Search

Bethany Hang Out

Catholic contemplative life and devotion

Tag

novenas

Novenas: how to go deeper

photo of man wearing rash guard
Photo by John Cahil Rom on Pexels.com

Ascension Day is traditionally celebrated today in the Church, and it is also considered the first day of the first novena, as Mary and the Disciples remained in Jerusalem to pray for nine days for the coming of the promised Holy Spirit. This is the heart of our novena tradition.

A novena can be a special time between God and the praying soul, a pilgrimage of transformation and insight, as well as a way of “storming heaven,” with a petition. A novena prayed with faith is also a time of expectant waiting.

Whatever I am praying for, I try to ask with an open heart, one that is actively seeking God’s will.

Sometimes God does not give me what I thought I wanted when I began. Sometimes he changes me instead.

Sometimes I begin to get a sense that I should ask for something different than the petition I started with. My prayer seems to be redirected. Maybe this is so that I might pray with the Holy Spirit rather than just out of my own will.

I know, dearest Mother, that you want me to seek God’s holy Will concerning my request. If what I ask for should not be granted, pray that I may receive that which will be of greater benefit to my soul, [and the souls for whom I pray.] ~ from the Novena to Our Lady of the Rosary

Other times, my single-mindedness of purpose grows and I continue with my petition, like the “persistent widow” I am.

When I begin a novena, I am not sure what God will do but I know he will do something!

I try to be attentive to what God may want to say to me during this time of focussed, dedicated prayer.

The divine synchronicity interwoven with daily life reminds me that heaven is near, and that God is always speaking.

bird dove pigeon
Photo by Anastasia Zhenina on Pexels.com

The symbolic meaning of having a dove land on the hood of my car and look through the windshield at me while I am praying at a red light may seem hard to miss. But it is possible to think nothing of it. I want to notice and make the connection.

If I dedicate and consecrate these nine days of prayer to cultivating my awareness of God’s voice speaking through life itself as it happens, a novena can be a time of becoming attuned to Holy Spirit and wonder.

If I am praying a novena to a particular saint, St. Therese, let us say, I try to find ways to weave her presence into my life. I may read about her or read from her writings during that time. I will talk to her as I go about my day, ask her to join me in my work and prayers.

I might do small acts of service in her honor; especially the kind she liked during her life on earth, the sneaky kind.

I may make use of imaginative prayer to go into the situation I am praying about, letting St. Therese lead me in bringing God’s light into darkness, to let her show me something, or to visually surround the people involved, with God’s love, with hers, and with mine.

selective focus photo of red rose
Photo by Hassan OUAJBIR on Pexels.com

I often ask friends or family to join me in praying a novena. Jesus encouraged us to join together when we ask for something, and it encourages me to know that someone I love is praying along with me.

I like to to begin a novena by going to Confession.

It always seems to me that I can “hear” God better after Confession. The grace released into my life from the sacrament enlivens my prayer.

At mass I may offer my reception of Holy Communion for the person or intentions I am praying for.

I try to drop in at church and visit Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament more often during my novena too, even if only for a moment. I can bring all my concerns there to him for healing; setting them at the foot of his alter for him to arrange in divine order. In his Eucharistic presence, my intentions are blessed, and my troubled heart can rest.

Sometimes I plan a series of nine Scripture verses that I think correspond well with my novena, one for each day to reflect on during the day. Bringing God’s Holy Word into my prayer deepens and interconnects the experience. “God’s word is alive.” Also it never returns to God void but always does what he sends it to do. I trust the word to act on my heart and to return to the Lord full.

I usually give up something at least for a day, or for the duration of the novena. This may be something small, like sugar in my coffee, listening to music in the car, or my favorite drink. St. Therese said her greatest weapons were “prayer and sacrifice.” Fasting and prayer are well established practices for us in our faith when we are commending a situation to God.

Right now I am keeping a novena journal. In it I am recording my prayers, thoughts, insights, Scripture passages and events that stand out to me during this time. It seems to be a fruitful and helpful way to pray, reflect, and notice how God is working in my life through my novena. I look forward to reading it through at the end.

clear glass jar filled of coloring pens beside of white sketch pad
Photo by Jessica Lewis on Pexels.com

Often when we pray a novena, it is because we are suffering in some way. Part of praying a novena meaningfully can be offering our suffering in union with the suffering of Jesus, that it may be redemptive for others, especially those for whom we pray. St. Therese once offered her difficult walk across the infirmary when she was very ill, for missionaries.

