The Original Novena
This weekend we celebrate Mother’s Day. It is a day to think of our mothers and all others who fulfill a nurturing role in our lives. Whether they are still in this world or already in the next, we pray that God may reward them for making his love present in so many special ways. Please join me in praying for all mothers (and others who play a nurturing role), using the words of the Church’s Book of Blessings:
A novena is typically a nine-day period during which prayers are said each day for a particular intention. Where did the idea of praying for nine days come from? Well, in the Acts of the Apostles St. Luke tells us that the Risen Lord remained on earth for forty days (Acts 1:3); and we know that Pentecost was fifty days after Easter. This leaves an interval of nine days from the Ascension of Jesus until the vigil of Pentecost. And what did the disciples do during those nine days? They “devoted themselves with one accord to prayer.” (Acts 1:14) That was the first Christian novena.
I tell you this now so that you may imitate the disciples and prepare for the feast of Pentecost by praying a novena. If you start on May 18 (which is celebrated as Ascension Thursday in many places), you will finish the novena on May 27, the day before Pentecost. What a great way to prepare for the coming of the Holy Spirit! Certainly we can see the need for the Holy Spirit in our lives, in our community, and in our world. Praying a novena before the feast of his coming is a way to unite ourselves with Christians of all times and places, going all the way back to that first novena prayed in preparation for the first Pentecost.
What prayers should you say during your novena? There are numerous sites on the internet, and numerous apps that contain novena prayers for the coming of the Holy Spirit; or perhaps (like me) you have a prayer book that contains such novena prayers. However you choose to do it, let’s all pray that the Holy Spirit may come with his seven gifts and all the graces we need to be truly united to Jesus Christ.