A NOVENA OF
THE HOLY SPIRIT.
By Saint Alphonsus Liguori.
CATHOLIC TRUTH SOCIETY of IRELAND No. Pr060a (1960).
Meditations for Each Day of the Novena,
Beginning with the Feast of the Ascension.
(This Novena can be prayed throughout the year.)
By Saint Alphonsus Liguori.
THE NOVENA of the Holy Spirit is the chief of all novenas because it was the first that was ever celebrated, and that by the Apostles and Mary in the upper room, and was distinguished by so many remarkable wonders and gifts, principally by the gift of the same Holy Spirit, a gift merited for us by the Passion of Jesus Christ himself.
Jesus himself made this known
to us when he said to his disciples that if he did not die, he could not send
us the Holy Spirit: “If I go not, the Paraclete will not come to you; but if I
go, I will send him to you” (John 16:7). We know well by faith that the Holy
Spirit is the love that the Father and the eternal Word bear one to the other;
and therefore the gift of love, which the Lord infuses into our souls, and
which is the greatest of all gifts, is particularly attributed to the Holy
Spirit, as Saint Paul says, “the charity of God is poured forth in our hearts
by the Holy Spirit, who is given to us” (Romans 5:5).
In this novena, therefore, we
must consider, above all, the great value of divine love, in order that we may
desire to obtain it, and endeavour by devout exercises, and especially by
prayer, to be made partakers of it, since God has promised it to him who asks
for it with humility: “your Father from heaven [will] give the good Spirit to
them that ask him!” (Luke 11:13).
Meditation 1. Love Is a Fire That Inflames the Heart.
GOD HAD ORDERED, in the ancient law, that there should be a fire kept continually burning on his altar: “The fire on the altar shall always burn” (Leviticus 6:12). Saint Gregory says that the altars of God are our hearts, where he desires that the fire of his divine love should always be burning; and therefore the eternal Father, not satisfied with having given us his Son Jesus Christ to save us by his death, would also give us the Holy Spirit, that he might dwell in our souls and keep them constantly on fire with love.
And Jesus himself declared
that he had come into the world on purpose to inflame our hearts with this holy
fire, and that he desired nothing more than to see it kindled: “I am come to
cast fire on the earth: and what will I, but that it be kindled?” (Luke 12:49).
Forgetting, therefore, the injuries and ingratitude he received from men on
this earth, when he had ascended into heaven he sent down upon us the Holy
Oh, most loving Redeemer, You
do, then, love us, as well in Your sufferings and ignominies, as in Your
kingdom of glory! This is why the Holy Spirit chose to appear in the upper room
under the form of tongues of fire: “And there appeared to them parted tongues
as it were of fire” (Acts 2:3). And therefore the Church teaches us to pray:
“May the Holy Spirit, we beseech You, O Lord, inflame us with that fire which
our Jesus Christ came to cast upon the earth, and which he ardently desired
should be enkindled.”
This was the holy fire which
has inflamed the saints to do such great things for God, to love their enemies,
to desire contempt, to deprive themselves of all earthly goods, and to embrace
with delight even torments and death. Love cannot remain idle and never says,
“This is enough.” The soul that loves God, the more she does for her beloved
the more she desires to do, in order to please him and to attract to herself
his affections. This holy fire is enkindled by mental prayer. If, therefore, we
desire to burn with love for God, let us love prayer; that is the blessed
furnace in which this divine ardour is enkindled.
Affections and prayers.
O my God, up to now I have done nothing for You Who has done so much for me. My coldness could well make You cast me away from You. But, O Holy Spirit, make warm what is cold. Deliver me from my lack of fervour and make me burn with the desire to please You. I now wish to deny all that pleases me. I would rather die than displease You in the least thing. To You Who has appeared in the form of fiery tongues, I consecrate my tongue that it may not offend You again. You did give it to me to praise You, but I, I have used it to injure You and cause others to offend You. I am sorry for my sins. For the love of Jesus Christ Who honoured You so much by His tongue when He walked this earth, grant that henceforward I may honour You by praising You, by asking often for Your help and by speaking of Your goodness and the infinite love You deserve.
