CNN’s broken ‘breaking news’

BREAKING NEWS FROM CNN!: Not everything is “breaking news.”

That’s the word from new CNN boss Chris Licht. He sent out a memo to staff on Thursday saying the network is cutting back on the “Breaking News” banner that runs far too often.

Licht’s note said, “We are truth-tellers, focused on informing, not alarming our viewers. Something I have heard from both people inside and outside the organization is complaints we overuse the ‘Breaking News’ banner. I agree. It has become such a fixture on every channel and network that its impact has become lost on the audience.”

For example, CNN once used the “Breaking News” banner while talking about the 102nd anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic. That was an extreme case several years ago, but if you watch CNN regularly — or any cable news network, for that matter — you often see the “Breaking News” tag on stories that clearly are neither breaking nor that important.

Like all viewers, I have occasionally been burned by coming across CNN’s “Breaking News” banner. I naturally stop to see what the critical news is, only to quickly become annoyed when I realize it’s not really breaking news.

On one hand, the banner did what CNN probably wanted me to do: stop and watch their network.

But on the other hand, CNN’s credibility is damaged when viewers, after just a few seconds, realize they are being duped. I’m guessing that at some point, the “Breaking News” banner started getting put up without the control room even giving it much thought. It just became a habit. And once the bar is set too low, practically anything after that must be considered breaking news.

It’s good to see CNN recalibrating. In fact, the habit has already started to be broken. Licht wrote, “You’ve already seen far less of the ‘Breaking News’ banner across our programming. The tenor of our voice holistically has to reflect that. As I have said, we must be vital, relevant, and respected — and how we show up for our audiences, in every story, in every part of the country, and around the world, matters.”

Licht is right when he says it’s a common complaint among viewers. I hear from them all the time, just as I hear from those who complain that the major networks often start their evening news broadcasts with overly-dramatic music and an anchor saying, “Breaking news as we come on the air tonight …”

For those networks, they should drop the drama and just give me the news. I’m already there. You don’t need to pitch me.

Let’s see if CNN starts a trend that then carries over to the other networks. Let’s hope so.

14 Best WordPress SEO Plugins and Tools That You Should Use

Things You Must Know About WordPress SEO Plugins & Tools

 Often we’re asked about what are the best WordPress SEO plugins and tools that we recommend.

That’s because search engines are a major source of traffic for most websites on the internet. Optimizing your website for search engines can help you rank higher in search results and significantly grow your business.

In this article, we will share the best WordPress SEO plugins and tools that you should use. Some of these tools offer similar functionalities, so we will also highlight which ones are the best for specific use-cases.

When reading SEO WordPress tips or searching for “best free WordPress SEO plugins”, you will come across articles that feature several dozen tools.

This can be quite overwhelming for beginners and non-techy users.

The truth is that you don’t need dozens of top SEO tools to get higher search engine result rankings.

While most blog posts (including ours) will share the top most popular SEO plugins, it is extremely important for you to understand the use-cases of each tool.

For example, you never want to use more than one WordPress SEO plugin on your website. We will mention All in One SEO (formerly All in One SEO Pack), Yoast SEO, SEOPress, and Rank Math. You need to pick only one to avoid plugin conflict.

We’ll mention SEMRush, Ahrefs, and few other powerful tools, but you don’t need them all when you’re first starting out since they have a similar feature set. We will share what tools we use in our business, and which features are the best among each tool.

With that said, let’s take a look at our expert pick of the best WordPress SEO plugins and tools.

1. All in One SEO for WordPress (AIOSEO)

All In One SEO - AIOSEO

All in One SEO for WordPress (AIOSEO) is the best WordPress SEO plugin on the market. Used by over 3+ million users, it is the most comprehensive SEO toolkit that helps you improve search rankings without learning any complicated SEO jargon.

The free version of AIOSEO has all the essential features, but the pro version gives you everything you need to outrank your competitors.

It comes with the easiest setup wizard that automatically helps you choose the best SEO settings for your business. AIOSEO shows you TruSEO on-page analysis with an actionable checklist to optimize your posts and pages.

The on-page SEO checklist includes a smart meta tag generator where you can use dynamic values (current year, month, day, custom fields, author info, and much more) in your SEO title and meta descriptions. This means you don’t need to update a post just to change SEO titles.

All in One SEO (AIOSEO) dynamic meta title and description

AIOSEO also comes with Rich snippet schema markup, smart XML sitemaps (with advanced controls), SEO health check, and other useful features to grow your search engine visibility.

There is a built-in social media integration to add Open Graph metadata as well. This means you can choose which image or thumbnail you want to show when your pages are shared on social media websites like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc.

All in One SEO for WordPress (AIOSEO) social media profiles

AIOSEO also comes with built-in WooCommerce SEO tools for eCommerce sites. This includes features like dynamic optimizations, individual product page optimizations, product image SEO, and other handy features to bring more organic traffic to your online store.

For more SEO savvy users, it includes full control of RSS feeds, Robots.txt editor, local SEO, breadcrumbs, Google News sitemaps, video SEO, advanced redirect manager, 404 tracking, IndexNow integration, and more.

