Crossed The Tiber

An Evangelical Converts to Catholicism

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Location: Pennsylvania, United States

I was born into the Catholic faith. At 14, I was "born again" and found Jesus personally but lost His Church. After thirty years as an evangelical protestant, I have come full circle to find that He has been there all the time, in the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. I wish others to find the beauty and truth of the Catholic faith as I have found.

Monday, January 01, 2007

What Is A Novena?


When I was a young child, I heard this term being used occasionally but never understood what it meant. What I have since learned on my return to Catholicism is that novenas are a beautiful method of prayer that Catholics make use of to petition God or ask intercession from a brother or sister in Christ now in glory (AKA a saint).

Novena is derived from the latin word novem meaning nine. There was a period of nine days from Jesus' ascension to the Holy Spirit's falling at Pentecost. It was during this period that the fledgling church was instructed by our Lord to wait and pray until the Spirit would come. Even before this the Jews had always observed a nine day period of prayer and mourning after the death of a loved one. (Remembering of course that the early church had access to the Deuterocanonical books and Maccabees made mention of prayers for the souls of the departed.)
Therefore the idea of a series of nine days set aside to seek God, mourn, petition and intercede was not a new concept to the new church spawned on Jewish tradition. Even the pagan Romans had nine days of festal observances. Something that may have been used by pagans doesn't negate its value when adapted in an orthodox fashion by Christianity. This is a charge often leveled at Catholicism.

So, a novena is a nine-day period of private or public prayer to obtain special graces, to implore special favors, or to make special petitions. The novena has always had more of a sense of urgency and neediness. Often a crisis of health or faith will motivate the faithful to start a novena.

Does a novena carry magical power? Will the prayers not be answered if the petitioner misses a day or doesn't recite the prayer in the exact formulaic way? Of course not! Is it wrong for a Christian to think of their novenas in a superstitious way that it will guaranty the desired outcome? Of course! All of our prayers should be prayed with the overarching intention of our Lord in the garden, "not my will but thy will be done."

Now I will illustrate a real-life application of the above. I recently have been burdened over a difficult situation in a good friend's life. I have decided to say a novena for him asking St. Jude to intercede in this situation. St. Jude has a long and successful "track record" of praying effectively for the most dire circumstances. Starting on Sunday, I have decided to pray daily to St. Jude for nine days asking his intercession for the situation for my friend. Do I also pray to Jesus directly? You bet, but nothing wrong with gathering up all the prayer warriors you can get for a tough situation. Remember the elderly lady in your fellowship who was known as a prayer warrior and you always asked her to pray for you? (There's one in every church , hopefully)
Well St. Jude is like that for me, except his fervent prayers are made even more effectual since he is now perfected in Glory before the throne of Grace. Saints are prayer warriors that continue to intercede for us, the power of death being vanquished by Christ's death and resurrection. They are more alive than ever. See this blog post on the Communion of Saints.

Novenas can and should be prayed to Jesus as well , but the main purpose is that we storm the gates of heaven for a period of time of concentrated and specific prayer. Non-Catholic believers do the same thing and as an evangelical, I often put a prayer intention on my bathroom mirror or somewhere that would remind me to pray for a person or issue for a period of time.

I have enclosed a St. Jude Novena for your use if you would like to copy, paste and print.(from EWTN's website)
God bless and happy intercessions!

Most holy Apostle, St. Jude, faithful servant and friend of Jesus, the Church honors and invokes you universally, as the patron of difficult cases, of things almost despaired of, Pray for me, I am so helpless and alone.
Intercede with God for me that He bring visible and speedy help where help is almost despaired of.
Come to my assistance in this great need that I may receive the consolation and help of heaven in all my necessities, tribulations, and sufferings, particularly,

-(make your request here)-

and that I may praise God with you and all the saints forever.
I promise, O Blessed St. Jude, to be ever mindful of this great favor granted me by God and to always honor you as my special and powerful patron, and to gratefully encourage devotion to you. Amen

PRAYER
May the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus be adored, and loved in all the tabernacles until the end of time. Amen.
May the most Sacred Heart of Jesus be praised and glorified now and forever. Amen
St. Jude pray for us and hear our prayers. Amen.
Blessed be the Sacred Heart of Jesus
Blessed be the Immaculate Heart of Mary
Blessed be St. Jude Thaddeus, in all the world and for all Eternity.

6 Comments:

Blogger St. Jimbob of the Apokalypse said...

The picture reminds me of Bob Marley, for some odd reason.

My record for novena tracking is three days, after which ADHD has made it impossible to keep track. It's hard to keep attention on anything for nine MINUTES, let alone nine days.

Happy New Year!

January 02, 2007 10:41 AM  
Blogger Tiber Jumper said...

thanks JimBob!
I thought it looked like me when I was a teenager!
I am 4/9 days, so far, so good.

Can you do a Novena for someone so that they will keep a Novena! :)

January 02, 2007 4:50 PM  
Anonymous Nancy said...

JimBob, I was thinking the exact same thing. I just wasn't sure whether I should bring it up.

January 02, 2007 6:19 PM  
Blogger Stephanie said...

My first novena was one to St. Joseph, where I attended mass for nine days straight. I believe my husband's job is a result of that one!

January 03, 2007 1:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey

Am no a staunch catholic but i believe in God and his Son Jesus Christ but however of late i get reactions from different people that praying the novena and rosary are not gate passes to heaven are not identified with God nor are they mentioned in the Bible. Please advise

March 24, 2009 10:12 AM  
Blogger Tiber Jumper said...

Dear Anon:
I think you have to go back and re read my post to see that novenas are indeed inferred in the Bible and certainly were part of the Jewish religious tradition of the time of the early church. Read here: "

Novena is derived from the latin word novem meaning nine. There was a period of nine days from Jesus' ascension to the Holy Spirit's falling at Pentecost. It was during this period that the fledgling church was instructed by our Lord to wait and pray until the Spirit would come. Even before this the Jews had always observed a nine day period of prayer and mourning after the death of a loved one. (Remembering of course that the early church had access to the Deuterocanonical books and Maccabees made mention of prayers for the souls of the departed.)
Therefore the idea of a series of nine days set aside to seek God, mourn, petition and intercede was not a new concept to the new church spawned on Jewish tradition.

So the word novena is not found in the Bible but novenas were prayed in the Bible. The word Bible is not mentioned in the Bible either, but that doesn't invalidate its use, does it? Perhaps you can ask your detractors why praying for a nine day period would not bring you closer to God?
Novena and rosary are separate issues but just put the word rosary in my blog search for a detailed explanation regarding what a rosary is and how/why it is prayed.
Most importantly, no prayer is a "gate pass to heaven." Catholics do not believe that praying a single prayer gets you into heaven. This of course applies to the protestant's sinner's prayer, which by the way, is not found in the Bible either, nor was ever used by Catholics as a ticket to heaven.

We believe the only way to heaven is being baptized in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit ,repenting of your sins, believing on Christ and living a life of faith expressing itself in charity towards God and man.
God bless and thanks for visiting!

March 24, 2009 1:15 PM  

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