I love You, my supreme Good; I
love You, O loving God.
O Mary, most beloved Spouse of
the Holy Spirit, obtain for me this holy fire.
Meditation 2. Love Is a Light That Enlightens the Soul.
ONE of the greatest evils which the sin of Adam has produced in us is that darkening of our reason by means of the passions which cloud our mind. Oh, how miserable is that soul which allows itself to be ruled by any passion! Passion is, as it were, a vapour, a veil which prevents our seeing the truth. How can he fly from evil who does not know what is evil?
Besides, this darkness
increases in proportion as our sins increase. But the Holy Spirit, who is
called “most blessed light,” is he who not only inflames our hearts to love him
through his divine splendour but also dispels our darkness and shows us the
vanity of earthly things, the value of eternal goods, the importance of
salvation, the worth of grace, the goodness of God, the infinite love which he
deserves and the immense love which he bears us. “The sensual man perceives not
these things that are of the Spirit of God” (1 Corinth 2:14).
A man who is absorbed in the
pleasures of the world knows little of these truths and therefore, unfortunate
that he is, loves what he ought to hate and hates what he ought to love. Saint
Mary Magdalene of Pazzi exclaimed: “Oh, love not known! Oh, love not loved!”
And Saint Teresa said that God is not loved because he is not known. Therefore,
the saints were always seeking light from God: “Send forth Your light;
illuminate my darkness; open You my eyes.” Yes, because without light we cannot
avoid precipices nor find God.
Affections and prayers.
Holy and Divine Spirit, I believe that You are true God, yet one God with the Father and the Son. I adore You and acknowledge You as the Giver of those lights which make me know the evil I have done in offending You and the obligation I have to love You. I thank You for these lights. I am sorry for having offended You.
I have deserved to be left in
darkness, but I see that I am not yet abandoned by You. Continue, O eternal
Spirit, to enlighten my mind. Make me know still more Your infinite goodness.
Give me strength now to love You with all my heart. Add grace upon grace so
that I may be gently drawn to You and compelled to love none but You. I ask for
this grace through the merits of Jesus Christ.
I love You, infinite Goodness;
I love You more than myself. I will be all Yours. Accept me and do not permit
me to be separated from You again.
O my Mother, Mary, help me always by your intercession.
Meditation 3. Love Is a Fountain That Satisfies.
LOVE is also called “a living fountain, fire, and charity.” Our blessed Redeemer said to the Samaritan woman: “He that shall drink of the water that I will give him, shall not thirst for ever” (John 4:13). Love is the water which satisfies our thirst; he who loves God really with his whole heart neither seeks nor desires anything else, because in God he finds every good.
Therefore, satisfied with God,
he often joyfully exclaims, “My God and my all!” My God, You are my whole good.
But the Almighty complains that many souls go about seeking for fleeting and
miserable pleasures from creatures and leave him, who is the infinite good and
fountain of all joy: “They have forsaken me, the fountain of living water, and
have dug to themselves cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water” (Jeremiah
Therefore God, who loves us
and desires to see us happy, cries out and makes known to all: “If any man
thirst, let him come to me, and drink” (John 7:37). He who desires to be happy,
let him come to me; and I will give him the Holy Spirit, who will make him
blessed both in this life and the next. “He that believes in me” (He goes on to
say), “as the scripture says, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living
water” (John 7:38). He, therefore, who believes in Jesus Christ and loves him
shall be enriched with so much grace that from his heart (the heart, that is,
the will, is the belly of the soul) shall flow many fountains of holy virtues,
which shall not only serve to preserve his own life, but also to give life to
And this water is the Holy
Spirit, the substantial love which Jesus Christ promised to send us from heaven
after his ascension: “Now this he said of the Spirit which they should receive,
who believed in him: for as yet the Spirit was not given, because Jesus was not
yet glorified” (John 7:39). The key which opens the channels of this blessed
water is holy prayer, which obtains every good for us in virtue of the promise,
“Ask, and you shall receive.” We are blind, poor, and weak; but prayer obtains
for us light, strength, and abundance of grace. Theodoret said: “Prayer, though
but one, can do all things.” He who prays receives all he wants. God desires to
give us his graces; but he will have us pray for them.
