Meditations for Each Day of the Novena, Beginning with the Feast of the Ascension (this Novena can be prayed throughout the year)
The Novena to the Holy Spirit is the chief of all the Novenas, because it was the first that was ever celebrated, and that by the holy Apostles and the most holy Mary in the supper-room, and distinguished by so many remarkable wonders and gifts ; principally by the gift of the same Holy Spirit, a gift merited for us by the Passion of Jesus Christ himself. Jesus himself made this known to us, when he said to his disciples, that if he did not die, he could not send us the Holy Ghost: If I go not, the Paraclete will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you} We know well by faith that the Holy Ghost is the love that the Father and the Eternal Word bear one to the other; and therefore the gift of love, which the Lord infuses into our souls, and which is the greatest of all gifts, is particularly attributed to the Holy Ghost, as St. Paul says : The charity of God is poured forth in our hearts by the Holy Ghost, who is given to us? In this Novena, therefore, we must consider, above all, the great value of divine love, in order that we may desire to obtain it, and endeavor, by devout exercises, and specially by prayer, to be made partakers of it, since God has promised it to him who asks for it with humility: Your Father from heaven will give the good Spirit to them that ask Him.
1 ” Si autem non abiero, Paracletus non veniet ad vos; si autem abiero, mittam eum ad vos.” John, xvi. 7.
2 ” Charitas Dei diffusa est in cordibus nostris per Spiritum Sanctum, qui datus est nobis.” Rom. v. 5.
Love is a Fire that inflames the Heart
God had ordered, in the ancient law, that there should be a fire kept continually burning on his altar: The fire on the altar shall always burn. St. Gregory says, that the altars of God are our hearts, where he desires that the fire of his divine love should always be burning; and therefore the Eternal Father, not satisfied with having given us his Son Jesus Christ, to save us by his death, would also give us the Holy Ghost, that he might dwell in our souls, and keep them constantly on fire with love.
And Jesus himself declared, that he had come into the world on purpose to inflame our hearts with this holy fire, and that he desired nothing more than to see it kindled: “I am come to cast fire upon the earth; and what will I but that it be kindled?” Forgetting, therefore, the injuries and ingratitude he received from men on this earth, when he had ascended into heaven he sent down upon us the Holy Spirit. O most loving Redeemer, Thou dost, then, love us as well in Thy sufferings and ignominies as in Thy kingdom of glory! Hence it was that the Holy Ghost chose to appear in the supper-room under the form of tongues of fire: “And there appeared to them parted tongues, as it were of fire” And hence the Church teaches us to pray: “May the Holy Ghost, we beseech Thee, O Lord, inflame us with that fire which our Lord Jesus Christ came to cast upon the earth, and which he ardently desired should be enkindled.” This was the holy fire which has inflamed the saints to do so great things for God, to love their enemies, to desire contempt, to deprive themselves of all earthly goods, and to embrace with delight even torments and death. Love cannot remain idle, and never says, “It is enough.” The soul that loves God, the more she does for her beloved, the more she desires to do, in order to please him, and to attract to herself his affections the more.
This holy fire is enkindled by mental prayer: In my meditation a fire shall flame out? If, therefore, we desire to burn with love towards God, let us love prayer; this is the blessed furnace in which this divine ardor is enkindled.
Affections and Prayers
My God, hitherto I have done nothing for Thee, who hast done such great things for me! Alas! my coldness deserves that Thou shouldst “vomit me out of Thy mouth.” O Holy Spirit, I beseech Thee, “warm what is cold,” deliver me from this coldness, and enkindle within me an earnest desire of pleasing Thee. I now renounce all my worldly gratifications; and I will rather die than give Thee the least displeasure. Thou didst appear in the shape of fiery tongues ; I consecrate my tongue to Thee, that it may never offend Thee more. Thou didst give it me, O my God, to praise Thee with; and I have made use of it to offend Thee, and to draw others also into sinning against Thee. I repent of this with my whole soul. Oh, for the love of Jesus Christ, who, during his life on earth honored Thee so much with his tongue, grant that I also may from this day forth honor Thee constantly, by celebrating Thy praises, by frequently invoking Thy aid, and by speaking of Thy goodness and the infinite love which Thou deserves! I love Thee, my sovereign good, I love Thee, O God of love! O Mary, thou art the most dear spouse of the Holy Ghost, obtain for me this holy fire!
