Thursday, May 23, 2024

The Season of Novenas: Starting with the Holy Spirit

May and June seem to be prime Novena months. We start with the one Novena that the Catholic Church recommends to all for prayer: the Novena--nine days of prayer--between the Solemnity of the Ascension and Pentecost (Friday after Ascension Thursday to Saturday, the Vigil of Pentecost). EWTN's website describes the Novena to the Holy Spirit as:

 . . . the prototype of all novenas. It commemorates the nine days between the Ascension of Our Lord and the descent of the Holy Spirit on the first Pentecost Sunday. During this time Our Lady and the twelve Apostles prayed in the upper room for the coming of the Paraclete.

After Pentecost, there are two other great Solemnities to prepare for: Corpus Christi (celebrated on Sunday, June 2) and the Sacred Heart of Jesus (celebrated on Friday, June 7), which will overlap. Add to that a Novena for Life, sponsored by the USCCB, leading up to the Feast of the Visitation: this is the season of Novenas indeed. 

And in my diocese of Wichita, Kansas, we're encouraged to pray a Novena from June 1 to 9 "for Father Kapaun’s cause, that meetings this summer in Rome may see him named Venerable". On the website for the Novena, we're told the source for these days of prayer:

While stationed in Japan before the outbreak of the Korean War, Chaplain Emil Kapaun gave a series of radio broadcasts based on the Eight Beatitudes to his troops. Two months later he and his men were sent to the defense of South Korea. Over the last year of his life, both on the front lines and facing inhumane captivity, Chaplain Kapaun’s actions showed his own deep understanding and fidelity to the Beatitudes. Aside from day one and a few additions, each of the reflections in this novena comes from these radio broadcasts.

A portion of the final two days of the broadcast were recorded on audio- the only surviving sound we have of Father Kapaun’s voice.

You may listen to Servant of God, Father Emil J. Kapaun's voice here.

There's also an update on the status of his cause. Today, May 23, is the anniversary of his death in 1951.

The practice of prayers for Nine Days or Nine Weeks, or Nine Months, of course, begins with the nine months between the Annunciation and the Nativity of Our Lord: from March 25 to December 25. There are also connections to prayers for the recently departed souls of loved ones. More on novenas here at the old Catholic Encyclopedia.

Corpus Christi, have mercy on us.

Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us.

Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us.

St. Elizabeth, pray for us.

St. John the Baptist, pray for us.

Servant of God, Emil J. Kapaun, pray for us.

Image source (Public Domain): Father Emil Kapaun celebrating Mass using the hood of a jeep as his altar, October 7, 1950

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