The 7 Gifts of the Holy Spirit Novena

The Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit are, according to Catholic Tradition, wisdomunderstandingcounselfortitudeknowledgepiety, and fear of God. The standard interpretation has been the one that St. Thomas Aquinas worked out in the thirteenth century in his Summa Theologiae.

They each perfect certain basic virtues. Four of them perfect the intellectual virtues. Understanding gives an intuitive penetrating insight into the higher truths that are necessary for our eternal salvation. Wisdom is both the knowledge of and judgment about “divine things” and the ability to judge and direct human affairs according to divine truth. Knowledge is the ability to judge correctly about matters of faith and right action, so as to never wander from the straight path of justice. The gift of counsel perfects prudence.

The other three gifts perfect virtues of the will and appetites. The gift of piety perfects justice in giving to others that which is their due. This is especially true of giving God what is His due. Fortitude denotes a firmness of mind in doing good and in avoiding evil, particularly when it is difficult or dangerous to do so, and the confidence to overcome all obstacles. Fear of the Lord is, in this context, “filial” or chaste fear whereby we revere God and avoid separating ourselves from him—as opposed to “servile” fear, whereby we fear punishment.

The seven gifts are an endowment to which every baptized Christian can lay claim from his earliest childhood. These gifts, given in the sacraments for us to develop through experience, are indispensable to the successful conduct of the Christian way of life. They do not appear spontaneously and out of nowhere but emerge gradually as the fruit of virtuous living. Nor are they withdrawn by the Spirit once they are no longer needed, for they are perpetually needed as long as we are fighting the good fight.

The first—and only—place in the entire Bible where these seven special qualities are listed together is Isaiah 11:1–3, in a famous Messianic prophecy: “There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots. And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord. And his delight shall be in the fear of the Lord.”

The seven gifts are designed to be used in the world for the purpose of transforming that world for Christ. The balance of (Isaiah 11:3-4, 9) describes in loving detail the aggressiveness with which the “shoot of Jesse” will establish his “peaceable kingdom” upon the earth:

“He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide by what his ears hear; but with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; and he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall slay the wicked … They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.

Isaiah 11 vividly portrays what these gifts are to be used for, that is to do what one is called to do in one’s own time and place to advance the kingdom of God.

These gifts, according to Aquinas, are “habits,” “instincts,” or “dispositions” provided by God as supernatural helps to man in the process of his “perfection.” They enable man to transcend the limitations of human reason and human nature and participate in the very life of God, as Christ promised (John 14:25). Aquinas insisted that they are necessary for man’s salvation, which he cannot achieve on his own. They serve to “perfect” the four cardinal or moral virtues (prudence, justice, fortitude, and temperance) and the three theological virtues (faith, hope, and charity). The virtue of charity is the key that unlocks the potential power of the seven gifts, which can (and will) lie dormant in the soul after baptism unless so acted upon.

The specific, personal details of that call do not come into focus until one has realized his very limited, ungodlike place in the scheme of things (fear of the Lord), accepted one’s role as a member of God’s family (piety), and acquired the habit of following the Father’s specific directions for living a godly life (knowledge). This familiarity with God breeds the strength and courage needed to confront the evil that one inevitably encounters in one’s life (fortitude) and the cunning to nimbly shift one’s strategies to match—even anticipate—the many machinations of the Enemy (counsel).

The more one engages in such “spiritual warfare,” the more one perceives how such skirmishes fit into the big picture that is God’s master plan for establishing his reign in this fallen world (understanding) and the more confident, skillful, and successful one becomes in the conduct of his particular vocation (wisdom).

We ought to pray and invoke the Holy Spirit, for each of us greatly needs His protection and His help. The more a man is deficient in wisdom, weak in strength, borne down with trouble, prone to sin, so ought he the more fly to Him Who is the never ceasing Fount of Light, Strength, Consolation and Holiness.” – Pope Leo XIII

The following novena in honor of the Holy Spirit, is the oldest of all novenas since it was first made at the directions of Our Lord Himself when He sent His Apostles back to Jerusalem to await the coming of the Holy Spirit on the first Pentecost. It is still the only novena prescribed by the Church. Addressed to the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity, it is a powerful plea for the light and strength and love so sorely needed by every Christian. It is my belief that the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit are our spiritual weaponry for the spiritual warfare of everyday life.