Love is a Light that Enlightens the Soul
One of the greatest evils that the sin of Adam has produced in us, is that darkening of our reason by means of the passions which cloud our mind. Oh, how miserable is that soul that allows itself to be ruled by any passion! Passion, is as it were, a vapor, a veil which prevents us from seeing the truth. How can he fly from evil, who does not know what is evil? Besides, this obscurity increases in proportion as our sins increase, But the Holy Spirit, who is called “most blessed light,” is he who not only inflames our hearts to love him, through his divine splendor, but also dispels our darkness, and shows us the vanity of earthly things, the value of eternal goods, the importance of salvation, the price of grace, the goodness of God, the infinite love which he deserves, and the immense love which he bears us. The sensual man perceiveth not those things that are of the Spirit of God! A man who is absorbed in the pleasures of earth knows little of these truths, and therefore, unfortunate that he is, he loves what he ought to hate, and hates what he ought to love. St. Mary Magdalene of Pazzi exclaimed: O love not known! O love not loved!” And therefore St. Teresa said that God is not loved because he is not known. Hence the saints were always seeking light from God: Send forth Thy light and illuminate my darkness; open Thou my eyes. Yes, because without light we cannot avoid precipices, nor can we find God.
Affections and Prayers
Holy and divine Spirit, I believe that Thou art really God, but one only God with the Father and the Son. I adore Thee, and acknowledge Thee as the giver of all those lights by which Thou hast made known to me the evil which I have committed in offending Thee, and the obligation which I am under of loving Thee. I thank Thee for them, and I repent with my whole heart of having offended Thee. I have deserved that Thou shouldst abandon me in my darkness; but I see that Thou hast not yet forsaken me. Continue, O eternal Spirit, to enlighten me, and to make me know more and more Thy infinite goodness; and give me strength to love Thee for the future with my whole heart. Add grace to grace; so that I may be sweetly overcome, and constrained to love none other but Thee. I implore this of Thee, through the merits of Jesus Christ. I love Thee, my sovereign good; I love Thee more than myself. I desire to be entirely Thine; do Thou accept me, and suffer me not to be separated from Thee any more. O Mary, my Mother, do thou always assist me by thy intercession!
Love is a Fountain that Satisfies
Love is also called a living fountain: “a living fountain, fire, and charity.” Our Blessed Redeemer said to the Samaritan woman: “But he that shall drink of the water that I will give him shall not thirst for ever.” Love is the water which satisfies our thirst ; he who loves God really with his whole heart neither seeks nor desires anything else; because in God he finds every good. Wherefore, satisfied with God, he often joyfully exclaims, “My God and my all!” My God, Thou art my whole good.
But the Almighty complains that man and souls go about seeking for fleeting and miserable pleasures from creatures, and leave him, who is the infinite good and fountain of all joy: They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living water, and have digged to themselves cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water. Wherefore God, who loves us, and desires to see us happy, cries out and makes known to all: If any thirst, let them come to me! He who desires to be happy, let him come to me; and I will give him the Holy Ghost, who will make him blessed both in this life and the next. He that believeth in Me (he goes on to say), as the Scripture saith, Out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water! He therefore, that believes in Jesus Christ, and loves him, shall be enriched with so much grace, that from his heart (the heart, that is, the will), shall flow many fountains of holy virtues, which shall not only serve to preserve his own life, but also to give life to others. And this water was the Holy Ghost, the substantial love which Jesus Christ promised to send us from heaven after his ascension: Now this He said of the Spirit, which they should receive who believed in Him, for as yet the Spirit was not given, because Jesus was not yet glorified!
The key which opens the channels of this blessed water is holy prayer, which obtains every good for us in virtue of the promise, Ask, and you shall receive! We are blind, poor, and weak ; but prayer obtains for us light, strength, and abundance of grace. Theodoret said: “Prayer, though but one, can do all things.” He who prays receives all he wishes. God desires to give us his graces; but he will have us pray for them.