For business owners, it comes with SEO user roles, so you can manage access to important SEO features without handing over control of your website.

Update: Recently AIOSEO added a Link Assistant which is a game-changer for internal linking. It helps identify link opportunities, gives you linking suggestions in real-time, and you can bulk-add internal links with just a few clicks.

Overall, All in One SEO (AIOSEO) is the most beginner-friendly and comprehensive WordPress SEO plugin on the market. It’s easy to configure and eliminates the need to install multiple plugins to do things on your WordPress site. It works perfectly for all types of businesses, eCommerce, blogs, news, and other websites.

As a WPBeginner user, you get 50% off AIOSEO Pro.

For those who’re on a budget, you can use the free version of AIOSEO to get started.

2. SEMRush

Semrush review

SEMRush is the best overall SEO tool on the market. Used by professional SEO experts, marketers, bloggers, large and small businesses, it provides a comprehensive set of tools to grow your traffic.

You can use it to find organic keywords and search terms that you can easily rank for. It also allows you to do competitive research and see which keywords your competitors rank for, and how you can beat them.

SEMRush SEO Writing Assistant tool helps you improve your website content to beat the top 10 results for your focus keyword. It integrates with WordPress, and this will help you write more SEO-friendly content.

You can also generate SEO templates and get easy search engine optimization suggestions for your content along with advanced SEO recommendations.

SEMRush seamlessly integrates with All in One SEO (AIOSEO) to help you find additional keyphrases for your focus keyphrase. You can see related keyphrases and their search volume right from WordPress. Then, you can add them to your content with the click of a button.

AIOSEO's Semrush integration

To learn more, see our complete guide on how to do keyword research for your website.

We use SEMRush for our websites because of their competitive intelligence and SEO rank tracker features.

3. Google Search Console

google search console

Google Search Console is a free tool offered by Google to help website owners and webmasters monitor and maintain their site’s presence in Google search results.

It alerts you when Google is unable to crawl and index pages on your website. You also get helpful tips on how to fix those crawl errors.

Most importantly, it shows which keywords your website is ranking for, anchor texts, average position, impressions, and more. You can use this data to find keywords where you can easily rank higher by simply optimizing your content. You can also use this keyword data to come up with new blog post ideas.

For more details, see our comprehensive Google Search Console guide for beginners.

Tip: You can use MonsterInsights to track your keyword rankings inside WordPress admin area using Google Seach Console data. We will cover this tool later in the article below.

Resurrection in Judaism

By Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

In Judaism, as is in Christianity, the power of God to resurrect is celebrated. God is able to do that which is impossible for mere humans. However, His desire to bless is not of much use to Israel, if He would be unable to intervene in the world in which Israel exists. The second blessing of the Amida regarding the Divine Might, therefore, begins with the words:

אַתָּה גִּבּור לְעולָם אֲדנָי. מְחַיֵּה מֵתִים אַתָּה רַב לְהושִׁיעַ

(Pronounced: Ata Gibor leolam Adonai. Mechae metim ata, rav leshoshia).

You are, a mighty warier, forever, Lord. You are the one who raises up the dead, you are great enough to save.

May the Force Be With Them: Scientists Fight Back

Health Viewpoints

BY Joe Wang and Jennifer Margulis TIME May 31, 2022

SARS-CoV-2 started in Wuhan in late 2019. After several waves swept through the world and left millions of people dead, the world is now entering the endemic phase. The scars that COVID-19 have left behind, however, are very fresh and very deep. Leaders in government, science, and medicine, along with the general public, must work together to heal, and to make sure that these scars do not turn into a cancer that eventually kills humanity.

The Dark Forces

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) governs China by controlling every aspect of people’s lives. When SARS-CoV-2 emerged in Wuhan in December 2019, the CCP was in a celebratory mood. It planned to showcase its economic achievements and celebrate the Chinese New Year with huge banquets. No virus should have dared to come to spoil the party. Therefore, the CCP silenced those people sounding the alarm.

Then, when they found out that the virus was spreading and killing many, in order to show the world that they were powerful and capable of controlling viral spread, they implemented a draconian lockdown in Wuhan.

The CCP then intentionally allowed the spread of the virus to the rest of the world by continuing international flights out of Wuhan while cancelling domestic flights. In this way, the CCP protected itself while infecting other countries.

As a result, the rest of the world suffered huge losses while China enjoyed zero-COVID for most of 2020 and 2021. The CCP then took every opportunity to “educate” the world that their system is better than the inefficient western democracy and should be implemented across the whole world for the sake of “the shared destiny of humankind”. After all, it was in the CCP’s Constitution (as revised in October 2017) that it is CCP’s duty to advance “the shared destiny of humankind” with the CCP’s superior governing system.

Xi Jinping even suggested honoring the CCP with a gold medal in COVID control at the party celebrating the conclusion of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games.

Unfortunately, many in the West admired the CCP and followed the CCP’s playbook.

The Lancet, Nature, and many other scientific journals praised the Chinese response. For example, the Lancet published an article on April 18, 2020 claiming, “The quick containment of COVID-19 in China is impressive and sets an encouraging example for other countries.”

