Why You Should Pray Novenas (and How to Pray Them)

all about novenas

As Catholics, prayer is an essential element to living an authentic spiritual life. There are many ways to pray and one of my favorite ways is by praying a novena. If you haven’t prayed a novena yet, I hope the following tutorial will convince you to give it a try.

What is a novena?

Traditionally, a novena is a prayer that is said everyday for nine days straight. (The root of novena is “novem” which means nine.) There are, however, other types of novenas, such as the St. Andrew Christmas novena which is 26 days. There are also novenas where the prayer is repeated several times a day like the Glory Be to the Father novena.  There are even novenas that are prayed weekly or monthly such as the Sacred Heart Devotion. However, normally, a novena is one prayer said once a day for nine days.

Why pray a novena?

Novenas are beautiful and a very efficacious type of prayer. The prayers are often centered on a particular theme and thus can help you stay focused in prayer, particularly when you are praying for special intention. Additionally, if you are in the habit of praying regularly, praying a  novena elevate your prayer life to the next level. On the flip side, if you are not in the habit of praying, a novena can help you get back into the habit of prayer.

How do you pray a novena?

Usually, especially for a big feast day like Divine Mercy Sunday or the Immaculate Conception, you will use preset prayers. You can find those prayers online or in a Catholic prayer-book. Thus, all you have to do is follow along the prayers for each day. There are many, many different novena prayers that can be said in honor a saint, a feast day, or other need.

There are other ways to pray a novena as well. Really, you can make up your own prayers and pray a novena at any time for any intention. For example, you can pray a novena of Hail Marys every day for nine days for a loved one who is ill, looking for a job, or in thanksgiving for favors received. Another idea is to pray short aspiration prayer for nine days for you and your spouse before your wedding anniversary (or for another couple).

There are many ways of praying a novena and the types of prayers prayed in a novena are endless. You could even do a novena for 12 days or 24 days or even three or five days if that works for you. The basic idea is the same: a set of prayers (or single prayer) said over the course of several days or weeks.

I encourage you to pray a novena soon. And when you do, let me know how it went. I am sure it will enrich your prayer life as it has done for mine!

Other resources to learn about novenas

New Advent

About.com

praymorenovenas.com This is a great site that I found that automatically sends you the prayers of a novena as they come up during the year. it’s website states, ” The PrayMoreNovenas.com community prays 1 novena together each month. You will get the novena prayers for each monthly novena delivered to your inbox on the morning of each day.” This is very handy if you are interested in praying more novenas or at least want to be informed of the various novenas as they come up. I signed up for the emails and although I don’t pray every novena, every month, and impressed with the many different novena prayers that are offered.

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Ten Ways to Get The Most Out of Lent

(repost)

As you know this week is Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent. I *LOVE* Lent. I do. Really! Lots of us cradle Catholics find the fasting and sacrifices of Lent a drudgery. Others ignore Lent altogether. Not me. I see Lent as a mini New Year. A new beginning and another chance to re-charge the batteries in my relationship with the Lord.

10 Ways to Get the Most out of Lent

Here are some ideas for you to spend your time this Lent. (Btw, if you read my “Making Advent Meaningful” post, you’ll notice some of the suggestions are the same. That’s because there are some things – like the Mass and rosary – that are worth being reminded of again. 🙂 )

1. Daily Mass. Since the Eucharist the the “source and summit of our faith”, it stands to reason that daily mass should be on top of our Lenten “to-do” list!

2. Adoration. Next to the mass, adoration is the next best thing – especially if you are unable to make it daily mass for whatever reason. More and more parishes are offering at least monthly or weekly exposition and adoration (and some have perpetual adoration) of the Blessed Sacrament, so try and snag a half hour each week if you can!

3. Stations of the cross. The Stations of the Cross is a beautiful way to remember the passion of the Lord. Again, most parishes have Stations of the Cross once or twice each Friday of Lent. If you can’t make it to church, you can get some beautiful pamphlets for next to nothing and pray they them at home with your family.

4. Forgive. Through Jesus, our sins are forgiven and so that we may receive mercy. One of the best (and hardest!) ways to show gratitude for the Lord’s goodness is to forgive those who have hurt us – especially if the transgression was grievous. Just as hard, if  not even harder, is forgiving ourselves. Or sometimes we hold on to grudges and anger, even when we can’t remember how a particular person has hurt us! If you see yourself in any of these scenarios, maybe you can pray the Lord opens your heart to forgiving someone who has hurt you, or praying that He will help you forgive yourself? Even the prayer that He helps you to WANT to forgive would be a great start…

5. Pray the Liturgy of the Hours. The morning and evening prayers of the Liturgy of the hours are always beautiful, but especially during the Lenten season.  It is the official prayer of the church, and when you pray the Liturgy of the Hours, you are united will all the faithful around the world who are praying it with you!

