Novena to the Holy Spirit
What the Church Teaches About the Holy Spirit
The following excerpts from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, one for each of the nine days of the Novena to the Holy Spirit, will help you prepare for the great feast of Pentecost or whenever you wish to seek enlightenment. At the end of these selections are suggestions for additional readings from the Catechism to help you learn more about the Paraclete. For each day the number of the excerpt refers to the Catechism, and appropriate Scripture references are given.
Day One-I Believe in the Holy Spirit (Nos. 683 & 684)
"No one can say 'Jesus is Lord' except by the Holy Spirit." (1 Cor 12:3). "God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, 'Abba! Father!'" (Gal 4:6). This knowledge of faith is possible only in the Holy Spirit: to be in touch with Christ, we must first have been touched by the Holy Spirit. He comes to meet us and kindles faith in us. By virtue of our Baptism, the first sacrament of the faith, the Holy Spirit in the Church communicates to us, intimately and personally, the life that originates in the Father and is offered to us in the Son.
Through his grace, the Holy Spirit is the first to awaken faith in us and to communicate to us the new life, which is to "know the Father and the one whom he has sent, Jesus Christ." (St. Irenaeus).
Am I "in touch with Christ" by an awareness of the Holy Spirit's active presence given to me at Baptism?
Day Two-I Profess the Holy Spirit is in the Trinity (Nos. 685 & 686)
To believe in the Holy Spirit is to profess that the Holy Spirit is one of the persons of the Holy Trinity, consubstantial with the Father and the Son: "with the Father and the Son he is worshipped and glorified." (Nicene Creed).
The Holy Spirit is at work with the Father and the Son from the beginning to the completion of the plan for our salvation. But in these "end times," ushered in by the Son's redeeming Incarnation, the Spirit is revealed and given, recognized and welcomed as a person. Now can this divine plan, accomplished in Christ, the firstborn and head of the new creation, be embodied in mankind by the outpouring of the Spirit: as the Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.
Do I recognize and welcome the person of the Holy Spirit so as to respond to the divine plan?
Day Three-The Spirit Makes Christ Known to Me (No. 687)
"No one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God." (1 Cor 2:11). Now God's Spirit, who reveals God, makes known to us, Christ, his Word, his living Utterance, but the Spirit does not speak of himself. The Spirit who "has spoken through the prophets" makes us hear the Father's Word, but we do not hear the Spirit himself. We know him only in the movement by which he reveals the Word to us and disposes us to welcome him in faith. The Spirit of truth who "unveils" Christ to us "will not speak on his own." (Jn 16:13). Such properly divine self-effacement explains why "the world cannot receive [him], because it neither sees him nor knows him" (Jn 14:17), while those who believe in Christ know the Spirit because he dwells with them.
Have I opened myself to listen to the "thoughts of God" by reading and meditating upon God's Word?
Day Four-I Come to Know the Holy Spirit in the Church (No. 688)
The Church, a communion living in the faith of the apostles which she transmits, is the place where we know the Holy Spirit: -in the Scriptures he inspired; -in the Tradition, to which the Church Fathers are always timely witnesses; -in the Church's Magisterium, which he assists; -in the sacramental liturgy, through its words and symbols, in which the Holy Spirit puts us into communion with Christ; - in prayer, wherein he intercedes for us; -in the charisms and ministries by which the Church is built up; -in the signs of apostolic and missionary life; -in the witness of saints through whom he manifests his holiness and continues the work of salvation.
Do I strive to know the Spirit's activity by my intimate communion with the Church?
Day Five-The Name and Titles of the Holy Spirit (Nos. 691 & 692)
"Holy Spirit" is the proper name of the one whom we adore and glorify with the Father and the Son. The Church has received this name from the Lord and professes it in the Baptism of her new children. The term "Spirit" translates the Hebrew word "ruah," which, in its primary sense, means breath, air, wind. Jesus indeed uses the sensory image of the wind to suggest to Nicodemus the transcendent newness of him who is personally God's breath, the divine Spirit. (Jn 3:5-8). On the other hand, "Spirit" and "Holy" are divine attributes common to the three divine persons. By joining the two terms, Scripture, liturgy, and theological language designate the inexpressible person of the Holy Spirit, without any possible equivocation with other uses of the terms "spirit" and "holy."
When he proclaims and promises the coming of the Holy Spirit, Jesus calls him the "Paraclete," literally, "he who is called to one's side," (advocatus). "Paraclete" is commonly translated by "consoler," and Jesus is the first consoler. The Lord also called the Holy Spirit "the Spirit of truth." (Jn 14:16, 26; 15:26; 16:7; 1 Jn 2:1).
Do I invoke the Holy Spirit to be my advocate and consoler in my daily life?
Day Six-The Holy Spirit's Promises to Me (Nos. 705 & 706)
Disfigured by sin and death, man remains "in the image of God," in the image of the Son, but is deprived "of the glory of God," (Rom 3:23), of his "likeness." The promise made to Abraham inaugurates the economy of salvation, at the culmination of which the Son himself will assume that "image" (cf. Jn 1:14; Phil. 2:7), and restore it in the Father's "likeness" by giving again its Glory, the Spirit who is "the giver of life."