Affections and Prayers
Lord, give me this water! O my Jesus, with the Samaritan woman, I beseech Thee, give me this water of Thy love, which may make me forget the earth, to live only for Thee, O amiable, infinite one. “Water that which is dry.” My soul is a barren soil, which produces nothing but the weeds and thorns of sin; oh, do Thou water it with Thy grace, so that it may bring forth some fruits to Thy glory, before death takes me out of this world. O fountain of living water, O sovereign good, how many times have I left Thee for the puddles of this earth, which have deprived me of Thy love! Oh, would that I had died before I offended Thee! But for the future I will seek after nothing but Thee, O my God. Do Thou assist me, and enable me to be faithful to Thee. Mary, my hope, do thou keep me always under thy protection!
Love is a Dew which fertilizes
Thus does Holy Church teach us to pray: “May the infusion of the Holy Ghost cleanse our hearts, and fertilize them by the interior sprinkling of his dew.” Love fertilizes the good desires, the holy purposes, and the good works of our souls: these are the flowers and fruits which the grace of the Holy Spirit produces. Love is also called dew, because it cools the heart of bad passions and of temptations. Therefore the Holy Ghost is also called refreshment and cooling in the heat: “In heat refreshment and pleasing coolness.” This dew descends into our hearts in the time of prayer. A quarter of an hour’s prayer is sufficient to appease every passion of hatred or of inordinate love, however ardent it may be: He brought me into the cellar of wine, He set in order charity in me? Holy meditation is this cellar where love is set in order, so that we love our neighbor as ourselves, and God above everything. He who loves God loves prayer; and he that loves not prayer will find it morally impossible to overcome his passions.
Affections and Prayers
Holy and divine Spirit, I will no longer live to myself; but I will spend all the days that remain for me in this lire in loving Thee and pleasing Thee. Therefore I beseech Thee to grant me the gift of prayer. Do Thou descend into my heart, and teach me to pray as I ought. Give me strength not to leave it off through weariness in times of aridity; and give me the spirit of prayer, that is to say, the grace constantly to pray to Thee, and to use those prayers which are clearest to Thy Sacred Heart.
I was once lost through my sins; but I see, from all the kindnesses I have received from Thee, that Thou wiliest that I should be saved and become a saint ; and I desire to become a saint to give Thee pleasure, and that I may love Thy infinite goodness more and more. I love Thee, O my sovereign good, my love, my all; and because I love Thee I give myself entirely to Thee. O Mary, my hope, do thou protect me!
Love is a Repose that refreshes
Love is also called, “in labor rest, in mourning comfort.” Love is repose that refreshes; because the principal office of love is to unite the will of the lover to that of the beloved one. To a soul that loves God, in every affront that it receives, in every sorrow that it endures, in every loss that happens to it, the knowledge that it is the will of its beloved that it should suffer these trials is enough to comfort it. It finds peace and contentment in all tribulations by merely saying, This is the will of my God. This is that peace which surpasses all the pleasure of sense: The peace of God which surpasseth all understanding? St. Mary Magdalene of Pazzi, by merely saying, “The will of God,” was always filled with joy.
In this life every one must carry his cross; but St. Teresa says, that the cross is heavy for him that drags it, not for him that embraces it. Thus our Lord knows well how to strike and how to heal: He woundeth and cureth, says Job. 3 The Holy Spirit, by his sweet unction, renders even ignominies and torments sweet and pleasant: Yea, Lord; for so hath it seemed good in Thy sight. Thus ought we to say in all adversities that happen to us: So be it done. Lord, because so hath it pleased Thee. And when the fear of any temporal evil that may befall us alarms us, let us always say: “Do what Thou wilt, my God; whatever Thou doest, I accept it all, henceforth.” And thus it is a very good thing to offer one’s self constantly during the day to God, as did St. Teresa.
