Novena of the Holy Spirit
by Saint Alphonsus Liguori
Meditations for Each Day of the Novena,
Beginning with the Feast of the Ascension
(The nine day period of time from our Lord's
Ascension on Ascension Thursday until the coming of the Holy Spirit on
Sunday was the first novena of prayer, during which Mary the
Mother of God and the Apostles prayed for nine consecutive days in the Upper Room)
(this Novena can also be prayed
throughout the year)
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 endeavor 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).
1. Love Is a Fire That Inflames the Heart
GOD HAD ORDERED,
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 1, 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 Spirit.
loving Redeemer, Thou dost, then, love us as well in Thy sufferings and ignominies as in
Thy 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 Thee, 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 ardor is
Affections and prayers
O my God, up to now I have done nothing for Thee Who hast done
so much for me. My coldness could well make Thee cast me away from Thee. But, O Holy
Spirit, make warm what is cold. Deliver me from my lack of fervor and make me burn with
the desire to please Thee. I now wish to deny all that pleases me. I would rather die than
displease Thee in the least thing. To Thee Who hast appeared in the form of fiery tongues,
I consecrate my tongue that it may not offend Thee again. Thou didst give it to me to
praise Thee, but I, I have used it to injure Thee and cause others to offend Thee. I am
sorry for my sins. For the love of Jesus Christ Who honored Thee so much by His tongue
when He walked this earth, grant that henceforward I may honor Thee by praising Thee, by
asking often for Thy help and by speaking of Thy goodness and the infinite love Thou
I love Thee, my supreme Good, I love Thee, 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
is, as it were, a vapor, 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
splendor, 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 perceiveth not these things that are of the
Spirit of God" (1 Corinthians 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 Thy light;
illuminate my darkness; open Thou my eyes." Yes, because without light we cannot
avoid precipices nor find God.
Affections and prayers
Holy and divine Spirit, I believe that Thou art true God, yet one God with the
Father and the Son. I adore Thee and acknowledge Thee as the Giver of those lights which
make me know the evil I have done in offending Thee and the obligation I have to love
Thee. I thank Thee for these lights. I am sorry for having offended Thee.
I have deserved to be left in darkness, but I see that I am not yet abandoned
by Thee. Continue, O Eternal Spirit, to enlighten my mind. Make me know still more Thy
infinite goodness. Give me strength now to love Thee with all my heart. Add grace upon grace so that I may
be gently drawn to Thee and compelled to love none but Thee. I ask for this grace through
the merits of Jesus Christ.
I love Thee, infinite Goodness, I love Thee more than myself. I will be all
Thine. Accept me and do not permit me to be separated from Thee again. O my Mother, Mary,
help me always by thy 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, Thou art 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 2:13).
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 believeth in Me" (He goes on to
say), "as the scripture saith, 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
Affections and prayers
Lord, "give me this water." Yes, Lord
Jesus, I will say to Thee like the Samaritan woman: give me this water of divine love that
I may turn away from this world and live only for Thee Who art 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 Thy heavenly glory.
O Fountain of living water, O supreme Good, too often have I left Thee for the
corrupt waters of this earth which have deprived me of Thy love. Why did not death
overtake me before I offended Thee?
In the future I will seek nothing but Thee, O my God. Assist me and grant that
I may be faithful to Thee. Mary, my hope, keep me ever under they protection.
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" (Canticles 2:4). Holy meditation is the
cellar where love is set in order, so that we love our neighbor 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 Thee. For that purpose I beseech Thee 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 Thee. Give me the spirit of prayer, that is, the grace to
pray always and to say those prayers that are most agreeable to Thy divine
My sins have endangered my salvation, but I understand from so many kindnesses
in my regard that Thou wishest me to be saved and to become a saint. I will become a saint
to please Thee. I love Thee, O supreme Good, O my Love and my All. I give myself wholly to
O Mary, my hope, protect me.
5. Love Is a Repose That Refreshes
LOVE is also called "in labor 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 surpasseth 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 woundeth, and cureth" as Job said
(5:18). The Holy Spirit, by His sweet unction, renders even ignominies and torments sweet
and pleasant: "Yea, Father; for so hath it seemed good in thy sight"
(Matthew 11:26). Thus ought we to say in all adversities that happen to us: "So be it
done, Lord, because so hath it pleased Thee." And when the fear of any temporal evil
that may befall us alarms us, let us always say: "Do what Thou wilt, my God; whatever
Thou dost, 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.
O my God, how often have I opposed and despised Thy will to do my own. I am
sorry for this evil more than for any other. Henceforward, O Lord, I will love Thee with
heart. "Speak, Lord, for Thy servant
heareth." Make me know what Thou wouldst have me do and I will do it all. I will
always desire and love nothing but Thy will.