Affections and prayers.
Lord, “give me this water.” Yes, Lord Jesus, I will say to You like the Samaritan woman: give me this water of divine love that I may turn away from this world and live only for You Who are so lovely. “Water that which is dry.” My soul is like a dry land where nothing but the briars and thorns of sin grow. Ah! Give me, before I pass out of this world, an outpouring of divine grace to make my soul fruitful in works worthy of Your heavenly glory.
O Fountain of living water, O
supreme Good, too often have I left You for the corrupt waters of this earth
which have deprived me of Your love. Why did not death overtake me before I
In the future, I will seek
nothing but You, O my God. Assist me and grant that I may be faithful to You.
Mary, my hope, keep me ever under your protection.
Meditation 4. Love Is a Dew Which Fertilizes.
THUS does Holy Church teach us to pray: “May the infusion of the Holy Spirit cleanse our hearts, and fertilize them by the interior sprinkling of his dew.” Love fertilizes the good desires, the holy purposes, and the good works of our souls: these are the flowers and fruits which the grace of the Holy Spirit produces. Love is called dew, because it cools the heart of bad passions and of temptations. Therefore, the Holy Spirit is called refreshment and pleasing coolness in the heat. This dew descends into our hearts in time of prayer.
A quarter of an hour’s prayer
is sufficient to appease every passion of hatred or of inordinate love, however
ardent it may be: “He brought me into the cellar of wine; he set in order
charity in me” (Canticle 2:4). Holy meditation is the cellar where love is set
in order, so that we love our neighbour as ourselves, and God above everything.
He who loves God loves prayer. He who does not love prayer will find it morally
impossible to overcome his passions.
Affections and prayers.
O holy and Divine Spirit, I will no longer live to myself. I will spend the remaining days of my life in loving and pleasing You. For that purpose, I beseech You to grant me the gift of prayer. Come into my heart and teach me how to pray, as I ought. Give me strength not to neglect prayer when my soul is weary and dry before You. Give me the spirit of prayer, that is, the grace to pray always and to say those prayers that are most agreeable to Your divine Heart.
My sins have endangered my
salvation, but I understand from so many kindnesses in my regard that You wish
me to be saved and to become a saint. I will become a saint to please You. I
love You, O supreme Good, O my Love and my All. I give myself wholly to You.
O Mary, my hope, protect me.
Meditation 5. Love Is a Repose That Refreshes.
LOVE is also called “in labour rest, in mourning comfort.” Love is repose that refreshes, because the principal office of love is to unite the will of the lover to that of the beloved one. To a soul that loves God, in every affront it receives, in every sorrow it endures, in every loss which happens to it, the knowledge that it is the will of its beloved for it to suffer these trials is enough to comfort it. It finds peace and contentment in all tribulations merely by saying; This is the will of my God. This is that peace which surpasses all the pleasures of sense, “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding” (Philippians 4:7). Saint Mary Magdalene of Pazzi, merely by saying “The will of God”, was always filled with joy.
In this life, everyone must
carry his cross. But as Saint Teresa says, the cross is heavy for him who drags
it, not for him who embraces it. Thus, our Lord knows well how to strike and
how to heal: “He wounds, and cures” as Job said (5:18). The Holy Spirit, by his
sweet unction, renders even ignominies and torments sweet and pleasant: “Yea, Father;
for so has it seemed good in Your sight” (Matthew 11:26). Thus ought we to say
in all adversities that happen to us: “So be it done, Lord, because so has it
pleased You.” And when the fear of any temporal evil that may befall us alarms
us, let us always say: “Do what You will, my God; whatever You do, I accept it
all.” And it is a very good thing to offer oneself thus constantly during the
day to God, as Saint Teresa did.
