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Catholic Activity: Whitsunday, The Cenacle

Pentecost, or Whitsunday is the day the Holy Spirit came upon the Apostles and Mary. To meditate and bring home the wonderful events of this day, one can create a Cenacle, just like the Christmas Nativity or Easter Garden.


This feast has been called the Pasch of Roses, because red roses are thought to be emblems of the tongues of fire that descended upon Mary and the apostles. It is for the same reason that red vestments are worn at the Whitsun Masses.

In the thirteenth century in some parts of Europe a dove was set free inside the church during the Mass, while pieces of lighted tow were dropped from the roof. Childish enough, one may say, but at least it attempted to drive home the reality of what happened on the first Whitsun. Doves and lighted rope are hardly possible nowadays, but there is a way of impressing the significance of Whitsun on ourselves. Just as we make a crib at Christmas and an Easter garden at Easter so we can make a cenacle at Whitsun. We shall need figures of eleven apostles and our Lady, while the Dove can hang over all of them and the tongues of fire radiate from the Dove. We can link up the cenacle with the old name for Whit Sunday by decorating it with red roses, the symbolism of which should be explained. Morning and evening during the octave of Whitsun this prayer to the Holy Spirit could be said near the cenacle:

O Holy Spirit, soul of my soul, I adore thee: enlighten, guide, strengthen and console me. Tell me what I ought to do, and command me to do it. I promise to be submissive to everything that thou shalt ask and to accept all that thou permittest to happen to me; only show me what is thy will.

Activity Source: Candle is Lighted, A by P. Stewart Craig, The Grail, Field End House, Eastcote, Middlesex, 1945

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