Preparing for the Holy Spirit

By | May 16, 2012

Contrary to what we say; we love to wait. Consider the rituals we have created to help us count “how much more time is left.” On New Year’s Eve, we spend hours waiting to finally say “4,3,2,1…Happy New Year.” Ultrasound scans help a family begin to count down the days until “baby” arrives. Advent calendars count off the days to Christmas. Newer walk lights tick off the seconds you have left to cross the intersection safely.

The Catholic Church provides special prayers, novenas, that help us to count down. In the church, a novena is a devotion consisting of prayer and action for nine straight days. You may be familiar with some such as the Divine Mercy novena, or novenas to the Blessed Mother and St. Joseph. Less familiar may be the Pentecost novena which will begin on May 18. Addressed to the Holy Spirit, it is a powerful plea for the light and strength and love so desired by every Christian.

This novena, the oldest of all, began with Mary and the apostles, who at the direction of Jesus, gathered to wait and pray. That prayerful gathering in the upper room, from Christ’s Ascension to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, created within them an openness to receive, more deeply, the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

On May 4, 1897, Pope Leo XIII proclaimed the use of a Pentecost novena for the whole church, however there is no formal text for this novena. A variety of prayers can be found on the Internet. During the nine days you keep the novena, try to go to Mass, confession, make extra time to pray, perhaps using this simple prayer: “Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in us the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit and we shall be created, and you shall renew the face of the earth. Let us pray: Oh God who by the light of the Holy Spirit instructs the hearts of the faithful, grant that by the same Holy Spirit we may be truly wise and ever rejoice in his consolations. Through Christ Our Lord. Amen.”

These days between Ascension Thursday and Pentecost can prepare us for the Holy Spirit to do miraculous things. We need the passion of the Holy Spirit to set our hearts ablaze with the gifts needed to bring forth truth, justice and compassion and a growth in holiness. Veni Sanctus Spiritus, Espíritu Santo, Come Holy Spirit.

Zahorik is director of worship at Most Blessed Sacrament Parish in Oshkosh.

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