Novena to the Holy Spirit. May 22-30  (from Friday right after the Traditional Ascension Thursday to the Saturday before Pentecost)

 +Sign of the Cross.

Daily Scriptural Prayer: Some verses from the Acts of the Apostles, (Acts 1) “At His Ascension, Jesus commanded His followers not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for The Gift of which the Father has promised…”to wait to be clothed from On High… For you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses… beginning in Jerusalem, and then forth to the ends of the earth.” The Word of The Lord.

Response: “I pray in the Year of Our Lord 2020, in anticipation of Pentecost, the birthday of the Church. Alleluia to You, Lord God!  In being like those first believers nearly two millennia ago, I also wait upon the Promise and Gift of the Father, so to clothe me from On High, with the power, love, and guidance I need to be Christ’ follower and be a member in today’s Church. Lord, I turn to You…”

Daily Prayer for the Seven Gifts [and For the Theological and Moral Virtues—days eight and nine]: O Lord, Sweet Holy Spirit, as was once prophesied to come in the Messiah, in Isaiah 11, so now is given in Christ Jesus Who is in me—I pray, please, in Your Good Favor:

Give me (1) wisdom to see the big picture of life as You see it.

Then offer me (2) understanding to live out Your holy plan and Your good will for my life.

Do also enlighten me to (3) right judgment, helping me to figure what is most good and just for each situation of which I come upon, as to Glorify Your Holy Name, O God, by my actions, and to best bless the community of faith.

Grant me (4) knowledge of You and of Your ways, O Savior and Redeemer Jesus. Help me to recognize and use the gifts which You have bestowed upon Your Body, the Church, as by Sacred Scripture, Church teachings, creation and natural revelation, philosophical and spiritual inspirations in my life, and those come to me via the saints and other Spirit-filled believers in the community. Help me to know and see You, God, as revealing Yourself daily to me.

As I live by You, then, Divine Advocate, may I do all things in (5) courage and in a firm purpose of life to honor Jesus, The Eternal Son, Who leads us in strength. Give to me the inner conviction to deal with the challenges posed presently to me. You are in control Lord, and I believe it so!

O Spirit, You are given to help us to conform into Christ Jesus, and to become like Him. Thus, I also petition You to help me to live (6) in piety, as in my being reverent in life, that I may give respect to Your Divine Presence about me and in me, as well as to other people and all creatures, all of whom are made by You. Help me to cooperate with Your holy plan. (Jn.16:14).

May this sense of the sacred, in prayerful humility, so inspire an (7) Awe and Wonder of the Divine Trinity throughout my whole life. May I have an alive faith to what it is to be a child of God and to be formed within the children of light (1st Jn.) to become wholly Thine. May I see an all-encompassing life in Your Spirit, as to have a meaningful Christian life and to be one in The Church, Christ’ Body (Col. 1:18).   

I pray, by Your inspiration, to be empowered by these theological virtues (8) of faith, hope and love. I pray for these gifts; may faith be my confidence, love be the fullness in my heart and the conquering Way, and hope lead me each day to the eternal destiny laying before me in Christ. May these virtues be ever strong in me, for the good of others, and for my becoming totally Yours, as an honest and authentic “me.”

In Your generosity, equip me so in the Cardinal (moral) virtues (9), to have an ardent following of Your Goodness, as I practice the ways of The Kingdom; in my being sharp in prudence, temperance, fortitude, and justice. May my humanity be blessed in grace, in the pattern of Christ. May people see how I act forth in my life, as in Your higher call, and may others in the communion of faith emerge forth as one to witness to thy Kingdom come. Bring forth the kingdom of God!

Short Pause of Consideration

On each of your nine days of this Novena, we ask you to ponder in this moment the corresponding numbered area above. (Example—Day 1=wisdom, Day 2=understanding….Day 9=moral virtues). Think of what it means for your own life and the life of The Church today.  Louise, Fr. Barry, and Kathy (three of your parish staff) will assist here with our own brief commentary, provided right after this closing prayer. You are to use one of the nine meditations each time, making your way towards Pentecost.

AFTER THE MEDITATION/PAUSE OF THE DAY

Holy Spirit Closing Prayer: “Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of Your faithful, and kindle in them the Fire of Your Love. Send forth Your Spirit, and they shall be (re)created. And You shall renew the face of the earth! O God, Who by the light of the Holy Spirit, did instruct the hearts of the faithful, grant that by the same Holy Spirit, we may be truly wise and ever enjoy His consolations, Through Christ Our Lord, Amen.”

