Posted by Fr. Wayne McNamara

Christ in Majesty, Fra Angelico

Alleluia! Christ the Lord ascendeth into heaven!
* O come, let us adore him. Alleluia!

Ascensiontide blessings to all. In the not so distant past the Feast of the Ascension had long been held as one of the five major feasts of the Church Year. In the last century or so it has been grossly neglected and all but forgotten. A ‘novena’, (meaning ‘nine’) signifies a series of nine prayers, one being offered each day. One very traditional novena is commonly used by western Christians for Ascensiontide. I will refine these in coming years.

In Jesus’ last discourse immediately before His physical Ascension into heaven, He directs the Disciples to wait in Jerusalem until the promised Holy Spirit comes to them in power. With the Holy Spirit’s coming is also the bestowal of many and great gifts for the strength of the Church and witness to the world. In Isaiah 11:1-4 we read the following about the reign of Jesse’s seed:

There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse,
And a Branch shall grow out of his roots.
2 The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him,
The Spirit of wisdom and understanding,
The Spirit of counsel and might,
The Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord.

3 His delight is in the fear of the Lord,
And He shall not judge by the sight of His eyes,
Nor decide by the hearing of His ears;
4 But with righteousness He shall judge the poor,
And decide with equity for the meek of the earth;

There is a traditional series of prayers used during the nine days following the Feast of the Ascension. With His coming to us in our baptisms is the bestowal of these gifts to each of us in some, and we hope ever increasing measure.

I apologize for missing yesterday (Day One) but still thought is worthwhile to set before you the first three days. Today is Day Two and you should be able to easily catch up because of the brevity of each days meditation and prayer. May the Lord bless the meditations of our hearts as we seek Him for the growth of these most beautiful gifts and virtues.

Fr. Wayne

Introductory Prayers which can be used on each of the nine days:

Come, Holy Ghost, our souls inspire,
and lighten with celestial fire.
Thou the anointing Spirit art,
who dost thy sevenfold gifts impart.

Thy blessed unction from above
is comfort, life, and fire of love.
Enable with perpetual light
the dullness of our blinded sight.

Anoint and cheer our soiled face
with the abundance of thy grace.
Keep far our foes, give peace at home:
where thou art guide, no ill can come.

Teach us to know the Father, Son,
and thee with both to be but One,
that through the ages all along,
this may be our endless song:

Praise to thy eternal merit,
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.

Come, great Paraclete, Father of the poor, Comforter of the blest, fulfill the promise of our Savior who would not leave us as orphans. Enter our minds and hearts as you descended on the day of Pentecost upon the Mother of Jesus and upon his Apostles. Grant that every member of the Church may have a part in those gifts which were bestowed that day. O Holy Spirit, giver of every good and perfect gift, may the Father’s will be done in us and through us, and may you, O mighty Spirit, equal to the Father and the Son in Being and majesty, be praised and glorified for ever and ever. Amen.

This general prayer may also be used daily:

O Lord Jesus Christ Who, before ascending into heaven did promise to send the Holy Spirit to finish Your work in the souls of Your Apostles and Disciples, deign to grant the same Holy Spirit to me that He may perfect in my soul, the work of Your grace and Your love.
Grant me…

the Spirit of Wisdom that I may despise the perishable things of this world and aspire only after the things that are eternal,

…the Spirit of Understanding to enlighten my mind with the light of Your divine truth,

…the Spirit of Counsel that I may ever choose the surest way of pleasing God
and gaining heaven,

…the Spirit of Fortitude that I may bear my cross with You and that I may overcome with courage all the obstacles that oppose my salvation,

…the Spirit of Knowledge that I may know God and know myself and grow perfect in the science of the Saints,

…the Spirit of Piety that I may find the service of God sweet and amiable, and

…the Spirit of Fear that I may be filled with a loving reverence towards God and may dread in any way to displease Him.

Mark me, dear Lord with the sign of Your true disciples, and animate me in all things with Your Spirit. Amen.

FIRST DAY OF THE NOVENA (Friday)
Creation Awaits Fulfillment

Alleluia! Christ the Lord ascendeth into heaven;
O come, let us adore Him! Alleluia!

Holy Spirit! Lord of Light!
From Your clear celestial height,
Your pure beaming radiance give!

The Holy Spirit
Almighty and eternal God, send forth Your Spirit, who brought form to the formless, fullness to the empty, and light to the darkness at the beginning of the universe, and also heavenly peace to the Lord’s disciples; grant that I, as your creation, baptized in your Spirit, may be filled with the seven gifts so that I may forever do your will and renew the face of the earth.

Prayer
Almighty and eternal God, Who hast vouchsafed to regenerate us by water and the Holy Spirit, and hast given us forgiveness all sins, vouchsafe to send forth from heaven upon us your sevenfold Spirit, the Spirit of Wisdom and Understanding, the Spirit of Counsel and fortitude, the Spirit of Knowledge and Piety, and fill us with the Spirit of Holy Fear. Amen.

SECOND DAY OF THE NOVENA (Saturday)

Alleluia! Christ the Lord ascendeth into heaven;
O come, let us adore Him! Alleluia!

Bend the stubborn heart and will,
melt the frozen, warm the chill.
Guide the steps that go astray!

The Gift of Wisdom
Embodying all the other gifts, as charity embraces all the other virtues, Wisdom is the most perfect of the gifts. Of wisdom it is written “all good things came to me with her, and innumerable riches through her hands.” It is the gift of Wisdom that strengthens our faith, fortifies hope, perfects charity, and promotes the practice of virtue in the highest degree. Wisdom enlightens the mind to discern and relish things divine, in the appreciation of which earthly joys lose their savor, whilst the Cross of Christ yields a divine sweetness according to the words of the Savior: “Take up thy cross and follow me, for my yoke is sweet and my burden light.

Prayer
Come, O Spirit of Wisdom, and reveal to my soul the mysteries of heavenly things, their exceeding greatness, power and beauty. Teach me to love them above and beyond all the passing joys and satisfactions of earth. Help me to attain them and possess them forever. Amen.

THIRD DAY OF THE NOVENA (Sunday)

Alleluia! Christ the Lord ascendeth into heaven;
O come, let us adore Him! Alleluia!

If Thou take Thy grace away,
Nothing pure in man will stay,
All his good is turn’d to ill.

The Gift of Understanding
Understanding, as a gift of the Holy Spirit, helps us to grasp the meaning of the truths of our holy religion BY faith we know them, but by Understanding we learn to appreciate and relish them. It enables us to penetrate the inner meaning of revealed truths and through them to be quickened to newness of life. Our faith ceases to be sterile and inactive, but inspires a mode of life that bears eloquent testimony to the faith that is in us; we begin to “walk worthy of God in all things pleasing, and increasing in the knowledge of God.”

 Prayer
Come, O Spirit of Understanding, and enlighten our minds, that we may know and believe all the mysteries of salvation; and may merit at last to see the eternal light in Thy Light; and in the light of glory to have a clear vision of Thee and the Father and the Son. Amen.


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