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Nine Days of Prayer (updated for Corpus Christi)

Updated: Jun 3


A SIMPLE NOVENA

(Ascension to Pentecost)


In the Acts of the Apostles we have the summary account of the Ascension, being told that ‘for forty days he [Jesus] had continued to appear to them’ (1:3).

We are then told that from the Mount of Olives, as it is called, they went back to Jerusalem, a short distance away, no more than a Sabbath walk; and when they reached the city they went to the upper room where they were staying; there were Peter and John, James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot, and Jude son of James. All these joined in continuous prayer, together with several women, including Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.(1:12-14).

This gathering in prayer by Mary and the Apostles between the Ascension and Pentecost is, if you will, the ‘proto-novena’ of the Church. It offers us that pattern of prayer conducted for a period of nine days usually preceding an important feast or festival.

So it is, then, a long-standing tradition of the Church that a novena is made each year between the Feasts of Ascension Thursday and Pentecost Sunday, and there are many examples of Novenas to the Holy Spirit.

We will be familiar with the seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit, those infused graces poured directly into our hearts by God:

The seven gifts of the Holy Spirit are wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety and fear of the Lord. They belong in their fullness to Christ, son of David. They complete and perfect the virtues of those who receive them. They make the faithful docile in readily obeying divine inspirations. [C.C.C. §1830]

and are drawn from a passage in the Old Testament:

On him the Spirit of the Lord rests,

a spirit of wisdom and insight,

a spirit of counsel and power,

a spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord. (Isaiah 11:2)

As well as the gifts, we speak, too, both of the fruits and the charisms of the Holy Spirit. Scripture speaks of nine fruits:

What the Spirit brings is very different: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, trustfulness, gentleness and self-control.

(Galatians 5:22)

Tradition and differing translations of scripture add three more to this list – generosity, modesty and chastity – giving twelve fruits of the Spirit. The gifts and fruits are in a sense personal; the nine charisms are more directly for the benefit of the community:

The particular way in which the Spirit is given to each person is for a good purpose. One may have the gift of preaching with wisdom given him by the Spirit; another may have the gift of preaching instruction given him by the same Spirit; and another the gift of faith given by the same Spirit; another again the gift of healing, through this one Spirit; one, the power of miracles; another, prophecy; another the gift of recognising spirits; another the gift of tongues and another the ability to interpret them. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, who distributes different gifts to different people just as he chooses.

(1 Corinthians 12:7-11)

Given that a novena from its very name, novem, lasts for nine days it is common to find a Novena to the Holy Spirit based on the nine fruits or nine charisms.

* * * * *

You might choose to offer your entire novena for a particular intention. You decide: but, if you need a suggestion, remember that this time of year is particularly associated with the completion of sacramental preparation programmes. Under normal circumstances many parish communities would be preparing to celebrate First Eucharist / First Holy Communion with their children and Confirmation with their teenagers. Such sacramental preparation has been interrupted this year so we might remember those who had been preparing for the sacraments and those who were preparing them, their parents and their catechists.

We could start each day with the familiar prayer to the Holy Spirit:

A./ Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful …

R/. … and kindle in them the fire of your love.

A/. Send forth your Spirit, and they will be created …

R/. … and you will renew the face of the earth.

and then spend some moments asking for the grace in our lives of whatever particular gift is designated for the day. It would be very easy to find a verse appropriate to the day’s subject in the Psalms but as Pentecost is essentially a New Testament event, the short verses or passages offered below are drawn mainly from the Epistles:

ASCENSION (Thursday 21st May)

DAY 1 (Friday 22nd May) – LOVE (1 Corinthians 13:1-13)

DAY 2 (Saturday 23rd May) – JOY (1 Peter 1:8-9)

DAY 3 (Sunday 24th May) – PEACE (John 14:27)

DAY 4 (Monday 25th May) – PATIENCE (1 Thessalonians 5:14)

DAY 5 (Tuesday 26th May) – KINDNESS (Ephesians 4:32)

DAY 6 (Wednesday 27th May) – GOODNESS (Galatians 6:10)

DAY 7 (Thursday 28th May) – TRUSTFULNESS (2 Timothy 2:15)

DAY 8 (Friday 29th May) – GENTLENESS (Galatians 6:1)

DAY 9 (Saturday 30th May) – SELF-CONTROL (2 Peter 1:5-7)

PENTECOST (Sunday 31st May)

Picking up from the introductory antiphon, the following may be offered each day at the conclusion of your own prayers:

O God who enlightens the hearts of the faithful by the light of the Holy Spirit, grant to us the same Spirit, that we may be truly wise and ever rejoice in his consolation. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

or another popular prayer to include is part of the prayer composed by Pope St John XXIII in preparation for the Second Vatican Council:

[Heavenly Father,] renew in our own days your miracles like a second Pentecost. Grant that the Church, re-united in prayer, may extend the kingdom of Jesus – a kingdom of truth and justice, of love and peace. Amen.

and perhaps on the final day of your Novena use as a conclusion the following, more traditional but somewhat lengthy prayer, in anticipation of the Feast of Pentecost:

