Greek word meaning ‘fiftieth’ and refers to the 50th day after Passover/ Holy Saturday (the day after Jesus’ death). In short, for Christians it celebrates the day the Holy Spirit descended from Heaven and filled the Apostles and Mary with the Gifts needed to spread the message of Jesus’s saving grace.

But Pentecost goes deeper and has a longer significance for both Jews and Christians

The meanings of Pentecost

Meaning 1 – A Covenant

The Jewish word for Pentecost is Shavuot or ‘Festival of Weeks’. It was a day of great celebration, as all Jewish people gather to remember that God – Yahweh called the Israelites into a Covenant or relationship by giving the Laws or Torah to follow at Mount Sinai; we call ten of them; the Ten Commandments. The Laws were given to the Israelites who fled Egypt with Moses, 7 weeks after the first Passover feast. Pentecost or Shavuot is therefore the day Jewish people celebrate accepting that Covenant.

For Christians, it is the day, fifty days after Jesus’ death and ten days after his Ascension in Heaven, where we remember that in a long room in Jerusalem, Mother Mary and Jesus’s Disciples, who had gathered to celebrate Shavuot/ Pentecost, experienced the Holy Spirit as first a wind, and then as tongues of fire that rested upon them, and fill them with the Spirit. Once filled with the Holy Spirit they were able to speak in many languages and therefore proclaim the, the Good News of Jesus.  This miracle made the Disciples, Apostles as they could bring the New Covenant, a new relationship opportunity to the world. By becoming Jesus followers, Christians agreed to follow Jesus’ teachings and the Greatest Commandment – Love God and love your neighbour as yourself.

Meaning 2 – The Blessing of the fruits

Another meaning of the celebration of Pentecost is – the ‘Festival of the Harvest of First Fruits’. In the Book of Exodus 23:19 and Leviticus 23:9-14 God called for a sacrifice from all households. It was an obligation that men from every household would bring to the Synagogue the first fruit that appeared in their crops and offer it to God – Yahweh they would give thanks to God – Yahweh and declare their faith in God – Yahweh as the One God.  On Pentecost men would then gather in Jerusalem with their sacrificial offering. In those times it was wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranate, olives, or dates.

For Christians we remember Jesus calling himself the ‘bread of life’ (John 6:35) and in 1 Corinthians 15:20-23, Paul refers to Jesus as the ‘firstfruit’.  Both express that Jesus, through His actions, nurture and sustain us, and help us to grow and live, because He was sacrificed on Good Friday, for everyone’s sins.

We also have the Fruits of the Holy Spirit

  • Love,
  • Joy,
  • Peace,
  • Patience,
  • Kindness,
  • Generosity,
  • Faithfulness,
  • Gentleness,
  • Self-control

These we believe are the result – ‘the bearing of the fruit’ given to us through the Gifts of the Holy Spirit – when Catholics undertake the Sacrament of Confirmation. When Catholics believe and live out; Wisdom, Understanding, Right Judgement, Courage, Knowledge, Reverence and Awe and Wonder in the Lord, they are committing to being Christ for others, and as a result, bear the Fruits of the Holy Spirit

Pentecost Term reminds us that after Jesus’s greatest sacrifice, we are all called to bring to life the fruit of this wonderful gift first given to us on Pentecost.

How we are living the Covenant?

In Term Two, we have already had many opportunities to share the Fruits of the Holy Spirit and bring to life the new covenant. We continue to gather in Welcome Circles, and commit to having respectful relationships, building a growth mindset, and being ready to learn, building on our CPRs to include ensuring we are present, centred, and grounded which is continuing to foster and nurture our wonderful Community. Students and staff came together on Sunday 21 April for Open Day to shine our light for prospective families and share the fruits of their spirit. The Year 9s had their reflection day in Week One, with the Youth Ministry Team. The day enabled the students to engage with eight wonderful youth leaders sharing their stories and encouraging our students to encounter the Holy Spirit in others and themselves when they present their true self. The message of the day: When we let our light shine or share the best version of who we are, and allow others to do the same, we express the inalienable dignity everyone is born with. The week ended with a liturgical service for ANZAC Day, organised and lead by students to commemorate and remember those whose lights shone bright protecting their family, community and country.

Coming up this term we have many more opportunities for our students and community to bear the fruits of service through love, and I encourage everyone to be emblazoned by the Holy Spirit and go out into the community to share the joy of this Pentecost term.

Alexandra Higham
Director of Faith and Mission