The 50 day celebration of Easter is completed and closed with a tremendous feast. PENTECOST. The reality of what happened at Pentecost truly rivals Christmas and Easter in spiritual significance. It’s when God-with-us became God-in-us. Let’s face it however, Pentecost is sort of a forgotten holiday. For most of us, it’s just another nice Sunday. But this is the special feast of the Holy Spirit, who has remained on earth living with, in and through us ever since that day so long ago when the holy wind blew and lit the Apostles hearts on fire.
I’m hoping these ideas can help you make celebrating Pentecost a fun and faith filled family tradition! The same gifts the Apostles received at the first Pentecost we receive at Baptism. The spiritual gifts are the tools God gives us to grow spiritual fruit in our lives. Each of the items we use for this celebration is a tactile reminder of a deep spiritual reality. So, let’s have a Pentecost Party and open some gifts and see how sweet it is when God’s fruit grows in us!
Start by going on a spiritual supply hunt. You will need:
7 different sized white or silver gift boxes tied with white bows (different styles of ribbon)
6 tiny (doll house sized) gardening tools (I found most of them at Hobby Lobby) and a pair of 3-D or sunglasses
7 typed or hand written descriptions of spiritual gifts (see below)
7 white/cream votive candles (in/on pretty gold or silver holder/s, if you like)
4 birthday candles
Long matches or long necked lighter
Figurine of a dove
Red napkin spread out flat or tablecloth
Basket of plastic or silk fruit marked in sharpie with the names of the Fruits of the Spirit:
Love, Joy, Peace,
Generosity, Gentleness, Modesty,
Lots of fruit snacks (taken out of their wrappers and put in a pretty bowl)
Yellow cupcakes (one for each person at the party)
“Flamey” frosting (Made by putting a can of white frosting into a ziplock bag and dripping 4-8 drops each of red and yellow food coloring around in it. Zip and gently mush the color around just a little bit. When ready to use, snip off the bottom corner and use like a pastry tube to frost cupcakes in little swirls of “flame”)
Before the party, prepare your gift boxes. Print, trim (and if you like, laminate) the descriptions of the 7 Gifts of the Holy Spirit. Poke a hole in the corner and tie each to the corresponding tiny gardening tool with some skinny white ribbon. (All the ribbons and boxes are white to make a clear association with newness and how we receive them at Baptism.) Be creative in finding the styles of white boxes and ribbons. Put the tiny tools with their labels each in a separate box. Consider tying the ribbons on the boxes so they are easily slid on and off without untying the bow. It will make the set last longer.
Here’s the list of gifts. The spiritual gardening tools to grow good spiritual fruit!
FORTITUDE: Strength and courage to dig deep in our life to make room for God’s will (Shovel)
COUNSEL: Seeking God’s advice to smooth out life’s rough places and break through obstacles. (Hoe)
PIETY: Drinking deepGod’s grace in prayer and sacraments to be refreshed with His Love. (Watering Can)
KNOWLEDGE: Sorting through information to find real truth and to avoid lies/distractions. (Rake)
FEAR OF THE LORD: Clearing away/cutting off what separates from God’s love. (Hedge Trimmer)
UNDERSTANDING: Seeing how faith fits into life, the lens to see the big picture with God in it. (Glasses)
Start your party by setting a kitchen or dining room table with the seven candles, dove, and gift packages arranged together. You can make this as simple or elaborate as you like. Set the basket of labeled fruit and fruit snacks to the side. Four cupcakes should have their frosting flames but the rest can be unfrosted on a tray on a separate counter with frosting bag ready to go.
Let’s pass out some GIFTS!
Invite your guests of all ages to gather around the table with youngest children in front. Older boys or men in the group can be assigned the job with the lighter and fire. Other grown-ups are informed that when their child opens a gift that the adult will read the description.
Introduce the group to the idea that Pentecost is worth celebrating. Remember: Pentecost is the day God-with-us offered us the chance to live with God-in-us! Describe how the Apostles received the spiritual gifts on that special Pentecost, and we receive the same gifts at Baptism. Let’s see what those gifts are. Gift boxes are passed out to the youngest children to open one by one. When the child opens a gift, they describe what’s inside, grown up reads description and one candle is lit to show the light of the spirit in us.
After the first gift is opened, describe how light makes things grow…like flowers and vegetables and FRUIT! Spiritual light is the same. The Spiritual Gifts enable us to grow the Fruit of the Spirit. Toss each piece of spiritual fruit from the basket to children of reading age and/or adults. Have them say what theirs is. That is the goodness God wants to grow inside of us! Then give every child a fruit snack from the bowl, to be the fruit growing in them.
Do the same with each gift that follows. (Open box, read, light candle, grow/eat more fruit) There is no specific order required. The glasses are not officially a gardening tool. They are just something we need when we are out gardening in our life so we can see well. 3-D glasses are good with older children because the spiritual gift of Understanding does enable us to see in a new dimension…God’s.
Once all 7 candles are lit, ask the Holy Spirit to be with us in a special way right now. You can say the following prayer together, “Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your children and enkindle in us the fire of your love.”
Who’s ready for Birthday CAKE?
This is really a birthday party! Bring the 4 frosted cupcakes over and put a candle on each. Talk about how Pentecost was the beginning of God’s Church on earth and it is thousands of years old. Too many years for all the candles needed on a cake, so we will just do 4 candles to remind us of the four ways our church is such a gift from God. Ask 4 children who haven’t done something yet to each hold a cupcake. As you give each one out say:
1) Our Church is One…united with God and each other
2) Our Church is Holy…with the spirit of God living in us, making us holy
3) Our Church is Catholic…universal so that people from all over the world can love God with us
4) Our Church is Apostolic…we are called to be apostles, and share our faith with everyone.
Now light the birthday candles and sing Happy Birthday! Explain first that when we sing “to you” to point at someone else, and when the “name” part comes, we say “our Catholic Family” and at the end, blow out all 11 candles! The final activity is to pass out the cupcakes and go around and put a frosting flame on each one like when the Holy Spirit came on Pentecost and appeared as a flame but no one got burned! His light lives inside of us! If you can get the kids to be patient, have them all wait till everyone’s cupcake is ready and then hold them all up together, just like being part of our church unites us, and say… “CHEERS!”