Category Archives: Ascension to Pentecost Novena

Holy Spirit Novena

248We have entered a powerful time of prayer. For nearly 20 years I have taken this time between Ascension and Pentecost to make a novena to the Holy Spirit.

There is no formula to follow, this is your prayer, your conversation with God. What do you need to pray for? This is a time to ask for wisdom, courage, grace, consolation, and healing from the Holy Spirit, but once again, this is your conversation with God, so what do you need to seek from the coming of of Holy Spirit?

Every year, I like to make my daily novena and to listen to Veni Sancte Spiritus from Taize, which I include here. I love the repetitive chant, seeking the coming of the Holy Spirit, the sound of which typically brings me to a place of silence and peace.

Whatever your prayer to the coming of the Holy Spirit might be, find the words of your heart, which may simply be silent waiting, and offer them to God these nine days. Come Holy Spirit, come.

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Hopeful pessimist or hopeless optimist? Thoughts on Ascension Thursday

tumblr_m2ac30GRU61r35gi7o1_500“May the eyes of your hearts be enlightened,
that you may know what is the hope that belongs to his call…” – Ephesians 1:18

A little lectio divina led me to savor this particular line of today’s Scripture, for Ascension Thursday. While I’m a little wistful that Easter draws to an end, I also find myself hopeful. Now I’ve been floundering around for something to say about my hope, and wouldn’t you know it, God pointed me to some words on the topic. Just yesterday, in the throes of my final floundering, I came across a post written by Bridget at Women in Theology, where she, among other things, reminds us of something very important:

“…hope is not optimism. In fact, in certain cases (I suspect most of the cases where it actually matters) optimism can be a vice opposed to hope. An optimist can discount and ignore evidence against her conviction that things will right themselves. An optimist is threatened by others’ pain. But someone acting in hope—the conviction not that things will right themselves, nor that we’ll be able to right them, but that God’s power will work to overturn whatever wrongs our systems can devise—that person can face pain. Without denying pain or being swept away by it, she can face her own and others’ suffering.”

Hope is not optimism. Do a little lectio with those words – they are most powerful! I find this so helpful – and so hopeful, as I return to those words from Ephesians that open this post. I also appreciate that Bridget reminds us of the importance of language and of depth of reflection, something we can easily forget in the land of status updates and tweets, in the land of “optimistic opinionating” that social media can represent. (This is not a swipe at social media, without which there would be post today, but rather a call to reflection. Add to that a reminder that God uses all things for good – including social media, which provided the incubator for both this post and the WIT post that ultimately inspired it.)

Today my reflection, along with it my prayer, is to be anchored in hope and free from optimism. This does not make me a hopeful pessimist, any more than the opposite would be a hopeless optimist… although I can see the allure of the latter. No, it is the banality of optimism that I was reminded of at the last minute, and the power of great hope that grows out of faith.

Pentecost will arrive on Sunday, May 19. In these days in between, we await the Holy Spirit. What will your prayer be during this powerful time? Suddenly, my own prayer which was centered around the ways that I “hoped” that God would shape my life, has shifted. Today – at least just today, just this moment – pray that hope grows more deeply in my heart. If I am able to string my prayer of hope from moment to moment, and day to day, between now and Pentecost, who knows what will happen? Maybe, just maybe, the “eyes of my heart will be enlightened.” And to that I say, amen, and amen, and amen.

In the meantime, don’t just go staring at the sky, waiting for Jesus to come back down. Open your heart and notice Jesus all around you, especially in the most pessimistic of places and in the people you would never imagine finding Jesus is, but where Jesus might be found with the open eyes of a willing heart.


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Pentecost Novena 2010 – Day 1

Last year I was able to offer a novena for these days between Ascension Thursday and Pentecost. This is an important and powerful time of prayer – the post resurrection Jesus has ascended into heaven and has promised us the Holy Spirit, which we know will come on Pentecost.

If you are from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany you know that we just had our annual catechetical event, Spring Enrichment. This week kept me pretty busy and as a result I have not been able to prepare a novena this year.

One of the gifts of the internet and blogging is community and one of the gifts of community is that we can share.

Great friend of the blog, Father Austin Fleming, who blogs at A Concord Pastor Comments, is offering a novena on his blog. I am linking to it here and will keep a link to it on the sidebar of the blog until Pentecost.

Thank you Father Austin for giving us a chance to pray with you and your readers.

