Pentecost arrived fifty days after Jesus rose from the dead, with powerful wind and fiery tongues that settled over the heads of the Apostles and the Virgin Mary. This was the official Birthday of the Catholic Church—a day for immense rejoicing.
As a consequence, the Apostles who received this fire of the Holy Spirit were transformed into valiant soldiers and witnesses of Christ—martyrs. From being a fearful, confused, doubtful and motley group of men, they underwent a transformation and became valiant, courageous, eloquent, creative men who impressed the whole world. Though they had no formal education, nobody could withstand their eloquence, conviction and love for Jesus.
A Personal Pentecost Experience
As we age, our health declines as well as our abilities—this is part and parcel of our human condition inherited from our first parents, Adam and Eve, due to Original Sin.
However, the Holy Spirit, the Third Person of the most Blessed Trinity, never ages or declines in strength, nor does His Knowledge, Wisdom and Understanding decline. We can tap into the power, presence and potency of the Holy Spirit at any time and place if we so desire.
We can experience our own personal Pentecost at will, upon our own choosing. Indeed, the Holy Spirit is patiently waiting for each one of us to invite Him into our memory, understanding, emotions, heart, mind, will, and body. In a word, He wants to take possession of our whole being. It all depends on our free will and our freely given invitation to the Holy Spirit, who is known as The Sweet Guest of our Soul!
Novena Par Excellence!
The first novena culminated on Pentecost with the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles and Mary. It can be renewed right now. Actually, the word novena means nine. Therefore, we would like to offer to you a simple novena to the Holy Spirit. This consists of the following: every day for nine days we invite you, as well as your family and friends, to give something to show your love, gratitude and appreciation for the Holy Spirit. Let us give Him this gift of nine gifts!
Ironic as it may seem, according to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, among the many titles for the Holy Spirit is this one—He is the “Gift of Gifts”. However, now we desire to generously offer Him nine humble gifts, plus one more in the Ten Suggestions below for living out our novena.
Every day we invite you to pray to the Holy Spirit. Prayers are numerous and many are exceedingly beautiful and poetic. But I will offer a very simple prayer to the Holy Spirit and one easy to memorize. It is the following: “Come Holy Spirit, come, through the Heart of Mary!”
Saint Louis de Montfort asserts: “Those who love Mary, the Holy Spirit flings Himself into their souls.”
2. Acts of the Apostles
This Book of the Bible, authored by Saint Luke, is known as the Gospel of the Holy Spirit. In this action book of the Bible, we encounter in almost every chapter the powerful Presence of the Holy Spirit. This will be demanding but one day in your novena read the Acts 28. No doubt, by a prayerful reading of The Acts of the Apostles you get to see first-hand the ways that the Holy Spirit is building up the Primitive Church.
3. Sing a Hymn to the Holy Spirit
There are many! One of the classics is simply, Come Holy Ghost, with the several strophes. Or if you like: Spirit of the living God fall afresh on me…. Or if you prefer the Latin, Veni Sancte Spiritus. With respect to song, Saint Augustine encourages us: “He who sings, prays twice.” Better yet, before or after your family Rosary, sing to the Holy Spirit with your whole family!
4. Read a Book on the Holy Spirit
There are many books written on the Holy Spirit; choose one that you like best. A book that I have found to be very helpful is, In the School of the Holy Spirit by Jacques Philippe. Short, easy to read and understand, this work can inspire you to love the Holy Spirit all the more!
5. The Gifts of the Holy Spirit
Many Catholics are oblivious to the very important fact that upon receiving the Sacrament of Baptism not only are we transformed into living Tabernacles of the Blessed Trinity, but also, we receive many Gifts and among these are the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit. Pray that they will become operative in your life!
6. Memorize the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit
The Seven Gifts are important if we truly desire to become saints, as we are all called to be. The Church Fathers compare our spiritual life to being in a sail boat with seven-sails. To glide to the shore, which is symbolic of heaven, we must open up the sails to the wind. For it is “wind in the sails” that transports the boat to the shore. The boat is our soul; the seven sails are the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit, and the shore is heaven.
Therefore, let us memorize and activate the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit:
- 1) Wisdom,
- 2) Knowledge,
- 3) Understanding,
- 4) Counsel,
- 5) Fortitude,
- 6) Piety,
- 7) Fear of the Lord.
