Lent is a great time to take up a novena
MARY LOU ROSIEN
Novenas aren’t for controlling God, but for opening ourselves to God in order to increase our faith and grow in love of God and neighbor,” said Redemptorist Father Jim White. Here are nine reasons to share novenas with youth.
1. We want to be like Our Lady. Our Lady and the apostles prayed for nine days in the upper room between Ascension and Pentecost. Novena comes from the Latin word novem which means “nine.”
2. We want to grow in trust. Novenas are not magic; we aren’t depositing spiritual pennies in a piggy bank so we can pull out a miracle when we need it. Novenas help us to be intentional about praying for a specific need and trusting that God will take care of this need for us.
3. It’s a good spiritual discipline. If I went to the gym for nine days straight, no matter what, I would start to notice a difference in the strength of my muscles. Making the time to faithfully recite novena prayers is a good spiritual exercise that develops our faith in much the same way.
4. It’s a good way to prepare. In the Middle Ages, novenas were prayed as preparation before significant liturgical events such as Christmas and Pentecost. Preparing for a specific event tills our spiritual soil so that new life can spring forth.
5. Novenas work! The day my family completed the Mary, Undoer of Knots, Novena, we had an incredible miracle occur. Our prayers had been answered in such a completely unexpected (and unlikely way) that we knew Our Lady had heard our prayers and Jesus had been moved to answer them directly. (Visit TheHolyRosary.org/MaryUndoerKnots.)
6. Praying a novena helps me to pray specifically for someone. How often do we hear of a need and answer, “I’ll pray for you,” then send up a quick prayer and consider the prayer one and done? When you pray a novena, it is a continual reminder to hold that person or their intention in your heart.
7. It is empowering. Often we struggle with things we have no control over: illness, addiction, job loss, a family member who has left the faith. It is easy to feel helpless, yet when we pray, we are doing something active — while still trusting in God.
8. There are novenas for everything. There are several novenas for healing, including one to St. John Paul II (see StJohnPaul.org/healing-novena/). Other novena intentions include finding lost articles, making a hard decision, or offering prayers for impossible causes. Find lists of novenas at CatholicNovenaApp.com and PrayMoreNovenas.com.
9. We should pray more. Prayer is simply lifting our hearts and minds to God. If we only spent an hour a week talking to our best friend, spouse, or child, we would not have a very strong relationship with that person. The more we connect with those we love, the closer we become. When we pray a novena, we are talking to God on a regular basis. The more we connect with God, the closer we become.
Mary Lou Rosien is a Catholic author and speaker with a master’s certificate in catechesis. Her experience as a catechist includes being an RCIA coordinator, Confirmation instructor and pre-Cana instructor, and assisting in youth ministry. Find her website at CatholicFamilyBootcamp.com.