Right before Our Lord Jesus ascended into heaven, “He commanded [the disciples] not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father.” (Acts 1.4) They waited, but not idly. The Holy Apostles waited nine days in prayer. And they were joined by others: the Holy Mother of God and about 120 others.
Nine days of prayer, imploring the descent of the Holy Spirit. Not making requests in a mantra-like fashion, but communing with their Lord in prayer: rejoicing in His promises, building on the hope He gives, meditating on His holy words, longing for His blessed presence, as well as asking for the grace of the Holy Spirit.
These nine days of prayer are known as a novena (derived from the Latin word novem, which means ‘nine’). A novena has, in time, becomes a particular Western devotion. It consists of nine days of prayer (public or private) whose character is hopeful mourning, yearning and fervent prayer.
While there are now various kinds of novenas, the original was a novena of preparation. It is this novena that you are encouraged to engage in during the days between the Ascension and Pentecost. In doing so, you will be imitating the practice of the Holy Apostles during this time.
Since Pentecost is the birthday of the church, and the days of Pentecost have historically been days of preparing and ordaining priests and deacons, you are encouraged to make a special intention in your novena prayers for your parish and its clergy.