Those who are familiar with this week's novena might find it a bit out of place. The Novena to the Holy Ghost is, we might say, the "mother of all novenas." For centuries, Catholics have prayed it between Ascension Thursday and Pentecost Sunday in memory of the nine days that the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Apostles spent in prayer before the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.
But the novena can be prayed at any time of the year, and I like the idea of praying it in preparation for Lent. By asking for the gifts of the Holy Spirit, we not only show our commitment to the spiritual struggle of the coming 40 days, but we also call to mind those areas of our spiritual life in which we need to place the most effort. And what better time to take stock of our spiritual lives?
To make it easier to remember to pray the novena each day, I have set up a daily reminder e-mail. Simply click on that link to sign up, and you will receive an e-mail each day with the links to that day's prayers. Sign up for the novena today, and you will complete it on Ash Wednesday, just as Lent begins.
(A dove is perched in a wall outside the Basilica of St. Agnes Outside the Walls, Rome, Italy. The dove is the traditional Christian symbol for the Holy Spirit. The basilica, a seventh-century church, sits over a fourth-century Christian catacomb. Photo © Scott P. Richert)