Giotto, The Ascension                                                                                                                 

Jesus said: When you shall have lifted up the Son of man, then shall you know, that I am He, and that I do nothing of Myself, but as the Father has taught Me, these things I speak. And He that sent Me, is with Me, and He has not left Me alone: for I do always the things that please Him. When He spoke these things, many believed in Him. (John 8)   I go to prepare a place for you, that, where I Am, there you shall be. (John 14)

[St. Gregory of Nyssa: The goal of a virtuous life is to become like God.]

Commentary: As we near Pentecost, consider how all these nine areas of life (covered in our Novena) have been a part of the Faith Development project going in during the pandemic, as led by The Holy Spirit. The fruit of the Spirit is self-control (Gal. 5). This doesn’t mean keeping the reigns of control of life, as that is God’s job. It means making the right choices where and when Grace can abide in us, rather than let sin lead the way. 1st Timothy 4:8 advises: “While bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.” This pandemic is not a wasted time, but one to use in our growth as a child of God. Amen.

Meditation on each of the Nine Areas for the Daily  Novena Pause

One per day

1/ Wisdom. As I was taught by Mr. Marsh in Confirmation Class   in 1971, I know that Wisdom is the first and foremost of the 7 Gifts of the Spirit. It comes from our beginning of having interest and in taking part with God in our lives, when Grace is a moving! It is a wise thing to get drawn in love and interest with God. (Mr. Marsh was right!) In Wisdom, the Spirit helps us to see beyond the temporal and limited sight of this world, consoled to notice how there is a spiritual realm, a whole unlimited kingdom of God, and an eternal life offered by Jesus Christ. One is “wise” to accept God daily into our thoughts and soulful wonderings, for it gives us a much bigger picture of what’s going on. God reigns, and He has a plan. No matter how fouled up this world may get, or as confused as we may become in this 2020 version of earthly living—we can be ‘holy smart’ to say: Draw me in close to You, God, for Your plans are for “my welfare, to give me a future and a hope” (Words to Jeremiah in tough times). Covid19 is hard; so are some other piercing realities. Let us speak to God of what we need; let us also tell Him how we believe He is in control, with a higher view of things. Fr. Barry

2/ Understanding is a Gift of the Spirit that one may say isn’t totally understood! While we go through a puzzling episode of life, and even get thrown for a loop, we may just admit it: “Hey! I just don’t understand what is going on here, Lord!?!”  ‘You know what? That is alright and fine to say to God. Just recall some questions the apostles gave to Jesus Christ: “Did you notice, Master, that I have been (fishing) here all night, and caught nothing?” “What do you mean we know the Way, Lord? I don’t think I do!” “Why do you not speak plainly, but rather in parables, Lord?” “To what purpose is this waste?” “Master, do you care not that we perish?” “Where’ve you been, Lord?” The covid19 time has given us the long pause to ask lots of questions about it to God. Jesus welcomes questions. In His Sermon on the Mount, He said: “Seek, and ye shall find.” The Lord shall reveal what He wants to us to know, and we surely know again that viruses can become a major pandemic, in a broken down natural world. Yet, in understanding, we weigh things by what we also know by Divine Revelation of Who God is and what He is like. He is come to save the world, for we needed it. Jesus the Lord is the Way and Person to follow, especially “in the dark valley, He leads me, His Shepherd’s rod and staff are there.” (Signs He is looking out after you and I—and that He is listening to us, too.   Fr. Barry

3/ Right Judgment is traditionally called the Gift of Counsel. What counsel do I take recourse in during this pandemic? I take natural counsel in listening to medical experts on the dangers of this virus and its mysterious, contagious nature. I trust their warnings, especially upon the news reports of sicknesses and deaths in Maryland. A rational person weighs these things. I also always listen to The Lord and the ‘holy instincts’ in me. For example, a cooked meal was brought to the rectory house, but I did not know the cook, nor their standards of caution in this covid19 time—so I took caution not to eat it. Also, I was invited by a family to their house after a funeral Mass and burial which I did for their loved one. The tight quarters that they described there at the reception, including a little backyard to the house, did not seem to me a safe environ for my presence. I just respectfully declined the invitation because I judged it as not worth the risk to catch the virus–there is too much importance to my health, especially in being your one assigned ADW clergy here. Yet in the other end of the spectrum, a senior couple wanted to recently see me, to talk on a sensitive family matter—and I so I did walk with them in their neighborhood, so to have time to talk about their concern for a family member. It was the right call. I get some consolation from God and in my spirit when I choose rightly.   Fr. Barry