Though this novena can be prayed any time of year, it is traditionally prayed from the Friday after Ascension Thursday until the Saturday before Pentecost. (The next traditional time for the novena to begin is May 10-18, 2024).

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Day One
Holy Spirit! Lord of light!
From Thy clear celestial height,
Thy pure beaming radiance give!

The Holy Spirit
Only one thing is important ~ eternal salvation. Only one thing, therefore, is to be feared ~ sin. Sin is the result of ignorance, weakness, and indifference. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Light, of Strength, and of Love. With His sevenfold gifts, He enlightens the mind, strengthens the will, and inflames the heart with love of God. To ensure our salvation, we ought to invoke the Divine Spirit daily, for “The Spirit helpeth our infirmity. We know not what we should pray for as we ought. But the Spirit Himself asketh for us.”

Prayer
Almighty and eternal God, Who hast vouchsafed to regenerate us by water and the Holy Spirit, and hast given us forgiveness of all sins, vouchsafe to send forth from heaven upon us Thy sevenfold Spirit; the Spirit of Wisdom and Understanding, the Spirit of Counsel and Fortitude, the Spirit of Knowledge and Piety, and fill us with the Spirit of Holy Fear. Amen.

Our Father (prayed once)
Hail Mary (prayed once)
Glory be… (prayed 7 times)

ACT OF CONSECRATION TO THE HOLY SPIRIT

On my knees before the great multitude of heavenly witnesses, I offer myself, soul and body to You, Eternal Spirit of God. I adore the brightness of Your purity, the unerring keenness of Your justice, and the might of Your love. You are the Strength and Light of my soul. In You I live and move and am. I desire never to grieve You by unfaithfulness to grace and I pray with all my heart to be kept from the smallest sin against You. Mercifully guard my every thought and grant that I may always watch for Your light, and listen to Your voice, and follow Your gracious inspirations. I cling to You and give myself to You and ask You, by Your compassion to watch over me in my weakness. Holding the pierced Feet of Jesus and looking at His Five Wounds, and trusting in His Precious Blood and adoring His opened Side and stricken Heart, I implore You, Adorable Spirit, Helper of my infirmity, to keep me in Your grace that I may never sin against You. Give me grace, O Holy Spirit, Spirit of the Father and the Son to say to You always and everywhere, ‘Speak Lord for Your servant heareth.’ Amen.

PRAYER FOR THE SEVEN GIFTS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT

O Lord Jesus Christ, Who, before ascending into heaven, did promise to send the Holy Spirit to finish Your work in the souls of Your Apostles and Disciples, deign to grant the same Holy Spirit to me that He may perfect in my soul, the work of Your grace and Your love. Grant me the Spirit of Wisdom that I may despise the perishable things of this world and aspire only after the things that are eternal, the Spirit of Understanding to enlighten my mind with the light of Your divine truth, the Spirit of Counsel that I may ever choose the surest way of pleasing God and gaining heaven, the Spirit of Fortitude that I may bear my cross with You and that I may overcome with courage all the obstacles that oppose my salvation, the Spirit of Knowledge that I may know God and know myself and grow perfect in the science of the Saints, the Spirit of Piety that I may find the service of God sweet and amiable, and the Spirit of Fear that I may be filled with a loving reverence towards God and may dread in any way to displease Him. Mark me, dear Lord, with the sign of Your true disciples and animate me in all things with Your Spirit. Amen.

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Day Two
Come Thou, Father of the poor!
Come, treasure which endure!
Come Thou, Light of all that live!