Government-imposed lockdowns, vaccine mandates, keeping people in fear, and silencing scientific debate have all garnered approval from the global scientific community.

But for those of us who noticed that the public health information being disseminated often contradicted itself, it seemed that Dark Forces had been in control.

Silence and Censorship Make Bad Science

Some of us have known all along that the public health agenda of advancing pharmaceutical talking points, disseminating fear, and insisting that only a for-profit, rushed to market vaccine would not stop COVID.

Others of us are just waking up to the inconvenient truth that the entire pandemic response may have been wrong and that our blind obedience and trust in authority were misguided.

No matter what your beliefs are about COVID, vaccines, lockdowns, social distancing, masking, and school closures, however, it’s important to understand that the only way out of the collective mess humanity is in right now is to be willing to disagree, talk honestly, and encourage the process of scientific inquiry.

Yet since the beginning of the COVID crisis, when honest scientists, professors, and medical doctors began to speak up, they were, and continue to be, silenced, canceled, de-platformed, and defamed.

Even now, “science” has become so politicized that doctors willing to speak truth to power have lost their jobs, their social standing, and their licenses to practice medicine.

Questioning COVID Protocols

Just a few months into the pandemic, scientists start to question the COVID measures being implemented.

Health care professionals noticed that when their patients were put on ventilators, instead of recovering, they were dying.

Others saw that COVID was treatable, and that they could use a combination of off-label drugs like ivermectin and anti-inflammatory steroids to calm the immune system’s cytokine storm that the virus seemed to provoke in order to help their patients recover.

These observations led to the Great Barrington Declaration, which was a project spearheaded by three visionaries: Dr. Martin Kulldorff, a professor of medicine at Harvard University, Dr. Sunetra Gupta, an epidemiologist at Oxford University, and Dr. Jay Bhattacharya, a professor of medicine at Stanford.

They described themselves as infectious disease specialists and public health scientists who have “grave concerns about the damaging physical and mental health impacts of the prevailing COVID-19 policies.”

Published in October of 2020, the Great Barrington Declaration currently has more than 930,500 signatories.

“Current lockdown policies,” the Great Barrington Declaration insisted, “are producing devastating effects on short and long-term public health.” These include, “lower childhood vaccination rates, worsening cardiovascular disease outcomes, fewer cancer screenings and deteriorating mental health—leading to excess mortality in the years to come, with the working class and younger members of society carrying the heaviest burden.”

The Declaration pointed out that school children and the underprivileged were “disproportionately harmed.”

As hopeful as the Declaration made many feel, it was relentlessly criticized and largely ignored. It seemed that throughout 2021, many people preferred to blindly put their trust in the government and in what a growing number call the government’s lies.

For whatever reasons (political, emotional, Dark Forces), people throughout the free world were willing, and even eager, to allow newly minted pharmaceutical billionaires to forward a narrative that lined their corporate pockets. It was as if the world were gripped by a dark force.

But 2022 has not turned out to be “2020 too.” Instead, starting in January of 2022, major scientific journals are rebelling against the one-sized-fits-all no-debate-allowed agenda. It was then that the British Medical Journal, one of the most prestigious health journals in the world, published an editorial insisting that the raw data that has been used to justify such an aggressive worldwide push to get the COVID vaccine be made fully and immediately available for public scrutiny.

Three months later, an editorial was published in the April edition of Surgical Neurology International: “COVID UPDATE: What is the truth?” by retired neurosurgeon Dr. Russell L. Blaylock. Blaylock was frank and direct in his condemnation of the public health policies implemented to contain COVID-19.

Indeed, he unapologetically calls the pandemic “one of the most manipulated infectious disease events in history, characterized by official lies in an unending stream lead by government bureaucracies, medical associations, medical boards, the media, and international agencies.”

Real Science Is Not Dogmatic

Fake science is dogma that cannot be debated, nuanced, challenged or changed. Real science is not dogmatic. It can be debated and considered. But scientific freedom can only be defended when each one of us stands up and defends it.

Now for the good news. There are indications that the pro-science pro-freedom movement is becoming more mainstream every day.

In March, Joe Wang attended a conference in Washington, D.C. to inaugurate the Academy for Science and Freedom at Hillsdale College. This new academy’s mission is to educate people about “the free exchange of scientific ideas and the proper relationship between freedom and science in the pursuit of truth.”

Everyone who attended the conference was already aware, to some degree, of the American government’s war on science. But there we were, in America’s capital, able to hold a conference criticizing the rich and powerful, without having the police knocking at our door. Just ask yourself, what happened to Dr. Li Wenliang, the Wuhan whistleblower in 2020, who purportedly died of the virus in a Chinese hospital? And what happened to the top COVID expert in Shanghai, Dr. Wenhong Zhang, who had to give up his belief of co-existing with the virus and “full-heartedly” endorse the Xi Jinping’s zero COVID policy?

We must use of what limited freedom we still have now in the United States to avoid the fates of Dr. Zhang and Dr. Li.

