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What Are The Amazing and Transformational Catholic Christian Festivals of Pentecost and Easter April 12, 2012

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Have you ever wondered about Easter and Pentecost? Most have. Well, Easter is the Catholic Christian observance of the resurrection of Jesus, and Pentecost is the birthday of the Church Catholic. Both holidays are important, but, it is a horrible idea to start at this point, because the tale begins before this. Roughly age 30, Jesus began his public ministry, instructing and preaching in the country of Galilee. His message was about giving love to God and neighbors. His message was way out, and he claimed not only was he the Christ, but he was also God’s Only Begotten Son. These claims did not make him popular with the spiritual leaders and secular leaders at the time period. When the Lord entered Jerusalem, the people welcomed him like a king, but by the close of the week, he was crucified, and died on the cross, an occurrence commemorated on Good Friday. We aren’t quite to Whitsunday just yet, but be patient!

However, the tale did not end there. The Bible (specifically the 4 gospels) teaches that Jesus rose form the dead 3 days later, on Easter Sunday. The resurrection that occurred on the first Easter was bodily, that is the Lord rose from the dead in his identical body; it was not some spiritual body. Even though it was in the body, his resurrection was much more than a simple resusitation, and Jesus’ resurrected body had powers and traits that our bodies do not have. Mary Magdalene was the 1st witness to this miraculous event, and she told the apostles, that in turn told the entire known world about it. Because the resurrection obviously proved Jesus was God’s Son, and proved right his teachings, the resurrection became the capstone of Christian doctrine.

Thus, Easter is one of the earliest and most significant Christian holidays. It was called the “queen of feasts” and is observed based on the lunar calendar. It changes each year because of this. In the Church, the color is white, and shouts of “alleluia” are heard throughout the time period. The season commences on Saturday night with the venerable Easter Vigil, in which new converts are welcomed into Church and are baptized and/or Confirmed. The vigil frequently lasts for hours, and in the early Church lasted from dusk until the morning. Secular traditions include Easter eggs, Easter baskets, and the Easter bunny. Many of these traditions are related to the reality that Easter occurs in the spring, as rabbits and eggs are signs of fertility and renewal.

Jesus ascended to the Father 40 days after Easter, and the Apostles were perplexed and upset. For the next nine days they prayed with fervor, and on the fiftieth day after Jesus’ resurrection, the Holy Ghost came upon the apostles. The Bible said tongues of fire landed on them, and their messages were heard by everybody present in each individual’s native language. The Apostles were so filled with the Holy Ghost on this initial Pentecost that scoffers thought the disciples were inebriated. It was on this day that the Church started. All of this is outlined in the Book of the Acts of the Apostles.

The Church commemorates Pentecost 50 days after Easter. The liturgical color is red, a symbol of the flames that descended upon the Apostles. The twin themes of the Holy Spirit and the Church are celebrated, because of the original nature of the holy day. It was one of the historic periods of baptism in the Church, and is frequently called Whitsunday in many English-speaking churches.

The essayist suggests learning more about Easter and Pentecost as a way to deepen your faith.


Lent: A Season of Outstanding Religious Benefit October 30, 2011

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Lent is a fantastic season of strict fasting and spiritual advancement in the Catholic Church and other Christian churches. Many, however, still wonder what is Lent? Lent comes from the Germanic word that means springtime, reflecting the time when Lent occurs in the calendar. It started in the early Church when leaders decided that a preparation time before baptism on Easter was fundamental. The forty days fit with the fasting patterns of Elijah, Moses, and particularly Jesus, who fasted forty days in the wilderness. In addition, the number forty also recalls the number of years the Israelites wandered in the wilderness.

The Lenten Season starts on Ash Wednesday and lasts for forty days. However, in the contemporary liturgical season, Lent actually becomes forty-four days, but Sundays don’t absolutely count as fast days. Lent ends throughout the Easter Vigil. Ideally, a pleasant Lent permits the person to be spiritually stronger and best able to celebrate Easter in the appropriate way.

Worship services throughout Lent are typically austere and sparse. Penance and lack of celebration are primary points. It begins with putting ashes on the forehead throughout Ash Wednesday. The Sunday services do not have certain celebratory prayers and carols such as the Gloria. Also, the principles prohibit saying alleluia. Unique lenten prayers are sometimes said. The color of Lent is purple, symbolizing both royalty and penance.

A traditional practice during Lent is fasting. Fasting can come in many types. In the Catholic Church, adults ages 18-59 are permitted to consume 1 filled meal and two little meals on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, both fast days. Fridays of Lent are abstinence days, which means not consuming meat, although fish is permitted.

Sometimes individuals will give something extra up for Lent, such as sweets, coffee, or alcohol. This is an ubiquitous convention, but is not required by any Christian church. Other individuals will genuinely try to do something positive instead, such as increasing volunteer efforts, going to church more frequently, or attempting to be more altruistic to acquaintances and family. After all, Lent is a period for total spiritual transformation, not just giving up something.

Another major practice throughout Lent is prayer. The Church has many Lent prayers that it encourages people to pray, such as various confessions of sin. The Penitential Psalms are popular too. The rosary is prayed a lot during Lent and the person praying chooses the sorrowful mysteries. In most cases, the prayers are more somber, less joyful, and even more or less negative, focusing on the death and pain of Jesus.

The third traditional practice is almsgiving, which is giving to charity. This can involve giving money to the poor directly, volunteering time, or even working for social justice in some capacity. Sometimes churches will organize food drives or go to soup kitchens during Lent to make sure they fulfill the obligation to give alms to the poor.

Although it’s not a traditional practice, many people find reading the Bible or the writings of the Saints to be helpful for spiritual advancement during the Lenten time. Reading the Gospels or the prophets would certainly fit with the theme of the period. From the essays of the Saints, the incredible sermons of Leo the Great or the devotional writings of St. Therese would be useful.

The essayist writes frequently on what is Lent themes and Lent Prayers also.