O Holy Spirit, O my God, I adore you, and acknowledge, here in your divine presence, that I am nothing and can do nothing without you. Come, great Paraclete, father of the poor, comforter the best, fulfil the promise of our blessed Saviour, who would not leave us orphans, and come into the mind and the heart of your poor, unworthy creature, as you did descend on the sacred day of Pentecost on the holy Mother of Jesus and on his first disciples. Grant that I may participate in those gifts, which you did communicate to them so wonderfully, and with so much mercy and generosity. Take from my heart whatever is not pleasing to you, and make of it a worthy dwelling-place for yourself. Illumine my mind, that I may see and understand the things that are for my eternal good. Inflame my heart with pure love of you, that I may be cleansed from the dross of all inordinate attachments, and that my whole life may be hidden with Jesus in God. Strengthen my will, that I may be made conformable to your divine will, and be guided by your holy inspirations. Aid me by your grace to practice the divine lessons of humility, poverty, obedience, and contempt of the world, which Jesus taught us in his moral life. Oh, rend the heavens, and come down, consoling Spirit! That inspired and encouraged by you, I may faithfully comply with the duties of my state, carry my daily cross most patiently, and endeavour to accomplish the divine will with the utmost perfection. Spirit of live! Spirit of purity! Spirit of peace! Sanctify my soul more and more, and give me that heavenly peace which the world cannot give. Bless our Holy Father the Pope, bless the Church, bless our bishops, our priests, all religious orders, and all the faithful, that they may be filled with the spirit of Christ and labour earnestly for the spread of his kingdom. O Holy Spirit, Giver of every good and perfect gift, grant me, I beseech you, the intentions of this novena. May your will be done in me and through me. May you be praised and glorified forevermore!


Fr Alistair


Update: Novena for Corpus Christi: 5 - 14 June 2020 Suggested prayers

A suitable daily prayer might be:


O Lord Jesus Christ, you who have given us your precious Body and Blood to be our meat and drink, grant that through frequent reception of you in the Holy Eucharist, I may be strengthened in mind and body to do your holy will. Amen.

Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, have mercy on us.


* * * * *


On each day of the novena, you could use part of


THE LITANY OF THE MOST BLESSED SACRAMENT

composed by St Peter Julian Eymard, (1811-1868), founder of the Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament.

Christ, have mercy.

R/. Lord, have mercy.

Christ, have mercy.

R/. Christ, have mercy.

Lord, have mercy.

R/. Lord, have mercy.

Christ, hear us.

R/. Christ, graciously hear us.

God the Father of Heaven,

R/. have mercy on us.

God the Son, Redeemer of the world,

R/. have mercy on us.

God the Holy Spirit,

R/. have mercy on us.

Holy Trinity, one God,

R/. have mercy on us.

* * * * *

JESUS, Eternal High Priest of the Eucharistic Sacrifice,

R/. have mercy on us.

Jesus, Divine Victim on the Altar for our salvation,

R/. have mercy on us.

Jesus, hidden under the appearance of bread,

R/. have mercy on us.

Jesus, dwelling in the tabernacles of the world,

R/. have mercy on us.

Jesus, really, truly and substantially present in the Blessed Sacrament,

R/. have mercy on us.

Jesus, abiding in your fullness, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity,

R/. have mercy on us.

Jesus, Bread of Life,

R/. have mercy on us.

Jesus, Bread of Angels,

R/. have mercy on us.

Jesus, with us always until the end of the world,

R/. have mercy on us.

* * * * *

SACRED HOST, summit and source of all worship and Christian life,

R/. have mercy on us.

Sacred Host, sign and cause of the unity of the Church,

R/. have mercy on us.

Sacred Host, adored by countless angels,

R/. have mercy on us.

Sacred Host, spiritual food,

R/. have mercy on us.

Sacred Host, Sacrament of love,

R/. have mercy on us.

Sacred Host, bond of charity,

R/. have mercy on us.

Sacred Host, greatest aid to holiness,

R/. have mercy on us.

Sacred Host, gift and glory of the priesthood,

R/. have mercy on us.

Sacred Host, in which we partake of Christ,

R/. have mercy on us.

Sacred Host, in which the soul is filled with grace,

R/. have mercy on us.

Sacred Host, in which we are given a pledge of future glory,

R/. have mercy on us.

* * * * *

Blessed be Jesus in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar.

Blessed be Jesus in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar.

Blessed be Jesus in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar.

* * * * *

FOR THOSE WHO do not believe in your Eucharistic presence,

R/. have mercy, O Lord.

For those who are indifferent to the Sacrament of your love,

R/. have mercy on us.

For those who have offended you in the Holy Sacrament of the Altar,

R/. have mercy on us.

* * * * *

THAT WE MAY show fitting reverence when entering your holy temple,

R/. we beseech you, hear us.

That we may make suitable preparation before approaching the Altar,

R/. we beseech you, hear us.

That we may receive you frequently in Holy Communion with real devotion and true humility,

R/. we beseech you, hear us.

That we may never neglect to thank you for so wonderful a blessing,

R/. we beseech you, hear us.

That we may cherish time spent in silent prayer before you,

R/. we beseech you, hear us.

That we may grow in knowledge of this Sacrament of sacraments,

R/. we beseech you, hear us.

That we may be comforted and sanctified with Holy Viaticum at the hour of our death, R/. we beseech you, hear us.

That we may see you one day face to face in Heaven,

R/. we beseech you, hear us.

That all priests may have a profound love of the Holy Eucharist,

R/. we beseech you, hear us.

That they may celebrate the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in accordance with its sublime dignity,

R/. we beseech you, hear us.

* * * * *

Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world,

R/. spare us, O Lord.

Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world,

R/. graciously hear us, O Lord.

Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world,

R/. have mercy on us, O Lord.

V/. O Sacrament Most Holy, O Sacrament Divine,

R/. all praise and all thanksgiving be every moment Thine.

Let us pray.

Most merciful Father, you continue to draw us to yourself

through the Eucharistic Mystery.

Grant us fervent faith in this Sacrament of love,

in which Christ the Lord Himself is contained, offered and received.

We make this prayer through the same Christ our Lord.

R/. Amen.

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