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Holy Spirit

Novenas: how to go deeper

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Ascension Day is traditionally celebrated today in the Church, and it is also considered the first day of the first novena, as Mary and the Disciples remained in Jerusalem to pray for nine days for the coming of the promised Holy Spirit. This is the heart of our novena tradition.

A novena can be a special time between God and the praying soul, a pilgrimage of transformation and insight, as well as a way of “storming heaven,” with a petition. A novena prayed with faith is also a time of expectant waiting.

Whatever I am praying for, I try to ask with an open heart, one that is actively seeking God’s will.

Sometimes God does not give me what I thought I wanted when I began. Sometimes he changes me instead.

Sometimes I begin to get a sense that I should ask for something different than the petition I started with. My prayer seems to be redirected. Maybe this is so that I might pray with the Holy Spirit rather than just out of my own will.

I know, dearest Mother, that you want me to seek God’s holy Will concerning my request. If what I ask for should not be granted, pray that I may receive that which will be of greater benefit to my soul, [and the souls for whom I pray.] ~ from the Novena to Our Lady of the Rosary

Other times, my single-mindedness of purpose grows and I continue with my petition, like the “persistent widow” I am.

When I begin a novena, I am not sure what God will do but I know he will do something!

I try to be attentive to what God may want to say to me during this time of focussed, dedicated prayer.

The divine synchronicity interwoven with daily life reminds me that heaven is near, and that God is always speaking.

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The symbolic meaning of having a dove land on the hood of my car and look through the windshield at me while I am praying at a red light may seem hard to miss. But it is possible to think nothing of it. I want to notice and make the connection.

If I dedicate and consecrate these nine days of prayer to cultivating my awareness of God’s voice speaking through life itself as it happens, a novena can be a time of becoming attuned to Holy Spirit and wonder.

If I am praying a novena to a particular saint, St. Therese, let us say, I try to find ways to weave her presence into my life. I may read about her or read from her writings during that time. I will talk to her as I go about my day, ask her to join me in my work and prayers.

I might do small acts of service in her honor; especially the kind she liked during her life on earth, the sneaky kind.

I may make use of imaginative prayer to go into the situation I am praying about, letting St. Therese lead me in bringing God’s light into darkness, to let her show me something, or to visually surround the people involved, with God’s love, with hers, and with mine.

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I often ask friends or family to join me in praying a novena. Jesus encouraged us to join together when we ask for something, and it encourages me to know that someone I love is praying along with me.

I like to to begin a novena by going to Confession.

It always seems to me that I can “hear” God better after Confession. The grace released into my life from the sacrament enlivens my prayer.

At mass I may offer my reception of Holy Communion for the person or intentions I am praying for.

I try to drop in at church and visit Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament more often during my novena too, even if only for a moment. I can bring all my concerns there to him for healing; setting them at the foot of his alter for him to arrange in divine order. In his Eucharistic presence, my intentions are blessed, and my troubled heart can rest.

Sometimes I plan a series of nine Scripture verses that I think correspond well with my novena, one for each day to reflect on during the day. Bringing God’s Holy Word into my prayer deepens and interconnects the experience. “God’s word is alive.” Also it never returns to God void but always does what he sends it to do. I trust the word to act on my heart and to return to the Lord full.

I usually give up something at least for a day, or for the duration of the novena. This may be something small, like sugar in my coffee, listening to music in the car, or my favorite drink. St. Therese said her greatest weapons were “prayer and sacrifice.” Fasting and prayer are well established practices for us in our faith when we are commending a situation to God.

Right now I am keeping a novena journal. In it I am recording my prayers, thoughts, insights, Scripture passages and events that stand out to me during this time. It seems to be a fruitful and helpful way to pray, reflect, and notice how God is working in my life through my novena. I look forward to reading it through at the end.

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Often when we pray a novena, it is because we are suffering in some way. Part of praying a novena meaningfully can be offering our suffering in union with the suffering of Jesus, that it may be redemptive for others, especially those for whom we pray. St. Therese once offered her difficult walk across the infirmary when she was very ill, for missionaries.

A novena can be a transforming experience when lived and prayed deeply; both for ourselves and those around us.

I like to give thanks at the end of a novena, for all God has done, is doing, and will do in response to my petition, whether or not it looks like my petition was, “granted.” I know that God will only give me what is right and at the right time.

His love never fails; nor does its power to change everything, anything, anytime.

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Pentecost Novena Day 9

Let them give glory to the LORD, and utter his praise in the coastlands. 
The LORD goes forth like a hero, like a warrior he stirs up his ardor; He shouts out his battle cry, against his enemies he shows his might: 
I have looked away, and kept silence, I have said nothing, holding myself in; But now, I cry out as a woman in labor, gasping and panting. 
I will lay waste mountains and hills, all their herbage I will dry up; I will turn the rivers into marshes, and the marshes I will dry up. 
I will lead the blind on their journey; by paths unknown I will guide them. I will turn darkness into light before them, and make crooked ways straight. These things I do for them, and I will not forsake them.

