The power of Pentecost and birth of the Church
This year we have reflected on the path that the early disciples traveled as the Church was growing and spreading the good news. We began with the promise of the Holy Spirit and explored how the first Christians lived with both generosity and boldness. They had courage and heroically forgave others, like Stephen. They embraced conversion
and spread the gospel, like Paul.
We now circle back to the fulfillment of that promise: the arrival of the Spirit on the Feast
of Pentecost, often dubbed the birthday of the Church. On that day the Holy Spirit was
poured out and the foundation of the Church’s mission was laid. Our mission to be witnesses to the faith and to spread the truth of Jesus Christ was set in motion for all
As religious education classes draw to a close for another year, let’s remind our students that the inspiring work of the Spirit — brought alive in the Acts of the Apostles — should
still fuel us today.
From the word
“When the time for Pentecost was fulfilled, they were all in one place together. And suddenly there came from the sky a noise like a strong driving wind, and it filled the entire house in which they were. Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire, which parted and came to rest on each one of them. And they were all filled with the holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues, as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim” (Acts 2:1-4).
■ How many days after the Resurrection did the first disciples have to wait for the coming of the Spirit? (50 days)
■ What happened in the crowd when the Holy Spirit descended on the people? (they spoke in different tongues and all could understand)
■ Who stood up in the confusion and spoke boldly to the crowd? (Peter)
■ What does Peter tell them to do? (repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ)
1. Soaring on the wind of the Spirit. Provide each student with a pattern to create a paper kite. On the string “tails,” have them tie on a series of tags that each list a different gift of the Holy Spirit. Discuss these gifts and how they can help all of us to “soar” to heaven!
2. Happy Birthday! What a great time for a “birthday party” to celebrate the birth of the
Church. Decorate a cake or cupcakes with doves or tongues of fire. On posters, write Happy Birthday!” in various foreign languages. Give out packages of fruity candy, labeled with the fruits of the Spirit. Go outside and blow bubbles to be carried off on the wind.
Yes, it can be hard to imagine how the first Christians found the courage to risk their very lives to grow the Church. But that speaks to the power of the Holy Spirit. Teaching this lesson to our classes with excitement can serve to inspire our students right through the summer months — and throughout their lives.
Lynn Wehner is a Catholic writer, editor, speaker, and catechist who lives with her husband and their children in Connecticut.
This article was originally published in Catechist magazine, April 2019.