Affections and prayers.
O my God, how often have I opposed and despised Your will to do my own. I am sorry for this evil more than for any other. Henceforward, O Lord, I will love You with all my heart. “Speak, Lord, for Your servant hears.” Make me know what You would have me do and I will do it all. I will always desire and love nothing but Your will.
O Holy Spirit, help my
weakness. You are goodness itself: how can I love anything but You? Ah! May Your
holy love draw my whole heart to You! I leave all things to give myself
entirely to You. Accept me and help me.
O my Mother Mary, I trust in you.
Meditation 6. Love Is the Virtue Which Gives Us Strength.
“LOVE is strong as death” (Canticle 8:6). As there is no created strength which can resist death, so there is no difficulty for a loving soul which love cannot overcome. When there is a question of pleasing its beloved, love conquers all, losses, contempt, and sorrow. “Nothing is so hard, but that the fire of love can conquer it.” This is the most certain mark with which to know if a soul really loves God, if it is as faithful in love when things are adverse as when they are prosperous. Saint Francis de Sales said that “God is quite as amiable when he chastises as when he consoles us, because he does all for love.”
Indeed, when he strikes us
most in this life, then it is that he loves us most. Saint John Chrysostom
esteemed Saint Paul in chains more fortunate than Saint Paul caught up into the
third heaven. Hence the holy martyrs in the midst of their torments rejoiced
and thanked the Lord, as for the greatest favour that could fall to their lot,
that of having to suffer for his love. And other saints, where there were no
tyrants to afflict them, became their own executioners by the penances which
they inflicted upon themselves in order to please God. Saint Augustine says
that “For that which men love, either no labour is felt, or the labour itself
Affections and prayers.
O God of my soul, I pretend to love You, and yet I do nothing for Your love. Would it not be a sign that I love You not, or very little? But send me the Holy Spirit, O Jesus, the Holy Spirit Who will give me strength to suffer for Your love and do something for You before I die. I pray You, O my beloved Redeemer, let me not die now, cold and ungrateful to You as I have been. Though I have committed so many sins for which I should be in hell, grant me the courage to love suffering, to do something for You.
O my God, Whose nature is all
goodness and love, You desire to be the guest of my soul from which I have so
often driven You. Oh! Come and dwell in it: be You its Master and make it all Yours.
I love You, O my Lord, but if
I love You, You are already with me, since Saint John assures us that “he who
abides in love abides in God and God in him,” You are within me then, O my God.
Make my love more ardent still. Bind me with stronger chains that I may desire,
seek and love nothing but You. Let me never be separated from Your love.
I desire to be all Yours, O my Jesus.
O Mary, my Queen and Advocate, obtain for me love and perseverance.
Meditation 7. Love Causes God to Dwell in Our Souls.
THE HOLY SPIRIT is called “Sweet Guest of the soul.” This was the great promise made by Jesus Christ to those who love him, when he said: “If you love me, keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he shall give you another Paraclete, that he may abide with you forever. The Spirit of truth . . . shall abide with you, and shall be in you” (John 14:5-17). For the Holy Spirit never forsakes a soul if He is not driven away from it; he does not forsake, unless he be first forsaken.
God, then, dwells in a soul
that loves him. But he declares that he is not satisfied if we do not love him
with our whole heart. Saint Augustine tells us that the Roman Senate would not
admit Jesus Christ into the number of their gods because they said that he was
a proud god, who would have none other beloved but himself. And so it is. He
will have no rivals in the heart that loves him; and when he sees that he is
not the only object loved, he is jealous (so to speak).
Saint James writes of those
creatures who divide up with him the heart which he desires to have all to
himself: “Do you think that the scripture says in vain: To envy does the spirit
covet which dwells in you” (James 4:5). In short, as Saint Jerome says, Jesus
is jealous, “Zelotypus est Jesus.” Therefore the heavenly spouse praises
that soul which, like the turtledove, lives in solitude and hidden from the
world (Canticle 1:9). Because he does not choose that the world should take a
part of that love which he desires to have all to himself, therefore he also
praises his spouse by calling her “a garden enclosed” (Canticle 4:12), a garden
closed against all earthly love. Do we doubt that Jesus deserves our whole
love? “He gave himself wholly to you,” says Saint John Chrysostom, “he left
nothing for himself.” He has given you all his blood and his life; there is
nothing left to give.
Affections and prayers.
I understand, O my God, that You want me to be all Yours. Many times have I driven You from my soul, but You did not shrink from returning to be united to me again. Ah! Take possession of my entire self, for today I give myself wholly to You. Do You accept me, O Jesus, and do not permit that I should again live in the future, no, not even for a moment, without Your love.
You seek me and I seek none
but You. You love me and I love You. Since You love me, bind me to Yourself
that I may never abandon You.
O Mary, Queen of heaven, I
trust in you.
Meditation 8. Love Is a Bond Which Binds.
AS THE HOLY SPIRIT, who is uncreated love, is the indissoluble bond which binds the Father to the eternal Word, so he also unites the soul with God. “Charity is a virtue,” says Saint Augustine, “uniting us with God.” Hence, full of joy, Saint Laurence Justinian exclaims: ‘Love, your bond has such strength that it is able to bind even God and unite him to our souls. The bonds of the world are bonds of death; but the bonds of God are bonds of life and salvation (Ecclesiasticus 6:31), because the bonds of God by means of love unite us to God, who is our true and only life.
Before the coming of Jesus
Christ, men fled from God and being attached to the earth refused to unite
themselves to their Creator. But a loving God has drawn them to himself by the
bonds of love as he promised through the prophet Osee (Hosea): “I will draw
them with the cords of Adam, with the bands of love” (11:4). These bands are
the benefits, the lights, the calls to his love, the promises of paradise which
he makes to us, the gift which he has bestowed upon us of Jesus Christ in the
sacrifice of the cross and in the sacrament of the altar, and finally, the gift
of his Holy Spirit.
Therefore, the prophet
exclaims, “Loose the bonds from off your neck, O captive daughter of Sion” (Isaiah
52:2). Oh my soul, you who are created for heaven, loose yourself from the
bonds of earth, and unite yourself to God by the bonds of holy love: “Have
charity, which is the bond of perfection” (Colossians 3:14). Love is a bond
which unites with herself all other virtues and makes the soul perfect. “Love,
and do what you will,” said Saint Augustine. Love God, and do what you
wish, because he who loves God tries to avoid causing any displeasure to his
beloved and seeks in all things to please him.
Affections and prayers.
O my dear Jesus, You have put me under a sweet obligation to love You, and how much it has cost You to win my love! I would be an ungrateful wretch if I loved You little after that, or if I let creatures share my heart with You Who have given Your life and Your blood for me.
I wish to detach myself from
everything and place all my affections in You alone. But I am weak and unable
to realize this desire. You Who have inspired it, help me to bring it into effect.
O my beloved Jesus, pierce my
heart with the arrows of Your love so that it may sigh ever after You and be
melted in You! You alone I seek, You alone may I always seek. None but You may
I desire and find!
My Jesus, I desire only You
and nothing more. Grant that I may repeat it always during my life, and
especially at the moment of my death: I desire only You and nothing more.
O my Mother Mary, from
henceforward make me desire nothing but God.
Meditation 9. Love Is a Treasure Containing Every Good.
LOVE is that treasure of which the Gospel says that we must leave all to obtain it, because love makes us partakers of the friendship of God, “an infinite treasure to men! which they that use, become the friends of God” (Wisdom 7:14). Oh man, says Saint Augustine, why, then, do you go about seeking for good things? Seek that one good alone in which all other good things are contained.
But we cannot find God, who is
this sovereign good, if we do not forsake the things of the earth. Saint Teresa
writes, “Detach your heart from creatures, and you will find God.” He who finds
God finds all that he can desire: “Delight in the Lord, and he will give you
the requests of your heart” (Psalm 36:4 in the Vulgate or Psalm 37:4 in the
Hebrew). The human heart is constantly seeking after good things that may make
it happy; but if it seeks them from creatures, however much it may acquire, it
will never be satisfied; if it seeks God alone, God will satisfy all its
desires. Who are the happiest people in this world, if not the saints? And why?
Because they desire and seek only God.
A tyrant offered gold and gems
to Saint Clement, in order to persuade him to renounce Jesus Christ. The saint
exclaimed with a sigh, “Is God to be put into competition with a little dirt?
Blessed is he who knows this treasure of divine love, and strives to obtain it.
He who obtains it will of his own accord divest himself of everything else,
that he may have nothing else but God.” “When the house is on fire,” says Saint
Francis de Sales, “all the goods are thrown out of the windows.” And Father
Paul Segneri the Younger, a great servant of God, used to say that love is a
thief which robs us of all earthly affections, so that we can say, “And what
else do I desire but You alone, my Lord?”
Affections and prayers.
I have not lived for You in the past, O my God, but rather for myself and my own gratifications. I have accordingly turned my back upon You, my supreme good. But I take heart at these words of Jeremiah: “The Lord is good to the soul that seeks him.” He says then that You are all goodness for him who seeks You.
O my beloved Lord, I know well
the evil I have done in going away from You and I am sorry for it with all my
heart. I know the infinite treasure we find in You. I will profit by this light
that You give me. I leave all things and choose You for my only love.
My God, my love, my all, I
love You, I sigh after You, I desire You. Come, O Holy Spirit, come and consume
in me by Your sacred fire every affection that is not for You. Make me all Yours
and grant me the grace to overcome everything in order to please You.
O Mary, my Advocate and Mother, help me by your prayers.
THE MORE we love God, the more holy we become. Saint Francis Borgia says it is prayer that introduces divine love into the human heart and mortification that withdraws the heart from the world and renders it capable of receiving this holy fire. The more there is of the world in the heart, the less room there is for holy love: “Wisdom is not to be found in the land of them that live in delights” (Job 28:12-13). Hence, the saints have always sought to mortify as much as possible their self-love and their senses. The saints are few, but we must live with the few if we will be saved with the few. Saint Bernard says, “That cannot be perfect which is not singular.” He who would lead a perfect life must lead a singular one.
But above all, in order to
become saints, it is necessary to have the desire to be saints; we must have
the desire and the resolution. Some are always desiring, but they never begin
to put their hands to the work. “Of these irresolute souls,” says Saint Teresa,
“the devil has no fear.” On the other hand, the saint said, “God is a friend of
The devil tries to make it
appear to us as pride to think of doing great things for God. It would indeed
be pride in us if we thought of doing them all by ourselves, trusting in our
own strength; but it is not pride to resolve to become saints trusting in God
and saying, “I can do all things in him who strengthens me.” (Philippians
4:13). We must therefore be of good courage, make strong resolutions, and
begin. Prayer can do everything. What we cannot do by our own strength, we can
do easily with the help of God, who has promised to give us whatever we ask of
him: “You shall ask whatever you will, and it shall be done unto you.” (John
Affections and Prayers.
Sweet Redeemer of my soul, You desire to be loved by me and You command me to love You with all my heart, and with all my heart I desire to love You, O my Jesus. I will even go so far as to say to You: O my God, such is the trust I have in Your mercy that my sins do not inspire me with fear, since I hate and detest them above every other evil.
I know besides, that You
remember not the offences of one who repents and who loves You. Nay more, since
I have offended You more than others, I wish to love You more than others.
O my Lord, You want me to be a
saint and I wish to become one in order to please You. I love You, infinite
Goodness. I give myself entirely to You. You are my one good, my only love. Do
not turn me away, O my love. Make me all Yours. Do not permit me to displease You
again. Grant that I may sacrifice myself entirely for You, as You have
sacrificed Yourself entirely for me.
Mary, most loving and beloved
Spouse of the Holy Spirit, obtain for me love and faithfulness. Amen. Amen.