~ Isaiah 42:12-16

Holy Spirit, we have come to the end of our novena. We waited and persevered in prayer and You have come.

Release Your power into our lives like a mighty wind that fills the house. Send down Your Fire of Wisdom and Love and send us forth on a new journey, guiding us by paths unknown. Increase in us faith, hope, and love, that as on that first Pentecost those have been afraid will become brave, those who have been weak may become strong, those who have lacked speech or understanding may be set free to utter the Divine Praises and to radiate Your glory and grace. Grant to us Your seven gifts of wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and awe in Your presence .

According to our holy faith, Your presence within us is so very real that this is how we will rise from the dead. Anything that is degenerated can be regenerated in Your light. Create us anew.

Fill our souls, minds and bodies with Your Spirit and Life, fill us with courage and hope, increase our faith. We believe, Lord. Help our unbelief. Inspire us to set out with determined determination* and in a spirit of love and renewal. Lift all saddened spirits to a new joy they has not yet known.
Give us hope for the future. Help us to recognize Your Voice wherever and whenever we hear it. Grant to all of us the knowledge of Your holy will for us and the power to carry it out. *

Mary, present with the disciples at Pentecost praying with them and for them, Our humble and compassionate Queen Mother, Spouse of the Holy Spirit, accompany us with your prayers. Intercede for us that we may ponder in our hearts the glory of God and with you magnify His love and presence in this world. Intercede for us with your Son.

Come, Holy Spirit, come by means of the powerful intercession of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Thy well beloved spouse. ~Mary’s locutions to Fr. Gobi

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Oh God, You have done all things for us and given us such joy. You have provided for all our needs. You have made all things new. You have made us strong and courageous and full of faith and love. O God, we praise You, We adore You, we bless You.

Glory be to the Father and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever!

In the Name of Jesus we make this and every prayer, asking the Angels and the Saints to add their petitions to ours, offering them before the alter of God in Heaven.
May our prayers rise up to You O God, like burning incense in Your sight. May they be sweet to You and give You joy.

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Amen. Amen.

 

* 11th Step of AA

** “determined determination” ~ St. Teresa of Avila

 

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Pentecost Novena Day 8

Come Holy Spirit, the Advocate, the Consoler, the Teacher, the Paraclete who walks with us. Come, Spirit of Love proceeding from the Father and the Son as Jesus promised us at his Ascension.

Holy Spirit, the disciples did not really understand but they waited for You in prayer in Jerusalem for nine days. We have waited these days in prayer in their company. We do not understand. But we believe that You will come. We do not know what You will do but we know You will do something. You are compassion, You are Love, You are Mercy itself. You are present within us, present in the events of our lives, present with us until the end of time and forever. Receive our prayer and infuse us with Your Divine Grace. Conform our hearts to Your holy will, “which is love and mercy itself,” and we will be at peace. 
Grace us with a sense of Your life in us and the assurance of Your love. Help us to understand all that we need to understand for our welfare and to choose the right paths in our lives.

Bless and inspire us, grant to us a new hope and may our hope not be disappointed.

Holy Mother Mary, Bride of the Spirit, you waited with the disciples for the coming of the Promised Advocate. Your heart was broken at being parted from Your Son again and yet your heart could not want what God did not want.* Pray that our hearts may be fully tuned to the Song of God as yours always was even when you did not understand what was happening or why. May we too always say yes to God in the events of our lives. This is love. This is peace. Show us the way. 
In the Name of Jesus,
 Amen.

*“Her heart could not want what God did not want,” St. Faustina

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Pentecost Novena Day 7

Come, Holy Spirit, illumine the dark and painful corners of our minds with Your gentle, healing light. You have said in Your Holy Word that You count our tears and hold them close to Your Heart.

Awaken in us a deep sense of hope and trust in Your holy presence and in Your love for us. You have said, “Behold, I do a new thing!” Come, Holy Spirit, open our hearts that You may do a new thing. Lord of Mercy, touch the anguish of the minds of those who suffer and set them free in Your peace. Finger of God, lay your healing hand on them. Set all in Divine Order. Leave all that is dark and disordered in us, pure and clean and healthy. Cleanse each discouraged heart in the waters of Your joyous love.

Father of the Poor, bless our littleness and weakness with Your loving protection. As the Eagle coaxes its nestlings forth, come and carry us on Your wings and teach us to fly.

Holy Mother Mary, Bride of the Spirit and compassionate advocate of your children, pray for us, especially those among us who live in fear and in sorrow. You waited in darkness for the Resurrection of Your Son with faith. Intercede for us that we too may have a faith like yours. 
We ask all this
 in the Name of Jesus Who lives and reigns with the Father and the Holy Spirit, One God, forever and ever.
 Amen.

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Pentecost Novena Day 5

Come, Holy Spirit, and strengthen within us the virtue of the Love of God that we might be freed of the bondage of self.* Let us not be discouraged at our faults and our weakness. Instead let us rejoice that we are jars of clay which You have chosen to fill with the treasure of Your presence…. that everyone will know that “this great power” supporting us is from You and not from us. Remind us that Your power is greatest when we are weak for You are kind and draw nearest to those in most need of You.

