Be Sealed With the Holy Spirit: Novena to the Holy Spirit Day 1

Bishop Donald Hying & Our Family ©, 2012.

During recent the months I’ve had the opportunity to reflect on the power of the Holy Spirit in my life, and the lives of those whom I love. My eldest son received the Sacrament of Confirmation a few weeks ago, and this year of preparation has offered our family the opportunity to focus more deeply upon the real, abiding presence of the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity in our lives. Kenny was graced with the ability of joining a Confirmation class that seriously undertook the task of catechesis. They worked diligently through not only portions of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, but also delved into Thomistic study. As a parent, I was required to follow along, and read the same weekly texts as my son. Watching the Holy Spirit bring His gifts of wisdom, understanding, fortitude, piety, knowledge, fear of the Lord, and counsel and heap them measure by measure upon my offspring was a delight. Thus, this year, as I prepare for Pentecost, I feel a unique gratitude to the Holy Spirit.

Bishop Hying & Kenny ©, 2012.

As a matter of faith, we believe that the Holy Spirit is truly the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity, distinct, yet consubstantial, coequal and coeternal with the Father and the Son. Likewise, as Catholics, we believe that the Holy Spirit is fully and truly God, and is thus not generated, but rather proceeds from the Father and the Son by a single spiration.

God is Love (1 John 4:8). Yes, indeed, in a very real way God is truly Love Itself. Aquinas viewed the Trinity as the very heart of Christian teaching. St. Thomas believed that one could use reason to arrive at and defend the concept of the existence of God. However, the concept of Trinity is one that must be revealed. It is thus, through the teachings of Jesus Christ, One in Being with the Father, that we arrive at the concept of the Blessed Trinity.

Unity yet Diversity ©, 2012.

God is both unity and diversity. God is unity in the sense not only of solidarity of purpose, but also an accord – or oneness of nature. God is one God, yet three distinct Persons. Scripture clearly tells us that God is God alone. Deuteronomy 6:4 states: “Hear O Israel, the Lord Your God Is One.” Likewise: “I am the first and I am the last, and there is no God besides Me (Isaiah 44: 6).” While God is unity, He also exists as diversity in the sense that we can distinguish the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit as discrete Persons. For the Angelic Doctor, St. Thomas Aquinas, the Trinity is a reflection of the relationship of Love and Self-Knowledge within the Being of God. God the Son emanates from God the Father as a reflection of His self-knowledge; in turn God the Holy Spirit proceeds from God the Father and God the Son as the Love that exists between them.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches:

On the day of Pentecost when seven weeks of Easter had come to an end, Christ’s Passover is fulfilled in the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, manifested, given, and communicated as a Divine Person: of His fullness, Christ the Lord, pours out the Spirit in abundance (731).

It continues:

On that day, the Holy Trinity is fully revealed. Since that day, the Kingdom announced by Christ has been open to those who believe in: the humility of the flesh and in faith they share in the communion of the Holy Trinity (732).

As we anticipate the great feast of Pentecost, perhaps you might wish to join me in praying the novena to the Holy Spirit that is being recited each day after Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of Mary Help of Christians at Holy Hill.

In the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit ©, 2012

Each day the Preparatory prayer is:

O Holy Spirit, Divine Consoler!

I adore You as my Triune God.

I bless You by uniting myself to the praises You receive from the angels and saints.

I offer You my whole heart, and I render You heartfelt thanks for all the benefits You have bestowed and unceasingly bestow upon the world. You are the author of all supernatural gifts and Who did enrich with immense favors the soul of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, I beseech You to visit me by Your Grace and Your Love, and grant me the favor I so earnestly seek in this novena. . . .(state your request here). O Holy Spirit, Spirit of all Truth, come into our hearts: shed the brightness of your light on all nations, that they may be of one faith and pleasing to You. Amen.

Come, O Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful, and kindle in them the fire of Your Love.

(Recite the prayer of the appropriate day)

Let Your Light Shine Upon Us ©, 2012

Day One

O Holy Spirit, bestow upon us Your seven gifts.

Enlighten our understanding that we may know You. Give us Wisdom that Your Will might be clear to us and that we might accept it. Grant us the Gift of Counsel that we may always perceive what is right. Fortify us that we may always be capable of fulfilling Your Divine Will. Inspire us with the Spirit of Learning that we might be able to penetrate more deeply into the truths that You have revealed. Let our hearts be steeped in the Spirit of Childlikeness that we may bring You joy. Let us have proper fear of God that we may never grieve You or wander from the path of goodness. Give us the fullness of Your gifts that we may glorify You. Amen.

Look with compassion upon us, O Holy Spirit, and grant us the favor we seek in this novena. . . . (state your request here) if it be in accordance with Your Will.

May God the Holy Spirit bring you His many gifts and give You His peace,


Ad Jesum per Mariam,

M.A.    J.M.J.

