Oh, For A Muse Of Fire

One of the coolest Roman traditions is that of dropping rose petals from the ceilings of Churches after Mass on Pentecost Sunday. It's still done at the Church of St. Mary & Martyrs (Pantheon), where the petals are dropped through the oculus. More excellent photos at the link. The Pope devoted his Regina Coeli message to the Church's birthday, of course, explaining the elements of the Church as presented in the Creed.
In this extraordinary event – he continued – we find the essential and qualifying characteristics of the Church: the Church is one, as was the community of Pentecost gathered in prayer and 'agreement': ‘the community of believers was of one heart and mind' (Acts; 4,32). The Church is holy, not because of its own merits, but because it is animated by the Holy Spirit, it keeps its gaze fixed on Christ, so as to become one with Him and his love. The Church is Catholic, because the Gospel is destined for all peoples, thus from the very begining, the Holy Spirit makes it so it is announced in all tongues. The Church is apostolic, because it has been built upon the cornerstone of the Apostles, and is the faithful custodian of their teachings down through the unbroken line of episcopal succession.
  • Traditional foods of Pentecost? Doves or dove-like birds in some countries. And, interestingly, beer. Whitsun Ales --great festivals-- used to be part of the celebration in England, but only the beer remains. And Pfingstgelage is the brew from the Germans. A nod to the accusation the Apostles were drunk when suddenly each person could understand them in his own tongue, I suppose.
  • Speaking of Whitsun, there's an Italian flag of colors associated with Pentecost. Pentecost was long called "Whitsunday" in the English-speaking world, and the term comes from the white garment of baptism. The liturgical color is red, and the day is sometimes known as Pascha rossa or Pascha rosatum in Italy (because of the rose petals and the red vestments). In Ukraine & Poland the feast is associated with green --the crops are blessed and people deck their houses with green branches and wear green to church as a sign of new life.
Last night we attended what has become the traditional Archdiocese of Washington celebration of the Vigil of Pentecost: mass in the Basilica celebrated by the Archbishop with members of all the "new movements and ecclesial communities." In candor, our numbers were a little down this year --probably because of the coincidence with Memorial Day and everyone's flight to the beach. Nevertheless, I'm always astonished at the new groups that crop up each year, and the diversity of charisms and apostolates. You can't leave a Mass like that with any doubt that the Holy Spirit is alive and moving through the world. Here's a brief reminder of what Benedict has to say about the movements (scroll to about the middle). And for all your doctrine & meditation needs, there's a nice page at EWTN. It includes explanations, meditations, audio files and prayers, including a novena to the Holy Spirit by Edith Stein.