What are you doing for Pentecost?
By Lorene Hanley Duquin
It’s a question that you probably don’t hear much. People get excited and plan ahead for most holidays, but Pentecost isn’t usually one of them. In fact, many people don’t really understand what Pentecost is or why it is so important in the Church calendar.
The Story of Pentecost
Pentecost commemorates the coming of the Holy Spirit to the apostles. After Jesus rose on Easter, he appeared to the apostles over the next 40 days, teaching them the significance of what had happened to Him. They listened, but didn’t really understand, so Jesus promised to send the Holy Spirit, who would enlighten them and give them everything they would need to carry the Good News to people all over the world.
Then Jesus ascended into heaven, and the apostles were more confused than ever!
They gathered in an upper room with the mother of Jesus to pray. Ten days later they heard a loud noise, and the Holy Spirit descended upon them in tongues of fire. When that happened, they received spiritual gifts that transformed their lives and gave them the power to touch the lives of other people.
They ran into the streets and began to tell people about Jesus. Each person in the crowd understood the apostles in his or her own language. Thousands became believers that day.
Today we celebrate Pentecost as the birthday of the Church.
Who is the Holy Spirit?
The Holy Spirit is the Third Person of the Trinity, or the eternal Spirit of God. Some people try to explain the Holy Spirit as the power of love and truth that emanates from the Father and the Son. Whenever you feel as if you are being called by God or inspired to do something, it is usually a movement of the Holy Spirit.
One of the most important lessons a parent can teach a child is how to listen to the Holy Spirit. Begin by asking your children after Mass what message they heard in the readings, in the music, in the homily or in their prayers after Communion that seemed to speak to their souls. Then help them to recognize that this is how the Holy Spirit works in their lives.
Gifts of the Holy Spirit
The spiritual gifts that the Spirit brings are wisdom, understanding, knowledge, good judgment, courage, reverence and awe (Isaiah 11:2).
Suggestions to Celebrate Pentecost
• Let your children help make a birthday cake and celebrate by singing Happy Birthday to the Church!
• Read the Pentecost account with your family from the Acts of the Apostles (2:1-47). Then, go out in the backyard and make a bonfire together. Talk about the power of the symbol of fire and how the Holy Spirit came to the apostles through fire.
• Write the gifts of the Holy Spirit on pieces of paper. Let each family member take a gift. Then talk about how they can use their gift throughout the year.
Prayer to the Holy Spirit
Holy Spirit, come into our hearts. Bring the brightness of your light, the warmth of your love, and the fullness of your truth so that our lives may be pleasing to you in every way. Amen.
Living as Alleluia People
By Woodene Koenig-Bricker
As Christians, we have been given the gift of new life through Jesus’ resurrection. We are living a new, renewed and restored life. If we truly believe that Jesus has given us new and abundant life, why aren’t we dancing through our days?
Living as resurrected people doesn’t mean that we simply have more energy to endure the same old life. Because we have new life, we know that Jesus’ presence provides constant strength for us as we struggle to get things done, restore relationships, care for others – and embrace joy as we spend time with family and love and live life to the fullest potential.
We can – and should – keep our hearts and minds focused on our ultimate goal of heaven, but in the meantime live every day as Alleluia people.
What, specifically, can we do to be an “Alleluia people”, as St. Augustine calls us?
• Be thankful.
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Gratitude is the greatest gift we can return to God. If you can’t think of anything to be thankful for except that you are alive, then give thanks for that.
• Give generously
Since we have the promise of abundance, we have no reason to be selfish or hoard possessions. Give freely, believing that your needs will always be met.
God has given you a new life. Be confident that he will give you what you need to live that new life, be it financial, emotional or physical.
St. Teresa of Avila said, “May God protect me from gloomy saints.” Who would want to learn about Jesus if you look and act like you are miserable all the time?
• Be an example
Ask yourself if people can tell that Jesus has risen from the dead by the way you think, act and speak. Remember, you may be the only gospel a person ever sees, so make sure that you live so that the reality of the redemption is visible to all you meet.