by Jill Ragar Esfeld
This Friday, May 6, begins one of the most powerful prayer times in Catholic tradition.
When Jesus ascended into Heaven, he instructed his apostles to go to Jerusalem and wait; he would send his paraclete.
For nine days the apostles, along with the Blessed Virgin Mary, waited and prayed until they experienced the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.
This period of nine days was the Church’s first novena, and the biblical model for all novenas — the word “novena” comes from the Latin “novem” meaning “nine.”
The novena of the Holy Spirit, which recalls these nine days of waiting, traditionally begins the Friday after Ascension Thursday and concludes on the Saturday before Pentecost.
It is a powerful time when we pray in union with the apostles and Mary to open ourselves up to gifts of the Holy Spirit.
For the past few months, The Leaven’s writers and photographers have been creating a special issue on prayer by capturing people throughout our archdiocese in their various prayer practices.
It has been inspirational, to say the least. And the culmination of our efforts comes at this important time in Catholic tradition.
The Leaven’s special issue on prayer will be published on May 13, the Friday before Pentecost.
One of the people I interviewed about her prayer practice is Holy Trinity, Lenexa, parishioner Terri French.
She told me she once read an article that suggested when you pray, the people around you receive the gift of grace from your prayers.
I liked that idea. It’s inspired me this year to say my novena to the Holy Spirit while driving, or while waiting in line at the store.
I think I’ll enjoy imagining all the graces being showered down on those around me.
Maybe you should give it a try, too.
You can structure your own novena to the Holy Spirit or you can look online for various versions.
As a family, you could discuss the Gifts of the Holy Spirit as you say your novena together.
And be sure to check out The Leaven special issue — it is sure to inspire you to continue and deepen your prayer practice — as it did all of us who worked on it.