Prepare to Receive the Gifts

Novena to the Holy Spirit (Introduction+Nine Days)

They say, 'it's better to give than receive' and I would certainly agree with that adage. Nonetheless, when we stand before our Creator we are at a serious disadvantage; for the simple reason that we have nothing to give God that he has not already given to us. This is true of all things but especially true of spiritual gifts.

In a few short days we enter a special time marked on the liturgical calendar; a period of watching, waiting and praying for the gift of the Holy Spirit himself. We can do this at any time certainly, but to keep with the rhythms and progression of liturgical time, is to enter more fully into the mystery of all the divine workings. In a true sense the period of time before Pentecost is similar to Advent before Christmas; or Lent before Easter. Thus to pray, watch and await the 'gifts of the Holy Spirit' at the time prescribed, is to align ourselves for the best possible outcome.

This year I felt the inspiration to invite others to pray along and do this online. This is a great way for someone to begin a life of faith, especially if they've found it difficult to get started. The theology of all this is quite simple: God is calling us and wants us to draw near: we ourselves want to draw nearer to God. He sends us a helper, advocate, comforter to accomplish the task, this is the Holy Spirit. Christians never go it alone so my thought was for us to make this Novena together (let's call it a prayer pilgrimage for now). I would like to enlist the aid of others who are experienced at prayer and ask them to help others make this journey. For those who are lukewarm or fallen away and looking to revitalize their faith: this is your call. If you are someone who has been searching and seeking God only to feel like you're getting nowhere, please join in. If you're not familiar with the vocabulary of faith, don't worry, the Holy Spirit is the unseen teacher and you'll eventually catch on. Besides, the comment section is open – so use it.

A relationship with God builds with his 'grace' upon our nature; 'his divine call' followed by 'our response'. We must enter the mystery of these progressions and do our part. How does it all start? Perhaps it begins with a little kindling of love that is gently fanned with the Spirit's Breath. The word 'Spirit' means 'Breath of God' or 'Wind'. However it happens, it is vital.

The practice of praying the Novena to the Holy Spirit is itself enriching because it indicates the hidden presence of the Spirit prior to his 'official' arrival. The very desire and act of praying for 'gifts' can only come because God has some plan to utilize these 'gifts' for his own purpose. It is true that the Holy Spirit is himself our 'Comfort' but the 'seven spiritual gifts' are not for our consolation; rather they are a preparation for a task. When the Spirit fills our life we are filled with joy, but again, the purpose is to 'move the mission', (i.e. bring about the Kingdom of God). This all starts from the instruction of our Lord to the Apostles: 'stay in Jerusalem and pray' until the Father sends us our Advocate. [cf. Acts 1:4-5]

I have for many years felt called to pray this Novena in particular, and the effect has always been a more docile nature, especially when it comes to inspirations of the Holy Spirit. This characteristic of 'quieting down' has allowed me to be more attentive and is a precursor to the Spirit's aim, which is to take hold of my life more effectively. There are many 'faith seekers' who are roaming about the blogosphere and looking for a way to break through their doubt. There are many lukewarm folk who have received the Sacrament of Confirmation but not participated in the joyful mission. After a period of time the pilgrimage falls prey to frustration and weariness. Shall we offer them a hand? Let's invite all our friends who are seeking God or desiring an opportunity for growth in their relationship with the Lord to join in. Even those who are not yet baptized but are seeking some insight to move forward will be in a privileged situation. They can begin with a high degree of confidence, because to be in the 'seeking mode' is an indication that a stirring action (grace) is already in play.

To read the Novena prayers is not enough: they must be 'prayed with faith'. To pray together (as the Apostles did) is to lend our 'faith' to others whose faith is weak; thus no one misses out and all receive. How you pray during the nine days (the Novena) is up to you. A good format is this one offered at EWTN's website (see others below). More important than the format of specific prayers is the giving of oneself over to the Holy Spirit through a sacrifice of time and availability (your presence and openness). Shall we do this together? Gather your prayer material or booklets and come back Friday – day one. Invite as many friends as possible. I plan to add some brief commentary during each day of the Novena that will serve as a focal point for discussion or comments.

Come Holy Spirit; fill the hearts of your faithful people. Enkindle in us the fire of your divine love.

***Some links to possible prayer formats:

Link 1, Link 2, Link 3, Link 4, Link 5.


Cow Bike Rider (alias, Chris Sagsveen) said...

Thanks for this. I (and my wife) look forward to joining you in this Novena.

I plan to provide a link to this post on my blog today.


Anonymous said...

Hey, there. I'm new to your blog, but it looks like you've assembled a lot of good content here.

This sort of communal Holy Spirit novena is a terrific idea. I plan to participate. Thanks for welcoming us all to it!

God bless always.