A Rushing Wind

A Novena With The Holy Spirit

Day 7 – Understanding

Coming into God’s Presence

Before praying, we first become aware of God’s presence as He calls us to Himself.

The Old Testament is primarily the love story of God making Himself known to His people in order to call them to a relationship. In the moments of their worst infidelity, He didn’t leave them alone! These were often the very times He chose to reveal Himself again to call them back. Jesus is THE revelation of God, but He doesn’t want to be known just as our Lord (though He is). Instead He wishes to call us His intimate friends (Jn 15:15).

In this moment we prepare our hearts by remembering that God’s revelation of Himself is always an invitation into a relationship. No matter how we may have been unfaithful, God is always waiting to call us back again.

We take a few moments in silence to become aware of God’s presence.


+ In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen

To enlighten our minds// Come Holy Spirit, giver of Understanding
To enkindle our hearts// Come Holy Spirit, giver of Understanding
To renew our lives// Come Holy Spirit, giver of Understanding
To help us comprehend revealed truth more deeply// Come Holy Spirit, giver of Understanding
To lead us to see Your constant call to friendship// Come Holy Spirit, giver of Understanding
To make the liturgy and Scripture come alive// Come Holy Spirit, giver of Understanding

Optional Study: Living Understanding

For people who want to delve deeper into the Gifts of the Holy Spirit.

Click here to jump to the study


A reading from the Acts of the Apostles 2:1-2

When the time for Pentecost was fulfilled, they were all in one place together. And suddenly there came from the sky a noise like a strong driving wind, and it filled the entire house in which they were.

The Word of the Lord// Thanks be to God

Reading Options

St. Augustine of Hippo, Confessions, Book 10

You called, you shouted, and you broke through my deafness. You flashed, you shone, and you dispelled my blindness. You breathed your fragrance on me; I drew in breath and now I long for you. I have tasted you, now I hunger and thirst for more. You touched me, and I burned for your peace.

St. Bernard of Clairvaux, On the Song of Songs, vol. 1, serm. 17

Unless we use the utmost vigilance in attending to these gift-laden visits of the Holy Spirit, we shall neither desire him when he seems absent nor respond to him when present. If he withdraws from us to stimulate us to a more eager search for him, how shall we seek for him if we do not perceive his absence? Or when he comes to animate us, how shall we give him the welcome due his majesty if his visit passes unnoticed? The man who is indifferent to his absence will be led astray by other influences; the man who is blind to his coming cannot offer thanks for the visit.

Interior Dialogue: Conversation Starters

We take time for a peaceful, receptive pause to converse with God, to listen, and to embrace God’s inspiration and consolation. Resist the urge to rush!

These questions may provide topics to begin this dialogue with the Lord. Do not be afraid to answer honestly, because the Lord already sees our heart and loves us despite our imperfections. For groups, a leader can read the following lines slowly, and allow a minute or two of silence after each.

Come Holy Spirit! I want to seek after the things of God with the same passion that I sometimes spend on hobbies, work, or other priorities. Teach my heart to look forward to discovering You in my life. Help me to always respond to Your call to friendship with gratitude and generosity.

Pause for personal prayer

Come Holy Spirit! I want to find a deeper relationship with You through Scripture, the liturgy, and prayer. When do I find it hard to enjoy spending time with You? Give me a taste for spiritual things and the passionate desire to always know You more.

Pause for personal prayer


Let us ask God for His constant inspiration to help us to enjoy understanding the truths of our faith, as we say

// Spirit of Understanding, enlighten our minds

Knowing that God speaks in the silence of the heart, that we might learn to find time to be alone and enjoy God’s quiet presence. Let us pray

// Spirit of Understanding, enlighten our minds

Knowing that God speaks through our conscience, that we would learn to carefully and humbly follow the path that God has written on our hearts. Let us pray

// Spirit of Understanding, enlighten our minds

Whenever we feel uncertainty in important decisions, that we would dedicate time to calmly discern God’s will for our lives. Let us pray

// Spirit of Understanding, enlighten our minds

Let us pause to ask the Holy Spirit to enlighten us where we need Understanding.

Do we regularly make time to feed our souls with things like spiritual reading and good spiritual friendships? Are we careful to avoid distractions that keep us from wanting to sail the high seas?

This is a moment to insert our own petition. It should be very personal.

Let us pray

// Spirit of Understanding, enlighten our minds

Closing Prayer

Let us pray,

Come Holy Spirit, You passionately desire our friendship and always call us to Yourself. Help us to see Your loving invitation and respond to it. Instill in our minds an understanding of the Father’s creating Love, of the Son’s redemptive sacrifice, and of Your constant action in our hearts, so that we begin to delight in that which is most important and pleasing to You.

Help us to understand in a deeper way everything You have revealed to us—heaven and hell, the gift of the sacraments, the power of the Bible, the importance of prayer and sacrifice—and teach us to live according to God’s plan for our happiness in this life and the world to come.

We ask this through Christ our Lord // Amen

+ In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen

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Optional Study

What is The Gift of Understanding?

“Our God comes and will not be silent!” (Psalm 50:3) God constantly reveals Himself to us in Scripture, in the Church, and in our own conscience, however He does so in a way that requires us to practice the virtue of faith.

But why does God choose the path of faith? He could easily make Himself clearly visible beyond any doubt. Even Jesus didn’t always speak plainly for everyone to understand. He chooses mysteries and riddles, signs, and symbols.

Still, the testimony of so many saints, like St. Augustine, is that God does shout His presence to us, but not in a way that compels us or limits our freedom. The Lord’s persistent, passionate call to us comes like it did for Elijah, in the whispers of a passing breeze.

He doesn’t leave us alone to figure it out by ourselves. At the Last Supper, Jesus said to His disciples “the holy Spirit … will teach you everything and remind you of all that [I] told you.” (Jn 14:26) This is the gift of Understanding, it makes our faith stronger. It allows us to peer into the Scripture, liturgy, symbols, even the events of everyday life and see the deeper spiritual reality. In all these things God is present, revealing Himself to us, and calling us into a deeper relationship.

However, God is humble and doesn’t force His gifts on us. Understanding is only given by the Holy Spirit to those who are docile to His actions. “Docile” means to allow oneself to be taught or led. “Unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:3) We cannot arrive at a deeper faith by sheer force of will.

The most successful apprentice allows the master to guide their hand, however, the final goal of instruction is that the student becomes capable of doing everything on their own. In the spiritual life the opposite is true. Initially we have to put in a lot of hard work, but the final goal is that of ultimate docility to the Holy Spirit, letting Him guide our Understanding, which leads us to think and judge and act like God.

We have to keep the image of the sailboat in mind. When the sails are up, and the wind is blowing, trying to row will only get in the way. The way that God works in us is perhaps counterintuitive, and letting go feels all wrong. We want to be in control, to be more capable, and to be worthy of merit, so we fight against the Spirit by trying to row harder and refusing to be docile. St. Paul reminds us that: “Whoever boasts, should boast in the Lord.” (2 Cor 10:17)

What Can We Do? Prepare Our Hearts!

If we are docile and say “yes” to the Holy Spirit’s inspiration, He will be more likely to come back and invite us again. If we say “no” and quickly take down the sail, He will wait for us to “raise the sails” before coming to inspire us again. The more we welcome Him in our souls, the more He will come to our aid. We can do this through interior silence, spontaneous moments of prayer, and asking for His presence.