Seven. Some of the 3-6-year-olds can’t count that high yet, but they can tell that there are a bunch of candles. The small group of children sits holding their breath as the catechist lights the match. It takes more than one swipe because matchboxes in Atria by this time of the year are usually well-used. Suddenly, the flame ignites, and a dozen sets of eyes widen in relief and awe.
The flame moves deftly to the model Paschal candle. Ears open and eyes watch it dance as ancient verses are read from the only history book that can tell toward what end all of humanity is directed. One by one each red candle is lit from the Paschal candle. The flames of the seven red candles flicker, the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, illuminating the shadows in the darkened classroom.
Knowledge – knowing more and more about God
Understanding – knowing what God is saying
Wisdom – knowing what to do and how to use what you know about God
Counsel – wise words from God that help us or help others
Fortitude – God’s power for doing good
Fear of the Lord – knowing how great God is and being amazed by Him
Piety – delight in loving God more than anything
And then, they ask for one. Each child takes their own candle and lights it from one of the gifts, the one they want to ask Jesus to send them. Their flame is added to the ones already flickering on the prayer table, and any darkness left in the Atrium quickly retreats in the warm glow of the gifts given even to the smallest of God’s creatures.
Do you know that glow? Do you have that fire to seek holiness burning in your heart and home? The image painted above is the beauty of Catechesis of the Good Shepherd. While the description may leave out the distraction of baby siblings crying and trying to claw their way off of near-breaking-point moms, the presentation allows the Holy Spirit to move in a child no matter what else is going on. Even if that child was standing up dancing through the whole thing. Even if they have no idea what gift they just asked for. And, yes, especially if the catechist got all the words and movements wrong, couldn’t light the candles at all, and had to have the kids pretend the whole thing.
What does the movement of the Holy Spirit look like in your family? Is it messy, sporadic, organized, obvious, hidden? Remember that the Holy Spirit moves best in our weaknesses, not our strengths. Just look at the Gospel reading. The Apostles are still locked away! They are still scared, and they still don’t know what to do! I’m just guessing here, but I think we can all relate. And suddenly, they have an abundance of knowledge, wisdom, counsel, understanding, fortitude, fear of the Lord, and piety that drives them out into the streets proclaiming the Gospel message like never before. Was that their own strength? Or was it a supernatural gift? Were they weak and sad when they received the gift of the Holy Spirit, or were they on the top of their game?
Family Activities, Worksheets, Coloring Pages, and Resources for Pentecost Sunday
Now that we’re all at home, take the opportunity to practice living out the Liturgy all week long. I’ve split this up into the themes that make sense to me. I hope they make sense to you, too. I’ve listed my ideas for subjects, and I’ll fill in with links as I find them.
- Readings: http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/053120.cfm
- Acts of the Apostles (the main story is in the first reading this week!): Pentecost, aka the coming of the Holy Spirit, aka the birthday of the Church
- Sacrament Study: Confirmation
- Work of Mercy: Encourage the Doubtful
- Virtue: Humility
- Saint: St. Boniface
- Prayer: Come Holy Spirit
- Extensions: Gifts of the Holy Spirit, SWOT analysis, birthdays, wind power, parts of the body, theology of the body, fire and fire safety
- Follow cgsusa.org guidelines and explore the Pentecost. Use real candles, or make stand-ins. You can use paper, posterboard, chunks of 2×4, Legos, empty boxes, empty paper towel or toilet paper tubes – even spiraled pipe cleaners or red cups turned upside down. Have the wrong color candle? Wrap a red piece of paper or red ribbon around the base, or let the kids glue on pieces of red paper or tissue paper. You can also put a white candle in a red cup. Keep it standing up with rice, playdoh, sand, or hot glue in the bottom.
- Research and read about the history of Pentecost before it was a Catholic celebration on CruxNow.com. Scroll down to the 9th paragraph to dive in.
- Create your own Gifts of the Holy Spirit artwork with chalk on the driveway, with paint on paper, with torn pieces of paper in a collage. Take a picture and wish your family “Happy Birthday, Catholic Church!” (Psst: The Gifts of the Holy Spirit are Virtues. The fruits of the Holy Spirit are different. Confused? Try this explanation.)
- Assemble a classic flame headband.
- Hide gift-box shaped paper slips all around the house. On the back of each, write a virtue challenge and prayer to the Holy Spirit for that gift. If your kids are little, just hide red pieces of paper. Have them bring each one to the prayer table. You can practice singing a Holy Spirit song or praying the “Come, Holy Spirit” prayer with them each time they find one.
- Listen to the thunder that was forecast for Sunday in San Antonio (I don’t know if it is now!) and compare it to the sound “like driving wind” in the first reading.
- Make a birthday cake to celebrate the birthday of the church! I have grandiose ideas of making a 3D flame cake with my kids. I’m sure that is not what will happen.
Here’s this week’s YouTube playlist, with kid-friendly Pentecost videos. I’ll add more as soon as I can double check the appropriateness/catholic-ness of others without my kids stopping to watching over my shoulder. There are also two lovely videos on cgsusa.org. In one a 12-year-old girl is singing, and in the other, you’ll hear a reflection on Pentecost in the Atrium.
“Come Holy Spirit,” Catholic Sprouts podcast, “Head, shoulders, knees, and toes,” and the sound of the wind.
Berenstain Bears have a book called “Count Their Blessings,” about a storm and being grateful for the things around you. Gratitude helps us recognize the movement of God’s love in our everyday life. For Confirmation explanations for kids, I suggest the Catechism of the Seven Sacraments. To get a true definition of the virtue of humility, check your Catholic Encyclopedia, or find the online version. There’s also a post from Aleteia offering advice on teaching humility to your kids. For information on St. Boniface, hop on over to LoyolaPress.com.
Download and print:
TheCatholicKid.com has coloring pages for Pentecost. CraftingtheWordofGod.com also has a sun catcher, coloring page, and puzzle. Holy Heroes always includes quizzes and coloring pages with their Mass Prep. Sign up to download them!
- What gift of the Holy Spirit do you need most today? (Ask this each day.)
- How do we invite the Holy Spirit to be with us and ask for the gifts we need?
- Why do you think God used tongues of fire to show the presence of the Holy Spirit?