4/ Knowledge comes from different places, such as from a book, a television or radio program, other people, museums, or even life experiences. God can use ‘obviously-holy’ means, like of a prayer or a holy reading of a catechism, but also these ‘other’ means to impart knowledge to us. Some pay thousands of dollars for more to know while others just take it when it comes. Knowledge does not prove how great you are as a person- it is what you do with it that matters. Did you share your knowledge with someone or use it for the greater good? In the last two months, would one have ever thought that we could become so knowledgeable about how to wash our hands correctly? Who would have thought that we would have a new-found knowledge of infectious viruses? In the area of insights and input to your mind, what new knowledge have you gained over the two months? Have you learned a new hobby? Or, an unfamiliar fact of history from the book you read? Or a lesson from a parable of Christ? Knowledge is power; the power to make choices. For example, you may know by experience whether to eat the ice cream for breakfast (!) or wait till after dinner or just pass on it altogether? We may know in the experience of it that we are just craving some comfort through food. We can know ourselves better by reflecting on our learned input. Knowledge is a gift; the amount of knowledge we are able to obtain is a gift. The Lord gave us the gift of knowledge so that we could follow His Word and general guidance and prosper by it, and share it with others.   Kathy Ford

5/ Courage is the Gift of the Spirit enabling us with the ability to say YES to God and to be open to receiving the grace and strength needed to overcome fears or resist temptations, in spite of what is going on in our lives (even during a pandemic)! Whether it is praying for freedom from an addiction of some sort or taking a stand for those who are being oppressed, the gift of courage is crucial in overcoming these challenges and becoming who God intended us to be. I think of Oscar Romero as he voiced objections to what was happening to the poor and marginalized in El Salvador. I think of Corrie Ten Boom who hid Jews in her home during World War II. History is filled with people just like you and me who were blessed with courage to accomplish amazing things for God– they simply asked for this gift and were open to receiving it. Courage is especially something to ask for in this pandemic because everything is so uncertain. We don’t know when it will end or what our world will be like when it does. Courage helps us to know that even in the midst of all the uncertainty, we belong to God and God will always be there for us.  Louise Locke

6/ Piety is the quality of being religious or reverent, a virtue with humility. Reverence (another name for piety) is feeling or showing deep and solemn respect. Piety is the noun and (being) Reverent is the adjective. What is the verb you ask? The verb would be every time you call and check on your neighbor or loved ones, helped with the dishes, or addressed/acknowledged a person with good manners and propriety. Piety may sound like having the love of pies or pie-eating, but it’s not! That is, unless you’ve recently waited until last to serve that last piece of apple crumb pie, so that all were served ahead of you! Then, it’s a great piety of you. (Pie Piety.) ☺ Piety would be your finding time each Sunday or vigil to celebrate The Lord’s Day in your home, since we cannot assemble in church or chapel yet. Those above are just a few examples of this Gift of the Spirit. ‘See? Every time we pray, receive the Holy Eucharist, attend Mass, say the Rosary, or even read the Bible – we have piety. But we also have it when we follow the Word of the Lord and His Holy Son. We can find examples of how to do this in Matthew Chapter 5, in the start of the Sermon on the Mount, as by following the eight Beatitudes of Jesus. When we share the good things we have within us, like a heart for peacemaking, then, look– it blesses others! Or, if we are willing to mourn and care on things of our neighbor, then it surely helps others feel better after their loss! Or, if we practice humility, then it has us ask ourselves “What would Jesus do?” (and then we go and become Christ’ sent one to others)! Or, if we forgive, then it does the right thing to foster mercy. Or, if we give much of ourselves, even versus adversity, then Christ has someone to show how His righteousness counts, as we stand up for what He taught. There are examples of piety and reverence all around us – you just have to look and practice them.  Kathy Ford    

7/ Awe and Wonder (or the Gift of the Fear of the Lord) is what prompted the Blessed Mother to say to Elizabeth with all her heart “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God, my Savior”. She did not say these words out of fear but out of incredible love and humility because of how God was working in her life. She did not despair about being unmarried and pregnant because she knew that God would accomplish God’s purposes through this pregnancy and was totally humbled by it, knowing she was not the instigator but the instrument. She had no doubt who she was before God. With what can you compare the infinite greatness of God? It is like comparing the entire expanding universe to a grain of sand. Awe and Wonder are prompted by our love for the Lord when we contemplate these realities and realize how much God cares for each one of us individually and for the world in general. During this pandemic, it is good to keep in mind that God can take any challenging situation and work wonders with it. Another thing to keep in mind is that God’s ways are not our ways and God’s ways are the best ways! Whatever is going to happen with this pandemic, God will give to those who ask the gift of Awe and Wonder at the “greatness of the Lord”!  Louise Locke