Against all human hope, God promises descendants to Abraham, as the fruit of faith and of the power of the Holy Spirit. In Abraham's progeny all the nations of the earth will be blessed. This progeny will be Christ himself, in whom the outpouring of the Holy Spirit will "gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad." God commits himself by his own solemn oath to giving his beloved Son and "the promised Holy Spirit...[who is] the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it." (Cf. Gen 18:1-15; Lk 1:26-38, 54-55; Jn 1:12-13; Rom 4:16-21; Gen 12:3; Gal 3:16; Jn 11:52; Eph 1:13-14; Gen 22:17-19; Lk 1:73; Jn 3:16; Rom 8:32; Gal 3:14).
Have I made claim to the promises of God which are made manifest in the Holy Spirit?
Day Seven-The Spirit Brings Me to Christ through Mary (Nos. 722-725)
The Holy Spirit prepared Mary by his grace. It was fitting that the mother of him in whom "the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily" should herself be "full of grace." She was, by sheer grace, conceived without sin as the most humble of creatures, the most capable of welcoming the inexpressible gift of the Almighty.
In Mary, the Holy Spirit fulfills the plan of the Father's loving goodness. With and through the Holy Spirit, the Virgin conceives and gives birth to the Son of God. By the Holy Spirit's power and her faith, her virginity became uniquely fruitful.
In Mary, the Holy Spirit manifests the Son of the Father, now become the Son of the Virgin. She is the burning bush of the definitive theophany. Filled with the Holy Spirit she makes the Word visible in the humility of his flesh. It is to the poor and the first representatives of the gentiles that she makes him known.
Finally, through Mary, the Holy Spirit begins to bring men, the objects of God's merciful love, into communion with Christ. (Cf. Col 2:9; Zeph 3:14; Zech 2:14; Lk 1:46-55; Lk 1:26-38; Rom 4:18-21; Gal 4:26-28; Lk 1:15-19; Mt 2:11; Lk 2:14).
Have I entrusted myself totally to Mary, the Spouse of the Holy Spirit?
Day Eight-Jesus Promises the Coming of the Holy Spirit (Nos. 727-729)
The entire mission of the Son and the Holy Spirit, in the fullness of time, is contained in this: that the Son is the one anointed by the Father's Spirit since his Incarnation - Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah.
Jesus does not reveal the Holy Spirit fully, until he himself has been glorified through his Death and Resurrection. Nevertheless, little by little he alludes to him even in his teaching of the multitudes, as when he reveals that his own flesh will be food for the life of the world. He also alludes to the Spirit in speaking to Nicodemus, to the Samaritan woman, and to those who take part in the feast of Tabernacles. To his disciples he speaks openly of the Spirit in connection with prayer and with the witness they will have to bear.
Only when the hour has arrived for his glorification does Jesus promise the coming of the Holy Spirit, since his Death and Resurrection will fulfill the promise made to the fathers. (Cf. Jn 6:27, 51, 62-63; Jn 3:5-8; Jn 4:10, 14, 23-24; Jn 7:37-39; Lk 11:13; Mt 10:19-20; Jn 14:16-17, 26; 15:26; 16:7-15; 17: 26).
Do I seek the Spirit's help to witness to the Death and Resurrection of Christ?
Day Nine-Christ Pours Out the Holy Spirit (Nos. 731 & 732)
On the day of Pentecost when the seven weeks of Easter had come to an end, Christ's Passover is fulfilled in the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, manifested, given, and communicated as a divine person: of his fullness, Christ, the Lord, pours out the Spirit in abundance. (Cf. Acts 2:33-36).
On that day, the Holy Trinity is fully revealed. Since that day, the Kingdom announced by Christ has been open to those who believe in him: in the humility of the flesh and in faith, they already share in the communion of the Holy Trinity. By his coming, which never ceases, the Holy Spirit causes the world to enter into the "last days," the time of the Church, the Kingdom already inherited though not yet consummated.
Am I willing to build up the Kingdom through the gifts given to me in the spirit of Pentecost?
These nine excerpts from the Catechism of the Catholic Church are a condensation of some of what we believe about the Holy Spirit. Continue to enlighten and refresh your spiritual life by reading other parts of this section of the Catechism (Nos. 683-741). To learn even more about the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity, turn to part Two of the Catechism and read about the role of the Holy Spirit in each of the Sacraments.
Father of light and of love, from whom every good gift comes,
send forth the power of your Spirit into our lives to renew the Church preparing for the new millennium.
Open our minds and hearts, and fill us with the virtue of charity. Loosen our tongues to sing your praises
and to proclaim the Gospel of Salvation to all. Use us as bold instruments of the New Evangelization, in union with the Immaculate Virgin Mary and St. Maximilian Kolbe.
Help us to realize that without your Spirit, we could never bring peace and reconciliation to our broken world, nor announce the truth that Jesus Christ is Lord.
We ask all these things (along with those special intentions of this novena) in Jesus' name,who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.