The Gift of Holy Fear
The gift of Fear fills us with a sovereign respect for God and makes us dread nothing so much as to offend Him by sin. It is a fear that arises, not from the thought of hell but from sentiments of reverence and filial submission to our heavenly Father. It is the fear that is the beginning of wisdom, detaching us from worldly pleasures that could in any way separate us from God. “They that fear the Lord will prepare their hearts, and in His sight will sanctify their souls.”

Prayer
Come, O blessed Spirit of Holy Fear, penetrate my inmost heart, that I may set Thee, my Lord and God, before my face forever; help me to shun all things that can offend Thee, and make me worthy to appear before the pure eyes of Thy Divine Majesty in heaven where Thou livest and reignest in the unity of the Blessed Trinity, God, world without end. Amen.

Our Father (prayed once)
Hail Mary (prayed once)
Glory be… (prayed 7 times)
Act of Consecration and Prayer for the Seven Gifts (prayed once)

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

The Gift of Piety
The gift of Piety begets in our hearts a filial affection for God as our most loving Father. It inspires us to love and respect for His sake, persons and things consecrated to Him, as well as those who are vested with His authority: His Blessed Mother and the Saints, The Church and its visible Head, our parents and superiors, our country and its rulers. He who is filled with the gift of Piety finds the practice of his religion not a burdensome duty but a delightful service. Where there is love, there is no labor.

Prayer
Come, O Blessed Spirit of Piety, possess my heart. Enkindle therein such a love for God that I may find satisfaction only in His service and, for His sake, lovingly submit to all legitimate authority. Amen.

Our Father (prayed once)
Hail Mary (prayed once)
Glory be… (prayed 7 times)
Act of Consecration and Prayer for the Seven Gifts (prayed once)

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Day Four
Thou in toil art comfort sweet;
Pleasant coolness in the heat;
Solace in the midst of woe.

The Gift of Fortitude
By the gift of Fortitude, the soul is strengthened against natural fear and supported to the end in the performance of duty. Fortitude imparts to the will an impulse and energy which move it to undertake without hesitancy the most arduous tasks, to face dangers, to trample under foot human respect, and to endure without complaint the slow martyrdom of even lifelong tribulation. “He that persevere unto the end, he shall be saved.”

Prayer
Come, O Blessed Spirit of Fortitude, uphold my soul in time of trouble and adversity, sustain my efforts after holiness, strengthen my weakness, give me courage against all the assaults of my enemies, that I may never be overcome and separated from Thee, my God and greatest good. Amen.

Our Father (prayed once)
Hail Mary (prayed once)
Glory be… (prayed 7 times)
Act of Consecration and Prayer for the Seven Gifts (prayed once)

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Day Five
Light immortal! Light Divine!
Visit Thou these hearts of Thine,
And our inmost being fill!

The Gift of Knowledge
The gift of Knowledge enables the soul to evaluate created things at their true worth ~ in their relation to God. Knowledge unmasks the pretense of creatures, reveals their emptiness, and points out their only true purpose as instruments in the service of God. It shows us the loving care of God even in adversity and directs us to glorify Him in every circumstance of life. Guided by its light, we put first things first and prize the friendship of God beyond all else. “Knowledge is a fountain of life to him that possesseth it.”

Prayer
Come, O Blessed Spirit of Knowledge, and grant that I may perceive the will of the Father; show me the nothingness of earthly things, that I may realize their vanity and use them only for Thy glory and my own salvation, looking ever beyond them to Thee and Thy eternal rewards. Amen.

Our Father (prayed once)
Hail Mary (prayed once)
Glory be… (prayed 7 times)
Act of Consecration and Prayer for the Seven Gifts (prayed once)

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Day Six
If Thou take Thy grace away,
Nothing pure in man will stay,
All his good is turned to ill.

The Gift of Understanding
Understanding, as a gift of the Holy Spirit, helps us to grasp the meaning of the truths of our holy religion. By faith we know them, but by Understanding we learn to appreciate and relish them. It enables us to penetrate the inner meaning of revealed truths, and through them to be quickened to newness of life. Our faith ceases to be sterile and inactive but inspires a mode of life that bears eloquent testimony to the faith that is in us; we begin to “walk worthy of God, in all things pleasing, and increasing in the knowledge of God.”