In April, Jennifer Margulis attended a medical freedom conference for doctors and other healthcare workers in Conroe, Texas. It was hosted by pediatrician Angelina Farella, a conventionally trained doctor who has testified against the COVID vaccines. Dr. Farella’s testimony has led biased media outlets, including The Independent, to give her the moniker of being an “anti-vaccine” doctor despite the fact that she gives vaccines in her office every day. Over eighty medical doctors attended the conference, sharing their clinical data and successful treatment protocols.

“People are sick and dying and doctors won’t treat patients,” Ben Marble, M.D., an emergency room doctor, said. “Is this a 2-year long Twilight Zone episode or what?”

He called the way patients were being treated in the emergency rooms an “epic failure” and explained that he quit his job as an emergency room doctor in order to be able to treat patients. Marble, who founded a website that treats people for free called MyFreeDoctor.com, said, “[We’ve] treated over 200,000 people for COVID and lost six.”

May the Force Be With Scientists and Doctors Who Fight Back

The fight for scientific freedom is important to our lives, and the lives of generations to come. To be honest, scientists and doctors are not particularly good at these kinds of fights, which involve not only science, which they are good at, but also interacting with politicians, the mainstream legacy media, and social media.

Luckily, the scientists and doctors are stepping up anyway and it’s time for us to join them. It’s time to say enough is enough, just as Blaylock has.

Silencing free speech and co-opting science can have deadly consequences. “The first thing that the Nazis did was fear, propaganda, and censorship,” says Vera Sharav, a child survivor of the Holocaust.

The Divine Symphony

By Fr. Jerry Pokorsky ( bioarticlesemail ) | Jun 03, 2022

Holy Trinity Sunday - St. Therese of Lisieux Catholic Church

“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” (Gen. 1:27) The sacred writer’s use of “man” is inherently communal because it includes both male and female. Indeed, the communal nature of man images God: three Persons in one God. The unity of a man and a woman—and that of every healthy social unit—reflects the unity and complementarity of the Blessed Trinity.

We see the imprint of the Blessed Trinity in the Church. The Church is one: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Gal. 3:28) The Church has many members with essential and complementary roles in the Body of Christ: “For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body’… there are many parts, yet one body.” (1 Cor. 12:12-27)

God is good, true, and beautiful—in perfect unity.

God is Three Persons in One, perfectly indivisible. Jesus is the “the way, and the truth, and the life” and directs our return to the Father. (Jn. 14:6) The testimony of Jesus reveals that only God is good: “No one is good but God alone.” (Mk. 10:18). We participate in the Father’s goodness by following Jesus: “No man cometh to the Father, but by me.” (Jn. 14:6) The Holy Spirit is the architect of beauty. He renews the face of the earth (Psalm 104) and transforms our souls with His gifts.

Complementarity accents—but does not exclude, much less oppose—the predominant attributes of each Person. The Triune unity of God is a Divine symphony of the complementarity of the good, the true, and the beautiful.

36,371 Holy Trinity Photos - Free & Royalty-Free Stock Photos from  Dreamstime

The Father and the Son reveal the objective content of the faith.

As Isaiah prophesized, the Word of God, Jesus, issues forth from the mouth of the Father. The Word reveals the objective truths of faith and morality: “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” (Jn. 14:15)

Jesus carefully avoids the entanglements that come with tribal bonds and human affection that would disrupt His saving mission. “While he was still speaking to the people, His mother and his brethren stood outside, asking to speak to him.” “Stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, ‘Here are my mother and my brethren! For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother, and sister, and mother.’” (Mt. 12:49-50)

After the Resurrection, He gently deflects Mary Magdalene’s holy gesture of affection: “Do not hold me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brethren and say to them, I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.” (Jn. 20:17) After the Ascension, Jesus is accessible more by the firm certainties of faith than the subjective vicissitudes of human affection.

The Father and the Son accentuate the content of faith, morality, and the path to heaven. The Father is good. His Word is the way, the truth, the life.

The Holy Spirit sustains and fortifies our individual or subjective response.

30k+ Trinity Pictures | Download Free Images on Unsplash

When we ask for wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord—the beautiful Gifts of the Holy Spirit—Jesus guarantees we will receive them with faith. Jesus promises, “Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” (Mt. 7:7) The Gifts of the Holy Spirit help us apply the holy challenges of truth and goodness to our unique and subjective life circumstances.

The Father and the Son reveal the firm certainties of our duties and destiny in faith through the Church. The Holy Spirit provides us with the graces to carry them out according to our state of life.

Practical applications.

Our knowledge of the truth usually exceeds our confidence in our ability to choose wisely. For example, we know we must obtain gainful employment to support ourselves and our families. We need the Holy Spirit’s gifts of wisdom and understanding to secure and maintain the right job. We need the help of the Holy Spirit as we apply God’s truth and laws to our everyday activities.

The complementarity within the Blessed Trinity guides priests in Confession. Acting in the Person of Jesus, an adequately trained confessor grasps the Ten Commandments, the nature of sin, and recognizes sufficient evidence of repentance. The details of the amendment (and beyond) belong to the penitent and the Holy Spirit. Wise confessional guidance includes restraint that avoids the clericalism of encroaching on the turf of the Holy Spirit. A good confessor knows when to shut up.

