Updated: May 29
The Second Greatest Feast
This Sunday the Church begins the second GREATEST feast of the liturgical year, Pentecost! It ranks just below Easter of course because what's Pentecost without the Resurrection? That's right! I used to think that Christmas would have been the second but I stand corrected. The name of this high feast comes from the Greek word for "fiftieth" and rightly so because we celebrate it fifty days after Easter Sunday. Some of you may refer to it as Whitsunday which comes from "White Sunday" and refers to the vigil of Pentecost when those coming into the Church would be baptized in white garments. Either way we are giving praise to God for sending the Holy Spirit upon Mary and the disciples just as He promised.
My Theological Thoughts
Jesus has ascended to Heaven and now the apostles are in the upper room seeking to learn how to say yes to God's will from Mary. Who better to learn this from than Jesus' mother, she knows her Son better than anyone and expressed her fiat with her whole life. Something else that I found interesting is that this great theophany happens in the midst of their humble prayers. A lesson that can be truly internalized when I think about remaining close to Our Lady in her virtue and example as well as seeking intimacy with God in my prayer life. God does not abandon us, that's what Pentecost proclaims to us following his ascension, and He provides what we need to have a real relationship with Him and evangelize. Of course we know there is the visible manifestation of the Holy Spirit in tongues of fire, but there is also an internal, unseen reality which is the conversion and fervor of the disciples which had not been there before. They converted three thousand people that day, the same men that had not long before that denied Jesus. How can there be such a drastic change? The Holy Spirit.
"When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly a sound came from heaven like the rush of a mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire, distributed and resting on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance" (Acts 2:1-4)
Since this is an octave, which means that the Church celebrates Pentecost for 8 days, I want to equip you with prayers and activities to do with the whole family. Some of these will just be for a more engaging at home catechetical experience and others may begin meaningful traditions to keep for years to come.
Pray as a Family Throughout the Octave
The core of liturgical living must be prayer, taking what we experience in the Divine Liturgy as well as the sacraments and extending that grace and lived encounter to our homes.
The Pentecost Sequence, "Veni, Sancte Spiritus" is something that can be prayed every day, perhaps in the morning before everyone begins their day.
Come, Holy Spirit, come!
And from your celestial home
Shed a ray of light divine!
Come, Father of the poor!
Come, source of all our store!
Come, within our bosoms shine.
You, of comforters the best;
You, the soul’s most welcome guest;
Sweet refreshment here below;
In our labour, rest most sweet;
Grateful coolness in the heat;
Solace in the midst of woe.
O most blessed Light divine,
Shine within these hearts of yours,
And our inmost being fill!
Where you are not, we have naught,
Nothing good in deed or thought,
Nothing free from taint of ill.
Heal our wounds, our strength renew;
On our dryness pour your dew;
Wash the stains of guilt away:
Bend the stubborn heart and will;
Melt the frozen, warm the chill;
Guide the steps that go astray.
On the faithful, who adore
And confess you, evermore
In your sevenfold gift descend;
Give them virtue’s sure reward;
Give them your salvation, Lord;
Give them joys that never end. Amen.
"Come, Holy Spirit Prayer"
Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of thy faithful and enkindle in them the fire of thy love.
V. Send forth thy spirit and they shall be created.
R. And thou shalt renew the face of the earth.
Let us pray. O God, who didst instruct the hearts of the faithful by the light of the Holy Spirit, grant us in the same spirit to be truly wise, and ever to rejoice in his consolation. Through Christ our Lord.
"Prayer to the Holy Spirit" by St. Augustine
Breathe into me, Holy Spirit, that my thoughts may all be holy. Move in me, Holy Spirit, that my work, too, may be holy. Attract my heart, Holy Spirit, that I may love only what is holy. Strengthen me, Holy Spirit, that I may defend all that is holy. Protect me, Holy Spirit, that I may always be holy.
Follow this link to pray the Liturgy of the Hours together. Click to download the Evening Prayer printable PDF.
Pentecost Activities for All Ages
1. Make tongues of fire hats for the kids to wear.
2. Learn how to make an origami dove and hang them up as decoration.
3. Talk about spiritual gifts and vocations with your children. This link from the USCCB has full lesson plans for grades K-8!
4. Celebrate diversity and the many tongues the disciples experienced when evangelizing that day. Learn how to say I love you in different languages.
1. Give witness to your faith, share something about it on social media.
2. Do a charitable work today, encourage them to spend time doing a service project for a community they feel passionate about. This can be a great opportunity to develop spiritual insights and work can be a center for prayer.
3. For those confirmed, this is a commemoration of our own personal "Pentecost". Consider having your teen lead the family in prayer, learn something more about the saint they chose, touch base with their sponsor, or recall the story of your own confirmation with your children.
4. Discuss the gifts of the Holy Spirit, the gifts they feel they have, and/or discernment of vocations. This is a great article about how a Parish sparked interest in the priesthood and religious life for their teens.
For the Entire Family
1. Red is the liturgical color for this season so give your dining room table or home decor a festive touch. Have the family decorate with streamers, construction paper/ tissue paper flames, or cut out doves to hang by the windows or above the table.
2. Light seven candles for the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit.
3. Put red roses out on the home altar to remind you of the Pentecost flame.
4. Consider having a priest or religious over for dinner, this is a great way of celebrating with other members of the Church community and raising awareness of vocations in your home. You could also do a potluck dinner with friends from varying cultures! I think I'll have to try that one next year, I love to host friends.
5. Everyone wear red today, this is an easy one!
6. Make red velvet cake... MMmmmmMMMhhhmmmmMM! This is one of my favorite cooking blogs, check it out.
7. Bonfire in the backyard anyone?! I need a backyard... This would be SO FUN for the family, invite some friends over, and roast some marshmallows!
Thanks for stopping by again, I'm not sure which of these we will be doing yet but you can stay in touch and find out by following my @HisGirlSunday Facebook page. Praying for you this Pentecost!