Happy birthday to us!
You’re with your friends in an upstairs room when suddenly the whole house is filled with a noise “like a strong driving wind.” Then “tongues as of fire” come to rest on everyone’s heads. What do you do? Hide under the bed? Call 911? Relax. It’s the Holy Spirit, filling you with powerful grace to “make disciples of all nations.”
Jesus told his Apostles this was going to happen. At the Last Supper, he promised to send an advocate, or helper, who would “teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you” (John 14:26). After Jesus’ ascension to his Father in heaven, he kept his promise. The Holy Spirit descended on the disciples, filling them with gifts and graces so they could courageously spread the Gospel around the world.
Every year, 50 days after Easter, we remember this event on the Feast of Pentecost. It’s a day for celebrating because it marks the beginning of the Church. You could say it’s the Church’s birthday. But here’s the best part: It isn’t just the disciples who receive the Holy Spirit. We all receive the Holy Spirit in the sacraments. At your Baptism, you receive something incredible called sanctifying grace. This is God’s super-powerful, super-loving, supernatural life in the Holy Spirit, dwelling within you. Sanctifying grace is strengthened in the sacraments: Eucharist, Confirmation, Anointing of the Sick, Holy Orders, and Matrimony. Even when we are weakened by sin, the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation heals and restores sanctifying grace within us.
You might not see flames or hear the wind blowing when you receive the sacraments, but we use symbols like these, along with fiery red colors, when we celebrate Pentecost and the Sacrament of Confirmation. Pentecost reminds us that we have received the same gifts the Apostles received, so we can share the Good News with others and share in God’s eternal life. What a great birthday present!
BONUS: Download this page in a PDF format with activities to help celebrate this feast day. Click here: CAT.Apr-May20_LivingtheLiturgicalYear
Connie Clark is editor of Living Faith Kids, a quarterly magazine of daily Catholic devotions for children. To learn more, visit LivingFaithKids.com.
This article was originally published in Catechist magazine, April/May 2020.