Pentecost Novena

The novena in preparation of Pentecost is the first and therefore the oldest novena in the Church. It begins the day after the Ascension, which is 40 days after Easter. It commemorates Mary and the apostles waiting in the upper room for the Advocate, the Holy Spirit to come to them. For nine days, they waited. Praying together that Jesus’ promise would be fulfilled. They were scared and not sure what they should do next now that Jesus had ascended to his Father in heaven.

I imagine that they spent time reminding one another of the words he spoke, “When the Advocate comes whom I will send you from the Father, the Spirit of truth that proceeds from the Father, he will testify to me.” (John 15:26); “But I tell you the truth, it is better for you that I go. For if I do not go, the Advocate will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.” (John 16:7)

There are a few sources for a Pentecost Novena.
From Presentation Ministries, there are prayers for each and you read the daily Mass readings as well.
From Pray more Novenas, which you can have delivered to your inbox each day.
From EWTN, the Novena for the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit. (This is the one I pray and I’ll post it each day)

No matter which you choose, you are asking for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit in your life. You are asking for the gifts of the Holy Spirit: Wisdom, Understanding, Counsel, Knowledge, Fortitude, Piety and Fear of the Lord are increased as you need. You are praying that the gifts given to you strengthen you and fill you with a holy boldness to do what God needs you to do as his disciple.

Here is the link to Day 1 Prayers.

Honor our Blessed Mother

May is the month traditionally set aside for us to honor the Blessed Mother.  The Blessed Mother is not only Jesus’ mother; she is ours as well.  In John’s Gospel, as Jesus is dying on the cross, he turns to his mother and says, “Woman, behold your son.” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother.” (John 19:26-27)   Jesus not only wants John to take care of his mother because of his concern for her but he is also reminding us that she is the Mother of all Christians.  As the mother of all of us, she is worthy of honor and veneration always.  Mary is the first Christian.  Her “fiat”, her yes gives life not only to Jesus but to all of us.

Mary is considered the new Eve.  Eve was the first woman but through Eve, sin and death entered the world.  Mary gives herself to us in her bearing of Christ and through her yes, new life and salvation comes to us by his birth, passion, death, and resurrection.  While Eve hides herself in the garden after her sin, Mary stands by her son as he dies on the cross bearing our sin.

Think for a moment about Mary standing by the cross, watching her son die.  Like many of you, I have watched my children get hurt, physically and emotionally, and it aches when I am unable to take their pain away.  How often have we sat, waiting and holding a hand, praying that all would be okay?  I think Mary knew that no amount of praying was going to take her son’s pain away.  And yet she stood there, waiting and praying, until he died and then lovingly buried him.

When we think of Mary in that light it seems natural that we honor her.  Her example to us is one of strength and fortitude.  She is always pointing us to her son and reminding us, “Do whatever he tells you.” (John 2:5b)

During this month of May set aside time to ask Mary to help you know her son more deeply and fully.  Look to her as an example of love; a mother who will never fail you but always lead you to the One who saves us.