6. Go to confession. It’s called the Sacrament of Reconciliation now, but whatever you call it, there’s no better way (besides the mass!) to prepare for Easter. There will be (or should be) many Penance services around your diocese, so you should be able to find one that fits in your schedule.

7. Watch the Passion of the Christ. Yes, watching the Passion of the Christ is painful. It’s in your face. It renders us speechless. And it should. What Jesus endured for our sake wasn’t “touchy feely” or a walk in the park. It was ugly, but our sin in even uglier, and sometimes we (I) need something like this movie to remind us (me) just how much Jesus loves us and was willing to endure for us.

8. Pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet. Who says you have to wait for the Divine Mercy Sunday Novena to pray the chaplet? It’s a short but perfect prayer for Lent. I also try and read parts, if not most, of Saint Faustina’s diary during Lent, too.

9. Pray the the Scriptures. Next to participating in the Sacraments, there is no better way to deepen our relationship with the Lord than Scripture.  Spending as little as five minutes a day with His Word can transform your life. (New to reading the Bible? Read this guide on how to pray the Scriptures.)

10. Fast. All through Lent we will be hearing about fasting. It’s good for the soul. It opens our eyes to the needs of others. it cleanses us of our base passions. But, fasting isn’t just giving up food, or even television (both of which are excellent). This year, why don’t we fast from anger, sloth or any of the other “capital sins” and try to feast on its opposing virtue? (I know my diet has been terribly deprived of patience lately! 😉 )

Now, don’t feel pressured to do all of these activities. Remember, the focus is to deepen our relationship with Christ not add on more to-dos! Start out small. Pick one to three activities and focus on those. Lent is not a competition or race to see how much you can do. It is about focusing on a few things and doing them well so that you can focus on growing deeper in your relationship with the Lord, not exhaust yourself.

So tell us, what are your suggestions for making Lent special for you this year?

P.S. For a printable version of this list go here to subscribe. Subscribers, go to your private page to download the list.

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Tweetable: Ten Ways to Get the Most Out of Lent

My Three Words for 2016

My 3 Words for 2016

Image by geralt (2012) via Pixabay, CCO Public Domain

For the last couple of years, to go along with my goals, I have been using three words to stay focused and centered on what I want to accomplish. I got this idea from Chris Brogan and although it hasn’t been perfect, it has been revolutionary for me. In 2014, my words were “intentional, love and brave” and in 2015, my words were “relationships, prayer, and grace.”

This year, I want to be more action-oriented and as I prayed the following words came to me:

authentic, focused, mercy

On this blog, I have made it my mission to “encourage busy women in their walk with the Lord.” But when I look back at previous blog posts, I get the impression that it looks like I “have it all together” or that my life is perfect. It’s not. Life is messy – for me and probably for most people. In 2016, I am going to try to get out of my comfort zone and be more “real” and vulnerable and authentic. I am going to try and share my struggles and how I overcome them (when I can). It is scary but I am who I am and I feel like the Lord wants me to show that side of me.

One thing I noticed last year is that I had a tendency to be all over the place, be it online or off. This year, I am going to do my best to stay focused and work on one thing at a time. For example, one of my goals this year is to write at least one book or journal per month. However, when I sit down to the computer to write, I often get sidetracked because I start checking email or go on Facebook or do any other task first. This year, I am going to make an effort to do what I plan to do when I planned to do it. 🙂

My final word is mercy. This year, the Pope has declared an extraordinary jubilee year of mercy. It extends from December 8, 2015 through November 20, 2016. Devotion to the Divine Mercy is something I take to heart because it is very important to me. Therefore, this year I want to completely entrust myself to Jesus and be an instrument of His Mercy to others.

My hope is that these three words will enable me to be all that God wants me to be. For the last couple of weeks, I’ve had a feeling, an intuition if you will, that 2016 is going to be a great year. I don’t know what that means or what it will look like but I am truly looking forward to finding out!

Now, tell me, what is your word, or words, for 2016? Please share in the comments!

Christ the King

(Repost with some changes)

Christ the King

Image by geralt (2015) via Pixabay, CCO Public Domain

Wow! Yesterday was the last Sunday of the Church’s liturgical calendar. It’s hard to believe that we will be heading into Advent next week! Where has the time gone?

“At the name of Jesus every knee must bend in the heavens, on the earth, and under the earth, and every tongue proclaim to the glory of God the Father: JESUS CHRIST IS Lord.” Philippians 2:10-11

Yesterday, the Church celebrated the feast of Christ the King. It is the day that we celebrate and acknowledge the all-encompassing authority of Christ over our lives. To find out more about this awesome feast, go here.

