by Sister Diane Heiss, SDSH
Do you remember being invited to birthday parties when you were a child, or inviting friends to yours? What did you anticipate the most: gifts, cake, guests?
Today we celebrate an incredibly special birthday, one without invitations or birthday cake, but with a multitude of guests and special gifts. It is the birthday of the Church. In Acts 2: 1–14, 36–44 we read about the coming of the Holy Spirit on the first Pentecost, 50 days after Easter.
Often when people are invited to visit someone, they bring a hostess/host gift. What would happen if that gift were placed unopened in the back of a closet? Would it really have been accepted and appreciated?
The Holy Spirit is certainly not outdone in generosity. The gifts of the Holy Spirit given at Pentecost and to each of us when we receive the Sacrament of Confirmation are wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and wonder and awe (fear of the Lord). What would happen if we did not accept and use any of these gifts?
Sometimes the Holy Spirit is considered the “forgotten” member of the Holy Trinity. We have an image of God the Father based on father figures in our lives, and since we have experiences of sons and brothers, we can more easily identify with Jesus the Son of God and our brother. It can be more challenging to form an image of a spirit.
There are many references to the Holy Spirit throughout the Bible:
Matthew 3:16-17 The Baptism of Jesus and revelation of the Holy Trinity
Matthew 28:19 Jesus’ command to baptize in the name of the Holy Trinity
John 14:16-17 Jesus’ promise of the Holy Spirit
Confirmation is one of the Sacraments we receive only once since the Holy Spirit will always remain with us and is the completion of the three Sacraments of Initiation, along with Baptism and Eucharist. If you have already received these Sacraments, you might want to consider sharing the gift of your faith as a catechist or classroom assistant in the Religious Education program of your parish, or by praying for those who are serving in this capacity. If you are in high school and not yet registered to begin preparing for Confirmation, now is a good time to contact your parish for registration dates for the new course starting in September. If you are an adult wishing to be confirmed, it is also time to call your local parish for further information.
■ Galatians 5:22–23 lists the Fruits of the Spirit. Spend quiet time in prayer asking the Holy Spirit’s help to remember the many ways that you have borne these fruits and give thanks.
■ Share with family or friends how you have seen each other living the Gifts and Fruits of the Spirit.
■ Prepare a birthday cake, perhaps in the shape of or decorated as a church, to celebrate this day and sing the “Happy Birthday” song with your children.
■ Make dove shaped sugar cookies, decorate and enjoy them.
■ Search online for patterns of how to make a Holy Spirit Mobile, including the Seven Gifts.
■ Find the Baptism dates for each family member and plan a special celebration.