May these gifts compel us to growth in holiness and the eternal shores of salvation!
7. Prayer and Sacrifice
Our soaring high in the spiritual life can be compared to a bird in flight with two wings. A bird with one injured wing is land-bound. But with two healthy wings, the bird can soar into the heights and perch on the highest mountain. Likewise, in our spiritual life not only must we pray, but we must also practice penance and offer up sacrifices.
Our Lady of Fatima said that many souls are lost because people do not offer up enough sacrifices for them. Therefore, make a sacrifice; give up something, renounce something you like, to propel the divine invasion of the Holy Spirit in your soul. Example: Mary and the Apostles prayed and fasted for nine days and nights before the coming of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 2:1-4)
8. Fruits of the Holy Spirit
Pray that you will experience the Fruits of the Holy Spirit. According to the teaching of Saint Thomas Aquinas, the Fruits of the Holy Spirit are nothing less than the inner sweetness that we experience in our souls when we correspond openly to the Gifts of the Holy Spirit. Among these fruits are the following: Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness self-control. (Gal 5:22-23)
9. Get to Know the Names of the Holy Spirit
Many are the titles/names for the Holy Spirit. The more we get to know exactly Who the Holy Spirit is through the multiplicity of His Names, the more we know Him. Here are a few for your growth in knowledge and love of the Holy Spirit: Counselor, Consoler, Interior Master, Paraclete, Advocate, Gift of God, Finger of God, Interior Architect, Sweet Guest of the Soul! (Refer to the Sequence in the Missal for the Solemnity of Pentecost.)
10. Docility to the Holy Spirit
Pope Saint John XXIII stated: “The saints are the Masterpieces of the Holy Spirit.” Jacques Philippe in his literary work on the Holy Spirit, In the School of the Holy Spirit, states unequivocally that our sanctification and growth in holiness depends on one factor: Docility to the Holy Spirit.
We must make a constant and concerted effort to be more docile to the Heavenly inspirations of the Holy Spirit. For that reason, let us turn to she who was always most docile to the Holy Spirit, Mary, and pray often: “Come Holy Spirit, come through the Heart of Mary.”
A final challenge for every day in the Novena to the Holy Spirit: Pray the following Prayer to the Holy Spirit for the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit.
Among my many writings that I have done over the years, I believe this prayer for the activation of the Gifts of the Holy Spirit to be one of the most simple, but also sublime.
Below is my prayer to be open to the seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit.
Prayer to the Holy Spirit
Come Holy Spirit, come fill my heart with your heavenly love. Enlighten my mind so that I may know the Truth, live the Truth, and be willing to die for the Truth.
Come Holy Spirit, come in the dark and lonely moments of my life, come to console me and comfort me. You who are the Sweet Guest of the soul, make me aware of your constant and living presence, so that I recognize that I am never alone because you are with me as a Faithful Friend.
Come Holy Spirit, come, you who are the Interior Master, teach me how to pray. I do not know how to pray well. I implore you to intercede for me with ineffable groans so that I can cry out: “Abba, Father!”
Come Holy Spirit, come in moments of doubt and confusion, be my light and counselor. Help me to make decisions, not according to my will but according to your holy will.
Come Holy Spirit, come in moments of weakness, give me strength. You who are the courage and strength of the martyrs, obtain for me interior strength to fight against sin, my fallen human nature, and anything that is not pleasing to you.
Come Holy Spirit, come, grant me a filial love for you and a sincere love for my neighbor, especially for those I live with and meet every day. Set my heart on fire with love.
Come Holy Spirit, come sanctify me with your presence. You who are the Sanctifier, attain for me an ardent yearning for holiness of life. “Be holy as your heavenly Father is holy.” May I attain holiness of life so as to attain the promise of eternal life.
Come Holy Spirit, come, produce in me a reverential fear that motivates me to avoid all that is displeasing to you, and to avoid any persons, places, things, or circumstances that could damage my friendship with you.
Come Mary, Mystical Spouse of the Holy Spirit, Temple of the Holy Spirit, you who had the most intimate and constant union with the Holy Spirit, pray for me so that my knowledge and love of the Holy Spirit will grow daily until I am with you in heaven, worshiping forever the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen