|“I tell you truly: you will weep and mourn.” —John 16:20|
Tomorrow begins the Pentecost Novena, nine days of intense prayer to receive the Holy Spirit when He comes in a new way on Pentecost Sunday. The nine days of this Holy Spirit novena correspond closely to the nine months of a woman’s pregnancy. The baby dwells within the mother during the pregnancy. Similarly, the Holy Spirit dwells within us (1 Cor 3:16).
As the baby grows within the mother’s womb, the mother undergoes dramatic changes. Everything in her lifestyle changes. She wears a completely different set of clothes. She sleeps and eats differently. At times during the pregnancy, she may “weep and mourn” (Jn 16:20). As her child matures within her, she becomes more attuned to the baby’s movements and rhythms. Her entire life is wrapped up in the welfare of the baby. In her final month, her main thought is: “Come, baby!”
As we approach the Holy Spirit novena with a like mindset, we may undergo dramatic changes in lifestyle. We may sleep differently, “rising early” (Mk 1:35) or staying up late (Lk 6:12) to pray. We may “weep and mourn” (Jn 16:20) in repentance and in sorrow for our sins and the sins of others (see Ez 9:4), all of which grieve the Holy Spirit (Eph 4:30). As our immersion in the Spirit progresses during the novena, we will become more attuned to the Spirit’s movement and rhythms. Our entire life will become centered in whatever concerns the Holy Spirit. By the end of the novena, our hearts proclaim: “Come, Holy Spirit!” Do you want to be filled with the Spirit enough to immerse yourself in the Pentecost Novena?
|Prayer: Jesus, may I empty myself as You did (Phil 2:7). Give me life in the Spirit to the full (Jn 10:10).|
|Promise: “Your grief will be turned into joy.” —Jn 16:20|
|Praise: After finally completing a Life in the Spirit seminar, Mary was filled to overflowing with the joy and the gifts of the Spirit.|
|From a sermon
by Saint Augustine
[ 354 – 430 A.D. ]
Christ is now exalted above the heavens, but he still suffers on earth all the pain that we, the members of his body, have to bear. He showed this when he cried out from above: Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? and when he said: I was hungry and you gave me food.Today our Lord Jesus Christ ascended into heaven; let our hearts ascend with him. Listen to the words of the Apostle: If you have risen with Christ, set your hearts on the things that are above where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God; seek the things that are above, not the things that are on earth. For just as he remained with us even after his ascension, so we too are already in heaven with him, even though what is promised us has not yet been fulfilled in our bodies.
Why do we on earth not strive to find rest with him in heaven even now, through the faith, hope and love that unites us to him? While in heaven he is also with us; and we while on earth are with him. He is here with us by his divinity, his power and his love. We cannot be in heaven, as he is on earth, by divinity, but in him, we can be there by love.
He did not leave heaven when he came down to us; nor did he withdraw from us when he went up again into heaven. The fact that he was in heaven even while he was on earth is borne out by his own statement: No one has ever ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man, who is in heaven.
These words are explained by our oneness with Christ, for he is our head and we are his body. No one ascended into heaven except Christ because we also are Christ: he is the Son of Man by his union with us, and we by our union with him are the sons of God. So the Apostle says: Just as the human body, which has many members, is a unity, because all the different members make one body, so is it also with Christ. He too has many members, but one body.
Out of compassion for us he descended from heaven, and although he ascended alone, we also ascend, because we are in him by grace. Thus, no one but Christ descended and no one but Christ ascended; not because there is no distinction between the head and the body, but because the body as a unity cannot be separated from the head.
|“When they heard about the raising of the dead, some sneered.” —Acts 17:32|
“With power the apostles bore witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great respect was paid to them all” (Acts 4:33). Paul, the least of the apostles (1 Cor 15:9), also witnessed with power for the risen Christ except when he preached at Athens. There, while a few believed, others sneered at Paul (Acts 17:32), called him a “magpie” (Acts 17:18), and refused to take him seriously. At Athens, Paul seemed to have lost his power, his anointing from the Spirit.
Like Paul, we may see less power in our prayer, ministry, marriage, family, or witnessing. We’re at the Athens in our lives. Others don’t seem to take our Christian lives seriously. We feel like failures. We need the Spirit fanned into flame in our lives (2 Tm 1:6).
Friday, we begin nine days of prayer, just as did the disciples at the first Christian Pentecost. We must pray for our Confirmations to be renewed. We must stifle the flesh and be stirred up in the Spirit, instead of the opposite (Gal 5:17). If we don’t pray to receive a new Pentecost now, we will continue in the futility of Athens. Mary, the other saints, and the angels are praying for us to receive the Holy Spirit. Let’s join them and pray in these next days as never before. Jesus promises: “If you, with all your sins, know how to give your children good things, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him” (Lk 11:13). Come, Holy Spirit!
|Prayer: Jesus, teach me to pray (see Lk 11:1) for the coming of the Holy Spirit.|
|Promise: “When He comes, however, being the Spirit of truth, He will guide you to all truth.” —Jn 16:13|
|Praise: Although Patrick had been living in the Spirit for years, he prayed for a new outpouring and received new graces to minister in holiness and power.|