Pray the First Novena to the Holy Spirit

May 21, 2009

Please plan to pray a Novena to the Holy Spirit, beginning Friday, May 22.

THE VERY FIRST NOVENA

When they entered the city they went to the upper room where they were staying….

All these devoted themselves with one accord to prayer….

When the time for Pentecost was fulfilled, they were all in one place together….

In the liturgical calendar, these are always special days of grace: the period when the church prepared to “go out into the whole world.”

But even more than usual, this year finds them carrying an added importance for the life and future of God’s people in the United States….

I have come to proclaim anew, as Peter proclaimed on the day of Pentecost, that Jesus Christ is Lord and Messiah, risen from the dead, seated in glory at the right hand of the Father, and established as judge of the living and the dead. I have come to repeat the Apostle’s urgent call to conversion and the forgiveness of sins, and to implore from the Lord a new outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the Church in this country….

“Lord, send out your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth!” The words of today’s Responsorial Psalm are a prayer which rises up from the heart of the Church in every time and place. They remind us that the Holy Spirit has been poured out as the first fruits of a new creation, “new heavens and a new earth” in which God’s peace will reign and the human family will be reconciled in justice and love. We have heard Saint Paul tell us that all creation is even now “groaning” in expectation of that true freedom which is God’s gift to his children, a freedom which enables us to live in conformity to his will.

Today let us pray fervently that the Church in America will be renewed in that same Spirit, and sustained in her mission of proclaiming the Gospel to a world that longs for genuine freedom, authentic happiness, and the fulfillment of its deepest aspirations!…

We invoke the Holy Spirit upon the Church in the United States of America, so that firmly rooted in the faith transmitted by its fathers, profoundly united and renewed, it will face present and future challenges with courage and hope — that hope that “does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us”….

By your personal witness, and your fidelity to the ministry or apostolate entrusted to you, you prepare a path for the Spirit. For the Spirit never ceases to pour out his abundant gifts, to awaken new vocations and missions, and to guide the Church, as our Lord promised… into the fullness of truth….

As we give thanks for past blessings, and look to the challenges of the future, let us implore from God the grace of a new Pentecost for the Church in America. May tongues of fire, combining burning love of God and neighbor with zeal for the spread of Christ’s Kingdom, descend on all present!

Almost four years after John Paul II invited the first Cenacle’s heirs in this land to undertake “an authentic self-renewal,” in our own time and with even greater urgency Peter came among us to make louder his call for a new “birth from above” on these shores, that there might come among us “a new youthfulness and a new springtime” — indeed, nothing short of a “new Pentecost.”

Clearly, this call is no mere slogan or flashy, empty rhetorical device. Clearly, having come emphatically over two pontificates watching closely from afar, this call is not going away anytime soon; if anything, it will only get louder the longer it goes unheeded. Clearly, this call isn’t one to continue the complacency of division, the despair of arrogance, ignorance or the “false sense of security” that is more of the same, but to something different and better — to a new boldness of commitment, candor and cooperation, to a replenished identity, vitality and unity, to genuine examination and purification both internal and institutional, to true, joyful assent and obedience to the teaching of Christ, delivered by no less a messenger than His Vicar on Earth.

For us who believe, after all, this call wasn’t merely his… but His. The only question that remains lies before each of us, its answer only found when, one by one, we find it in ourselves to take this call seriously… when we put aside whatever obstacles we’ve placed in its path… when, at long last, we allow ourselves to listen, to respond and, so, to rise to it.

Nobody ever said it was easy… but if you’re thinking “no time like the present,” well, you might just be onto something.

* * *

The nine days between Ascension and Pentecost are, of course, the period to which we owe the practice of novenas. Yet of the many that’ve become commonplace over the years, the original seems to get woefully short shrift.

To remedy that, underscoring the importance of this time and what it foreshadows — both in the days behind and those ahead — the ConcordPastor  has given his pages over to the Pentecost Novena… that, having been called anew to seek and receive it, the church (that is, all of us, gathered again “in one place together”) might be open to the Spirit who burns to renew the face of the earth — of this earth.


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