May 11 is Pentecost Sunday.

Parish offers Best Practices from parishes.

St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in the Diocese of Jefferson City, Mo., offers a way to help parents see the gifts of the Holy Spirit in children.

“The feedback I got had to do with the ‘power’ of the event itself,” said Father Christopher Smith. “People — usually the parents — have wept quietly at the sight of their children being anointed with a prayer of blessing about their particular gift.”

You need peel-off name tags, red felt-tip pens and a list on red paper of the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit with simple definitions: wisdom (learns from experience), understanding (figures new things out), counsel (explains things), fortitude (stands up for what’s right), knowledge (spots truth and falsehood), piety (is devoted to God and justice), and fear of the Lord (is reverent).

Prior to the Mass, the pastor reviews the list with the congregation and asks parents to identify one gift that each child has shown the most over the past year, write that gift on a name tag and put it on their child.

After Mass ends, the pastor blesses fresh oil (non-sacramental) and blesses the children for their gift. Find details at


We have a lot of fun with Pentecost at our house. We have celebrated it in various ways, but the easiest is to make a birthday cake for the Church.

We top it with 13 candles: a blue one for Mary plus 12 more for the apostles. This helps us remember the tongues of flame that came down on the apostles and Mary (as well as others).


Acts 2:1-11; Psalm 104:1, 24, 29-31, 34; 1 Corinthians 12:3-7, 12-13; John 20:19-23

Our Take

Pope Benedict gave us a preview of Pentecost at Mass at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C. The Mass he said there was today’s Mass — only the Second Reading was different:

“In the exercise of my ministry as the Successor of Peter, I have come to America to confirm you, my brothers and sisters, in the faith of the apostles. I have come to proclaim anew, as Peter proclaimed on the day of Pentecost, that Jesus Christ is Lord and Messiah, risen from the dead, seated in glory at the right hand of the Father, and established as judge of the living and the dead. I have come to repeat the Apostle’s urgent call to conversion and the forgiveness of sins, and to implore from the Lord a new outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the Church in this country. As we have heard throughout this Easter season, the Church was born of the Spirit’s gift of repentance and faith in the risen Lord. In every age she is impelled by the same Spirit to bring to men and women of every race, language and people the good news of our reconciliation with God in Christ.

“The readings of today’s Mass invite us to consider the growth of the Church in America as one chapter in the greater story of the Church’s expansion following the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. In those readings we see the inseparable link between the risen Lord, the gift of the Spirit for the forgiveness of sins, and the mystery of the Church. ... In every time and place, the Church is called to grow in unity through constant conversion to Christ, whose saving work is proclaimed by the successors of the apostles and celebrated in the sacraments. This unity, in turn, gives rise to an unceasing missionary outreach, as the Spirit spurs believers to proclaim ‘the great works of God’ and to invite all people to enter the community of those saved by the blood of Christ. ...

“I pray, then, that this significant anniversary in the life of the Church in the United States, and the presence of the Successor of Peter in your midst, will be an occasion for all Catholics to reaffirm their unity in the apostolic faith, to offer their contemporaries a convincing account of the hope which inspires them, and to be renewed in missionary zeal for the extension of God’s Kingdom.

“The world needs this witness! Who can deny that the present moment is a crossroads, not only for the Church in America but also for society as a whole? It is a time of great promise, as we see the human family in many ways drawing closer together and becoming ever more interdependent. Yet at the same time we see clear signs of a disturbing breakdown in the very foundations of society.”

The Hoopeses are editorial directors of Faith & Family magazine (