Church of the Descent of the Holy Spirit, Ballineaspaig, Cork, Ireland

Pentecost

The Descent of the Holy Spirit

The coming of the Holy Spirit changed everything. Even though the disciples had met the Risen Jesus and even, had had breakfast with him, they were still traumatised by his Passion and Death. They withdrew from the wider social scene and sought security in their own little group of believers, coming in fear to the locked Upper Room.

Then, it happened. The Holy Spirit descended upon them and they were changed utterly. Filled with courage, confidence, knowledge, joy, love and hope, they strode out into the wide world bringing news of the Risen Jesus.

"When Pentecost day came round, they had all met in one room, when suddenly they heard what sounded like a powerful wind from heaven,the noise of which filled the entire house in which they were sitting; and something appeared to them that seemed like tongues of fire; these separated and came to rest on the head of each of them. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit..." (Acts 2. 1-4)

It is our privilege to be a Parish dedicated to the Descent of the Holy Spirit. Each week we gather to celebrate the Eucharist as a community of believers, gathered to be refreshed by the new outpouring of the same Holy Spirit. Each day our magnificent church building reminds us of the wonder of the first Pentecost. The blessings are awesome. The opportunities are enormous. The responsibilities are challenging.

The similarities between now and the time of the first Pentecost are many. Social upheaval was turbulent then as now. The divide between rich and poor was widening. Jerusalem was about to be destroyed. Traditional religious practice had fossilised and lost ground. It looked like a time to batten down the hatches, to revive the tried and tested old ways. It did not seem to be the time to suggest innovative ways to strengthen faith, to awaken and deepen hope, to energise religious practice, to point out that among his people God was evoking new ways to love, care and worship. But that is exactly what the spirit-filled disciples did. They talked and preached joyfully and enthusiastically about the Risen Jesus and his message of love, human and divine, of forgiveness, reconciliation, care and healing.

They strove to live this message too, aware that everyone is equal and precious before God, that privilege is a burden not a right, that justice is the cornerstone of love, that generosity is the foundation of happiness, that wisdom is the authentic beacon on life’s journey, that awe in God’s presence is the entree to eternal life. The Holy Spirit endowed them for the task.

To imitate them is our destiny here in the Parish of the Holy Spirit. It is no time to just curse the darkness. It is a time to light candles of goodness, individually and as a community. It is a time for courage and encouragement. It is a time to nourish faith by prayerful celebration and reflective exploration.

Inspired by the Holy Spirit are we willing to answer the challenge? If not, the opportunity will be lost.

Bi linn.

Fr. Tom

Mosaic on High Altar

This Church of the Descent of the Holy Spirit is the Church of Pentecost. On the High Altar is a mosaic of a Dove descending, a depiction of the Holy Spirit who guides the Church and each one of us. Underneath this there is the symbol known as the Chi-Rho sign formed by superimposing the first two letters of the name Christ In Greek letters (XP) = {CHRist} to indicate the centrality of Christ to our faith and to the Mass.

On both sides of this mosaic are two Greek letters, Alpha (A a) and Omega (O ?), the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet, signifying the Beginning and the End. This symbol was suggested by their use in the Book of Revelation, the last book of the New Testament.

"I am the Alpha and the Omega, says the Lord God, he who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty"

Book of Revelation 1:8

This symbol refers both to Christ and the Father. John the apostle wants to convey the message that humanly speaking the Christian Church could not survive on its own but God is the one in whom we can place our trust both now and in the future.

In 2011 the Pastoral Council commissioned a Batik from artist Bernadette Madden which would reproduce the mosaic on the High Altar. This Batik will be used in the Church and in the Crypt for special ceremonies.

Ceiling of Sanctuary

The ceiling of the sanctuary is a half-dome. The coming of the Holy Spirit on Our Lady, the apostles and disciples at Pentecost is the theme of the colourful mosaic covering the ceiling. The dove, symbol of the Holy Spirit, is shown sending out tongues of fire which radiate from the apex of the curve. The mosaic was designed and executed by the Italian artist Romeo Battistella who was attached to International Mosaics of Roscommon. It is a beautiful scene imbued with vitality and peace.


Sanctuary Mosaic representing the Descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost

Sanctuary showing the Holy Spirit descending


Dove on High Altar

Mosaic on High Altar


Batik

Batik of Mosaic on High Altar


Dove on Ambo

Dove on Ambo