Recently my daughter and I attended a retreat for those preparing for Confirmation. In retreat fashion, the group was in the church basement acting out a skit from the scene of Pentecost: disciples gathered, exchanging greetings in different languages, when suddenly a rushing wind (a.k.a. a theatrical 3rd grader) came soaring through the room. It was a good effort, and it made me wonder about its inspiration.
What would it have been like to be in the Upper Room when the Holy Spirit descended? When tongues of fire appeared, not as floppy tag board, but true flames? When the crowd could understand one another in different tongues?
All the Anticipation
The first Pentecost might have been a sensory and emotional roller coaster:
- Fear/hiding/waiting/locked doors
- Rushing wind
- Many languages
- Reception of the Holy Spirit
Any one of these occurrences might have startled us, but certainly all together would have been reason for excitement while providing a great deal to unpack. And, chances are, other than a rousing and celebratory Liturgy, our experience of Pentecost today will likely feel different. How do we embrace the awesome gift of this day, now?
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7 Ideas for Celebrating Pentecost
A closet staple for any Catholic wardrobe is something bold and red. Red is the color used to celebrate the blood of the martyrs, fire as in flame or the “fire of charity”, and Jesus’ Passion. Among the days that celebrate both fire and a group burning with Christian charity, Pentecost is it!
Light a Candle
The gift that Jesus shared with the Apostles was not a one-time grace—it is offered to each of us. Light a candle during prayer, or leave it burning throughout the day as a reminder of the Advocate Jesus gave us.
Whether you have sponsored someone, or you have chosen someone to sponsor you during the Sacrament of Confirmation, reach out. What is he or she doing in the world? Let them know how they continue to be a light in your life.
Go for a Walk/Hike
Choose a location where you can feel the wind on your face—an open field or a mountain top, and allow yourself to be reminded that God speaks so often to us through the gentlest breeze (1 Kings 19:12).
Raise Your Voice
I love the description of the crowd raising their voices to praise God (Acts 2:1-11). Whether you speak one language or six, take the opportunity to raise your own voice in praise.
Consider the gifts of the Spirit—thank God for one that comes easily, pray for one that doesn’t:
- Fear of the Lord
In the Gospel for Pentecost, Jesus tells His Apostles:
Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained. // John 20:19-23
What a great reminder of the power of forgiveness. What forgiveness do we need to extend to someone else or seek for ourselves? This could be a great day to seek out the Sacrament of Confession.
The Exclamation Point of Easter
Pentecost serves as a kind of exclamation point at the end of the Easter Season—the longest season in the Church year! Pentecost means “fiftieth”, for the fifty days after Easter. For as long as Lent feels, the Easter party adds an extra ten days to the celebration, ending today.
Just like at the Apostles, we are reminded that through our own Confirmation, we have been sealed with the gifts of the Holy Spirit to carry us back into the fray, or the mundane of ordinary time with the gifts necessary to do so.
There are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit; there are different forms of service but the same Lord; there are different workings but the same God who produces all of them in everyone. To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit. // 1 Corinthians 12: 4-7
How will you celebrate Pentecost today?
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