A novena can be a transforming experience when lived and prayed deeply; both for ourselves and those around us.

I like to give thanks at the end of a novena, for all God has done, is doing, and will do in response to my petition, whether or not it looks like my petition was, “granted.” I know that God will only give me what is right and at the right time.

His love never fails; nor does its power to change everything, anything, anytime.

yellow flame
Photo by Skully MBa on Pexels.com

Novena to the Child Mary for the feast of her Presentation in the Temple Day One

To begin, make the sign of the cross and pray the Sh’ma, a prayer the little Mary would have grown up reciting every day with her Jewish family and community:

Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one! And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. (Deuteronomy 6:4-5)

Holy Child Mary, gentle and humble of heart, you are the glory of Jerusalem, you are the joy of Israel, you are the fairest honor of our people!” (see Judith 15:9)

Reflection:

When I was a kid, I loved looking at pictures of my mom from when she was little. Not only could I see hints of who she would become–those eyes, that smile…those knees…. That spunk! I could also more easily see the ways I looked like her. I could compare pictures of the two girls, little Mom, and myself, and see our similarities, or look at a picture of her a few years later than the one before and see what I might be like in the future.

In my mother’s stories of her childhood this was also true. Her heart was like my heart and so much of what had happened to her happened to me too, in one way or another, and she felt the same way about it as I did. Plus she could share her lessons and tell me how it all turned out. There was a lot of wisdom and comfort in those pictures and stories of my mom.

Every November 21, the reflective Heart of the Church presents to us in the quiet marking of a minor memorial, our own Little Mother in Christ, dancing, it is said, up the Temple steps when she was dedicated by her parents to the Lord. Even the solemn old priests had to smile as they watched her, this girl, who, unknown to them, would one day teach God His prayers.

In these days leading up to this little feast of our heavenly mother as a child being consecrated to God by her parents, let’s imagine and ponder the mystery of her girlhood.

Rose-bud-4d50ae389ffee_hires

It doesn’t matter whether this very old story of Mary happened just like this or not. It’s true, anyway. It points us to who Mary is and what she did in her life. In this ancient snap shot we can see our own baby picture of the Christian soul with a child’s pure heart free for God. Mary is our mother. Her life reflects our life and spiritual development as we grow in Christ.

“Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” ~ Mark 10:15

Little Mary, gentle, joyful, and humble of heart, make our hearts like your own, that we may reflect the love and life and joy that comes from the freedom of the children of God. 

Imagine Mary as a little girl; innocent, kind and wise. Take her hand and ask her to pray for you.  Think about your life, and what you need the most. Place your concerns in her hands to take to the Father. Know that her heart is love, and that it is filled with tenderness and open to the Spirit. She does not judge you, but sees you in humility, purity, and simplicity of heart. She sees who you are in God. That is what she sees. Open your heart to her.

Then pray, “Hail Mary…”

 

  • images
    Prayer Card of the Child Mary

 

Novena to St. Philomena (Day 1)

 

Once upon a time in Rome, during the reign of the Emperor Diocletian (in the third century), a young girl gave her life in witness to Christ under harrowing circumstances hard to imagine. She did this in spite of frightened parents, repeated and successively more cruel tortures, threats, and even persuasive words and temptations from those around her. She also spent some time chained, bleeding, and broken in the Emperor’s dungeon. There Mary is said to have appeared to her and healed her, strengthening her resolve with the promise of victory and the hope of Heaven. Some of her tormenters were converted to Christ by this child’s astonishing courage, faith and perseverance through punishment after punishment.

A Reading from from Book of Revelation

Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give that person a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to the one who receives it.

The Word of the Lord

-Thanks be to God

St. Philomena, Virgin and Martyr, come and walk with us through our many sufferings. Pray for us that we may regain our strength, so that we, too, may be victorious in the purpose God has for us.

We know of your powerful intercession. By your obedience, humility, and trust, you captured the heart of Jesus. He worked in mighty ways through you in your life, and even more so now, He works miracles through you from your place in Heaven at His side.

Our Father…

Inspired by your courage and love, we ask you to pray for us for [mention your petition here.] Help us to live the Gospel so as to be a light before all that brings glory to God.  Comfort us with the consolation you yourself received from Mary.

Hail Mary…

Radiant girl, courageous and free of heart, our friend and guide, protect us, lead us, for the glory of God.

Glory be…

 

St. Philomena, be blessed and pray for us.

imgres-6

 * All 9 days of this novena ate on this site. Just search for them and they will come up. 🙂

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