Pentecost is celebrated 50 days after Easter.
This year it is celebrated on May 23rd.
Pentecost Sunday is one of the most ancient feasts of the Church, celebrated early enough to be mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles (20:16) and St. Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians (16:8). It is the 50th day after Easter (if we count both Easter and Pentecost), and it supplants the Jewish feast of Pentecost, which took place 50 days after the Passover and which celebrated the sealing of the Old Covenant on Mount Sinai.
The Acts of the Apostles recounts the story of the original Pentecost as well (Acts 2). Jews from all over were gathered in Jerusalem to celebrate the Jewish feast. On that Sunday, ten days after our Lord’s Ascension, the Apostles and the Blessed Virgin Mary were gathered in the Upper Room, where they had seen Christ after His Resurrection:
And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a mighty wind coming, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them parted tongues as it were of fire, and it sat upon every one of them: And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they began to speak with diverse tongues, according as the Holy Ghost gave them to speak. [Acts 2:2-4]
Christ had promised His Apostles that He would send His Holy Spirit, and on Pentecost they were granted the gifts of the Spirit. The Apostles began to preach the Gospel in all of the languages that the Jews who were gathered there spoke, and about 3,000 people were converted and baptized that day.
That is why Pentecost is often called “the birthday of the Church.” On this day, with the descent of the Holy Spirit, Christ’s mission is completed, and the New Covenant is inaugurated. It’s interesting to note that St. Peter, the first pope, was already the leader and spokesman for the Apostles on Pentecost Sunday (see Acts 2:14ff).
In years past, Pentecost was celebrated with greater solemnity than it is today. In fact, the entire period between Easter and Pentecost Sunday was known as Pentecost (and it still is called Pentecost in the Eastern churches, both Catholic and Orthodox). During those 50 days, both fasting and kneeling were strictly forbidden, because this period was supposed to give us a foretaste of the life of Heaven. In more recent times, parishes celebrated the approach of Pentecost with the public recitation of the Novena to the Holy Ghost.
Parish Celebrations of the Sacraments
Dear Sacred Heart Parishioners,
Am I selfish when I get annoyed at all the “inconveniences” of negotiating life in an almost post pandemic world? Before I answer myself, I have to frame the questions in light of the “tragedies” of the pandemic world: death of family and loved ones, often alone sometimes even without the comfort of the sacraments, the suffering of the sick, the bravery of medical workers, the courage of the kid who had to keep the grocery store open as well as the economic devastation that left businesses ruined and workers unemployed. So, the Holy Spirit planted in my soul at Confirmation counsels me saying, “Shame on you!” The Spirit is, of course, right, I should know better, but why do the complaining thoughts keep coming? It’s a topic for another sermon.
So much of the inconveniences we live with are caused by uncertainty. There does not seem to be any single definitive answers, just opinions that change with each news release. Precautions may be eased or increased. For the past year we play it day by day and try to move forward and; yes, it’s getting old.
Planning for parish celebrations of First Holy Communion, First Confession and Confirmation has all depended on maybes, hopes and variables. Neither COVID nor Sandy ever stopped the yearly celebration of the sacraments here at Sacred Heart and this year will be no different.
Saturday June 26, 2021
Sunday June 27th, 2021
First Holy Communion
July 11, 2021
At present we don’t know what safety and occupancy restrictions will be in place or how many parents will, as last year, opt not to have their children participate at this time. Mandated restrictions will have to be followed and that may again mean limited seating and disappointed family members. The ceremonies will be taped and hopefully available on the parish website for evening viewing on that day.
We acknowledge the realities that we have to live with and continue to deal with them as best as we can. Our prayers continue for the souls of those who died, the recovery of the sick, the needs of the unemployed and maybe even for good weather on those days so that families may at least have small safe yard gatherings to celebrate these important spiritual milestones in the lives of our parish children.
Sincerely in Christ,
Father John Tutoné