For people who believe in the Christian faith, novena has become a popular way of sending our petitions to God. We continue to pray our novenas yet we do not know some of the most important things that we need to learn to strengthen our belief that indeed, novenas can help us.
WHAT IS A NOVENA?
A novena is most commonly known as a nine-day period of private or public prayer to obtain special graces, to implore special favors, or to make special petitions. There are four recognized categories of Novena- mourning, preparation, prayer, and those which are indulgenced- although a given novena can belong to more than one of these categories.
WHEN WAS THE FIRST NOVENA?
The practice of saying novenas is derived from Scripture, from the “Acts of the Apostles 1:4”.
Before Jesus Christ’s ascension into heaven, He commanded his Apostles to remain in the city of Jerusalem for nine days until the feast of Pentecost and to await the descent of the Holy Spirit. With this, our Savior instituted the practice of the Christian Novena – nine days of prayer, especially in preparation for a solemn feast or in petition for some special grace.
BUT, WHY NINE DAYS?
The origin of the nine-day period is difficult to pinpoint. The Old Testament does not indicate any nine-days celebration among the Jewish people. Long before Christianity, the ancient Romans celebrated nine days of prayers for various reasons, for example the author Livy recorded how nine days of prayers were celebrated at Mount Alban to avert some evil or wrath of the gods as predicted by the soothsayers. Also, Christians used to hold a nine-day mourning period upon the death of a loved one with a special feast after the burial on the ninth day.
Every first of the month, it is customary to start a Novena for the Blessed Virgin Mary. It will cover 9 days in honor of Our Lady of Perpetual Help.
Our Lady of Good Health
Our Lady of Good Health or otherwise known as Our Lady of Vailankanni, is a celebrated Catholic title of the Blessed Virgin Mary believed to have appeared in Velankanni Town, Tamil Nadu, India. According to traditional beliefs, the Marian apparition is said to have occurred to a young boy delivering milk to the neighborhood when the Virgin Mary, carrying the child Jesus, is said to have appeared. Every September 8, the feast of Our Lady of Good Health is celebrated with a Novena that starts on August 29.
Our Lady Untie the Knot
The first Chapel to be named “Mary, Untier of Knots” was completed in 1989 in Styria, Austria, inspired as a supplication in response to the Chernobyl Nuclear Tragedy. The image of “Mary, Undoer of Knots” is especially venerated in Argentina and Brazil, where churches have been named for her and devotion to her has become widespread and which the Guardian called a “religious craze”.
This Catholic devotion has grown since Jorge Mario Bergoglio, S.J. ( Pope Francis), brought a postcard of the painting to Argentina in the 1980s after seeing the original while studying in Germany. The devotion reached Brazil near the end of the 20th century. According to Regina Novaes, of the Institute of Religious Studies in Rio de Janeiro, Mary, Untier of Knots “attracts people with small problems”. Bergoglio had this image of Mary engraved on a chalice he presented to Pope Benedict XVI and another chalice bearing her image, the work of the same silversmith, is to be presented to Pope Francis on behalf of the Argentine people.
“Novenas”, EWTN Global Catholic Network, https://www.ewtn.com/Devotionals/prayers/novena.htm
“Novena Prayers”, Mary Pages, http://www.marypages.com/NovenaPrayers.htm
The New Theological Movement, http://newtheologicalmovement.blogspot.com/2012/05/what-is-significance-of-novena-why-nine.html
“What is a novena?”, Catholic Straight Answers, http://catholicstraightanswers.com/what-is-a-novena/
Our Lady of Good Health, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Our_Lady_of_Good_Health
Mary Untier of Knots, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_Untier_of_Knots