Parish Novena to the Holy Spirit
Before a journey begins it is always good to have done some preparation. Where are we going? How will we get there? Who will we meet? The ultimate destination of our ‘virtual’ pilgrimage over these next few days is to come ever closer to the heart of God. The map we will be using is not a piece of paper with lines and squiggles or a GPS screen with a soul-less voice saying ‘Turn left; In another 100yards you will have reached your destination’. No. Our map will be following the Gifts of the Holy Spirit that reveal something about God’s mission for us. It is this same Holy Spirit who will be our companion on the road.
‘Are we there yet?’ This is a familiar question that most parents and grandparents have heard, as well as the timeless comment, ‘How much longer?’ Our prayer journey with the Holy Spirit will take nine days. The Latin word for the number 9 is ‘Novem’. Hence in the days of ancient Rome the Ninth Month was November. In the context of the Church, the term Novena is used to denote a nine day period of prayer, asking God for a particular spiritual favour and petitioning His help, if it is His will. Our Novena is asking God to help us, as disciples, during this global pandemic. We are imploring the Lord for the courage and strength to witness to Him, as a parish family which is part of the One Church, in the unpredictable near future – whatever that may look like!
Our preparation for the pilgrimage is almost complete. We know how long it will take, we know our intention is to pray for the faith and witness of our parish family and so all that is left to do is welcome our companion on the road, the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit is not a ‘what’ but a ‘who’. He is one of the persons of the Holy Trinity and as Catholics we have all encountered him. He is our constant companion in life, though we may not be always fully aware of his presence.
The early Church Father, St. Irenaeus, explained that without the Holy Spirit we could not begin to truly know who Jesus is.
‘...It is impossible to see God’s Son without the Spirit, and no one can approach the Father without the Son, for the knowledge of the Father is the Son, and the knowledge of God’s Son is obtained through the Holy Spirit.’ (St. Irenaeus)
The Catechism of the Catholic Church further unpacks and clarifies St. Irenaeus’ teaching:
‘This knowledge of faith is possible only in the Holy Spirit: to be in touch with Christ, we first must have been touched by the Holy Spirit.’ (CCC #683)
Let’s just pause and think about that comment. ‘...To be in touch with Christ, we first must have been touched by the Holy Spirit.’ If you believe in Jesus, no matter how strong or weak you think your faith is; if you recognise Christ as the Son of God no matter how illogical it may seem; if you daily struggle to know, love and serve the Lord and find him difficult to follow yet still deep down within you believe in him, then brothers and sisters rejoice because you are blessed! You are blessed because you are in the presence of the Holy Spirit at this very moment! The Spirit has indeed blessed and touched you. That belief in Jesus, that trust, that recognition, that deep down conviction no matter how unsure or fragile in Our Lord it may be, has only come about because of the power of the Holy Spirit. You already know our travelling companion on this novena pilgrimage, let’s now continue to deepen and foster our relationship with him further.
The itinerary for each day of our journey will be:
• A reflection on one of the Gifts of the Holy Spirit.
• The recitation of the words from the hymn Veni Creator Spiritus.
• And finally the Prayer to the Holy Spirit.
We are now ready to set off on our pilgrimage. Let us begin with praying the Veni Creator Spiritus. This is an ancient hymn that is sung at Pentecost, Ordinations and other important moments in the life of the Church where the Spirit is called upon to help, assist, inspire, encourage and strengthen.
Veni Creator Spiritus
Come, Holy Spirit, Creator come,
From your bright heavenly throne!
Come, take possession of our souls,
And make them all your own.
You who are called the Paraclete,
Best gift of God above,
The living spring, the living fire,
Sweet unction, and true love!
You who are sevenfold in your grace,
Finger of God's right hand,
His promise, teaching little ones
To speak and understand!
O guide our minds with your blessed light,
With love our hearts inflame,
And with your strength which never decays
Confirm our mortal frame.
Far from us drive our hellish foe
True peace unto us bring,
And through all perils guide us safe
Beneath your sacred wing.
Through you may we the Father know,
Through you the eternal Son
And you the Spirit of them both
Thrice-blessed three in one.
All glory to the Father be,
And to the risen Son;
The same to you, O Paraclete,
While endless ages run.
Finally in a few moments of silence let us listen. How is God calling me to live out my faith each and everyday? What are the changes I need to make in how I think, act and speak? What are the strengths and gifts I need to build upon and share? What is God asking of me for the future? No matter how strong or weak my faith in Jesus is, I still possess it because of the Holy Spirit. Let us thank the Holy Spirit for this blessing of faith.
Come, Holy Spirit
Come, O Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful, and enkindle in them the fire of your love.
V. Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created.
R. And you shall renew the face of the earth.
Let us pray:
O God, who taught the hearts of the faithful by the light of the Holy Spirit, grant that by the gift of the same Spirit we may be always truly wise and ever rejoice in his consolation. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
God Bless and keep praying.
We continue our journey to Pentecost tomorrow.