ASK THE LITURGIST (35) – Catechesis on Pentecost

– Don Enrico Finotti

The extension of the supplements for catechesis and the abundant anthology do not facilitate the learning of a synthesis on the different questions of faith. Is it possible to have a short catechesis that gives the children the essential elements of the various parts of the catechism?

Here is a short catechesis proposal on Pentecost (for example):

1. What are the greatest feasts of the Church?

Easter, Christmas and Pentecost are the three major solemnities of the liturgical year and no one else can compete with their eminent position.

2. Why are they the biggest feasts?

Because they celebrate the three fundamental moments of our Redemption: the Incarnation of the Son of God (Christmas), his Death and Resurrection (Easter), the gift of the Holy Spirit (Pentecost).

3. How are they celebrated?

The liturgical tradition of the Church underlines these three great feasts with specific methods: the preparatory holidays, the night vigil and the following Octave. The major holidays prepare the feast with its own elements in the Mass and in the office; the vigil celebrates with solemnity the mystery that continues then in the Mass from the day; the Octave extends the festive atmosphere of the great solemnity for eight days.

4. But are there any differences between these three big feasts?

Sure. While Christmas and Easter are preceded by a preparatory time (Advent and Lent) and followed by a festive time (Christmas and Easter time), Pentecost is without it, as it is the closing feast to Easter time. With the liturgical reform, the Octave of Pentecost was also suppressed to effectively close the Easter season on the same day of Pentecost (the fiftieth day from Easter), while its preparation was valued characterizing the days between the Ascension and the Pentecost (the novena).

5. How can Pentecost be celebrated today according to the liturgical indications of the Church?

The current liturgical discipline recommends:

– the solemn celebration of Vespers in the days between Ascension and Pentecost, in which the hymn Veni, creator, Spiritus resounds: “In reality in the Missal and in the Liturgy of the Hours, especially in Vespers, this ‘novena’ is already present: biblical and eucological texts recall, in various ways, the expectation of the Paraclete. Therefore, when possible, the novena of Pentecost consists of the solemn celebration of Vespers”;

– the celebration of the Pentecost Vigil, according to the lectionary and the forms provided for the Mass on the eve of the solemnity: “May the protracted celebration of the Mass on the eve of Pentecost be favored, which does not have a baptismal character, as in the Easter vigil, but of intense prayer following the example of the apostles and disciples, who persevered unanimously in prayer, with Mary, mother of Jesus , waiting for the Holy Spirit”;

– the celebration of the Mass of the Pentecost day with great solemnity, in which resounds the beautiful “golden sequence”: Veni, Sancte Spiritus;

– the eventual celebration of Confirmation: this is, in fact, the most suitable day in which the mystery celebrated perfectly coincides with the sacramental event that is actualized in the sacrament of Confirmation.

6. How to compose the pious exercises related to Pentecost with liturgical celebrations?

There is the widespread custom of preferring, both in the Novena and in the Pentecost Vigil, celebrations of private creation by ecclesial groups or drawn from various pamphlets purchased in bookshops. Although it is true that the Church does not currently impose the foreseen liturgical acts, but recommends them, it is good to stick to the best by moving towards a gradual, but convinced and determined assumption of the liturgical actions of the Church. In particular the Vespers of the major holidays and the Vigil with the lectionary and eucology foreseen by the missal are of a more noble character and offer safer contents concerning the realization of the mystery of Pentecost. The classic recommendation is also valid: “It is necessary that pious exercises, taking into account the liturgical times, be ordained so as to be in harmony with the sacred liturgy, they draw inspiration from it, and to it, given its nature of great long superior, lead the people” (SC 13). With the celebration of a classic liturgical rite, a tradition is created which, instead, with adventitious rites, left to subjective creativity, risks not having stability and quality, delivering Pentecost to the fluidity of ever-changing contingencies.

(From Il mio e il vostro sacrificio. Il liturgista risponde, 2018©Chorabooks. Translated by Aurelio Porfiri. Used with permission of the publisher. All rights reserved)

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