Be Sealed With the Gifts of the Holy Spirit ©, 2012

“Pilgrim’s Progress”

Queen of Heaven Please Pray for Us! ©, 2011

What would get 140 people to crawl out of bed on a damp, dark, windy Sunday morning, and forfeit the extra hour of sleep guaranteed only once a year? Yes, they were boarding 3 motor coaches for what is affectionately termed Wisconsin’s “Frozen Tundra.” But this time, the Packers weren’t even in the state, and although a cheer erupted as the bus convoy passed Lambeau Field, our destination was not a mere sporting event, but a pilgrimage to what may become the most revered spot in the United States. Our sacred destination was a place near and dear to my heart, having visited here about 40 times in the past 7 years.

The Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help in Champion is the only Church authenticated, officially approved Marian Apparition site in the United States. In 1859, it was here that our Lady, as the Queen of Heaven, appeared to a simple Belgian Immigrant, Adele Brise and commissioned her to: “gather the children in this wild country, and teach them what they should know for their salvation. . . .”  Our Lady promised to help the alarmed Adele, instructing her: “Teach them their catechism, how to sign themselves with the Sign of the Cross, and how to approach the sacraments; that is what I wish you to do- Go and fear nothing!” Our Lady made good on her promise of help.

 Twelve years to the day of her apparition, a group of faithful Catholics emerged from a terrifying evening of prayer, petition, and procession, to thank Our Lady for her life-saving intercession. It was the morning of October 9, 1871 that this grateful prayer cenacle emerged from the wooden Shrine Church to realize that the Peshtigo Fire (to this day the largest, most deadly fire in U.S. history), had passed them by, leaving the tiny 5-acre, consecrated parcel as an “emerald isle amid a sea of ash.” The Peshtigo fire burned 1.5 million acres (about the size of the entire state of Rhode Island), and yet passed over the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help; sparing those pilgrims who sought her protection, processing and praying the rosary (on their knees) throughout that long, terrifying night. The exact death-toll (settlers and Native Americans) of the Peshtigo Fire will never be known, but it is estimated that between 1,200-2,400 individuals lost their lives in this 2,000 degree hurricane of fire that raged through Northern Wisconsin, jumped Lake Michigan at Green Bay, and devastated countless families.

On this cool November morning, as our comfortable motor coach convoy traversed the lovely autumn countryside, not a trace of the ravages of the conflagration remained. From our comfortable seats, it was difficult to imagine the stifling smoke and ash that billowed from the relentless inferno- a fire so hot that sand and wind combined to spin strings of glass in places where trees had once stood. Today, the promise of Our Lord to “make all things new (Revelation 21:5)” is certainly visible in this lovely vista.

Bishop Don Hying blesses us with Our Lord Jesus©, 2011

Shortly after we arrived at the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help, Bishop Don Hying, Fr. Peter Stryker, and Fr. Jewel celebrated the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. The Chapel is beautiful- simple, warm, and inviting. The Tabernacle shines beneath a translucent veil, and one can truly feel Our Lord’s Presence in this Chapel- His Mother’s house. It was a joy to once again see my son serve Holy Mass in a sanctuary built above the very spot where Our Lady descended from Her celestial throne to instruct, warn, and protect.  Bishop Hying reminded us that Wisdom was not the same as knowledge or information. No, true Wisdom is synonymous with possessing a will that is completely in tuned with God’s Divine Will. Bishop Hying explained that Our Lady’s will was so absolutely in harmony with God’s Divine Will, that She is rightfully known as the Seat of Wisdom. He expounded on four of St. Louis de Montfort’s meditations, and directed us to consider our progress toward our ultimate destiny in light of the brevity of this life.

Pilgrims in the Pieta ©, 2011

Holy Mass was followed by Benediction, a Eucharistic Procession around the Chapel, and the recitation of the rosary. After lunch, we again gathered with Bishop Hying for the outdoor Stations of the Cross. The Bishop gave a short, but profound meditation at each station. At the seventh station, as Jesus Falls the Second time, Bishop Hying spoke to us of the need for perseverance. He recognized how challenging it is to be in the middle- the middle of life, of a career, of marriage, of a vocation, etc., – and yet the need to persevere through the daily struggle, carrying the cross that is ours, to the glory that is to come. The breeze was no longer gentle, dark clouds began blanket the sky, and few drops of rain trickled down. The turn in weather suited the mood of the stations and helped to focus our attention on the suffering of Christ. As we processed behind the Bishop, I noticed the faces of the crowd of pilgrims reflected in each and every station. It was as if we were present with our Lord along the Way of the Cross. This was particularly striking when we approached the thirteenth station, the pieta- Jesus is laid in Mary’s Arms. In her private moment of unbearable anguish, we, her newly adopted children, were already present in her heart. God’s Love, and Our Lady’s fiat transcend time and space. Mary’s intercession was as powerful as she beheld Him after the Crucifixion, as it was in 1871, as it is today, and will be tomorrow. With Our Lady’s Good Help, we shall behold the face of Her Divine Son.