Cause, O Fountain of Life, the living water of Your indwelling to well up within us that streams of grace might flow from our broken and imperfect hearts. 
May the holy Water of the Spirit from the riven side of Christ flow through our bodies, souls, minds and emotions to cleanse, sanctify, and fully heal us.

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Spirit of God fill each of us with new courage, new resolve, and new willingness to grow and to interpret the events of our lives in the holy light of Your Wisdom and purpose. 
May we always believe in Your compassion for us and share it with one another and with everyone You bring into our lives.
Mary, bearer of Christ and Bride of the Spirit, visit us and assist us in our need. May we be filled with the prophetic joy of the Holy Spirit as Elizabeth was at the sound of your greeting. Show us the Treasure you bring. Come to us, Mother of God, and accompany us with your prayers. Let us journey in the sweet companionship of your spirit. 
In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

* a line (slightly modified) from the “Third Step Prayer” of A.A.

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Pentecost Novena Day 3

“Come, Holy Spirit, Fire of Love,
 Come Father of the poor, heal my wounds by your love.
Lord, You have chosen me already in my childhood
 and I know that I am the work of Your Love.
– Come, Holy Spirit…
I’m not anything more than pure weakness,
You know well my God, that my hands are empty
– Come, Holy Spirit…
You know well, my only friend, that the One that captivated my heart,
 the One I love is You, my Jesus
– Come, Holy Spirit…
And only You can give joy to my soul,
which desires to love You for Eternity
– Come, Holy Spirit…
Mary, Queen of Heaven, my dear Shepherdess,
you knew how to protect me with your motherly hand
– Come, Holy Spirit…
When I was playing carefree over the chasm,
You showed me the mount of Carmel
– Come, Holy Spirit…”
~ St. Therese

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Holy Spirit, the Comforter, come and enter into the deep recesses of our hearts. Heal us as we come to know You in the quiet of our souls. Teach us to seek you in “the cave of the heart”. Renew us in hope. Strengthen us in faith. Bring each of us Your healing grace in the depths of our hearts that we may know the deepest peace.
In the midst of darkness and anguish, that is nothing to you to transform, in the midst of very difficult situations, bring an explosion of Your grace that makes all that is ugly and fearful beautiful and free.
We know and believe you are already doing this and we sense Your genius in the unfolding of our lives. You are Love itself.
Come, Holy Spirit, and take us to new heights of Love. For perfect Love casts out all fear. May we live continually in a loving awareness of Your presence within us and around us and in everyone and all our experiences of each day. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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Pentecost Novena Day 2

Day 2

Descend, O Holy Spirit, like rain on the meadow. Like a dew fall on the crops, nourish our hearts that we may contemplate Your Holy Word and become vessels of Your Grace. Like a gentle wind awaken our souls to Your tenderness and enliven us to run lightly in the path You set before us.

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Pour over us the brightness of Your Light. Enable us to know peace and the deep inner healing only You can give. Transfigure us in the dawn of Your compassion and in the unfathomable depths of Your transforming Love let us be renewed.

Guide every decision we make. Inspire the way to our healing. Grant your full power and blessing to us and all that we do in the Name of Jesus. Calm any fears that may arise, Lord, and help us to trust in the Words of Jesus that You, our Advocate, will always be with us. May our hearts and minds be open to Your holy inspirations and to the movements of Your empowering, creative grace.

Mary, Bride of the Spirit, intercede for us. May your prayers draw the Spirit to rest on your children, revealing Christ in our midst as you did at the wedding at Cana… that we may do whatever He tells us.

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We ask all this in the Holy Name of Jesus, Beloved of our souls. Amen.

*Italicized phrases are from prayers in the Liturgy of the Hours

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Pentecost Novena Day 1

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Glorious Descent of the Holy Spirit

 

Special Novena to the Holy Spirit

Day 1

Come, Holy Spirit, fill our hearts and kindle in us the Fire of Love. Send forth your Spirit and we shall be created and You Shall renew the face of the earth. O God who instructs us by the light of the Holy Spirit grant us in the same Spirit the gift of Holy Wisdom.

Lord, you promised in your Holy Word that the Father will not deny the gift of the Holy Spirit to those who ask for Him. Send Your Holy Spirit, Lord to recreate and to deeply heal us in every way.
You are close to those who suffer and near to all who call. The only thing impossible with you is that you would remain distant and inactive. Grant that we may expect all things from you.
Still small voice within, you are the same Spirit who parted the Red Sea and guided your people through the desert in the pillar of cloud and fire. Help us to trust you completely and keep us in peace as we wait to see what you will do. We know you will do something.

Mary, Bride of the Spirit, pray for us that the Spirit will overshadow our lives and reveal Christ in our midst. May your prayer, the gift of a grateful heart, draw the Holy Spirit to rest on your children.

Oh God we praise you, we adore you, we bless you, we thank you, we pour out our hearts before you.

Amen.

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