Prayer
Come, O Spirit of Understanding, and enlighten our minds, that we may know and believe all the mysteries of salvation; and may merit at last to see the eternal light in Thy Light; and in the light of glory, to have a clear vision of Thee and the Father and the Son. Amen.

Our Father (prayed once)
Hail Mary (prayed once)
Glory be… (prayed 7 times)
Act of Consecration and Prayer for the Seven Gifts (prayed once)

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Day Seven
Heal our wounds ~ our strength renew;
On our dryness pour Thy dew!
Wash the stains of guilt away!

The Gift of Counsel
The gift of Counsel endows the soul with supernatural prudence, enabling it to judge promptly and rightly what must be done, especially in difficult circumstances. Counsel applies the principles furnished by Knowledge and Understanding to the innumerable concrete cases that confront us in the course of our daily duty as parents, teachers, public servants, and Christian citizens. Counsel is supernatural common sense, a priceless treasure in the quest of salvation. “Above all these things, pray to the Most High, that He may direct thy way in truth.”

Prayer
Come, O Spirit of Counsel, help and guide me in all my ways, that I may always do Thy holy will. Incline my heart to that which is good; turn it away from all that is evil and direct me by the straight path of Thy commandments to that goal of eternal life for which I long. Amen.

Our Father (prayed once)
Hail Mary (prayed once)
Glory be… (prayed 7 times)
Act of Consecration and Prayer for the Seven Gifts (prayed once)

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Day Eight
Bend the stubborn heart and will;
Melt the frozen, warm the chill;
Guide the steps that go astray!

The Gift of Wisdom
Embodying all the other gifts, as charity embraces all the other virtues, Wisdom is the most perfect of the gifts. Of Wisdom it is written, “all good things come to me with her, and innumerable riches, through her hands.” It is the gift of Wisdom that strengthens our faith, fortifies hope, perfects charity, and promotes the practice of virtue in the highest degree. Wisdom enlightens the mind to discern and relish things divine, in the appreciation of which earthly joys lose their savor, whilst the Cross of Christ yields a divine sweetness according to the words of the Saviour: “Take up thy cross and follow me, for my yoke is sweet and my burden light.”

Prayer
Come, O Spirit of Wisdom, and reveal to my soul the mysteries of heavenly things, their exceeding greatness, power, and beauty. Teach me to love them above and beyond all the passing joys and satisfactions of earth. Help me to attain them and possess them forever. Amen.

Our Father (prayed once)
Hail Mary (prayed once)
Glory be… (prayed 7 times)
Act of Consecration and Prayer for the Seven Gifts (prayed once)

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Day Nine
Thou, on those who evermore
Thee confess, and Thee adore,
In Thy sevenfold gifts, descend:

Give them comfort when they die;
Give them life with Thee on high;
Give them joys which never end. Amen.

The Fruits of the Holy Spirit
The gifts of the Holy Spirit perfect the supernatural virtues by enabling us to practice them with greater docility to divine inspiration. As we grow in the knowledge and love of God under the direction of the Holy Spirit, our service becomes more sincere and generous, the practice of virtue, more perfect. Such acts of virtue leave the heart filled with joy and consolation and are known as Fruits of the Holy Spirit. These Fruits in turn render the practice of virtue more attractive and become a powerful incentive for still greater effort in the service of God, to serve Whom is to reign.

Prayer
Come, O Divine Spirit, fill my heart with Thy heavenly fruits: charity, joy, peace, patience, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faith, mildness, modesty, self-control and chastity, that I may never weary in the service of God, but by continued faithful submission to Thy inspiration, may merit to be united eternally with Thee in the love of the Father and the Son. Amen.

Our Father (prayed once)
Hail Mary (prayed once)
Glory be… (prayed 7 times)
Act of Consecration and Prayer for the Seven Gifts (prayed once)

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How We Will Be Saved on the Last Day
Marian Doxology