The Novena to the Holy Spirit begins today. Novena simply means Nine. It is a period of intercessory pray that lasts nine days. There are all sorts of Novena prayers available today but on this particular day we begin the most important novena of all because it is the first and original novena, the novena that gave birth to the Church. We are told in the Acts of the Apostles that immediately after Our Lord ascended to heaven the Apostles went back to the “upper room” and “with one heart all these joined constantly in prayer, together with some women, including Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.” (Acts 1:14).
For nine days they prayed and waited for the “promise of the Father”. Jesus had told them at His Ascension “not many days from now you shall be baptised with the Holy Spirit” (Acts1:5). Furthermore, Our Lord promised them that “you will recieve power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you: and you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:6).
In the Novena to the Holy Spirit, the whole Church goes back to the upper room (the Cenacle) and “with one heart” we once again join Our Lady and the first Christian community in praying for the outpouring of the Spirit. We pray for “a new Pentecost” (Blessed Pope John XXIII) for the entire Church, for our parish, for our families and for our individual lives. Indeed, we pray for the Holy Spirit to “renew the face of the earth”.
The Novena to the Holy Spirit is supposed to begin on the day after Ascension Thursday and end on the eve of Pentecost Sunday. The Bishop’s of England and Wales messed everything up, when a few years ago, they decided to move Ascension Thursday to the following Sunday. I will say nothing more about it! This means that there are only 6 days to the Novena. However, it is still possible to begin the Novena on the Friday before Ascension Sunday. By the time you read this however, it will be at least Ascension Sunday. So, if you have not already done so I encourage you to prepare for Pentecost by entering into this Novena at what ever stage you wish and on whatever day it happens to be. The amount of days aren’t so important. It is the sincerely of our prayer that matters.
Here are some prayers to help you make the Novena:
Prayer for St Robert’s Parish
Come Holy Spirit, renew your wonders
in this our day as by a new Pentecost.
(Blessed Pope John XXIII)
Father, pour out your Spirit
upon our parish
and grant us
a new vision of your glory
a new experience of your power,
a new faithfulness to your Word, and
a new consecration to your service,
that your love may grow among us
and your Kingdom come:
through Christ Our Lord
St Robert of Newminster. Pray for us.
Come, Holy Ghost
Come, Holy Ghost, Creator, come
From thy bright heavenly throne,
Come, take possession of our souls,
And make them all thine own.
Thou who art called the Paraclete,
Best gift of God above,
The living spring, the living fire,
Sweet unction and true love.
Thou who art sev’nfold in thy grace,
Finger of God’s right hand;
His promise, teaching little ones
To speak and understand.
O guide our minds with thy blest light,
With love our hearts inflame;
And with thy strength, which ne’er decays,
Confirm our mortal frame.
Far from us drive our deadly foe;
True peace unto us bring;
And through all perils lead us safe
Beneath thy sacred wing.
Through thee may we the Father know,
Through thee th’eternal Son,
And thee the Spirit of them both,
Thrice-blessed Three in One.
All glory to the Father be,
With his co-equal Son:
The same to thee, great Paraclete,
While endless ages run.
Holy Spirit, Lord of Light
Holy Spirit, Lord of light,
From Thy clear celestial height
Thy pure beaming radiance give.
Come, Thou Father of the poor,
Come with treasures which endure,
Come, Thou Light of all that live.
Thou, of all consolers best,
Thou, the soul’s delightsome Guest,
Dost refreshing peace bestow.
Thou in toil art comfort sweet,
Pleasant coolness in the heat,
Solace in the midst of woe.
Light immortal, Light divine,
Visit Thou these hearts of Thine,
And our inmost being fill.
If Thou take Thy grace away,
Nothing pure in man will stay;
All his good is turned to ill.
Heal our wounds; our strength renew;
On our dryness pour Thy dew;
Wash the stains of guilt away.
Bend the stubborn heart and will;
Melt the frozen, warm the chill;
Guide the steps that go astray.
Thou, on those who evermore
Thee confess and Thee adore,
In Thy sevenfold gifts descend:
Give them comfort when they die,
Give them life with Thee on high;
Give them joys that never end.
Come, Holy Spirit
Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of Thy faithful and enkindle in them the fire of Thy love.
V. Send forth Thy Spirit and they shall be created.
R. And Thou shalt renew the face of the earth.
Let us pray. O God, Who didst instruct the hearts of the faithful by the light of the Holy Spirit, grant us in the same Spirit to be truly wise, and ever to rejoice in His consolation. Through Christ our Lord.
Here is some wonderful teaching from Pope Benedict XVI:
“We pray that Pentecost may not only be an event of the past, at the very beginning of the Church, but that it may be today, indeed now… Let us pray that the Lord may bring about the outpouring of his Spirit now, and recreate his Church and the world…Let us remember that after the Ascension the Apostles did not begin – as might perhaps have been expected – to organise, to create the Church of the future. They waited for God to act. They waited for the Holy Spirit. They understood that the Church cannot be made, that she is not the product of our organization: the Church must be born of the Holy Spirit. Just as the Lord himself was conceived and born of the Holy Spirit so the Church must be conceived and born of the Holy Spirit. Only through this creative act of God can we enter into God’s activity, into the divine action, and cooperate with him…” (African Synod 2009)
“Jesus’ entire mission aimed at giving the Spirit of God to men and women and baptising them in his regenerative ‘bath’. This was brought about with his glorification (cf. Jn 7:39), that is, through his death and Resurrection: then the Spirit of God was poured out in superabundance, like a cascade capable of purifying every heart, extinguishing the fire of evil and kindling the flame of divine love in the world… Pentecost [is] …the culmination of Jesus’ entire mission… Today I would like to extend the invitation to all: let us rediscover, dear brothers and sisters, the beauty of being baptised in the Holy Spirit; let us recover awareness of our Baptism and our Confirmation, ever timely sources of grace.” (Pentecost 2008)
And, finally from the Catechism of the Catholic Church:
“It is evident from its celebration that the effect of the sacrament of Confirmation is the full outpouring of the Holy Spirit as once granted to the apostles on the day of Pentecost” (1302)
“It must be explained to the faithful that reception of the sacrament of Confirmation is necessary for the completion of baptismal grace” (1285).
Don’t forget that we are having a special Holy Hour on Pentecost Sunday from 5.30pm to 6.30pm – Exposistion of the Blessed Sacrament, prayers of invocation for the Holy Spirit and Benediction.
I hope you have a prayerful novena and a “Spirit filled” Pentecost.
Fr Lawrence Jones