Affections and Prayers
My God, how often, for the sake of doing my own will, have I opposed myself to Thy will and despised it! I regret this evil more than every other evil. O Lord, from this day forward I will love Thee with my whole heart: Speak, Lord; for Thy servant heareth. Tell me what Thou wouldst have me to do, I will do it all. Thy will shall be my only desire, my only love. O Holy Spirit, help my weakness. Thou art goodness itself; how can I love any other but Thee? Oh, do Thou draw all my affections to Thyself by the sweetness of Thy holy love. I renounce everything, to give myself entirely to Thee. Do Thou accept me and help me. O Mary, my Mother, I trust in thee!
Love is the Virtue which gives us Strength
Love is strong as death. As there is no created strength that can resist death, so there is no difficulty for a loving soul that love cannot overcome. When there is question of pleasing its beloved, love conquers all, losses, contempt, and sorrow: “Nothing is so hard, but that the fire of love can conquer it.”
This is the most certain mark whereby to know if a soul really loves God, if it is as faithful in love when things are adverse as when they are prosperous. St. Francis de Sales said, that “God is quite as amiable when he chastises as when he consoles us, because he does all for love.” Indeed, when he strikes us most in this life, then it is that he loves us most. St. John Chrysostom esteemed St. Paul in chains more fortunate than St. Paul rapt up into the third heaven.
Hence the holy martyrs, in the midst of their torment, rejoiced and thanked the Lord, as for the greatest favor that could fall to their lot that of having to suffer for his love. And other saints, where there were wanting tyrants to afflict them, became their own executioners, by the penances which they inflicted upon themselves in order to please God. St. Augustine says, that “For that which men love, either no labor is felt, or the labor itself is loved.”
Affections and Prayers
God of my soul, I say that I love Thee; and yet what do I do for Thy love ? Nothing. This shows, therefore, that either I do not love Thee, or I love Thee too little. Send me therefore, O my Jesus, Thy Holy Spirit, that he may come and give me strength to suffer for Thy love, and to do something for the love of Thee before death overtakes me. O my beloved Redeemer, let me not die cold and ungrateful as I have hitherto been to Thee. Grant me strength to love suffering, after so many sins whereby I have deserved hell. O my God, who art all goodness and love, Thou desirest to dwell in my heart from which I have so often expelled Thee; come, then, dwell within it, take possession of it, and make it entirely Thine. I love Thee, O my Lord; and if I love Thee, Thou art already with me, as St. John assures me: He that abideth in charity abideth in God, and God in him? Since, therefore, Thou art with me, increase the flames, increase the chains, so that I may neither seek nor love anything else but Thee; and thus bound, may never be separated from Thy love. I desire to be Thine, O my Jesus, and entirely Thine. O Mary, my Queen and Advocate, obtain for me love and perseverance!
Love causes God to dwell in our Souls
The Holy Ghost is called “Sweet guest of the soul.”
This was the great promise made by Jesus Christ to those who love him, when he said: If you love Me, I will pray My Father, and He will send you the Holy Spirit, that He may always dwell in you. If you love Me, keep My commandments. And I will ask the Father, and He shall give you another Paraclete, that He may abide with you forever. For the Holy Spirit never forsakes a soul, says the Council of Trent, if he is not driven away from it: “He does not forsake, unless he be first forsaken.” God, then, dwells in a soul that loves him; but he declares that he is not satisfied if we do not love him with our whole heart. St. Augustine tells us, that the Roman senate would not admit Jesus Christ into the number of their gods, because they said that he was a proud god, who would have none other beloved but himself. And so it is: he will have no rivals in the heart that loves him; and when he sees that he is not the only object loved, he is jealous (so to say), according to what St. James writes, of those creatures who divide with him the heart which he desires to have all to himself: Do you think the Scripture saith in vain: To envy doth the spirit covet which dwelleth in you?* In short, as St. Jerome says, “Jesus is jealous.”
Hence the heavenly Spouse praises that soul which, like the turtle-dove, lives in solitude and hidden from the world: Thy checks are beautiful as the turtle-doves: Because he does not choose that the world should take a part of that love which he desires to have all to himself, therefore he also praises his Spouse by calling her “a garden enclosed:” My sister, My spouse, is a garden enclosed. A garden closed against all earthly love. Do we doubt that Jesus deserves our whole love? “He gave himself wholly to thee,” says St. John Chrysostom; “He left nothing for himself.” He has given thee all his blood and his life; there remains nothing more for him to give thee.