8/ The Theological Virtues are not in the list of Gifts of the Spirit, but are essential virtues to the Catholic life. In 1st Corinthians, right after the chapter on unity in the body of believers, St. Paul lists this trio of virtues as quite important, putting them in the domain of the Spirit’s supply to us, which we can pray for in this Novena. The theological virtues of faith, hope and love(charity) are the lifeblood of our Catholic faith. They are what Saint Paul preached there in 1 Corinthians 13 as lasting eternally: “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” These virtues are the foundation of our moral life because they guide, direct and give life to all other virtues. Not only that, the best part of these gifts is that we don’t have to ask for them – they are already given to us by God and it us up to us to decide whether or not we want to accept and use them. What better way to cope during these days than to fully embrace these gifts and use them to benefit ourselves, our neighbors and the world? There is a great deal of fear out there today – fear of becoming infected, fear of loved ones dying, fear of economic collapse, fear that the world is coming to an end. Some people are catastrophizing or imagining the worst possible scenario that could possibly happen and reacting like it has already happened. What is the opposite of fear? FAITH! And you already have this gift – you just need to decide to use it and ask God to increase it. Keep saying with Saint Paul “Lord, I believe! Help my unbelief!” If you are short on faith, then you are also more likely to become hopeless. Faith gives you the firm conviction that God IS in charge, that all things work together for good and fuels hope for the future, both in this life and in the life to come. We are able to overcome difficult situations through this precious gift of HOPE – things WILL get better! Again, this is an already-provided gift of God that you can tap into. You can also share your hope with others who are struggling with finding hope in their circumstances. And, speaking of sharing with others, LOVE is the crowning virtue of virtues. It is the synthesis of the two great commandments that Jesus taught us. Because God loves us unconditionally through no merit of our own, we are expected to reflect that love to back to God and to each other. There is such a great need for us to tap into this virtue during this pandemic. There are countless examples every day where the opposite of love is occurring and it is easy to become caught up in anger, blame and disgust. We CAN make a choice in this situation to love rather than to indulge in negativity. We CAN withhold unkind judgments about others and attempt to see things from their point of view. We CAN make some sacrifices in order to slow the spread of the virus and think of others who may be more vulnerable. Authentic Christian love is not a feeling but a choice and you can choose to show charity and love even if it seems difficult.  Louise Locke

        For more: See your Catechism of the Catholic Church  (CCC #1814-1829)

             Speaking of virtue, our final Novena day will cover the Cardinal Virtues…

9/ The Moral Virtues are best known as The Cardinal Virtues. They are prudence, temperance, fortitude, and justice. The Holy Spirit surely wants to help us into their exercise. As Section One, Chapter One of the Catechism points out—we are meant to practice our faith, and become changed into all the goodness of Christ Jesus. It’s a moral imperative. It’s a ‘class-in-session’ of Our Lord in these trying covid19 (wuhan virus) days—as to whether believers will still be believers—in their isolation. Will they turn to a virtuous effort of making it through? The Spirit dwells in us to inspire prudent thinking and considering (e.g., Is social distancing helpful? What seems to be going on, from a godly point of view, in this world crisis?). HE can assist us to living in a most tempered (if not forced) simplicity (Can I allow such a confinement to be profound and not boring?). HE can provide us resolve to go through this pandemic in daily strength (Lord, help me to endure this crisis, especially if I feel lonely or neglected!). And, He can help me pray for the world (especially her leaders) and for The Church (especially her shepherds) to learn how to do the right thing (work justice) in this great challenge upon the earth and her people. My intercessory prayers will count! I want justice and peace to prevail upon us.

A Saint I think of in these times is Mary of Egypt. She was a public sinner who was converted at the Empty Tomb of Christ, arriving with pilgrims there (as a non-pilgrim). She was immediately brought into the Light of Christ, which was quite abrupt. Like Saul of Tarsus conversion to Jesus, hers was a drastic turn. While that aspect of her story may not match ours, we can consider how we have had a major change come upon us quickly. Like Mary of Egypt, we can relate to her story after her faith conversion. It asked her to apply the Cardinal virtues: (What shall I prudently do in this major change to my life? How shall I temper my life by a desert spirituality? How shall I endure the isolation of it, and intense experience of God there—where will I find fortitude? How can I be strong with the Eucharist coming to me only rarely (no priest in that desert)? And, with my being in the desert working my conversion alone, how can I witness to the world and help touch it in God’s grace, telling of His amazing justice to me, with my being cut-off?  And yet, while her story is a radical one, she did get recognized as a saint, and which has marked the world! Her feast day is honored on the April 1st (and it’s no foolery, but rather godly).

These four corner virtues wait for our embrace and practice. It is something we can do for God as we go on day-to-day. Our living amid the challenges in this broken world calls us to seek the indwelling Presence of God and to apply His inspiration into our human conduct.  Fr. Barry

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