What is a novena?
In the Catholic tradition, a novena is when the faithful pray and hold Mass for specific personal intentions over a period of nine days. Scripturally, this tradition comes from the days Mary and the apostles gathered in constant prayer on the days before Pentecost, and after the Ascension.
Usually, around a particular saint’s feast day, Catholics will ask for the intercession of a specific saint. For instance, Carmelites will gather for Mass or pray privately nine days before the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. The nine days before a Feast Day can also be used as a time of faithful preparation.
A novena is an expression of persistence and confidence in God. However, novenas do not, as many may want to think, a guarantee of an answer to prayer in the way we want it. God, like a loving Father knows what is best for us, and may answer our prayers in the least expected of ways. What is certain is that those who follow this devotion with sincerity and humility of heart, grow in faith, and thus, experience God’s grace and much-needed spiritual healing.