Affections and Prayers
My God, I see that Thou desirest to have me entirely for Thine own. I have oftentimes driven Thee from my soul, and yet Thou hast not disdained to return to me and reunite Thyself to me again. Oh, do Thou now take possession of my whole self. I give myself this day entirely to Thee; accept of me, O my Jesus, and let me never for the future live one moment deprived of Thy love. Thou seekest me, and I seek none other but Thee. Thou desirest my soul, and my soul desires none but Thee. Thou lovest me, and I love Thee; and since Thou lovest me, bind me to Thyself, so that I may never more be separated from Thee. O Queen of heaven, I trust in thee!
Love is a Bond which binds
As the Holy Spirit, who is uncreated love, is the in dissoluble bond which binds the Father to the Eternal Word, so he also unites the soul to God. “Charity is a virtue,” says St. Augustine, “uniting us to God.” Hence, full of joy, St. Laurence Justinian exclaims: O love, thy bond has such strength, that it is able to bind even God, and unite him to our souls: ” O love, how strong is thy bond, which could bind God!”
The bonds of the world are bonds of death; but the bonds of God are bonds of life and salvation: Her bonds are a healthful binding? Yes, because the bonds of God by means of love unite us to God, who is our true and only life.
Before the coming of Jesus Christ men fled away from God, and being attached to the earth, refused to unite themselves to their Creator; but the loving God has drawn them to himself by the bonds of love, as he promised by the prophet Osee: I will draw them with the cords of Adam, with the bands of love? These bands are the benefits, the lights, the calls to his love, the promises of paradise, which he makes to us; but above all, the gift which he has bestowed upon us of Jesus Christ in the Sacrifice of the Cross and in the Sacrament of the Altar, and finally, the gift of his Holy Spirit. Therefore the prophet exclaims: Loose the bonds from off thy neck, O captive daughter of Zion? O my soul, thou who art created for heaven, loose thyself from the bonds of earth, and unite thyself to God by the bonds of holy love: Have charity, which is the bond of perfection. Love is a bond which unites to herself all other virtues, and makes the soul perfect. “Love, and do what you will,” said St. Augustine. Love God, and do what thou wilt; because he who loves God tries to avoid causing any displeasure to his beloved, and seeks in all things to please him.
Affections and Prayers
My dearest Jesus, how much hast Thou not done to oblige me to love Thee, and how much hath it cost Thee to gain to Thy self my love! Ah, I should be too ungrateful if I loved Thee little, or divided my heart between Thy creatures and Thyself, after Thou hast given me Thy blood and Thy life. I will detach myself from everything, and in Thee alone will I place all my affections. But I am weak in carrying out this my desire; O Thou who hast inspired me with it, do Thou give me strength to execute it. Pierce my poor soul, O dearest Jesus, with the sweet dart of Thy love, so that I may ever languish with desire of Thee, and be dissolved with the love of Thee; that I may seek Thee alone, desire only Thee, and find none but Thee. My Jesus, I desire Thee, and Thee alone. Make me repeat continually in this life, and especially at the hour of my death, “Thee alone do I desire, and nothing else.” O Mary, my Mother, obtain for me that henceforth I may desire nothing but God.
Love is a Treasure containing every Good
Love is that treasure of which the Gospel says that we must leave all to obtain it; yes, because love makes us partakers of the friendship of God: An infinite treasure to men, which they that use become the friends of God. O man, says St. Augustine, wherefore, then, goest thou about seeking for good things? seek that one good alone in which all other good things are contained. But we cannot find God, who is this sovereign good, if we do not forsake the things of the earth. St. Teresa writes, “Detach thy heart from creatures, and thou shalt find God.”
He that finds God finds all that he can desire: Delight in the Lord, and He will give thee the requests of thy heart. The human heart is constantly seeking after good things that may render it happy; but if it seeks them from creatures, how much soever it may acquire, it will never be satisfied with them; but if it seeks God alone, God will satisfy all its desires. Who are the happiest people in. this world, if it be not the saints? And why? Because they desire and seek only God.
