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Novena to the Holy Spirit – Day 8 – Gentleness

Ask the Holy Spirit for the fruit of gentleness on the eighth day of Novena to the Holy Spirit.

Antiphon

Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful, and kindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit, and they will be created.
– And you will renew the face of the earth.

Prayer

Gentle Father, your justice is revealed in mercy, and your power in forgiveness. May the same Holy Spirit who filled the gentle heart of St Philip, teach us to reach out to others with his tender love. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Reading | Ephesians 4:1-4a

I, then, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to live in a manner worthy of the call you have received, with all humility and gentleness, bearing with one another through love, striving to preserve the unity of the spirit through to bond of peace: one body and one Spirit.

Responsory | cf. Rm 5:5; 8:11

The love of God has been poured into our hearts (alleluia).
– By his Spirit living in us (alleluia).

Meditation

Gentleness allows a person to suffer “with equanimity the evils which his neighbour inflicts on him,” says St Thomas, and to curb anger. This meekness and gentle spirit was evident in St Philip throughout his life, even when he had become the first Provost or father of the newly-formed Congregation of the Oratory. He did not allow himself to get puffed up with pride because of the authority which he exercised – his advice was that “he who wishes to be perfectly obeyed should give but few orders” – and advised his followers that in all things “a man should keep himself down, and not busy himself in mirabilibus super se [in marvels beyond his power].”

St Philip’s gentleness allowed him to remain calm even when those around him – sometimes even those closest to him – did not treat him with the respect that he deserved. A famous story is related about Father Talpa, one of the first Oratorians. As Newman tells it, “Once, when he was Superior of the Congregation, one of his subjects snatched a letter out of his hand; but the saint took the affront with incomparable meekness, and neither in look, nor word, nor in gesture betrayed the slightest emotion.” Although this may have amazed his other disciples, St Philip demanded that they always follow his example when it came to this kind of mortification. “He who wishes to become a saint must never defend himself    He who cannot put up with the loss of his honour can never advance.”

In order to instill this attitude in his disciples, St Philip insisted on the mortification of the razionale, the reasoning part of the mind that always wants to have its way, to be given explanations and consulted on matters. To mortify this part of the self was, for St Philip, much more important than external mortifications like fasting, vigils and bodily penances. Whenever someone asked him why his disciples did not fast, “he was accustomed to say, ‘The sanctity of a man lies within the space of three fingers,’ and, while he said it, he would touch his forehead, and add, in explanation of his words, ‘The whole point lies in mortifying the understanding … since perfection consists in leading captive our own will and following that of our superiors” (from The Excellences of the Oratory).

The penances that St Philip assigned to some of those who came to him for confession are legendary: for example, those who struggled with vanity often found themselves ordered to dress in their best attire and carry St Philip’s dog in their arms through the city streets, with a procession of street urchins mocking them all the way. In this manner he hoped to teach his penitents not to be worried about the opinion others had of them, and to “keep down and thwart [that] touchiness of mind” that is a sure sign of pride, and that leads to unkind and ungentle behaviour. Above all else, the struggle to bear the spiritual fruit of meekness and gentleness requires a sense of humour, especially regarding ourselves and our own status. “To persevere in our cheerfulness amid … troubles is a sign of a right and good spirit.”

Litany (optional)

Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy. Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.
Christ, hear us. Christ, graciously hear us.

God the Father of Heaven, Have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world,
God the Holy Spirit,
Holy Trinity, One God,
Holy Spirit, proceeding from the Father and the Son,
Holy Spirit, co-equal with the Father and the Son,
Promise of the Father, most bounteous,
Ray of Heavenly Light,
Author of all good,
Source of living Water,
Consuming Fire,
Burning Love,
Spiritual Unction,
Spirit of truth and power,
Spirit of wisdom and understanding,
Spirit of counsel and fortitude,
Spirit of knowledge and piety,
Spirit of fear of the Lord,
Spirit of compunction,
Spirit of grace and prayer,
Spirit of love, peace and joy,
Spirit of patience,
Spirit of longanimity and goodness,
Spirit of benignity and mildness,
Spirit of fidelity,
Spirit of modesty and continence,
Spirit of chastity,
Spirit of adoption of sons of God,
Holy Spirit, our Comforter,
Holy Spirit, our Sanctifier,
You Who in the beginning moved upon the waters,
You through Whom spoke holy men of God,
You Who overshadowed the Virgin Mary,
You by Whom Mary conceived Christ,
You Who descend upon men at Baptism,
You Who, on the Day of Pentecost appeared through fiery tongues,
You by Whom we are reborn,
You Who dwell in us as in a Temple,
You Who govern and animate the Church,
You Who fill the whole world,

That You will renew the face of the earth, We beseech You, hear us.
That You may shed Your Light upon us,
That You may pour Your Love into our hearts,
That You may inspire us to love our neighbour,
That You may teach us to ask for the graces we need,
That You may enlighten us with your heavenly inspirations,
That You may guide us in the way of holiness,
That You may make us obedient to Your commandments,
That You may teach us how to pray,
That You may always pray with us,
That You may inspire us with horror for sin,
That You may direct us in the practice of virtue,
That You may make us persevere in a holy life,
That You may make us faithful to our vocation,
That You may grant us good priests and bishops,
That You may give us good Christian families,
That You may grant us a spiritual renewal of the Church,
That You may guide and console the Holy Father,

Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world: Spare us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world: Graciously hear us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world: Have mercy on us.
Holy Spirit, hear us. Holy Spirit, Graciously hear us.

Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy. Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.

Create a clean heart in us, O Lord. Renew a right spirit in us, O Lord.

Let us pray:
O God, who enlightens the hearts of the faithful by the light of the Holy Spirit, grant to us the same Spirit, that we may be truly wise and ever rejoice in his consolation. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Our Father – Hail Mary – Glory Be

Concluding Prayer

Heavenly Father, hear the prayers that we make in the name of your Son, and give us the Paraclete whom he promised you would send. May your Holy Spirit teach us to conquer our pride, and to spend our lives in humble, gentle service to our brothers and sisters. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Read more about St Philip Neri and the Holy Spirit

This novena is extracted from our book Novena to the Holy Spirit. After Jesus’s ascension into heaven, his apostles remained nine days in Jerusalem, praying for the coming of the Holy Spirit. This has inspired the Christian novena to prepare for major feasts or for special intentions.

Pray to the Holy Spirit with the novena, hymns, litanies, and learn more about the Holy Spirit, by ordering your copy of Novena to the Holy Spirit today.