In recent years, we have seen authorities at the highest levels of the Church proposing changes to Catholic doctrine that would pit the Holy Spirit against the Father and the Son. The proposals violate the boundaries of their authority. “Neither be called masters, for you have one master, the Christ.” (Mt. 23:10) It is blasphemous to invoke the Holy Spirit to justify dissident and unorthodox teaching. Clericalism within the Church distorts the proper understanding of the complementarity of the Trinity.

Modern ideologies also assault God’s revelation of the complementarity within the Trinity, the Church, and our humanity. Socialism promises illusory and tyrannical forms of human equality. The LGBTQ+ ideology violates our God-given sexual identities. God impresses His image upon us, and it is self-destructive to resist Him. God will not be mocked. (Gal. 6:7) Cultural disunity and degradation manifest the consequences of resistance.

The Blessed Trinity is the eternal symphony of the One, Good, True, and Beautiful: “Through him, and with him, and in him, O God, almighty Father, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all glory and honor is yours, forever and ever. Amen.”

Staying innocent of blood

By Phil Lawler ( bioarticlesemail ) | Jun 01, 2022

Have you noticed how often the readings at Mass address the very questions that are troubling Catholics at the time? Call it coincidence, if you believe in coincidences.

This morning, for example, we heard St. Paul’s farewell to the Church at Ephesus: “I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.”

Strong words, aren’t they? And who would deny that there are “fierce wolves” among us today? But look back just a few lines in that passage from Acts 20, and see more strong language from St. Paul:

Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all of you, for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God.

The implication is clear: If St. Paul had shrunk from his mission to proclaim the Gospel message in its fulness, he would not be innocent of Ephesian blood.

Now what does that admonition mean today, to the pastor who skirts controversial issues? To the bishop who does not rebuke public sinners?

Pope Pius X reportedly wept when he was elected Supreme Pontiff, out of fear that he would now be held responsible for the fate of every soul on earth. That deep sense of pastoral responsibility confirms that he was the right choice for Peter’s Throne—and explains why we now know him as Saint Pius X.

The Solemnity of Pentecost: An Element-ary Feast

By Jennifer Gregory Miller ( bioarticlesemail ) | Jun 06, 2014 | In The Liturgical Year

From the Catholic Culture Archives: Originally published in 2014.

Since the feast of the Ascension, the Church has been liturgically preparing for Pentecost. The universal Church is back to her regularly scheduled program, with all the Church celebrating the same liturgy, unlike the Ascension week. The Solemnity of Pentecost is the birthday of the Church:

The Church was made manifest to the world on the day of Pentecost by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. The gift of the Spirit ushers in a new era in the “dispensation of the mystery” the age of the Church, during which Christ manifests, makes present, and communicates his work of salvation through the liturgy of his Church, “until he comes.” (CCC, #1076)

Pentecost Images, Stock Photos & Vectors | Shutterstock

Pentecost is not just an isolated feast of the Holy Spirit, but an integral feast of the Easter season. Pentecost is also an elementary feast—not as in getting to back to the basics or beginnings of the Catholic Church, but can be described elementary as in the four elements of Aristotle: earth, wind, fire and water.

Red Easter

Pentecost closes the Easter season, and not in an anticlimactic fashion, but in a grand finale. We so often tend to look at this feast as a separate entity for the Holy Spirit, but the Church integrates this feast into the Easter season as a whole. As I mentioned last week, there is significance in the number of days and weeks during the Easter season, and in the eyes of the Church, the 50 days are viewed as “one feast day.” The Italian name for Pentecost, Pasqua rossa (Red Easter) is a great reminder of this connection.

22. The fifty days from the Sunday of the Resurrection to Pentecost Sunday are celebrated in joy and exultation as one feast day, indeed as one “great Sunday.”[12]

These are the days above all others in which the Alleluia is sung.

23. The Sundays of this time of year are considered to be Sundays of Easter and are called, after Easter Sunday itself, the Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh Sundays of Easter. This sacred period of fifty days concludes with Pentecost Sunday (from the General Norms of the Liturgical Year and Calendar).

The Descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost is closely linked to the feast of the Resurrection, our Passover Feast:

On the day of Pentecost when the seven weeks of Easter had come to an end, Christ’s Passover is fulfilled in the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, manifested, given, and communicated as a divine person: of his fullness, Christ, the Lord, pours out the Spirit in abundance. On that day, the Holy Trinity is fully revealed. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, #731-732)

The liturgy of the Mass reflects this oneness with Easter:

  • Vigil Mass Collect: Almighty ever-living God, who willed the Paschal mystery to be encompassed as a sign in fifty days….”
  • Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 104, “Lord, send out your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth“ is the first psalm during the Easter Vigil, paired with the first creation story of Genesis.
  • Gospel: The Gospel for Year A and the first options for Years B and C all have the Resurrection appearance of Christ to the Apostles. Jesus breathes on them and says to “Receive the Holy Spirit.”
  • Paschal Candle: The candle used to be extinguished after the Gospel on the feast of the Ascension, but in the current Roman Missal the Paschal Candle is lit throughout the 50 days of Easter, through Pentecost.