It was an awesome trip!

Blessings, M.A. JMJ

** My son continues to post a now 11-part history on the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help at his blog:

Three Days of Grace

Bishop Hying at Holy Hill Basilica ©, 2011

©, 2011

 I can’t imagine that it gets much better than this! I feel like we’ve been bathed in grace for three solid days. As a family, we have been able to celebrate three special days of prayer- each led by Milwaukee’s dynamic, new Auxiliary Bishop, the Most Reverend Donald J. Hying. From the all-night First Friday Eucharistic Vigil, to the closing Mass of the Bl. Pier Giorigio Frassati Day, and culminating in the bus trip to the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help- these three days have been a blessing. I had hoped to write a post each day, but time constraints thwarted that plan. So today, I’ll focus on the First Friday Eucharistic Vigil at St. Francis de Sales Seminary, and Bishop Hying’s Saturday Mass at Holy Hill Basilica, National Shrine of Mary Help of Christians. Tomorrow, I hope to post on the pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help.

Forty-seven years ago, Fr. Redemptus Short, O.C.D. answered our Lady of Fatima’s call for First Saturday prayer and reparation by instituting the monthly all-night Eucharistic Vigil. Each month Milwaukee area Catholics have gathered in a spirit of reparation to petition Our Lord in Adoration for peace and vocations. The vigil rotates through different parishes within the Milwaukee Archdiocese that are willing to host this grace-filled event. Each vigil opens with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass at 8 p.m. (usually on the First Fri), followed by Benediction, rosary, procession, informative speakers, confessions, stations of the cross, and ends with the repositioning of the Blessed Sacrament and Holy Mass at 5 a.m. on the First Saturday. Most folks are not able to stay for the entire vigil- but Our Lord and Our Lady are never out-done in generosity, and they return a 100-fold blessing on whatever time is freely given.

About two years ago, my eldest son was invited to participate in the vigil by one of the founding families. For many months, each First Friday night, I waited for him to arrive home- usually around 2 a.m. He’d burst through the door, full of zeal, bubbling over with the theology he had just absorbed through several hours of inspiring talks.  We would stay up and chat about the beauty of the Mass that he had just been privileged to serve, the rosary, and the Eucharistic procession.

I remember on one occasion, when the vigil was hosted by an East-side Milwaukee Parish, Kenny burst in the door and announced “Mom, you should have seen the jaws the people outside the tavern drop, when our Eucharistic procession passed by! Some people slammed their doors and windows, others just stopped and stared, but we brought the Real Presence of Christ to them. It was awesome!” I recall marveling at God’s grace. Other area moms might also spend Friday night waiting up to the wee hours for their teenage children, but, with gratitude, I realized that most have not been given the privilege to reminisce about the evening in quite the same way that we do.  As the months passed, Kenny’s zeal became contagious. Our whole family began to attend the monthly vigil. With our range of ages: 3-50, the 2 a.m. thing was out. However, we do manage to last through the celebration of Holy Mass, Benediction, the Eucharistic Procession, and recitation of the rosary.

555th All-Night Eucharistic Vigil ©, 2011

Friday’s vigil was the 555 consecutive All Night Vigil of Reparation and Prayer. It was hosted by St. Francis de Sales Seminary, in Christ the King Chapel. The Holy Mass was so beautiful! Bishop Hying spoke eloquently regarding the Four Last Things, Heaven, Hell, Purgatory, and the Last Judgment. He reminded us about the finite nature of our earthly lives, and the need to prepare to make a good account before Our God, and Judge. November 13, will mark one year since our dear Fr. Redemptus was called home. With his photo near the Fatima Pilgrim statue, I was reminded of how much good one individual can do. Because of this sweet, gentle Carmelite friar’s efforts how many prayers, acts of reparation, rosaries, hours of reparation, sacramental confessions, and Holy Communions had been received! His legacy, and this vigil live on, and we are challenged to perpetuate the grace that began forty-seven years ago, with his first all-night vigil. What an inheritance; may I one day bring as many souls to Christ! When I stand before His throne, may I make an equally good account.

Still basking in the warmth of grace of the First Friday Vigil, our family joined a nearly packed Holy Hill Basilica, to assist with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, celebrated by: Bishop Hying, Fr. Don Brick O.C.D., and Fr. Luke Strand. What a Mass! The first dozen pews on the left were full of young adults who had participated in a day-long retreat at the annual Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati Conference. Their energy seemed to fill the church. The readings again focused our attention on our ultimate destiny- the end to which our lives are directed. Bishop Hying reminded us of the need to make good use of gift of life we’ve been given. Our time here is precious, use it for what really matters.

As the sun set behind Holy Hill, and our family received Bishop Hying’s blessing, I again marveled at the magnitude of God’s goodness, and contemplated the joy of tomorrow’s pilgrimage.

Blessings- M.A. JMJ