My oldest son is preparing for the Sacrament of Confirmation this year. Even better than that, we have the great blessing that his Confirmation liturgy is happening on Pentecost Sunday. My son will get to have his personal Pentecost on the day that we commemorate the original Pentecost!
Now, he has been through two fantastic years of preparation for this sacrament, both at home with his mother, at our parish, and at school where he is taught by the wonderful Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia. Still, I wanted to find a way to provide one last great element to his formation as a young apostle of Jesus Christ. Asking for the Lord’s direction (because that’s always better than my own), I was granted the idea of praying a Pentecost novena with him, leading up to Pentecost Sunday and the celebration of this great sacrament.
Why was this God’s answer, you may ask? Well, beyond the obvious connection, I think there are a couple of reasons that the Lord might want my family and yours to engage in this novena, leading up to Pentecost, as well as to Confirmations during the liturgical year.
The first reason is that any novena, all novenas, are based on the original novena of prayer leading up to the original Pentecost. Remember, on the day of the Ascension, that Jesus “charged them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father…” (Acts 1:4). Now, “the promise of the Father,” always referred to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, who was coming to baptize the apostles and disciples in a new way. That Promise was poured out after nine days of waiting and prayer. No matter when we pray a novena or which novena we pray, we are connecting to those nine days of prayer between the Ascension and Pentecost. Every novena can be viewed as a request for the Lord to pour out His Spirit in a new and powerful way upon His Church.
Another reason that I am excited to engage in this novena is because of the way that the Holy Spirit has been working in my own life to bring His fruits to me. In Galatians 5:22-23, we read of nine realities that are called the “fruit of the Spirit.” Those are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. These are realities that every disciple needs in his or her life, especially teenagers, as they grow into their call to apostleship. Even better, our friends over at PrayMoreNovenas.com have developed a brand new Pentecost novena that focuses on one of these fruits each day. This really should set his teenage years on the right footing, and it should help me refocus and gain strength in my own commitment to discipleship.
I would like to challenge each and every Confirmation candidate and their parents to pray the Pentecost Novena, leading up to the day of each Confirmation liturgy, no matter which day it is celebrated. All you have to do is count down from nine, beginning on the day before the celebration of Confirmation. (For example, if confirmation is going to be celebrated on a Friday, count backwards from nine beginning on Thursday. That means that the novena prayers would begin on Wednesday of the previous week.) This will put those candidates’ preparations on the right spiritual foundation, which is the grace of God himself!
I would also like to challenge all faithful disciples, whether or not you have Confirmation candidates this year, to pray the Pentecost Novena for a new and powerful outpouring of the fruits of the Holy Spirit on our Church and our world. Certainly, we all know that we need the extraordinary graces offered here. More than that, it will connect us to the new Pentecost, the new outpouring of the Holy Spirit, for which popes since St. John XXIII have prayed fervently.
So, get ready to pray the Pentecost Novena. Make the commitment, even if you fail miserably at every novena you try to pray…like I do! If we do this, each of us will be part of bringing about the great transformation that we desire to see in the Church and in the world!
Editor’s note: Find the Novena to the Holy Spirit at PrayMoreNovenas.com. We also reccomend the book Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit: Every Spiritual Warrior’s Guide to God’s Invincible Gifts by Dr. Kevin Vost as well as these articles to learn more about novenas:
- “The Holy Spirit as Love and Gift” by Dr. Kevin Vost
- “What is a Novena? What is Its Origin?”
- “The Surrender Novena: Let Jesus Take Care of Everything” by Maura Roan McKeegan
image: Sculptural group of Pentecost in church Pfarrkirche Kaisermühlen (Vienna) via Renata Sedmakova / Shutterstock.com