RIOR TO THE ISSUANCE of the Missal of Pope Paul VI in 1970, the three major feasts of the Church’s liturgical year – Christmas, Easter, and Pentecost – were all celebrated by means of an octave. These feasts were full of such joy that their celebration could not be contained by one day alone, hence it overflowed into the “octave”: a period of eight consecutive days (the first being the principal feast) which were all celebrated as though they were the feast itself.
The Novus Ordo Mass retains the Octave of Christmas (Dec 25-Jan 1, culminating in the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God) and the Octave of Easter (culminating every year in Divine Mercy Sunday, even though the particular date of Easter depends on the moon); but, curiously, it has suppressed the Octave of Pentecost. (There is a well-known story, though it has never been confirmed, of Pope Paul VI walking into the sacristy on the Monday after Pentecost. Seeing green vestments instead of red and thinking that the sacristan had made a mistake, so the story goes, the master of ceremonies had to remind the pontiff that it was he himself who had abolished the Octave of Pentecost by promulgating the new missal, thus causing His Holiness to weep.)
Some Catholics will still get to enjoy an official Pentecost Octave, which is observed by the faithful who worship according to the 1962 missal, as well as by former Anglicans who came into the Church through the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter and use the Divine Worship missal promulgated in 2015. But for most Novus Ordo-going Catholics, myself included, the Octave of Pentecost is no longer officially part of the Church’s liturgical calendar. This doesn’t mean, however, that we can’t mark this sacred time between Pentecost and Trinity Sunday by means of our own private devotions and prayers. Here are five fitting ideas for extending the joy of Pentecost throughout the week:
1) Make a special effort to attend Mass on the Monday and Tuesday after Pentecost, which used to be holy days of obligation. This practice is still noted in the 2011 Roman Missal, which remarks that “where the Monday or Tuesday after Pentecost are days on which the faithful are obliged or accustomed to attend Mass, the Mass of Pentecost Sunday may be repeated, or a Mass of the Holy Spirit may be said” (see the end of the Pentecost Sunday rubrics). Since 2018, the Monday after Pentecost is now the obligatory feast of Mary Mother of the Church, but votive Masses of the Holy Spirit may be said on any other days in the week following Pentecost where no other Masses take precedence.
3) Renew your baptismal promises as a family and sprinkle yourselves with holy water, asking the Holy Spirit to stir up in you the graces and charisms that He gave you in Baptism and sealed in you in Confirmation.
4) Pray for the unification of all Christians into the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church that Jesus founded, which “subsists in the Catholic Church…governed by the successor of Peter and by the Bishops in communion with him” (Lumen gentium 8). Ask that the Holy Spirit, the “spirit of Truth” (John 14:17), would continue to lead all who share the name of Christian into the one sheepfold of Christ so that there can be “one flock and one shepherd” (John 10:16).
5) Use selections of the Catechism of the Catholic Church as spiritual reading, fodder for mental prayer, or a source of catechetical discussion around the family dinner table. I particularly recommend paragraphs 687-747 on the Holy Spirit and His role in the life of the Church, which you could break up for prayer or discussion this way:
Pentecost Sunday: paragraphs 687-690, on the Holy Spirit and His joint mission with the Son;
Monday after Pentecost: paragraphs 691-701, on the symbols of the Holy Spirit;
Tuesday after Pentecost: paragraphs 702-710, on the hidden and preparatory work of the Spirit in the Old Covenant;
Wednesday after Pentecost: paragraphs 711-716, on the proximate prophecies of the coming Messiah and His Spirit;
Thursday after Pentecost: paragraphs 717-726, on the Holy Spirit’s role in the lives of St. John the Baptist and the Blessed Virgin Mary;
Friday after Pentecost: paragraphs 727-730, on the Holy Spirit’s role in the life of Christ;
Saturday after Pentecost: paragraphs 731-741, on the Holy Spirit’s role in the life of the Church;
Trinity Sunday: paragraphs 742-747, the “In Brief” overview that summarizes everything you will have prayed with and learned about.
In the meantime, I wish you a prayerful and blessed Easter season. Praised be Jesus Christ!