Elementary, Dear Watson

The feast of Pentecost and the revealing of the Holy Spirit is so difficult to pinpoint with human definition. Pope Benedict XVI (as Cardinal Ratzinger) explained

[w]e cannot reveal the Spirit directly, so all we can do is try, by means of images, to lead toward what is meant (Seek That Which is Above, p. 74).

In reading the account of Pentecost in the Acts of the Apostles, there is very pronounced imagery. It is easy to recognize the wind and fire, but all four classic elements of Greek philosopher, Aristotle, are present at Pentecost, earth, wind, fire, (no relation to a certain 1970s band) and water.

Wind

First in the account of Pentecost from Acts 2:1-11 came the wind: “And suddenly there came from the sky a noise like a strong driving wind, and it filled the entire house in which they were.

Pentecost Images, Stock Photos & Vectors | Shutterstock

Most Biblical renderings of the God or the Holy Spirit is through a gentle breath, such as Jesus breathing on the Apostles in the Resurrection appearance in the Upper Room. At Pentecost it is the same room, but here the Holy Spirit comes as wind of strength and power.

There is nothing subtler than the wind, which manages to penetrate everywhere, even to reach inanimate bodies and give them a life of their own. The rushing wind of the day of Pentecost expresses the new force with which divine love invades the Church and souls (p. 592, In Conversation with God, Volume 2, by Francis Fernandez).

In Pentecost celebrations, many people try to bring this imagery of wind. Kites, windsocks, pinwheels, streamers, wind chimes and other contraptions that harvest the wind’s power can call to mind the Upper Room on that Pentecost morning.

Fire

Next came the fire: “Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire, which parted and came to rest on each one of them.“ It is this combination of wind and fire that is the gift of tongues. One of the optional readings for Pentecost is the story of the Tower of Babel. Pius Parsch, as quoted on the Catholic Culture’s Pentecost page, explains that is was the sin of pride that separated and divided those at Babel. The Holy Spirit brings unity and love, which allows those languages to be spoken and understood by all.

The liturgical color for Pentecost is red, the color of fire and blood and the symbol of love. The last time we have seen red vestments outside of the feasts of martyrs or apostles is Palm Sunday and Good Friday. The red for those days recalled the blood of Christ. Today the red recalls the tongues of fire, and we ask the Holy Spirit to ignite our hearts, just as we pray:

Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of thy Faithful; and enkindle in them the fire of Thy love….

In medieval times, many churches had a “Holy Ghost Hole”, a small circular opening in the ceiling of the church. The holes would be decorated on Pentecost, with various items symbolizing the Holy Spirit lowered through the hole. This practice calls to mind the elements of wind and fire. Father Francis Weiser describes the tradition (emphasis mine):

In medieval times the figure of a dove was widely used to enact in a dramatic way the descent of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost Sunday. When the priest had arrived at the sequence, he sang the first words in a loud and solemn voice: Veni Sancte Spiritus (Come, Holy Ghost). Immediately there arose in the church a sound “as of a violent wind blowing” (Acts 2, 2). This noise was produced in some countries, like France, by the blowing of trumpets; in others by the choir boys, who hissed, hummed, pressed windbags, and rattled the benches. All eyes turned toward the ceiling of the church where from an opening called the “Holy Ghost Hole” there appeared a disc the size of a cart wheel, which slowly descended in horizontal position, swinging in ever-widening circles. Upon a blue background, broken by bundles of golden rays, it bore on its underside the figure of a white dove.

Meanwhile the choir sang the sequence. At its conclusion the dove came to rest, hanging suspended in the middle of the church. There followed a “rain” of flowers indicating the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and of water symbolizing baptism. In some towns of central Europe people even went so far as to drop pieces of burning wick or straw from the Holy Ghost Hole, to represent the flaming tongues of Pentecost. This practice, however, was eventually stopped because it tended to put the people on fire externally, instead of internally as the Holy Spirit had done at Jerusalem. In the thirteenth century in many cathedrals of France real white pigeons were released during the singing of the sequence and new around in the church while roses were dropped from the Holy Ghost Hole (Weiser, Holyday Book).

Except for the burning bits, some of these practices have been revived in these older churches. In parts of Italy and Sicily, red rose petals are dropped through the hole. This is an especially spectacular sight in the church in Rome dedicated to St. Mary and the Martyrs that was formerly the Pantheon. There is an opening in the dome and the rose petals are dropped, filling the church and covering the floor.

4,906 Pentecost Stock Photos and Images - 123RF

Red and fire are the dominant images used in Pentecost celebrations. In many places of the Northern Hemisphere, this is height of strawberry season, and the red fruits shapes like tongues of fire seem perfect for the feast day that falls in the warmer months.

