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Pentecost Happy Birthday to the Church

When I started out this blog I had a very different thought in mind. “It needs to be factual, historical, Spiritual, and honour the Holy Spirit” Such lofty ideas!! Suddenly in my head I heard ‘have you asked

the Spirit what is to be written? One very large piece of humble pie consumed.

Pentecost is when the apostles went out among the people and began spreading Jesus' message, thus establishing the beginning of the Church. When Pentecost day came round, they had all met in one room, when suddenly they heard what sounded like a powerful wind from heaven, the noise of which filled the entire house in which they were sitting; and something appeared to them that seemed like tongues of fire; these separated and came to rest on the head of each of them. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak foreign languages as the Spirit gave them the gift of speech.” Acts 2:1-11

In the Scriptures we are told that inspired by the Holy Spirit and the apostles, many onlookers of Jerusalem gathered to listen to the very first Christian sermon delivered by St Peter. When finished Peter found himself baptising thousands of people. The Church was born.

The one thing that kept coming back to me was how many times the establishing of the church is equated to ‘Happy Birthday to the Church.’ Then I thought ‘Why not?’ We all celebrate our birthdays as this is the day we came into this world, therefore it stands to reason that Pentecost is our ‘second birthday’ - the birth of the Church. We are all part of the body of the Church, Pentecost is the Church’s birthday, and subsequently ours also. And like any birthday, it’s a cause for celebration. The Pentecost tradition marks a very special time for Christians around the world, both historically and spiritually. Each Catholic family celebrates the Pentecost tradition differently, but we rejoice in the descent of the Holy Spirit attending Holy Mass, perhaps a prayer vigil the evening before and celebratory feasts. Looking further afield I discovered that other countries celebrate in very specific ways and I thought I would share some them here as it is alike to having a special Birthday celebration: An Italian Pentecost tradition is to scatter rose leaves from the ceiling of the Pantheon (and even some churches) to recall the miracle of the fiery tongues, and so in some places in Italy, Pentecost is sometimes called Pascha Rosatum (Easter roses). In France, it is tradition to blow trumpets during Mass to recall the sound of the driving wind of the Holy Spirit. In Asia, it is typical to have an extra service, called genuflexion, during which long poems and prayers are recited. In Germany, picnics are a popular activity on Pentecost. It isn’t uncommon to see the doorways of taverns and homes decorated with birch branches and hear the ringing of cowbells both in the countryside and in the city. In some regions, fountains are draped in birch branches and flowers. In Poland decorating with birch branches and other greenery on Pentecost Sunday. The decorations go beyond just houses—cattle with wreaths of birch branches wrapped around their horns can also be seen during the holiday. In some churches, a carved dove is lowered into the congregation as part of a tradition known as “the swinging of the Holy Spirit.” If you have a particular custom from your country please do let me know and we can share them with others. Email and in the subject box FAO CAROLE. I thought I’d end this blog written for Pentecost with a meditative poem. It reminds us what happened and helps us to put ourselves right there. Perhaps you could use it it for a short meditation time to give thanks for the Holy Spirit, for the gifts and fruits received.

Happy Feast of Pentecost! Carole 27/05/23


Gathered together

Waiting for what No one is sure

Except it feels like a Hurricane or tornado is due

Birds are quiet Streets bustling Yet there is silence And so the waiting continues. One turned to the other to speak But what was this No two spoke the same language Yet we all understood At the same time the wind came A Divine wind filling the whole room One by one they noticed tongues of fire

above each of their heads It was then we knew The advocate had arrived The Spirit giving them The gift to understand All people, in all places The new beginning has begun….. Irie Fremantle©️

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