WHAT IS PENTECOST AND WHY DO WE CELEBRATE IT?
At Pentecost we celebrate when the Holy Spirit visited Mary, the Apostles, and other followers of Jesus. Jesus had ascended to Heaven nine days earlier, and since then, Mary and the other Apostles had been praying continuously (this is why we pray a novena for nine days!).
On Pentecost, the Holy Spirit came like a “strong driving wind” into the room where they were praying. Soon, tongues that looked like fire rested on their heads and gave them the gift of being able to speak out in different languages and still understand each other. The Holy Spirit also gave the Apostles the other gifts they would need to go out and spread the Gospel.
Jews and non-believers from many different nations who were nearby heard the commotion and, in gathering nearby, were astonished to hear the Apostles, who were Galileans, speaking their native tongue (“we hear them speaking in our own tongue the mighty deeds of God”). To clarify what was happening to onlookers (many thought they were drunk), Peter, the first Pope, preached the first homily. He connected the scriptures of the Old Testament, showing how the prophet Joel had prophesied these events and the coming of the Holy Spirit. He also told the people gathered that the Jesus they crucified is the Lord and Messiah, and that he was raised from the dead, which “pierced them to the heart.” They asked what they should do and Peter encouraged them to repent and be baptized.
That day about 3,000 new Christians were baptized. It was the first time new followers of Christ were added after Jesus was no longer with them. But because the Holy Spirit was given to the Apostles along with gifts of the Spirit, they were able to fulfill the Great Commission of going out and preaching the Gospel. Because of this, Pentecost is considered the birthday of the Church!
Read the full story: Acts 1-2
Child-Friendly Story of Pentecost
At Pentecost we celebrate when the Holy Spirit visited Mary, the Apostles, and other followers of Jesus. Jesus had ascended to Heaven nine days earlier (this is why we pray a novena for nine days!), and since then, Mary and the other Apostles had been praying continuously. On Pentecost, the Holy Spirit came like a strong driving wind into the room where they were praying. Soon, fire rested on their heads and gave them the gift of being able to speak in different languages and still understand each other. The Holy Spirit also gave the Apostles the other gifts they would need to go out and spread the Gospel. It was after Pentecost that Peter, the first Pope, was able to preach his first homily and baptize about 3,000 new Christians. Because of this, Pentecost is considered the birthday of the Church!
Pentecoste means “50th” in Greek. Pentecost happened exactly 50 days after Easter. It marks the official end of the Easter season.
CELEBRATE WITH A BIRTHDAY CAKE
Decorate the cake
with different kinds of fruits (to represent the 12 fruits of the Holy Spirit)
OR simply add strawberries on top (red is liturgical color for Pentecost + can represent the flames of the Holy Spirit)
Top the cake with candles. Add 12 candles for each Apostle (download our free Apostle cake toppers in our free Pentecost download)
Sing “Happy Birthday” to the Church.
Read Acts 2:1-11 together (or the above child-friendly Pentecost story).
Alternative to cake: Make a “Fruit Salad of the Holy Spirit” (with 12 different fruits)
PRAY A NOVENA
The first ever novena began the day Jesus ascended to Heaven and ended on Pentecost with the fulfillment of the Holy Spirit descending on Mary and the Apostles. Now, that’s one powerful novena.
The novena in honor of the Holy Spirit is the only novena officially prescribed by the Church and was first made at the direction of Jesus himself.
You can pray the novena to the Holy Spirit any time, but it is traditionally prayed in preparation for Pentecost.
Ask the Holy Spirit to enter your spiritual life in a special way this year. Pray the novena to the Holy Spirit.
WEAR & DECORATE WITH RED
Red is the liturgical color for Pentecost. The color red symbolizes the tongues of fire sent upon the Apostles by the Holy Spirit.
Wear red today!
Bonus for the ladies: Wear a red rose in your hair today.
Decorate your dining table or home altar with red.
Add some new tall votive candles + wrap them with our free printable candle stickers (the “flame” of the candle will look like it’s atop the head of each Apostle!) You can find them in our free Pentecost download.
AFFIRM 12 PEOPLE IN YOUR LIFE
Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to be with His people forever: whoever is baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It is a profound gift and affirmation of our chosenness.
Today, affirm 12 people in your life for the fruits of the Holy Spirit you see active in their life that have inspired you. (i.e. Thank you mom, for teaching me what generosity looks like. You always gave freely to others without counting the cost.)
TWELVE FRUITS: Charity, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Generosity, Gentleness, Faithfulness, Modesty, Self-control, Chastity
FOR KIDS: Download our free coloring sheet of the Fruits of the Holy Spirit in our free Pentecost download.
BREATHE & MEDITATE WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT
When we speak about the Holy Spirit, we speak about the breath of God, breathing in us. The Greek word for “spirit” is pneuma, which means “breath.” We are seldom aware of our breathing. It is so essential for life that we only think about it when something is wrong with it. The Spirit of God is like our breath. God’s spirit is more intimate to us than we are to ourselves. We might not often be aware of it, but without it we cannot live a “spiritual life.” - Fr. Henri Nouwen
- Find a peaceful space without distractions
- Put your hand on your chest and close your eyes
- Begin by invoking the Holy Spirit. “Holy Spirit Come”
- Intentionally listen to the sound of your breath
- Feel the air of your breath fill your lungs
- Hold for two seconds
- Slowly exhale and feel the air of your breath leave your lungs
- Hold for two seconds
- Continue until you feel a sense of calm
Then pray this prayer attributed to 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.
If you need an activity to keep kids’ hands busy for a meditation, print out our flame cutting activity in the free Pentecost download.
PRAY IN A DIFFERENT LANGUAGE
"And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with different tongues, as the Spirit was giving them the ability to speak out." Acts 2:4
Is there a language you’ve always wanted to speak? What’s your family’s heritage - what language would your ancestors have spoken?
Find a translation of your favorite prayer in a different language, and practice saying it today.
We have some prayer cards of the Hail Mary and Our Father in multiple different languages included in the free Pentecost download!
LISTEN FOR THE HOLY SPIRIT
Check out our playlist “Pentecost Sunday'' for slow, worship jams about the Holy Spirit to celebrate with today.