Earth

The earth element doesn’t seem to be as obvious with the connection more as it relates to God’s creation. Pentecost, which means “Fiftieth Day” in Greek, was a Jewish festival marking the 7 weeks or 50 days after the Passover. It was a harvest festival, offering the first fruits in thanksgiving to God. Later the feast also commemorated the giving of the Law or Ten Commandments to Moses at Sinai. Our civilization has become less agrarian, but this “earth element” should be a universal reminder to us as respect and thanksgiving for creation. Pope Benedict explains and elaborates:

From its earliest prehistory [Pentecost] has been a feast of harvest. In Palestine the crops were ripe in May; Pentecost was the thanksgiving for the grain harvest. Man sees the fruitfulness which results from the interplay of heaven and earth as the miracle by which he lives, and he acknowledges that gratitude is the appropriate response to this miracle….Has this become meaningless today? If we think of “Holy Spirit” only in terms of Christian inwardness, and of “harvest” only in terms of technology and commerce, our view of the world has become schizophrenic. At Pentecost the church prays a verse from the psalms which runs: Send forth your Spirit, O Lord, and renew the face of the earth. Initially this refers to the creative Spirit which has called the world into being and maintains it in being. It is important to have a new reality of this at Pentecost: the Holy Spirit who came down upon the apostles is the same Spirit who fashioned the world….

Pentecost should also be for us a festival of thanksgiving for creation, a cause for reflection on the creative Reason which is also manifested in the beauty of the world as a creative Love. Thanksgiving for creation could then become a reflection on creation, a reflection on behavior appropriate to our being part of creation. This would be acting according to the spirit, turning away from practical materialism that abuses and destroys the world.

Against this background we must also understand that, in Israel, Pentecost was the remembrance of the arrival at Sinai and the celebration of the Covenant which had set out a path for Israel to travel in the form of the law. Christians have always seen their Pentecost as a continuation of this idea: the New Law is love, breaking down barriers and uniting people in the New Covenant. Love, too, is not formless or arbitrary; it is a formation from within, a wakefulness of the heart which takes up the rhythm of creation and perfects it (Seek That Which is Above, 79-81).

Water

The final element, water, is not an image of the Holy Spirit, but a direct result of the coming of the Paraclete upon the Disciples. After they were filled with the Holy Spirit, they left the Upper Room and began to proclaim the Gospel. And on hearing their words, 3000 were baptized that day. The matter of baptism is water.

From the very day of Pentecost the Church has celebrated and administered holy Baptism. Indeed St. Peter declares to the crowd astounded by his preaching: “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” 26 The apostles and their collaborators offer Baptism to anyone who believed in Jesus: Jews, the God-fearing, pagans. 27 Always, Baptism is seen as connected with faith: “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household,” St. Paul declared to his jailer in Philippi. And the narrative continues, the jailer “was baptized at once, with all his family” (CCC, #1226).

With every baptism comes the reminders of the first Pentecost. Today is also a good feast to celebrate our reception of the sacraments of baptism and confirmation. A small display of our baptismal candles around a Christ Candle would be an appropriate decoration.

Family Celebrations

Pentecost no longer has an octave, so after this Sunday will be the end of the Easter season. We need to get in all our final outpouring of Alleluias, as stated in the GNLYC:

These above all others are the days for the singing of the Alleluia.

The Alleluia is not being retired, as in Lent, but it will not be as prominent. Throughout these fifty days we have added Alleluia to the end of every prayer, and we will miss it! This is also the last day for reciting the Regina Caeli instead of the Angelus.

The Mass at Pentecost preserves one of the few sequences that remain in our liturgy. The sequence will be prayed or sung before the Gospel: Veni, Sancte Spiritus, often referred to as the “Golden Sequence.” Our family will pray this together and also part of the Liturgy of the Hours for Pentecost. We will pull out the red tablecloths, make a fruit salad to remind us of the fruits of the Holy Spirit and have desserts with strawberries and cupcakes with tongues of fire. We don’t have seven matching candlesticks, but we will light seven red candles for our dinner and prayer time to remind us of the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

There are multiple ways to reinforce this liturgical end of the Easter season. The Catholic Culture’s entry for Pentecost has multiple recipes and activities. But regardless how it is celebrated at home, keeping in mind the integral connection with Easter, and meditating on its elementary lessons will be our good beginning of this time of the Holy Spirit as we enter into Ordinary Time.

Nigerians Living At A Time Life Has No Meaning

Nigerians are living at a time that life appears to have no meaning as anybody’s life can be taken at any time.

The Catholic Bishop of Sokoto, Most Reverend Matthew Hassan Kukah stated this in a homily at the Holy Family Catholic Cathedral Sokoto during the Mass to celebrate the Feast of Pentecost.

He thanked God for the restoration of peace in Sokoto after the unnecessary disturbance in the state capital few weeks ago.

He commended the country’s security agencies for continually putting their lives on the line in order to safeguard the lives of Nigerians.

He said the clouds of darkness continue to hang on Nigeria, with no one having the hope of living and seeing the next day.

He said it is amazing and regrettable that Nigerians have been catapulted back to the age of slavery over 200 years ago by being abducted and negotiated over heavy sums of money for them to have their freedom.

For Pentecost he said with the coming of the Holy Spirit, every one in the Spirit can change the world by renewing the temporal order.

However he said the world cannot be renewed by merely wishing and not praying actively. Also the world cannot be renewed by surrendering our powers merely to politicians.

