Novenas can help you be more consistent in the way you pray to God and are a beautiful way to bring your intentions before Him. If you’re wanting to grow in your spirituality, Novenas can help you practice boldness and trust in prayer, especially as you prepare for difficult decisions and events.
Finding spiritual solace in the midst of a pandemic, securing a job after a year of searching, healing of serious medical issues, selling a home that’s been on the market for months, discerning where to go to college or whether you should get engaged — the list of difficulties and tough choices we face in life is endless. Turn to Novenas to ask God for big requests.
What is a Novena?
A Novena is a nine-day period of prayer to ask God for special graces, offer petitions or pray for a specific intention. The word itself comes from the Latin word novem, meaning nine.
Novenas are traditionally based on the nine days of prayer that Jesus asked his Apostles to do leading up to Pentecost, preparing them for the arrival of the Holy Spirit. Novenas today imitate this when prayed leading up to a big event in one’s life or an important feast day in the Church.
Many of the more popular Novenas either begin or end on a special holy day or feast day within the Catholic faith. For a particular saint’s feast day, the prayers would focus on asking for that particular saint’s intercession.
A Novena of Masses
A Novena of Masses celebrates nine consecutive days of full Masses, rather than individual, personal prayers. Our ministry at St. Clement Shrine in Boston offers seasonal Novenas celebrating special holidays throughout the year, such as Easter, All Souls Day, Christmas, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day.
For each Novena of Masses, we invite you to honor your loved ones, both living and deceased, or submit a special intention for the Novena.
How Do You Pray a Novena?
To pray a Novena, say the prayer that corresponds with each day. Some Novenas will repeat the same prayer for all nine days, while others may offer a different prayer for each day. The written prayers are typically short and sweet and can be finished in just a few minutes.
For a Novena of Masses, you’ll simply attend the Novena Mass every day for all nine days.
Select a Novena to Pray
A Novena of Masses is an excellent introduction to the world of Novenas. St. Clement Shrine typically offers Easter, Christmas and other seasonal Novenas throughout the year that all are welcome to attend.
You might also consider selecting a Novena based on a special saint in your life, such as a saint that you were named after, your confirmation saint, or a saint that you already have a strong devotion to. There are also a few popular Novenas to consider:
Novena Prayer Resources
If you’ve never prayed a Novena before, we have a few prayer resources to walk you through your first one.
- Pray More Novenas will send out email prayer reminders for the Novenas you wish to pray. They also have a large database of prewritten Novenas and the accompanying prayers to use as a resource.
- The trick is remembering to say them every day for the length of the Novena! Try setting an alarm on your phone as a reminder to set aside time each day for prayer.
- Praying with family, friends or your parish can also be helpful, not just for remembering to pray but for building community through praying for the intentions of those in our lives. A Novena of Masses is especially good for these community-building benefits.
Don’t worry about the “rules” too much. Your prayer intention will not be declined or unanswered because you forgot a day or didn’t say a prayer on the correct day. Just like any form of Christian prayer, Novenas are focused on growing in relationship with God and inviting God into our lives.
A Personal Novena Story
Nichole Dyer, executive assistant at our provincial offices, prays Novenas whenever she’s facing a difficult time.
“When I was in my last semester of graduate school, I prayed a Novena to St. Joseph, the patron saint of workers, that ended on one of his feast days, March 19th. I was already getting worn out by the job search and decided to ask one of my favorite saints, St. Joseph, to pray for me to find the right job for me through a Novena.
March 19th came and… I had no job offer or even a job description that made me think ‘yes, this is the type of job I should take.’ Both actually came nearly two and a half months after finishing the Novena.
While my intention was not answered within the nine days, the Novena prayers gave me peace and trust that the right job would come and I would recognize it when it did. The application and interview process of the job I ended up choosing was so peaceful (and quick, less than a week quick) that I recognized it as the answer to my Novena over two months prior.”
Novenas are not magic. You’re not guaranteed to get the outcome you want immediately after it concludes, but rather the Novena allows you to bring your requests before the Lord. They are a great form of prayer to turn to when facing a hard decision, difficult time or in anticipation of a joyful event, bringing faith, peace and inner strength to your life.
Have you ever prayed a Novena? What is a Novena that you enjoy? Did the practice help you grow in your relationship with God, get through a tough time or celebrate a joyful event? We’d love to hear your Novena stories in the comments.