By Osmaro de Leon

Novenas are NOT liturgies; they are devotionals recommended and promoted by the Catholic Church. They help the parishioners pray individually or together. Be very careful that the Novena you decide to make, the novena is approved by the Catholic Church.

How did the Novena arise?

1.             Liturgy of the Hours, (Lauds in the morning, vespers in the evening, full night, prayer and the NINTH hour). The NINTH hour is prayed at 3:00 pm in the afternoon. It is the time that Jesus gave his life for us and He died on the cross, for our salvation. The NINTH hour is the prayer of pain and suffering and it means 9, so many people prayed the novena for the deceased.

2.             The apostles and the Virgin Mary waited 9 days after the ascension of the Lord . They were constantly in prayer, as if waiting for an answer from God. Then the day arrived, Pentecost, when God sent them the Holy Spirit. The gift of the Holy Spirit helped them understand everything. Again, 9 days of constant prayer.

3.             We also talk about joyful novenas, such as the Christmas novena, in which we celebrate the nine months that our Lord Jesus was in the womb of his mother. We make a day for each month and prepare ourselves, as the Virgin Mary prepared to receive her son. Hence, we celebrate different novenas to the Saints, Archangels and patrons of our churches.

                The novena has the power of miracles, NOT the Novena itself, but the prayers that are made within it. Many Novenas have the Holy Rosary and in those prayers, there are miracles made!

There are 2 types of Novenas:

1.             The Novena or novenario, for our deceased, this novena is a time of pain and asking for strength. The novena can be made each year for the deceased. Praying for the deceased is an act of charity.

2.             Novena in preparation for the feast of a Saint or Jesus, such for example the the Christmas’ novena where we prepare to receive the baby Jesus

                In each country different traditions are celebrated during the time of the novenas, such as giving something light to drink or eat each day and on the final día a full meal. Another example is to have a Mass on the final day of the Novena, etc.

                The Novena is an excellent excuse to gather together with family, friends or the community and pray, fellowship and do acts of mercy and charity.