Week One: The Descent of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles and the Other Disciples

Verse to memorize

“Peter, and John, and James, and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James.”

Introduction: Ten things to know about the Holy Spirit

1) The Holy Spirit is the third person of the Blessed Trinity—Father, Son and Holy Spirit — that is, the mystery of three persons in one God. The Bible also calls the Holy Spirit, the Advocate or the Paraclete.

2) Belief in the Holy Spirit is one of the eight foundational beliefs we profess when we say the Apostles Creed.

3) In the sacrament of Baptism, we are “born again” in the Holy Spirit, that is, we receive new life in the Spirit; we receive God’s own divine life within us.

4) In the sacrament of Confirmation, the Holy Spirit confirms in us the faith promises which our parents and godparents made when we were infants, and gives us gifts.

5) Jesus, Himself, was conceived, that is became a human, in the womb of the Virgin Mary by the action of the Holy Spirit. Luke 1:35

6) In Psalm 104 it says that the LORD sends out His “Spirit and renews the face of the earth”. v. 30

7) St. Paul said: “No one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.” 1Cor. 2:11

8) We do not hear the Holy Spirit Himself; He will not speak on His own. CCC 687; G. of Jn 16:13

9) But we can know the Holy Spirit. We know Him only in the movement of our hearts and minds in which He reveals Jesus’ Word to us. He disposes us to respond in faith. CCC 687

10) Jesus Himself, speaking to Nicodemus, compared the action of the Holy Spirit to the wind: “The wind blows where it chooses and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” Jn 3:8


(After the Resurrection, Jesus) appeared to them during 40 days, speaking about the kingdom of God. While staying with them, he ordered them not to leave Jerusalem, but wait there for the promise of the Father….”you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”

(After the Ascension) they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a sabbath day’s journey away. When they had entered the city, they went to the room upstairs where they were staying, Peter, and John, and James, and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. All these were constantly devoting themselves to prayer, together with certain women, including Mary the mother of Jesus, as well as His brothers.

When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them the ability.

Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each. Amazed and astonished, they asked, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language…about God’s deeds of power? (NRSV)
Acts of the Apostles 1:3b-5, 12-14; 2:1-8


1) Q: Who wrote the Acts of the Apostles? A: St. Luke, the Gospel writer. Q: Why were the Apostles crowded into an Upper Room in this scene from the Act of the Apostles? A: For fear of the leading Jews, who had plotted Jesus’ death, and because Jesus had told them to stay in Jerusalem to “wait for the baptism of the Holy Spirit”. Q: Who was with them? A: 11 apostles, other disciples, Mary the mother of Jesus and other women, and the brothers of Jesus (ie. either brothers from an earlier rriage of Joseph or cousins of Jesus). Q: Where was Jesus? He had ascended into heaven. Q: Who was missing of the 12 Apostles? Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Jesus

2) Q: Why were Jews “from every nation” in Jerusalem at that time? A: To celebrate the Feast of Weeks (Shavuot in Hebrew) which commemorates both the wheat harvest and the giving of the Jewish Law (Torah). It is called Weeks because it is 7 weeks after Passover. It was also called Pentecost in Greek, because pentacost means 50 days in Greek. And so the Jewish feast of Pentacost became the the Christian feast of Pentacost.

3) What are the names of the 12 Apostles? A: Peter and Andrew (brothers), James and John (brothers and sons of Zebedee), Philip, Thomas, Bartholomew, Matthew (the tax collector), James son of Alphaeus, Simon the Zealot, Judas son of James and Judas Iscariot. James son of Zebedee is sometimes called James the Greater. James son of Alphaeus is sometimes called James the Less (because he was shorter according to tradition). Q: Can you recite them?

4) Q: When the Holy Spirit descended on the large group in the Upper Room, what did it sound like? A: Like the rush of a violent wind that filled the whole house. Even Jews assembled outside for the feast heard it and were amazed. Q: What strange thing appeared? A: A tongue of fire appeared over each of them. Q: What does the “tongue of fire” symbolize? A: The fire of divine love. Q: What was the effect on the Apostles and the other men and women? A: They received the gift of tongues and the courage to leave the Upper Room and speak without fear to the assembled Jews in Jerusalem. Q: What was the reaction of the crowd outside? A: They were amazed that they could understand the testimony of the Apostles each in their own language. Q: Have you, or someone you know, felt the action of the Holy Spirit in your mind and heart? What surprised you/them? What were you able to do?

5) This First Feast of Pentacost is known as “the Birthday of the Church”. Q: Why? A: Because the Apostles and the disciples went forth for the first time to preach the good news of the kingdom of God. Q: Why is Mary the Mother of God, know also as the Mother of the Church? A: Two reasons: 1) Jesus on the Cross gave His mother to “the beloved disciple”, and through “the beloved disciple” to us, and 2) Mary, the mother of Jesus was present in the Upper Room praying with the disciples when the Holy Spirit descended on them.


Courtesy of The Bible Project