A Novena for the Feast of the Ascension

Suzanne Cooke, RSCJ
This week we are celebrating the Feast of the Ascension. Traditionally, this day is celebrated on a Thursday, the fortieth day of Easter. However, in some parts of the world, the observance has been moved to the following Sunday. The Feast is one of the ecumenical feasts (i.e., universally celebrated), ranking with the feasts of the Passion, of Easter, and Pentecost.
The significance of the Feast lies in its promise to all of us as humans – we have a place in God. We are never alone. “The Ascension….,” Francis I declared in April, 2013:
…doesn't indicate Jesus' absence, but rather it tells us that He is living
among us in a new way. He is no longer in a particular place in the world
as He was before the Ascension. Now He is in the Lordship of God, present
in every space and time, close to each of us. In our lives we are never alone:
we have this Advocate who awaits us and defends us. We are never alone.
The crucified and risen Lord guides us. With us there are many brothers and
sisters who, in their family life and their work, in their problems and difficulties,
in their joys and hopes, daily live the faith and bring, together with us, the
Lordship of God's love to the world. In Jesus Christ, risen and ascended into
Heaven, we have an Advocate.
The comprehension of not being alone was one with which the disciples struggled. Knowing that they would suffer anxiety and hesitation, Jesus assured them that He would send them a gift. They received that gift on the Feast of Pentecost which traditionally followed the Feast of the Ascension ten days later. Often, people make a novena t the Holy Spirit between the two feasts.

As members of the Sacred Heart Family, we all know that St. Madeleine Sophie Barat had a deep devotion to the Holy Spirit. I suggest that we consider entering as a total community across our Network and Province into a novena, asking the Holy Spirit to inspire all of us with the courage and confidence both Sophie and Philippine personified.
Novenas as meant to be prayed over nine successive days. If we begin on Friday, we could start each of the nine days with this simple prayer:  
Come, Holy Spirit, gift of Jesus and the Father.
Come into my heart and give me peace. Please come
and open the eyes of my heart. Give me more joy and
more hope. Heal what needs to be healed. Warm
what is cold in me. Set my heart free to forgive.
Enkindle within me the fire of your own love. Let me
heal and warm other hearts to know Jesus' healing love.
Let me hear the cry of the poor. Let me join you in renewing
the face of the earth! (Source)  
Having prayed to the Holy Spirit, let’s take some time for espacio, for quiet. We might ask ourselves: To what is the Sprit calling me so that I may continue to work of Easter in my life? Then mediate on the words of Madeleine Sophie Barat and Philippine:
The Spirit is always speaking to us deep in our hearts, if only we listen. Sophie – Day 1
Strengthen in us, O God, the work You have begun in us. Philippine – Day 2
The mission of the Spirit is to let us know Jesus…the Holy Spirit, once free, accomplishes miracles, and we would be wrong not to give the Spirit room. Sophie – Day 3
Strength of character is certainly needed to face life in the world and to stand by right principles, especially in the age in which we live. Philippine – Day 4
Let your heart be more attentive than your head, for the Holy Spirit is love, and to take hold, it is more important to love than to understand. Sophie – Day 5
If you have no earthly consolation, why do you not seek consolation in the Heart of Jesus? To love Him is truest joy. Philippine – Day 6
Let us pray to the Holy Spirit to guide us, then we will act on the Spirit’s gentle inspiration. Let us accustom ourselves to walking in these divine paths, following grace and not nature. When we go too fast it is easy to be influenced by the second. Ah! It is a great art to act only by the Spirit of Jesus. Sophie - Day 7
Preach by example of your lives rather than by words. Example is the very best sermon.Philippine – Day 8
If I had my life to live over again, I would seek to live in complete openness to the Holy Spirit. Sophie - Day 9
We can conclude our daily prayer with composed with words from both Sophie and Philippine.
Oh Jesus, let us make a pact together,
That we may keep a silence so deep that
you alone speak to our hearts,
That we put aside distractions so that we may sense Your Heart beating in us,
That we allow You to work within our souls until we come to believe that
Your wisdom governs us
Your power defends us
Your grace sanctifies us
   Your mercy encompasses us
Your joy sustains us and
All will go well with us
As we continue to live lives
rooted in Your Spirit.
Schools of the Sacred Heart share in the educational mission of the Society of the Sacred Heart as articulated in the Goals and Criteria. The structure supporting Sacred Heart education in Canada and the United States includes the Conference of Sacred Heart Education and the Network of Sacred Heart Schools.  Together they provide services and programs to ensure vitality of mission for the member schools sponsored by the Society of the Sacred Heart.