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Happy Birthday!

Happy Birthday to the Catholic Church!

And a very special Happy Birthday to you, who are the body of the Church!

We’re all familiar with our own birthdays. We celebrate them because they mark the day of the year in which we entered into this life. But did you know you have a second birthday?

Because you are part of the body of the Church, Pentecost is the Church’s birthday. And it’s yours as well. Like any birthday, it’s a cause for celebration.

Pentecost

The word Pentecost is Greek and it means “50th day.” Fifty days after Easter Sunday, we celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles and their followers. It’s also the beginning of their Earthly ministry to make disciples of all nations.

Pentecost is also a Jewish holiday, which the Jews use to celebrate the end of Passover. Jews celebrate the gift of the law to Moses at Mt. Sinai on this day. But we, as Catholics celebrate the birth of our Church.

What Happened On The Day of Pentecost?

At Pentecost, the Apostles and their followers were gathered in a room. Jews from all over the world were gathered with Peter, the leader of the Apostles and the Eleven. At this time, a great wind blew and a flame appeared as a tongue of fire, which split itself into many individual flames above the heads of all those present. The Holy Spirit came upon these people and each began to speak in tongues. Despite the fact many had no common language, they were perfectly able to understand one another.

Others who were not so blessed, accused those speaking in tongues of being drunk, but Peter arose and addressed the crowd, explaining that it was only 9 o’clock, and that this phenomenon was not intoxication, but rather this was the work of the Holy Spirit, prophesized in the scripture.

Peter then called all those present to be baptized and about three thousand people were baptized that day.

The Birth of the Catholic Church!

These people were among the first Catholics, and Peter is the first pope of the Catholic Church.

The symbols of Pentecost are the flame, wind, and the dove, which represents the Holy Spirit. The color of Pentecost is red and the priest wears red vestments on this day. Parishioners are also invited to wear red on this day. Red decorations as well as celebrations are appropriate, similar to any other birthday. Special prayers are often said just for Pentecost.

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Don’t Do These Things at Mass!

Things You Should Not Do at Mass (but you might be doing anyhow)

Small Details That Make the Difference and Unite the Church

  • Do not be late. Remember God is waiting for you to fill you with love, to speak to your ear, to tell you what you need to hear, to forgive you. He gave you a special place at his table. Do not keep him waiting.
  • Do not wear inappropriate clothing. Do it for you, and for others.
  • Do not enter the church without greeting the Lord. When you arrive, make the Sign of the Cross. God is there, happy to see you. Thank him for the invitation.
  • Do not be lazy when it comes to bowing or genuflecting. If you walk in front of the altar, which represents Christ, bow. If you pass before the Tabernacle, where Christ is, genuflect.
  • Do not chew gum, eat, or drink during Mass. Only water is allowed if necessary for health reasons.
  • Do not sprawl or slump in the pew. Your body should express your devotion.
  • There is no need to add “extra sentences” to the Readings and the Psalm. That is, do not read the red letters or say “First Reading” or “Responsorial Psalm.”
  • Never recite the Alleluia in advance. Wait a few seconds. Surely someone will sing it. If neither the priest nor anybody sings, omit it, but never recite it.
  • Do not make the Sign of the Cross before the proclamation of the Gospel. Make three small crosses: one on your forehead, one on your lips and the last over your heart, asking the Word of God to be in your mind, on your lips and in your heart.
  • Do not respond in the plural when the Creed is prayed in the form of questions. The presider at Mass may ask: “Do you Believe in God the Father Almighty?” In this case, do not answer “yes, we do,” because faith, although collective, is also personal: you cannot believe “for” someone else. You should simply reply “Yes, I do.”
  • Do not collect the offering during the Universal Prayer. The offering should be collected during the presentation of the gifts, when all are seated and the priest thanks God for the bread and the wine and purifies the hands.
  • Do not sit during the Consecration. If you cannot kneel, consider standing up, but try to leave sitting for times of illness or caring for a child. Your posture during the consecration should reflect your great respect and reverence for the Real Presence of Christ on the altar.
  • There is no need to pray out loud during the Consecration. There are people who, during the Consecration, say the Apostle Thomas’ prayer out loud: “My Lord, My God.” But this can distract those who are making a personal prayer in silence.
  • Do not repeat “Through him, and with him, and in him …” (that is, the Doxology that concludes the Eucharistic Prayer). The only person who should say this is the priest who presides over the Mass.
  • Do not leave your place to go and give peace. You should only greet those who are close to you in the pew. Neither should you use this moment to go congratulate someone or give condolences.
  • If your soul is not prepared with the one hour fast and in the state of grace, do not take Communion.
  • Do not insist on taking Communion from the priest. Jesus is present in the Consecrated Host, regardless whether you receive it from the priest or from an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion, who is a person prepared and authorized by the Church to distribute Communion at Mass and to take it to the elderly and sick.
  • After receiving Communion, do not talk to others. Go back to your place and talk to the Lord. If you have not received the Eucharist, make a spiritual communion and talk to Him.
  • Once Communion has been distributed take a moment of sacred silence, in which each person simply dialogues with God.
  • Turn off the phone. Do not message or talk on the cell phone during Mass, as it distracts you and others. Turn your attention to the Lord, who is dedicating His attention to you.
  • Keep your kids in sight, next to you. Teach them to enjoy their time at the Father’s house.
  • Do not leave until the Mass is over. You don’t want to miss the final blessing, through which the priest sends you into the world to bear witness in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Come out of the church with a new purpose, inspired by the Lord, to build his Kingdom of love.

From Aleteia’s post dated February 25, 2018. This article was originally published in the Portuguese Edition of Aleteia. It’s been translated and adapted for an English-speaking audience.