From the Pastor: Novena to the Holy Ghost
Last Thursday we celebrated (according to the 1962 Traditional Latin Mass calendar) the Ascension of Our Lord. According to the revised and re-revised Novus Ordo calendar, that feast is celebrated Saturday evening and Sunday of this current weekend. During the days after Our Lord ascended into Heaven and before He sent the Holy Ghost upon the Apostles and others in the Upper Room, they remained in prayer, waiting and watching for that promised Paraclete. It is from these nine days of prayer, from the Friday after the Ascension to the Saturday Vigil of Pentecost, that we get our tradition of praying novenas (see Acts 1:6-14). I want to encourage all of you to seriously pray as much of a novena to the Holy Ghost as you possibly can. Not all of you can time-travel back a couple of days (the Novus Ordo switch of the Ascension shortened up the days between that feast and Pentecost) so as to start it on the traditional day, but don’t let that stop you from starting today. You can always “double up” on a couple of days along the way and pray what you missed. So just start today if you haven’t already begun, and don’t ignore the whole prayerful period just because you forgot or didn’t realize that it already started. Novenas are powerful prayers and by praying this one you will certainly be more prepared for God to work on and through you at Pentecost than if you just let it slide this year! According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, the novena made prior to Pentecost is offered for the reconciliation of non-Catholics. That’s a worthy and needed intention! At the first Catholic Pentecost, the Holy Ghost gave the Apostles the gifts necessary to go into the whole world and bring all people of good will into the one true Church, which is necessary for salvation and founded by Jesus Christ, namely, the Catholic Church. Perhaps He will continue to bestow such graces upon all who pray this novena that they (you), too, may bring others into His Church (or back to His Church), with each receiving special assistance in the form of the various Gifts of the Holy Ghost to do so according to his/her state of life.
There are many novenas to the Holy Ghost which are easily enough found in good Catholic books. They can also readily be found online. One particular one which I have promoted in years past can be found on EWTN’s website and in a 1948 book titled simply, “Novena to the Holy Ghost” and republished by Tan Books in 2010. It gives no specific author but rather simply credits “Holy Ghost Fathers”. (This religious congregation is also known as the Spiritans and its priests have the initials C.S.Sp after their name.) This novena is based on the seven Gifts of the Holy Ghost, which are received at Confirmation (I will give more information on these in the following paragraph). There is another novena which shows up high in my search results that is based instead on some of the 12 Fruits of the Holy Spirit (some recent writings like this one only list 9). The Gifts, by the way, are given so that one can produce the Fruit, so the two groups are very obviously necessarily related to each other. Just to be clear, there is no “official” novena for these days, since novenas are not considered part of the liturgy of the Church. That is, they are encouraged, even to the point of many receiving approbation for indulgences, but they are generally done “in private”, even if done in groups at the parish and even if led by a priest, rather than being found in the official liturgical books with particular rubrics to follow, vestments to be worn, and other specific rules to be observed. So go search for one that seems “doable” to you and pray it!
Once you get to searching, you will inevitably find more than you were looking for. As an example, on the EWTN page I found an article by Fr. William G. Most with this little nugget (and lots of good things that followed, too!): We turn now to the Seven Gifts of the sanctifying category. They are: wisdom, understanding, knowledge, counsel, fortitude, piety and fear of the Lord. They each perfect certain basic virtues. Four of them perfect the intellectual virtues. Understanding gives an intuitive penetration into truth. Wisdom perfects charity, in order to judge divine things. Knowledge perfects the virtue of hope. The gift of counsel perfects prudence. The other three gifts perfect virtues of the will and appetites. The gift of piety perfects justice in giving to others that which is their due. This is especially true of giving God what is His due. Fortitude perfects the virtue of fortitude, in facing dangers. Fear of the Lord perfects temperance in controlling disordered appetites. I very much like this grouping and simple explanation of the Gifts. Has it occurred to you that it is essential to know what any particular gift is used for in order for it to be useful, appreciated, and cherished? Have you ever, for instance, opened a Christmas present from, say, Aunt Irma, and said, “What the heck is this?” That gift and the gift giver will be mocked even if it is truly a splendid gift unless its purpose is understood. Too often we do that very thing with God’s Gifts! Learn what purpose they have so that you can properly use them and love more fully Him Who gave them!
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka