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Novena to the Holy Ghost

For the gifts of the Holy Spirit

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Holy Spirit Stained Glass Window

A stained-glass window of the Holy Spirit overlooking the high altar of Saint Peter's Basilica.

Franco Origlia/Getty Images News/Getty Images

The Novena to the Holy Ghost (also known as the Novena to the Holy Spirit) has a long and beautiful history. A novena is a nine-day prayer recalling the time the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Apostles spent in prayer between Ascension Thursday and Pentecost Sunday. When Christ ascended into Heaven, He told them He would send His Holy Spirit, and so they prayed for the coming of the Spirit.

Because of the connection between the original novena and Pentecost, this particular novena is very special. It is an expression of the desire of the faithful to receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Most often prayed between Ascension and Pentecost, it can be prayed at any time of the year.

To make it easier to remember to pray the novena, I have set up a daily reminder e-mail for the Novena to the Holy Ghost. Simply sign up on the day that you wish to begin praying the novena.

The First Day: The prayer, verse, and meditation for the first day of the Novena to the Holy Ghost remind us that we need the grace of the Holy Spirit in our souls to live our lives as Christians. Today, we prepare ourselves to ask for each of the gifts of the Holy Spirit over the next seven days.

The Second Day: For the second day of the Novena to the Holy Ghost, the prayer, verse, and meditation remind us that the fear of the Lord, the first of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, is the beginning of wisdom.

The Third Day: Piety, the gift of the Holy Spirit for which we pray on the third day of the Novena to the Holy Ghost, is submission to all rightful authority (including respect for our ancestors) that flows from love of God.

The Fourth Day: "Courage" is often used as another name for fortitude, but, as we can see in the verse, prayer, and meditation for the fourth day of the Novena to the Holy Ghost, fortitude is more than courage: It is also the strength to do what is necessary to live a holy life.

The Fifth Day: On the fifth day of the Novena to the Holy Ghost, we ask for the gift of knowledge, so that we may truly understand that the world is ordered toward God and we may be able to perceive His will for us.

The Sixth Day: On the sixth day of the Novena to the Holy Ghost, our prayer, verse, and meditation focus on the gift of understanding, which helps us to grasp the meaning of the revealed truths of Christianity and to live our lives in accordance with those truths.

The Seventh Day: Counsel, our meditation for the seventh day of the Novena to the Holy Ghost tells us, "is supernatural common sense." With this gift of the Holy Spirit, we can translate our faith into action in everything that we do.

The Eighth Day: Our prayer, verse, and meditation for the eighth day of the Novena to the Holy Ghost focus on wisdom, "the most perfect of the gifts" of the Holy Spirit. Wisdom shows that the Christian Faith involves the head as much as the heart, and reason as much as the will.

The Ninth Day: The gifts of the Holy Spirit that we've been praying for over the past seven days are supernatural graces. As we cooperate with those graces by performing acts of virtue, we grow in the Fruits of the Holy Spirit, which reinforce our desire to do good.

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