Friday, May 30, 2003

The Great Novena

(For all my ex-Catholic friends, here we go down memory lane again. La-de-da...)

For nine days after Our Lord ascended into heaven, Mary and the apostles gathered in the Upper Room, and awaited the Holy Spirit. Thus was born the "novena." These days, you can't swing a dead cat in the Church without hitting a novena, but for the next nine days, we're gonna give you the original.

This ancient Latin hymn, Veni Sancte Spiritus, is the "Sequence" (hymn before the Gospel) for Pentecost Sunday, The verses are attributed to Rabanus Maurus (776-856), and were set to Gregorian chant. The Latin verses have been translated into English in various ways, including the familiar hymn, "Come Holy Ghost, Creator blest", a 19th century metrical hymn by Edward Caswall.

"Ghost" is another English word for "Spirit", from the German "geist", while "spirit" is from the Latin. And to think as a kid I thought they were talking about a real ghost. Duh...

When a Latin hymn is translated, it is usually done in metrical form so that it can be set to music. Although the translation is not literal (word-for-word), and the rhythm may not be precisely the same, the idea is to keep both the essential meaning and poetic verse-form of the original. (Translators call that the "dynamic equivalent.")

And so tonight, a devout Catholic family may gather at the table, and for the next nine days, they will light a candle and say the ancient prayer together:

(All) Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of Thy faithful, and enkindle in them the fire of Thy love.

(Leader) Send forth Thy spirit, and they shall be created.
(Response) and Thou shalt renew the face of the earth.

Let us pray. O God, Who didst instruct the hearts of the faithful by the light of the Holy Spirit, grant us by the same Holy Spirit to have right judgment in all things and ever to rejoice in His consolation. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Then, as the candle is being lit, they will sing a different verse of the aforementioned hymn each night, followed by its appropriate oration.

The Great Novena: Day One

Veni, Sancte Spiritus,
et emitte caelitus
lucis tuae radium.

Holy Spirit, Lord of Light.
From thy clear celestial height,
Thy pure beaming radiance give.

Let us pray. O God who hast taught the hearts of thy faithful by the light of the Holy Spirit; grant that by the gift of the same Spirit we may be always truly wise and ever rejoice in His consolations. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

(Update: The following is a continuation of the devotion, for the remaining eight days.)

The Great Novena: Day Two

Veni, pater pauperum,
veni, dator munerum,
veni, lumen cordium.

Come thou father of the poor,
Come with treasures which endure,
Come thou light of all that live.

Let us pray. O Holy Spirit, thou father of the poor , come fill my poverty-stricken soul out of the plenty of thy eternal riches. Warn me, I beg thee, of every opportunity in my daily round of duty, to lay up treasures where no thief approacheth nor moth corrupteth, that I may enjoy them together with thee forever. Amen.

The Great Novena: Day Three

Consolator optime,
dulcis hospes animae.
dulce refrigerium.

Thou of all consolers best,
Visiting the troubled breast,
Dost refreshing peace bestow.

Let us pray. O Divine Consoler, and of all Comforters the best, to thee do we come in trouble and distress. Do thou, in the all powerful name of Jesus, our Redeemer, and out of love for Mary, our sorrowful mother and thy chaste Spouse, come to our assistance and comfort us in all our trials and tribulations. Amen.

The Great Novena: Day Four

In labore requies,
in aestu temperies,
in fletu solacium.

Thou in toil art comfort sweet,
Pleasant coolness in the heat,
Solace in the midst of woe.

Let us pray. O God, who didst give the Holy Spirit to the Apostles, grant to thy people he effect of their pious prayers, that on those to whom thou hast given grace, thou mayest also bestow peace. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Great Novena: Day Five

O lux beatissima,
reple cordis intima
tuorum fidelium.

Light immortal, light divine,
Visit thou these hearts of thine
And our inmost being fill.

Let us pray. May the Paraclete, who proceedeth from thee, enlighten our minds, we beseech thee, O Lord; and even as thy Son hath promised, may he lead us into all truth. Amen.

The Great Novena: Day Six

Sine tuo numine,
nihil est in homine,
nihil est innoxium.

If thou take thy grace away,
Nothing pure in man will stay;
All his good is turned to ill.

Let us pray. Send down, we beseech thee, O Lord, the Holy Ghost in His might, to the merciful purifying of our hearts and to our sure deliverance from all danger. Who livest and reignest world without end. Amen.

The Great Novena: Day Seven

Lava quod est sordidum,
riga quod est aridum,
sana quod est saucium.

Heal our wounds, our strength renew;
On our dryness pour thy dew;
Wash the strains of guilt away.

Let us pray. Burn up, O Lord, our reins and our hearts in the fire of the Holy Ghost; that chaste of body and clean of heart, our service may be well pleasing to thee. Who livest and reignest world without end. Amen.

The Great Novena: Day Eight

Flecte quod est rigidum,
fove quod est frigidum,
rege quod est devium.

Bend the stubborn heart and will,
Melt the frozen, warm the chill,
Guide the steps that go astray.

Let us pray. Holy Spirit, Spirit of Truth, come into our hearts; give to all peoples the brightness of they light, that they may be well pleasing to thee in unity of faith. Amen.

The Great Novena: Day Nine

Da tuis fidelibus,
in te confidentibus,
sacrum septenarium.

Da virtutis meritum
da salutis exitum,
da perenne gaudium.
Amen. Alleluia.

Thou on those who evermore,
Thee confess and thee adore,
In thy sevenfold gift descend.

Give them comfort when they die
Give them life with thee on high,
Give them joys which never end.

Let us pray. Send down upon us, we beseech thee, O Lord, the Holy Ghost, that, inspired and encouraged by him, we may comply with the duties of our state, carry our daily crosses patiently, and grow daily in Christian perfection. Grant us, we beseech thee through the same Divine Spirit, the intentions of this novena or what is most conducive to our eternal salvation and thy glory. Amen.

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