A certain prince, as he was going out hunting, saw a solitary who was running about in the forest, and asked him what he was doing in that desert. The solitary replied, “And thou, O prince, what art thou seeking?” The prince said, “I am going out in search of wild beasts.” “And I,” said the hermit, “am going out in search of God.” The tyrant offered gold and gems to St. Clement, in order to persuade him to renounce Jesus Christ; the saint exclaimed, with a sigh, “Alas, is God put into competition with a little dirt? Blessed is he who knows this treasure of divine love, and strives to obtain it. He who obtains it will of his own accord divest himself of everything else, that he may have nothing else but God.” “When the house is on fire,” says St. Francis de Sales, “all the goods are thrown out of the window.” And Father Paul Segneri the Younger, a great servant of God, used to say, that love is a thief, which robs us of all earthly affections; so that we can say, “And what else do I desire, but Thee alone, O my Lord?”
Affections and Prayers
My God, hitherto I have not sought Thee, but myself and my own pleasures; and for the sake of these I have turned my back upon Thee, my sovereign good. But I am comforted by these words of Jeremias, The Lord is good to the soul that seeketh Him? They tell me that Thou art all goodness towards him who seeks Thee. My beloved Saviour, I know the evil that I have committed in forsaking Thee, and I repent of it with my whole heart. I know that Thou art an infinite treasure. I will not abuse this light; I will forsake all, and choose Thee for my only love. My God, my love, my all, I love Thee, I desire Thee, I sigh after Thee. Come, O Holy Spirit, and destroy in me by Thy sacred fire every affection which has not Thee for its object. Grant that I may be all Thine, and that I may conquer everything to please Thee. O Mary, my advocate and Mother, do thou help me by thy prayers!
RESOLUTION OF THIS NOVENA
The Means of loving God and of becoming a Saint
The more we love God, the more holy do we become. St. Francis Borgia says that it is prayer that introduces divine love into the human heart; and it is mortification that withdraws the heart from the earth, and renders it capable of receiving this holy fire. The more there is of the earth in the heart, the less room there is for holy love: Wisdom is not to be found in the. land of them that live in delights. Hence the saints have always sought to mortify as much as possible their self-love and their senses. The saints are few; but we must live with the few, if we will be saved with the few: “Live like the few,” writes St. John Climacus, “if you would reign with the few.” And St. Bernard says, “That cannot be perfect which is not singular.” He who would lead a perfect life must lead a singular life.
But before all, in order to become saints, it is necessary to have the desire to be saints; we must have the desire and the resolution. Some are always desiring, but they never begin to put their hands to the work. “Of these irresolute souls,” says St. Teresa, “the devil has no fear.” On the other hand, the saint said, “God is a friend of generous souls.” The devil tries to. make it appear to us to be pride to think of doing great things for God. It would indeed be pride in us, if we thought of doing them, trusting in our own strength; but it is not pride to resolve to become saints, trusting in God, and saying, I can do all things in Him who strengthened me.
We must therefore be of good courage, make strong resolutions, and begin. Prayer can do everything. What we cannot do by our own strength, we shall do easily with the help of God, who has promised to give us what ever we ask of him: You shall ask whatever you will, and it shall be done unto you?
Affections and Prayers
My dearest Redeemer, Thou desirest my love, and commandest me to love Thee with my whole heart. Yes, my Jesus, I desire to love Thee with my whole heart. O my God, I will say to Thee, trusting in Thy mercy, my past sins do not make me fear, because I now hate them and detest them above every other evil; and I know that Thou dost forget the offences of a soul that is penitent and loves Thee. Indeed, because I have offended Thee more than others, I will also love Thee more than others, with the help that I hope to obtain from Thee. O my Lord, Thou desirest that I should be a saint; and I desire to become a saint to please Thee. I love Thee, O infinite goodness. To Thee do I give myself entirely. Thou art my only good, my only love. Accept of me, O my beloved, and make me entirely Thine, and suffer me not to offend Thee any more. Grant that I may be wholly consumed for Thee, as Thou hast wholly consumed Thyself for me, O Mary, the most loving and most beloved spouse of the Holy Spirit, obtain for me love and fidelity!