This weekend we celebrate the great feast of Pentecost. As many of you know that I'm of Portuguese decent and this weekend always has such a special place in my heart. In our Portuguese culture we celebrate the "festas do Espirito Santo" (feasts of the Holy Spirit). It's a period of 7 weeks which begins on the evening of Easter Sunday and goes until the day of Pentecost. It's truly a time of preparing for that day, the 50th Day after the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ when he sent the counselor, the Holy Spirit among the apostles. On that Pentecost weekend the chairman of these feasts hosts the "croa do Espirito Santo" ( the crown of the Holy Spirit, Queen Elizabeth would host the poor in her palace for a banquet and would let the children wear her crown) in his home on the last week of Easter where an elaborate shrine has been erected to host the crown and it a place where family and friends gather to sing hymns and to pray the rosary. Of course each night a table of many goodies is prepared for all to eat, drink and enjoy the many good things that God has given us. The week ends with great celebrations with music, food, games, dancing and also religious processions. On Saturday afternoon is the "Boa da Leite" where bulls are decorated and they carry these beautiful decorated carts and these carts carry "pensoes" which is a combination of meat, bread, wine and sweetbread and the procession stops at each home on the route that ordered these "pensoes", the symbolism of this goes back to Queen Elizabeth who fed the poor. Of course on the route sweetbread, milk (for the kids) and wine are given to all who greet the procession on it's journey. The following morning is the big procession which has all the 7 Domingas where 7 of the families hosted the crown during the Easter Season. So there are many crowns, flags, candles, beautiful decorative capes that the women wear who are holding the crowns and of course marching bands. They finally end up at the parish where they are greeted by the priest who prays over them and blesses them with holy water and then they process into the church. Then the Mass of Pentecost Sunday is celebrated and at the end of the liturgy the celebrant crowns the little ones and he sings the Vieni Creator Sancto Spiritus and he incenses them. Then they process once more and then return to the parish to feast on the "sopas do Espirito Santo" (Soups of the Holy Ghost) also roasted meat and potatoes are served and desert is usually sweet bread and plenty of wine goes around. Of course the festivities don't end here, they go on with music, games, and more food outside. In the evening 7 families are chosen to host next year's "festas do Espirito Santo," which is an honor for a family to host this in their home.
Well, Happy Pentecost and may you feel and use the gifts of the Holy Spirit always!