As we transition into Advent, like many of us, I have been thinking about what I want to do to prepare for Christmas this year. In light of today’s feast, here are some questions I am asking myself:

  • How have I grown in my relationship with Jesus this year?
  • Am I growing in trust and surrendering my will to His?
  • In what areas of my relationship with Jesus do I need to improve?
  • How has my prayer life been this year? Am I taking time for the Rosary, Divine Mercy Chaplet and other devotions?
  • Am I actively participating in the sacramental life? Am I fully participating in the Mass? Confession?
  • What can I do this year to make Advent a true preparation for the coming of Christ at Christmas?

As you prepare for the Advent season, I pray that Christ will truly be at the center of your heart, that you may grow in His Love, and that you will be guided by the Holy Spirit throughout the season and always. 🙂

Tweetable: Christ the King

 

7 Quick Takes: Alternatives to Boy Scouts

7 Alternatives to the Boy Scouts

If you haven’t already heard, the Boy Scouts of America recently changed their policy and passed “the resolution allowing ‘open and avowed homosexuality’ in the Boy Scouts.” It is very sad that they have chosen to go against their own “timeless values” and we, as parents, are forced to look into other youth organizations for our boys.

The good news, however, is there are such organizations out there! Here are seven such organizations that have come to my attention. (Hat tip to Dymphna’s Road for several of these links.) Just so you know, I haven’t had any personal experience with any of these organizations, although from resources I trust, the organizations are supposed to be excellent…

1. On My Honor.

According to their website, “”OnMyHonor.Net is the official coalition of concerned parents, Scout Leaders, Scouting Donors, Eagle Scouts and other BSA members who are united in their support of Scouting’s timeless values and their opposition to open homosexuality in the Scouts.”

This group is supposed to be meeting to talk about forming another organization similar to the Boy Scouts.

2. Columbian Squires.

The Columbian Squires is an extension of the Knights of Columbus, and I believe, sponsored by them. They are not in many parishes yet, but you can see if there is a group near you.

3. The Blue Knights.

Their website states: “Blue Knights Boys’ Club™ is a boys’ club aimed at teaching the truths of the Catholic faith to boys through Scripture, saints’ biographies, games, crafts and the Catechism of the Catholic Church.”

Our home-schooling co-op has monthly Blue Knights meetings and it is very good. My only wish is that it was more active and they did activities outside the monthly meetings.

4. Knights of Divine Mercy.

On the website: “The Knights of Divine Mercy apostolate seeks to awaken in men [and boys] the eager desire for a knight’s true calling: The quest for holiness and a restoration of the sacred.”

I’ve never heard of this group before but I like what it says on their website and according to someone I know, it is supposed to be an excellent group and worth checking out.

5. Pilgrims of the Holy Family.

A “do-it-yourself” alternate program to 4-H or Boy scouts through the Catholic Heritage Curricula website.

6. Federation of North American Explorers.

Not a Catholic-specific program, but its website states: “We deliver a proven same gender year round program experience that helps shape youth into honest, loving, Christ centered, happy young men and women in a fun and constructive manner.”

7. Fraternus.

Another Catholic-based program that is supposed to be very good. It is a parish-based program whose goal is “To mentor boys into virtuous Catholic men.”

I’ve never heard of this program and have no idea how many parishes it may be in, but might be worth the “look-see.”

Of course if all else, you could always form your own alternative group with your sons and their friends…If I wasn’t in school full-time nor taking 6 classes in the fall, I would consider  trying to start a chapter of one of the above groups or starting my own.

Do you know of any other programs that would be good alternates to the Boy Scouts? Do share them in the comments.

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Alternatives to Boy Scouts

7 QT: Alternatives to Boy Scouts

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Divine Mercy Novena Day Nine: Souls Who Have Become Lukewarm

Today is the last day of the Divine Mercy Novena. We are praying for the souls who have become lukewarm. You can find the prayers here, as usual, if you need them.

Have a blessed Divine Mercy Sunday! If your Church is doing something for Divine Mercy Sunday, I hope you will try and participate. 🙂

Divine Mercy Novena Day Eight: The Souls Who are Detained in Purgatory

Today is day eight of the Divine Mercy Novena. We are praying for the poor souls in purgatory today. Need the prayers? Go here.

Are you confused or not understand the Church’s teaching about purgatory? Look for a post on purgatory in the near future. 🙂

Divine Mercy Novena Day Seven: Those Who Venerate and Glorify My Mercy

Today, for day seven, of the Divine Mercy Novena we are praying for “those who especially venerate and glorify My mercy”. You can find the prayers here.

Divine Mercy Novena Day Six: Meek and Humble Souls and Little Children

Today is day six of the Divine Mercy Novena and we are praying for the “meek and humble souls and the souls of little children”. As always, you can find the prayers here, if you need them.

Divine Mercy Novena Day Five: Those Who Have Separated Themselves From the Church

For today’s novena, we are praying for those who have separated themselves from the Church. As always, if you need the prayers, you can find them here.