God Is Not Fair, and Other Reasons for Gratitude

Two thoughts from reading the title of this book drew me to it immediately. One, I thought,” thank God he isn’t fair” and two, “I need to practice more gratitude.” If you are interested in thinking deeply about living as a Christian who is in the world but not of the world this book is for you.God Is Not Fair, and Other Reasons for Gratitude
The reflections are divided into three sections; first, it looks at the challenge of Christianity in our modern world, next at the relationship between scripture and today’s culture and last, we are asked to understand what it means to live out our vocation as a baptized follower of Jesus Christ.
Fr. Daniel P. Horan, a Franciscan priest, challenges us to look at the world in which we live and see the injustices, our part in them and how we can make a difference by following Jesus more closely. In his reflection, “Good Friday’s Call to Abolish Capital Punishment” he reminds us that Jesus’ crucifixion was a “state execution” and then asks, “Does the perpetual injustice of the death penalty in our country cause us to tremble, tremble, tremble?”
His reflection on various scripture passages are illuminating and offers a perspective different and more helpful than what I usually hear. In “The Prophetic Burden” based on Matthew 16:21-27, where Jesus tell us that to follow him we must deny ourselves and take up our crosses. It is a thought-provoking reflection with this as the last few sentences, “May we find ourselves, even in the midst of frustration, embarrassment, discomfort, and doubt, with the Word of God burning like a fire in our hearts. May we grow weary of trying to keep that held in and, instead, dare to pick up our crosses, deny ourselves, and be the prophets the world so desperately needs. May we all share in the prophetic burden.” This is not sentimentality or wishful thinking, but rather a prayer to say as we walk out in a world that does not want to hear us.
The last set of reflections presented invite us to “reimagine our lives of Christian discipleship and the meaning of vocation.” In this section topics such as joy, humility, awe and wonder, and mercy. Each reflection can help us discern what our response is to God’s call on our life.
You can find more information about Fr. Daniel P. Horan, OFM as well as purchase a copy of this great book at Franciscan Media.

St. Catherine of Siena

Today is the feast day of one of my favorite saints, Catherine of Siena. I’ve pulled together some quotes, facts, and links for you!



Facts about Catherine of Siena

She was a lay Dominican, born in Siena, Italy in 1347 died in Rome in 1380 at 33. Her body is entombed at St. Mary Minerva in Rome (the top picture is from there) and her head is in a reliquary on display in Siena in the Basilica of St. Dominic.

She received the Stigmata but it was only visible to her, at her request.

She was canonized by Pope Pius II in 1461.

In 1970 Pope Paul VI named her a Doctor of the Church.

She is the Patron Saint of against fire, bodily ills, miscarriage, nurses, sexual temptation, and those ridiculed for their faith.

Catherine of Siena, Drunk on the Blood of Christ post by Amy Welborn

from New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia

Prayers of Catherine of Siena

Novena and Podcast about St. Catherine from Discerning Hearts



It’s here, now, today

I speak of Lent. Today is Ash Wednesday the first day of Lent. The day when we begin all of those carefully prayed over, thought out and discussed plans so we have an answer for the big Catholic query of the day, “What are you doing for Lent?”.

Oh, you don’t have an answer or maybe you do but you think it’s not quite enough? That’s okay. I may be right there with you. I say “may” because I feel I haven’t quite decided on my whole plan. I can also say, from personal experience, some of my best Lents have been when I planned very little and life events happened which propelled me into the season more deeply than I ever could have done. This may also be a season where there is so much going on in your life in terms of trials that not eating meat today and every Friday during Lent is enough. Maybe your Lent is to stop focusing on your trials and see the blessings in your life?

Remember too, that Lent is 40 days long. If you don’t have everything worked out today, there is still time.

Lent via your inbox
There are numerous options for daily Lenten emails out in cyberspace. Here are a few links to those I like:
Best Lent Ever from Dynamic Catholic
Pray more Lenten Retreat from the Pray more Novena site (new and I’m looking forward to this; they do a great job with novenas)
Living Lent Daily from Loyola Press
E-spirations from Steubenville University (I get this all year long and love it, great quotes with links to the daily readings included)
Books for Lent
I’m reading Walking in her Sandals edited by Kelly M. Wahlquist this Lent. You can read my review to learn more about it.
Other great books for Lent: The Ignatian Workout for Lent by Tim Muldoon; Who Does He Say You Are? by Colleen C. Mitchell; Rediscover Jesus by Matthew Kelly

Lent does not need to be complicated. We are not in competition with anyone else to have the perfect Lent. Think about it, of course, and then begin your walk. It’s a journey of 40 days of growing closer to the Father, to Jesus, to uniting ourselves to him through whatever we do in our daily life. Begin in hope, with joyful expectation that Lent is your time for renewal and refinement.