On the fest of the Pentecost, we commemorate the descent of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles, who were gathered around Mary. This feast is celebrate on the final day of the Easter Season - With this year falling on Saturday, May 28th. We're sharing some key takeaways about Pentecost, along with seven simple ways to celebrate.
The story of Pentecost
According to Acts 1-2, the Apostles, Mary and other followers returned to Jerusalem after Jesus ascended into heaven. The group dedicated their time to praying to Jesus, and one day, the Holy Spirit came down like a "strong driving wind" into the room where they were praying. Soon after this, tongues that looked like fire rested on their heads, and gave them the gift to speak in different languages and understand each other. The Holy Spirit granted them the gifts they needed to go out and spread the Gospel.
Jews and non-believers from many different nations who were nearby heard the commotion and 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.
On this 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. Since 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
Pentecost means "50th" in Greek. Pentecost occurred exactly 50 days after Easter, and it marks the end of the Easter season.
7 Simple ways to celebrate Pentecost at home
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 the liturgical color for Pentecost and 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 and further explain the meaning to your children.
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. Talk about 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 red and decorate your home
Red is the liturgical color for Pentecost - as it symbolizes the tongues of fire sent upon the Apostles by the Holy Spirit.
Wear red today! Pull out your favorite red top, put a red bow on your little girls, or lace up your red sneakers. 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 and 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 choosiness.
Today, affirm 12 people in your 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.)
The 12 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 and 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. 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 and say “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
Afterwards, pray the prayer below, 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 the kids busy during your meditation, print out our flame cutting activity in the free Pentecost download.
Pray in another 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?
If you answered yes to any, or all, questions above, we encourage you to find a translation of your favorite prayer in a different language, and practice saying it. 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.
Looking for more inspiration on how to celebrate the Liturgical seasons?
Living The Seasons: Simple Ways To Celebrate The Beauty Of Your Faith Throughout The Year is a full-color guide to creatively celebrate our faith. Each page is filled with beautiful inspiration with effortless directions to celebrate feast days, holy days and seasons within the Church. This will be your resource for living liturgically! Now available for pre-order on our website.