O Holy Spirit, help my weakness. Thou art goodness itself: how can I love
anything but Thee ? Ah! may Thy holy love draw my whole
heart to Thee! I leave
all things to give myself entirely to Thee. Accept me and help me.
O my Mother Mary, I trust in thee.
6. Love Is the Virtue Which Gives Us Strength
"LOVE is strong as death" (Canticles 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 favor 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
labor is felt, or the labor itself is loved."
O God of my soul, I pretend to love Thee, and yet I do nothing for Thy love.
Would it not be a sign that I love Thee not, or very little ? But send me the Holy Spirit,
O Jesus, the Holy Spirit Who will give me strength to suffer for Thy love and do something
for Thee before I die. I pray Thee, O my beloved Redeemer, let me not die now, cold and
ungrateful to Thee 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 Thee.
O my God, Whose nature is all goodness and love, Thou desirest to be the guest
of my soul from which I have so often driven thee. Oh! come and dwell in it: be Thou its
Master and make it all Thine.
I love Thee, O my Lord, but if I love Thee Thou art already with me, since
Saint John assures us that "he who abides in love abides in God and God in him,"
Thou art 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 Thee. Let me never be
separated from Thy love.
I desire to be all Thine, O my Jesus.
O Mary, my Queen and Advocate, obtain for me love and perserverance.
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
which He desires to have all to Himself: "Do you think that the scripture
saith in vain: To envy doth the Spirit covet which dwelleth 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 (Canticles 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"
(Canticles 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.
I understand, O my God, that Thou wantest me to be all Thine. Many times have I
driven Thee from my soul, but Thou didst not shrink from returning to be united to me
again. Ah! take possession of my entire self, for today I give myself wholly to Thee. Do
Thou accept me, O Jesus, and do not permit that I should again live in the future, no, not
even for a moment, without Thy love.
Thou seekest me and I seek none but Thee. Thou lovest me and I love Thee. Since
Thou lovest me, bind me to Thyself that I may never abandon Thee.
O Mary, Queen of heaven, I trust in thee.
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 (Ecclesiates 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: "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 thy 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 thou wilt," 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.
my dear Jesus, Thou hast put me under a sweet obligation to love Thee, and how
much it has cost Thee to win my love! I would be an ungrateful wretch if I loved
Thee little after that, or if I let creatures share my
heart with Thee Who
hast given Thy life and Thy blood for me.
I wish to detach myself from everything and place all my affections in Thee
alone. But I am weak and unable to realize this desire. Thou Who hast inspired it, help me
to bring it into effect.
O my beloved Jesus, pierce my
heart with the arrows of Thy
love so that it may sigh ever after Thee and be melted in Thee! Thou alone I seek, Thou alone
may I always seek. None but Thee may I desire and find!
My Jesus, I desire only Thee and nothing more. Grant that I may repeat it
always during my life, and especially at the moment of my death: I desire only Thee and
O my Mother Mary, from henceforward make me desire nothing but God.
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 thee the requests of thy heart" (Psalm 36: 4).
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 Thee alone, my Lord?"
I have not lived for Thee in the past, O my God, but rather for myself and my
own gratifications. I have accordingly turned my back upon Thee, my supreme good. But I
take heart at these words of Jeremiah: "The Lord is good to the soul that seeketh
He says then that Thou art all goodness for him who seeks Thee.
O my beloved Lord, I know well the evil I have done in going away from Thee and
I am sorry for it with all my
heart. I know the infinite treasure we find in Thee. I will profit
by this light that Thou givest me. I leave all things and choose Thee for my only love.
My God, my love, my all, I love Thee, I sigh after Thee, I desire Thee. Come, O
Holy Spirit, come and consume in me by Thy sacred fire every affection that is not for
Thee. Make me all Thine and grant me the grace to overcome everything in order to please
O Mary, my Advocate and Mother, help me by thy 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 generous souls."
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 strengtheneth 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 15:7).
Sweet Redeemer of my soul, Thou desirest to be loved by me and Thou commandest
me to love Thee with all my
heart, and with all my
heart I desire to love Thee, O
my Jesus. I will even go so far as to say to Thee: O my God, such is the trust I have in
Thy mercy that my sins do not inspire me with fear, since I hate and detest them above
every other evil.
I know besides that Thou rememberest not the offences of one who repents and
who loves Thee. Nay more, since I have offended Thee more than others, I wish to love Thee
more than others.
O my Lord, Thou wantest me to be a saint and I wish to become one in order to
please Thee. I love Thee, infinite Goodness. I give myself entirely to Thee. Thou art my
one good, my only love. Do not turn me away, O my love. Make me all Thine. Do not permit
me to displease Thee again. Grant that I may sacrifice myself entirely for Thee, as Thou
hast sacrificed Thyself entirely for me.
Mary, most loving and beloved Spouse of the Holy Spirit, obtain for me love and
Amen. Amen. Amen.
"O my God, make me a saint"
Saint Alphonsus Mary Liguori