The Feast of Pentecost

Cindy Clefisch shines a bright light on the Feast of Pentecost and shares practical ways to fully celebrate this important day on the Church calendar.


Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Happy Birthday to the Church!

As the third entity of the Trinity enters, we celebrate the birth of the Church. I must admit that I’m a bit nerdy about the Liturgical Calendar. If you’re trying to remember the Feast of Pentecost, think tongues – tongues of flames and speaking in tongues. This occurred 50 days after the first Easter. (See Acts 2: The Coming of the Spirit)

The Apostles were in Jerusalem, awaiting the Ascension and named Matthias to take the place of Judas. The room was filled with the sound of rushing wind. Tongues of fire appeared over the heads of the Apostles. The crowd that gathered was a multi-cultural crowd who spoke many languages. Suddenly, they realized that everyone understood the words of the Apostles, even though they didn’t speak a common language. All heard and understood in their own language. Peter, our first Pope, realized that this was fulfilling the words of Joel and David in the Old Testament. The prophets saw a vision of a time when the Holy Spirit would be poured out on all flesh.

The symbols of Pentecost

Wind: Without wind (or breath) there could be no life. In nature it is a great power.

Fire: Another great power in nature. Without sunlight and warmth, life would not exist.

Dove: Used often in the Bible as a sign of peace and hope.

Water: Water cleanses, refreshes, and reminds us of our Baptism. However, water is not only placid and calm. Its power can carve into a mountainside.

The First Pentecost

  • Marks the sign of God’s continuing presence through the gift of the Holy Spirit. He always was, always is, and always will be with us.
  • Momentarily reverses the curse of the tower of Babel. The Holy Spirit transcended the limits of culture and language in a sign of unity. In this way, everyone heard Christ’s words no matter their ethnicity or language.
  • Peter, the Rock of the Church, urged the people of all nations to repent and be baptized.
  • Launched the growth of the Catholic Church. Many answered the call to join the Church. Faith and hope were inspired.

Now who, exactly, is the Holy Spirit?

  • John: 14:16 – And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Advocate to be with you forever. The third person of the Trinity, one that transcends time and history. The Holy Spirit is always present
  • John 14:26 – But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you. The spirit will teach us about ourselves and our purpose in the world.
  • The spirit has been set to lead us to faith in Jesus and unite us in the Body of Christ. It empowers and transforms us to live, work, and witness in word and deed.

Prayer to the Holy Spirit

Call on the Holy Spirit in Prayer as you do the Father and the Son.

Come Holy Spirit

Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit, and they shall be created. And you shall renew the face of the earth.

O God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit, did instruct hearts of the faithful, grant that by that same Holy Spirit we may be truly wise and ever rejoice in His consolations. Through Christ Our Lord. Amen.

Family Prayer: Pray together for the presence of the Spirit in the life of your family. End your shared prayers with this reflection of St. Hildegard of Bingen.

Fire of the Spirit, life of the lives of creatures, spiral of sanctity, bond of all natures, glow of charity, lights of clarity, taste of sweetness to sinners -be with us and hear us.

Composer of all things, light of all the risen, key of salvation, release from the dark prison, hope of all unions, scope of chastity’s, joy in the glory, strong honor –- be with us and hear us. Amen.

What does the Pentecost mean TODAY?

The fulfillment of the Pentecost continues today. We are called to:

  • Work toward understanding and harmony among people from all nations and cultures
  • Spread the good news! As the Apostles went forth from the first Pentecost to share their faith, we continue the work of Christ by witnessing to others.
  • It reminds us that a small community of believers can accomplish great things through the power of the Holy Spirit. Build community not only within the Church, but also in your home, neighborhood, and workplace.

Now, put it in action!

Want to Involve the Kids?

Though we can show pictures of the Son and relate to the relationship we have with a Father, the Holy Spirit is harder to physically represent. Create a kit to help remember that the Holy Spirit:

  • Guides: compass
  • Teaches: apple
  • Comforts: piece of fleece
  • Heals: band-aid
  • Improves Relationships: listening ear eraser
  • Helps Us Pray: prayer card
  • Empowers Us with Gifts: gift box

With older kids, you can discuss the gifts and the fruits of the Spirit.

Gifts: Wisdom, Understanding, Counsel, Fortitude, Knowledge, Piety, Fear of God

Fruits: charity, generosity, joy, gentleness, peace, faithfulness, patience, modesty, kindness, self-control, goodness, chastity

If a song from VBS comes to mind, know you’re not alone. This is a great topic to incorporate before “Theology of the Body.”

For more information, see this Loyola Press page on Fruits of the Holy Spirit. 

You Can Have your Cake and Eat it Too!

As a Faith Formation Coordinator, we sang “Happy Birthday” to the Church after mass and ate birthday cake. Take time to celebrate! Who doesn’t want another excuse to eat cake!

Print resource: About Pentecost and About the Holy Spirit by Channing L Bete Co. Inc

Copyright 2019 Cindy Clefisch

The youngest of seven children, this farm girl now loves her home near Saylorville Lake. Cindy Clefisch is a blessed mom of twin boys who understands how far a mom can go to keep her children alive and healthy. She started her career in education and is amazed at the broad experiences she's had. Not so long ago, this devout lady went through despairing times. Never thinking she'd experience her own dark night of the soul, she's still working on fully placing her trust back in God's hands, and how a faith-filled Catholic can be defined. Writing about her faith and challenges helps motivate her to keep trusting, even when she can't feel the touch of the Master's Hands.

Author: The Well

The Well is a vibrant women’s ministry rooted in prayer, evangelization, and charitable action. We exist to gather women together, to celebrate spiritual friendships, and to build up the local Catholic community. Just as the Samaritan woman encountered Jesus at a well, we pray the work of this ministry opens doors to a deeper and sustained encounter with Jesus for those who gather with us.

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