There are many lessons for Nigerians to learn from the difficulties bedeviling the nation. He said when we wait on God for His intervention in our situation or answer to our prayers, we must not bind God by our own clock, time and calendar.

What we’re experiencing in Nigeria is akin to the confusion and difficulties that the Apostles experienced in their own time. Then the Holy Spirit came to give them confidence and courage to live and evangelize without fear.

During the Mass, sixty seven candidates were administered with the Sacrament of Confirmation by the Bishop, Most Reverend Matthew Hassan Kukah. Six of them came from an outstation of the Cathedral.

Everything you need to know about Pentecost

Depiction of the Holy Spirit in St Peters Basilica Credit Paolo Gallo  Shutterstock Depiction of the Holy Spirit in St. Peter’s Basilica. | Paolo Gallo / Shutterstock.

This weekend, the Church celebrates Pentecost, one of the most important feast days of the year that concludes the Easter season and celebrates the beginning of the Church.

Here’s what you need to know about the feast day:

The timing and origins of Pentecost

Pentecost always occurs 50 days after the death and resurrection of Jesus, and ten days after his ascension into heaven. Because Easter is a moveable feast without a fixed date, and Pentecost depends on the timing of Easter, Pentecost can fall anywhere between May 10 and June 13.

The timing of these feasts is also where Catholics get the concept of the Novena – nine days of prayer – because in Acts 1, Mary and the Apostles prayed together “continuously” for nine days after the Ascension leading up to Pentecost. Traditionally, the Church prays the Novena to the Holy Spirit in the days before Pentecost.

The name of the day itself is derived from the Greek word “pentecoste,” meaning 50th.

There is a parallel Jewish holiday, Shavu`ot, which falls 50 days after Passover. Shavu’ot is sometimes called the festival of weeks, referring to the seven weeks since Passover.

Originally a harvest feast, Shavu`ot now commemorates the sealing of the Old Covenant on Mount Sinai, when the Lord revealed the Torah to Moses on Mount Sinai. Every year, the Jewish people renew their acceptance of the gift of the Torah on this feast.

What happens at Pentecost?

In the Christian tradition, Pentecost is the celebration of the person of the Holy Spirit coming upon the Apostles, Mary, and the first followers of Jesus, who were gathered together in the Upper Room.

A “strong, driving” wind filled the room where they were gathered, and tongues of fire came to rest on their heads, allowing them to speak in different languages so that they could understand each other. It was such a strange phenomenon that some people thought the Christians were just drunk – but Peter pointed out that it was only the morning, and said the phenomenon was caused by the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit also gave the apostles the other gifts and fruits necessary to fulfill the great commission – to go out and preach the Gospel to all nations. It fulfills the New Testament promise from Christ (Luke 24:46-49) that the Apostles would be “clothed with power” before they would be sent out to spread the Gospel.

Where’s that in the bible?

The main event of Pentecost (the strong driving wind and tongues of fire) takes place in Acts 2:13, though the events immediately following (Peter’s homily, the baptism of thousands) continue through verse 41.

Happy Birthday, Church

It was right after Pentecost that Peter, inspired by the Holy Spirit, preached his first homily to Jews and other non-believers, in which he opened the scriptures of the Old Testament, showing how the prophet Joel prophesied events and the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.

He also told the people that the Jesus they crucified is the Lord and was raised from the dead, which “cut them to the heart.” When they asked what they should do, Peter exhorted them to repent of their sins and to be baptized. According to the account in Acts, about 3,000 people were baptized following Peter’s sermon.

Vatican asks for suspension of ordinations in French diocese

Bishop Dominique Rey of Fréjus-Toulon Bishop Dominique Rey of Fréjus-Toulon | Claude Truong-Ngoc via Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 3.0)

The Vatican has asked a diocese in southern France to suspend its ordinations of priests and deacons scheduled for this month after a “fraternal visit” of the diocese.

Bishop Dominique Rey of Fréjus-Toulon announced June 2 that the suspension was requested due to “questions that certain Roman dicasteries were asking about the restructuring of the seminary and the policy of welcoming people to the diocese.”

“We welcome this request with both sorrow and confidence, aware of the trial it represents above all for those who were preparing to receive ordination,” Rey said.

The announcement comes after Archbishop Jean-Marc Aveline of Marseille conducted a visitation of the Diocese of Fréjus-Toulon, his suffragan, at the request of the Vatican.

Aveline is among the 21 cardinals named by Pope Francis earlier this week. He will be the first French residential prelate to receive a red hat during this pontificate.

Rey, known for his support of the traditional Latin Mass, said that he has already spoken with Cardinal Marc Ouellet, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, and other offices of the Roman curia about the questions raised by the visitation.

“Pending the outcome of these ongoing exchanges with the Roman dicasteries, it has been requested that the diaconal and priestly ordinations planned for the end of June be postponed,” he wrote in a letter published on the diocesan website.

The French diocese’s ordinations were scheduled for the feast of Saints Peter and Paul, June 29.

According to the French publication La Vie, last year the diocese ordained ten priests and eight deacons.

La Croix reported that in 2020, 126 priests were ordained throughout France, and that more than 60% of the country’s dioceses had no ordinations.

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