From his blog:

The oldest novena is the prayer of the first disciples (Mary, the apostles and other believers) from the time Jesus ascended to his Father (40 days after Easter) to the feast of Pentecost. These nine days are a time for us to pray for the coming of the Spirit upon the Church and upon each of us. Each day of the novena you will find a post with scripture and prayer for that day. For your prayer, I’ve added a widget at the top of the sidebar with 17 musical selections for Pentecost.

Pentecost Novena to the Holy Spirit – Day 1

From the scriptures:

Amen, amen, I say to you,
you will weep and mourn, while the world rejoices;

you will grieve, but your grief will become joy.
When a woman is in labor,
she is in anguish because her hour has arrived;

but when she has given birth to a child,
she no longer remembers the pain because of her joy
that a child has been born into the world.
So you also are now in anguish.
But I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice,
and no one will take your joy away from you.John 16:20-23

For reflection…
 Continue reading at the link….

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Ascencion to Pentecost Novena Day 9

In May of 1991 I heard a homily in which the priest said “Easter makes me not afraid to die. Pentecost makes me not afraid to live.”

I have never forgotten those words and I share them with you as we celebrate this great feast and the close of the Easter season.

From Sunday’s Gospel

On the evening of that first day of the week,
when the doors were locked, where the disciples were,
for fear of the Jews,
Jesus came and stood in their midst
and said to them, “Peace be with you.”
When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side.
The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.
Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you.
As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”
And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them,
“Receive the Holy Spirit.

Pentecost is 50 days after Easter. Jesus died. He rose. He walked among them. He ascended. It was all quite a lot.

In these days between Ascension and Pentecost, I try to think about the apostles and disciples. Imagine all that they had gone through in these 50 days. Now Jesus has literally been lifted up into heaven.

They did not have a clue what to expect. And what came next were the gifts of the spirit.


They were likely scared witless and confused that night, huddled in that Upper Room. And in comes Jesus – no locked door could keep him out – and he says “peace.” He shows them his wounds, which is completely antithetical to our own culture, as it was His culture!

Then he breathes the wisdom of the spirit upon them all.

No wonder Easter makes us unafraid to die.

And Pentecost makes us unafraid to die!

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Ascencion to Pentecost Novena Day 7

Lifting up his eyes to heaven, Jesus prayed saying:
“I pray not only for these,
but also for those who will believe in me through their word,
so that they may all be one,
From Today’s Gospel, John 17:20

How may we be one Lord? As we await you, we seem to do it all so differently. If unity is our goal, conflict is our specialty. Why can’t we just be one in you?

Let us pray for unity among those who believe – a unity that we can’t really understand. It won’t be about my way or his way or her way, but about Your Way, O Lord.

It is only through Jesus that we may remember the one body and become as one through you.

Please come Holy Spirit and lead us on this way.

Veni Sancte Spiritus.

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Ascencion to Pentecost Novena Day 6

How long, Lord? How long?

It seems we wait forever and while we fumble and fuss, do we really know how to pray? You have left us in body, yet you are with us always. How do we understand this?

You say you are sending The Advocate, The Spirit, but how will we know when the Spirit arrives? And will the Spirit truly enlighten us?

Here we are, can’t go back and yet can’t get to where we need to be. It is frustrating and maddening.

God how are we to possibly ever understand you? And why should we bother to try? Things happen that just make no sense and in fact they make me scream with the injustice of it all.

These days move along like molasses and my hope runs thin.

How long, Lord? How long?

(This post was written in honor of Terri-Lynn. She was a friend of a friend and she just died. May she rest in peace. Prayers for the 10 year old son she leaves behind.)

I can’t even play the song tonight, I just can’t.

Veni Sancte Spiritus.

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Ascension to Pentecost Novena – Day 5

For what shall we pray on this fifth day?

Lord, we pray for the shelter of the upper room and the wisdom of the Holy Spirit to lead us out of that room. As we make our way these days, we know you have left, we know that the Advocate is coming, but when? How?

These are the trapeze days as we let go of one thing and cast ourselves in pure faith as we await the other trapeze. There is no proof that our reach will encounter a new bar to grab, yet we fly through the air, arms extended and heart beating madly.

So accompany us O God of mystery and light.

We await your spirit.

You ascended the other day and we were dumbstruck by this. You would think that with all we have seen and come to know to know through you Jesus, that this would not be the case. How will we ever be transformed?

That is what Pentecost gives us the hope of, as does every other day… The hope of transformation. And that then we go and transform in Your name.

Come Holy Spirit.

Veni Sanctus Spiritus.

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