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The Holy Spirit Novena starts this Friday, leading up to Pentecost Sunday, and as I was getting the novena ready this year, it occurred to me that this is the perfect novena to pray for our marriages — for our husbands, and for ourselves. ♥

There are countless reasons why the Holy Spirit is such an integral part of our vocation as married women…

The Holy Spirit works within us to help us become more like Christ. This is what we are all striving for in our lives and in our marriages.

A married couple — the Christian family — is, “a communion of persons, a sign and image of the communion of the Father and Son in the Holy Spirit.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church 2205)

And essentially, the Holy Spirit is the seal of our covenant, and it is “the ever available source of (our) love and the strength to renew (our) fidelity.” (CCC 1624)

The Holy Spirit consecrates our union in matrimony, and we can always invoke His assistance — and ask for His graces in every situation and in every day.

Seeing as how marriage is the path on which we hope to be sanctified on our way to eternal life, the Holy Spirit seems like a huge part of that — if not one of the most helpful parts. Right?

And there’s more: St. Basil wrote, “Creatures do not have any gift on their own; all good comes from the Holy Spirit.”

Recognizing this truth, then, means that we need the Holy Spirit to work in our lives for us to have a good marriage.

So back to the Holy Spirit Novena: each day during the novena, we will pray for a fruit of the Holy Spirit. These are some of my favorite things about the Holy Spirit! They’re just beautiful. And necessary.

The fruits of the Spirit are, “perfections that the Holy Spirit forms in us as the first fruits of eternal glory.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church)

The ones we cover in our novena are:

+ Charity
+ Joy
+ Peace
+ Patience
+ Kindness
+ Faithfulness
+ Gentleness
+ Self-Control
+ Goodness

Everybody needs these qualities. But looking at these from my perspective as a married woman, I especially see how we need these qualities as wives and husbands.

Charity, for instance: the theological virtue of charity is loving God above all things. Since we hope that marriage is the path to eternity with our Lord, we need to practice charity in our marriage — and to help our husbands do the same. We have to point them to our Lord and gently guide them closer and closer to Him. When they seem far away, we need to bring our Lord to them.

More on this topic here: Being the Face of Mercy to Our Husbands

Joy: This is different than happiness. Joy is something that supersedes all of our circumstances — including those things that are hard, and difficult, and painful in our lives. Joy is the ever-present knowledge that we will be with God in Heaven. And if we live our lives with this sort of joy, our day-to-day lives will certainly look very different. You will notice it, and your husband will notice it — and in my personal experience, those trials & sufferings that you have will become lighter and easier to bear.

More on this topic here: When You’re Struggling to Be A Joyful Catholic.

Peace: When we open our hearts to the Holy Spirit, an abiding peace will stay with us. This is the sort of peace that so many of the saints exemplified in their lives when they were faced with hardship. It’s the type of peace that is unfailing & unmoving. I think we need this in our marriages. We need this stability and this anchor — for ourselves as well as for our marriages and family life.

Kindness: This is one of the most common pieces of marriage advice I often hear: that you need kindness in your marriage. And we do! It’s very easy — and I’m sure you’ve seen this or experienced it before — that it’s easy to treat those closest to us worse than a stranger. It breaks my heart when I recognize myself doing this… So we need to be kind to our husbands, and to remember that they are beloved and that we should treat them as such.

More on this topic here: Kindness & Hope. And: How to Love the Unlikeable.

Faithfulness: Faith is another theological virtue, “by which we believe in God and believe all that he has said and revealed to us, and that Holy Church proposes for our belief, because he is truth itself.” (CC). Furthermore, and where I see faithfulness play into marriage, is that the disciple of Christ, “must not only keep the faith and live on it, but also profess it, confidently bear witness to it, and spread it.” In life, and in our marriages, hard times will come and go. I know that we will each face hardships that may shake our faith. This is where, ironically, this virtue comes into play. This is where we, the wives, or our husbands, have to help lift one another up in this department and remain steadfast in our beliefs — and gently help the other get back there.

Gentleness: This is often used synonymously with meekness. To be gentle, then, means to not consider yourself to be too good, or above, doing something. It’s practicing humility, really, dying to self, and becoming un-proud. And these qualities are essential when you’re loving and serving another.

Self-Control: This is what we need to say, “No” to all temptations that don’t bring us closer to God. Just as giving in to temptations that are sinful can hurt our relationship with God, they also hurt our spouse. So we need to grow in self-control so that we can love more selflessly & in a more pure manner — in a manner in which, “desire is subservient to reason.” (Arlene Spenceley).

Lastly, Goodness: All of the fruits of the Holy Spirit relate directly to the character of God, and this one stands out most especially for me because God is Goodness. Goodness is when we act selflessly for the good of another. We do this everyday in our married lives — or at least we are called to, and there are countless opportunities to do so, so it’s pertinent to be infused with this fruit of goodness so that we can truly be selfless.

To wrap things up, the Holy Spirit comes from within, and I’m a firm believer that it’s our responsibility to work on ourselves and make changes within ourselves if we want a better marriage and healthier, happier, holier family.

And the Holy Spirit has the power to change our hearts, so if you’d like to join me in praying the Holy Spirit Novena (also called The Pentecost Novena) for your marriage & your husband, you can sign up for that here:

The Holy Spirit Novena

I’ll end with this reflection from Pope Francis:

“Let’s ask ourselves: are we open to the Holy Spirit, do I pray to him to enlighten me, to make me more sensitive to the things of God? And this is a prayer we need to pray every day, every day: Holy Spirit may my heart be open to the Word of God, may my heart be open to good, may my heart be open to the beauty of God, every day.”