When you are going through a time of great difficulty or suffering, or when you want to pray for an intention with special urgency and intensity, your family might consider praying a novena.
Novenas are a traditional pious devotion in which special prayers are said for nine consecutive days, often for the intercession of a saint, the Virgin Mary, or one of the persons of the Trinity. There are hundreds of traditional novenas; you can find these novenas in a prayer book or online (see the links at the bottom of this article).
Some popular novenas to try: Novena to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Novena to Christ the King, Novena to the Holy Spirit (Pentecost Novena), Novena to Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Novena to the Immaculate Conception, Novena to St. Nicholas, Novena to St. Patrick, Novena to St. Jude, Novena to St. Francis of Assisi, Novena of Grace, All Souls’ Novena, Christmas Novena.
You can introduce younger children to this practice by using Good Deed Beads (see pbgrace.com), Paper Chain Prayers, or a chart or calendar to track the number of days of the novena. Keep the prayer simple; you might use a prayer your children already know, or make up a kid-friendly prayer of your own.
Talking Points: The Ancient Roots of the Novena
The novena has its roots in the Greek and Roman practice of spending nine days in mourning following a death. Early converts to Christianity translated that tradition into nine days of prayer, drawing on the nine days that the Virgin Mary and the apostles prayed in the upper room between Christ’s Ascension and the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.
- Check out the extensive list of novenas at EWTN’s Novena Page.
- You can find out more than you ever wanted to know about novenas at the old Catholic Encyclopedia entry for novenas.
- If you are looking for a book collecting novenas, try Lawrance G. Lovasik’s Treasury of Novenas.