Different celebrations, one message

By | May 16, 2013

Happy birthday everyone, you wear your age well! As Christians, we consider Pentecost as the birthday of the church. On the day of Pentecost, God poured the Holy Spirit out, creating the community of those who follow Jesus with courage and strength and spread his good news to the ends of the earth. Pentecost should be a day when Christians rise up and celebrate.

When you attend Mass this weekend you already know what to look for. The color of the feast is red, but you may also see touches of white for the white dove is a familiar symbol of Pentecost. An actual fire might be used as part of the environment or you may see wind banners floating in procession, or hear the sound of wind chimes.

At the basilica of Santa Maria and Martyrs in Rome, rose petals are dropped from the top of the dome to the crowds below, reminiscent of the coming of the Holy Spirit like tongues of flame.

In Germany, the day is called “Pfingsten” and pink and red peonies, called “Whitsun roses,” are placed in the church along with white birch trees. Some churches lower a carved dove into the congregation called “swinging the Holy Ghost.”

If you attend the Pentecost Mass in France you may hear trumpets signifying the wind announcing the Holy Spirit and on this day in Poland, the people celebrate “The Green Holiday” and spend the day at family gatherings.

For our brothers and sisters of the Eastern Rite, the liturgical color is green. They fill their churches with branches of freshly-budding trees and freshly-cut grass on the floor. In some areas there is a large procession to the fields. The procession starts from the church and ends at some wayside shrine in the field. There, prayers for good weather are offered, the crops are sprinkled with holy water, and the prayer of St. Tryphon is read against all sorts of pests that could bother the crops. Part of the prayer reads, (St. Tryphon) “having compassion upon us who are in danger and trouble, drive far from our fields and gardens and vineyards, all reptiles, and locusts, and caterpillars, and various species of insects and beasts, the diseases of fruit and leaves and roots of trees, and all vegetables and seeds and legumes of ours.”

So if your Pentecost Mass uses red or green, if there are droplets of holy water or cascading flower petals, or if fields can be blessed, all is the same. In the end there is only one message of Pentecost and it belongs to Jesus “… the Holy Spirit, that my Father will send you, will teach you everything.”

Zahorik is pastoral associate at Most Blessed Sacrament Parish, Oshkosh.


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