WITH ST. MARY'S
THE FEAST OF PENTECOST
We and the Church have been nurtured and protected by the Holy Spirit.
On this Pentecost Sunday, we celebrate the birthday of the Church just as we would celebrate the birthday of any other person. The Catholic teaching on the sanctity of life is absolutely clear: life begins at conception, at which time it inherits a basic dignity that remains and should be protected until its natural death. Our fundamental belief that life begins at conception is affirmed in the incarnation, which did not occur on the day Christ was born, but on the day when Mary said yes to being the mother of God. At that moment, the Holy Spirit came down upon her and instilled God made man within her womb. As it was with Christ, so it is with us: we came into being in the moment of our conception. That being said, the day we choose to celebrate when we came into this world is our birthday.
READ THIS SUNDAY'S MESSAGE
We came into existence at the moment of our conception, but we came into the world on the day of our birth. The Church exists in precisely the same way because she is a divinely created body, specifically the Mystical Body of Christ. The moment she came into being was on the cross after Christ had died and a spear was thrust into his side. Blood and water spewed forth, which are the means by which we enter into the Mystical Body of Christ through baptism. Still, the Church was hidden from the world. It existed, but it needed to be protected and fortified from the forces of the world in the same way a child needs to be protected and fortified in its mother’s womb before it is ready for the world. Even as Christ ascended into heaven, the Church was still not ready. It required the coming of the Holy Spirit to descend upon the disciples, to fill their innermost being with fortitude and wisdom, and to send them out into the world. This occurred on the night of Pentecost, which we celebrate today. This is one of the most important days in the entire year for the Church because we are celebrating our birthday. We celebrate the disciples going out into the world and beginning the mission and ministry that began with the words of Christ, found its calling on the cross, and was finally prepared through the descent of the Holy Spirit. We must look at the celebration of Pentecost with a proper understanding of what it means to be an active Christian. The Gospels reveal to us that it is simply not enough to know the teachings of Christ. It is simply not enough to believe that Christ rose from the dead and ascended into Heaven. If we want to be full members of Christ’s Church, it is absolutely crucial that we first receive the Holy Spirit in the sacrament of Confirmation before we go out into the world as witnesses of Christ. If we use the analogy of an individual life, we are still dependent on the nurturing of the Church before we individually receive the Holy Spirit just as a child depends on the nurturing of a mother within her womb. In the sacrament of Confirmation, we are telling the confirmandi that they are about to be sent out into the world as witnesses to Christ. If we want the Church to flourish and to spread to the ends of the earth, we must stress the importance of the sacrament to our young people. The first step is simply celebrating and learning about the birthday of our Mother Church.
Family activity to do at home: Pentecost is one of the most special feasts in the liturgical year. We are simultaneously celebrating the birthday of the Church and marking the end of Easter. This feast is an opportunity for us to celebrate the birthday of the Church together just as we would celebrate anyone else's birthday; we are not only commemorating the moment the Holy Spirit descended upon the Apostles, but also our own individual Pentecost, when we were confirmed with the Holy Spirit in the Sacrament of Confirmation. While not everyone in your family may have received the sacrament just yet, today is a great opportunity to celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit together. See the activity below to learn how to celebrate Pentecost at home, just as you would any other birthday.